Latvia, the heart of the Baltics, is a small country, surrounded by Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus and Russia. It remained "their own foreign country" for Soviet holiday-makers for a long time and today it is still full of paradoxes. The refined elegance of urban architecture adjoins the modest charm of authentic villages here. While business centers are growing in big metropolises, centuries-old castles silently keep secrets of the past.
The nature reflected in either the coast of the Baltic Sea, the lakes, or forests in the north of the country is quite restrained, but this is why it is even more fascinating. Local people are very tactful and hospitable: Latvians are already used to living in a western rhythm, but they have also carefully preserved their own traditions.
There are many reasons to go on Latvia holidays: to wander along the narrow streets of Riga, to relax on the famous beaches of Jurmala, or to admire the magnificent temples and castles scattered all over the country.
The climate of Latvia is transitional from marine to continental. Summer is sunny, but short: you can enjoy warm days on your holidays to Latvia from the middle of June to the end of August. But even then the evenings are cool, and the sky often explodes with thunderstorms. The average temperature in July is +18-20 degrees Celsius. Autumn is windy and rainy, but it often surprises tourists with the delight of the Indian summer in early October. By the end of the month it is replaced by fogs and showers, and the first snow falls in November.
In winter, the weather is also unpredictable, although it is time for locals and travelers to go skiing and sledging. In January, the temperature on the coast of the Baltic Sea is about -2 degrees Celsius, in the eastern regions - up to -7 degrees Celsius. The beginning of spring is gray and slushy, but in May nature blossoms in all its glory. That is the time when the high season begins in Latvia, lasting until the middle of autumn.
The capital of Latvia Riga is one of the most beautiful cities not only in the Baltics, but also throughout Europe. Wandering through the old city center is a small journey into the Middle Ages. The symbol of the city is the Dome Cathedral of 1211, remarkable not only for the eclectic facade, but for the 25-meter pipe organ hiding behind it. The House of Blackheads also attracts attention on holidays in Latvia. It is a striking example of European architecture of the 14th century. The old days are also recalled by the Great and Small Guilds, which were gathering local traders under their roofs and were rebuilt in the 19th century. At the same time, the historical center of Riga, the embodiment of Art Nouveau, was erected. The ornate-decorated mansions, temples and even the Statue of Liberty - all is mixed up in the bizarre appearance of this area.
The second largest city of Latvia is Daugavpils. Key trade routes crossed here throughout the centuries, which also meant various fates, religions and traditions. It is no wonder, that modern Daugavpils represents an original mix of temples, museums and architectural monuments of all kinds. However, the historical center of the city is built in the same style - Latgalian baroque with characteristic facades of red brick and an abundance of decor.
Sigulda is a relatively young city, formed in the 16-18th centuries. The reasons, why travelers choose it for their Latvia holidays, are for the picturesque nature, caves covered with legends and magnificent castles in the neighborhood.
The major local beach resort is Jurmala, famous for its beaches, forests, nature parks and loud cultural events. Liepaja is an area of salt sea wind, amber deposits and amazing landscapes. And Ventspils attracts its guests with well-groomed green areas, historical architecture and actively developing infrastructure.
It will take you more than a week to see the main sights on holidays to Latvia. The first point of the program is Riga of course. Its historical center got its present appearance only in the 19th century: Art Nouveau features can be traced in the decoration of the elegant facades. There are also places of interest with a much more ancient history available here: the Dome Cathedral with a world-famous organ was founded in the 13th century, the House of Blackheads with a stepped roof – in the 14th. The Latvian capital has many museums that tell the story of everything in the world: from porcelain to navigation. The best observation points are to be found in St. Peter’s church and Riga TV tower.
There is a national park "Kemeri" and an open-air museum in the vicinity of Jurmala, recreating the life of an ancient fishing village. The architectural masterpiece of Daugavpils is the Dinaburg fortress, one of the largest fortifications in Europe. Cēsis - the oldest Latvian city with the Vendian castle, founded in 1209 is a must-see on holidays in Latvia. Sigulda is famous for its magnificent landscapes and monumental Turaida Castle, turned into a museum today. The castle of the Livonian Order was also preserved in Ventspils. But the most impressive palace and park ensemble in Latvia is the Rastrelli Palace: a magnificent example of baroque architecture with a charming landscape park in French style designed by Rastrelli himself.
Latvian hotels are expanding rapidly in large cities and resorts, so all travelers will be accommodated. Classification is standard (from 1 to 5 stars), but even budget hotels maintain a decent level of service. For example, even 1-star properties usually include breakfast in the cost of accommodation. In Riga there are cheap hostels with prices starting from 7-8 Euros per night, and luxury spa or boutique hotels from 70 Euros per night.
The hotels on the eastern bank of the Daugava are more oriented towards tourists, who come on Latvia holidays, and on the western side venues are better equipped for business needs.
The prices for hotels in Jurmala depend on the location: they are more expensive in Maiori and Dzintari and a bit cheaper in Melluzhi and Asari. A room in a 3-star hotel can be booked for 35 Euros. There are not so many hotels in Ventspils, but almost all of them are cozy and comfortable and cost from 15 Euros. In Daugavpils it is possible to rent a bed in a hostel from 10 Euros, a room with amenities in a guest house from 20 Euros or a room in a 3-4 star hotel from 25 Euros per day.
The prices vary depending on the season, so keep up-to-date with Booked.net – the fullest information and the latest prices for hotels and holiday packages in Latvia are to be found and compared here.