On the edge of Northeastern Europe in the Baltic region lies an often less spoken and tranquil nation of Latvia. The country is one of the three Baltic nations with Estonia to the north and Lithuania to the south which boasts of serene landscapes. Riga, the capital city of the country is popular for its Art Nouveau architecture earning it a place in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Below, we have an interesting read for you on the top 9 things to do in Latvia, when looking for a magical getaway in Europe.
Things To Do In Latvia – Top 9
Explore Rundale Palace
One of the things to do in Latvia is to explore the many castles that call Latvia their home—one of the most popular of them being the Rundale Palace. The palace lies close to the Lithuania border and houses beautiful French gardens. Francesco Rastrelli, the architect of the famous St. Petersburg Hermitage is the mind behind the layout of the palace. The palace is a Baroque and Rococo masterpiece housing several art treasures, a delight for art enthusiasts.
Entry fee: € 11
Stroll Riga’s Old Town
The next activity on the list of things to do in Latvia should be to take a stroll across Riga’s Old Town. The capital city of Latvia is an intricate maze of streets of cobblestones and every corner brimming with ancient architectural wonders. The city is home to several small cafes which accentuate the evening and morning walk through the streets of Riga. The coffee shops serve breakfast pastries and other savoury delights which pair perfectly with a hot morning cup of coffee. The streets of Riga put on an excellent show of art and music further uplifting the Latvia experience.
Entry fee: N/A
Hike Gauja National Park
One and only National Park in Latvia is the Gauja National Park, which is the perfect spot to relax in the lap of Mother Nature. The park is the perfect spot for hiking which stretches miles into the park making for an excellent hiking activity in Latvia. There are numerous hiking trails to explore with some of them leading to hidden mediaeval style castles. Or to a bridge where you can plunge into the river flowing below as part of a bungee jumping activity.
Entry fee: N/A
Visit House of Black Heads
Dating back to 1334, the House of Black Heads is a significant part of Latvia’s history with many folklores. As intriguing as it may sound, the castle serves as an integral part of Latvia’s architectural heritage. Today the house serves as a banquet venue for public events, exhibitions, concerts and other social gatherings. Dating back to the 15th century the once supposedly warehouse, was a hall for celebration and a meeting spot for merchants travelling through the region. Became the house of the Blackheads, a guild of bachelor merchants, shipowners and foreigners in Riga.
Entry fee: € 15 (guided tours)
Discover Salaspils Memorial
On the outskirts of the Riga centre lies a very unconventional attraction which makes to the list of things to do in Latvia. Once upon a time, the site was a Nazi-run police station and a labour correctional camp for the prisoners of war. The camp was home to Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian civilians, military officers and travelling prisoners. There is a lot of information one can find on or next to the numerous statues which house the memorial site. The statutes themselves represent the different feelings that one experiences as a war prisoner and talk about the importance of the memorial.
Entry fee: Free
Wander Gutmana Caves
The next location is one of the largest caves in the Baltics and numerous stories and legends shroud it. It is said that as you enter the cave you will feel an eerie and chilly wind. Some even say that one can feel the presence of an ancient energy lingering around in the cave. The visit to the caves ranks atop the list of things to do in Latvia, because of the myths. There is another popular folklore about two star-crossed lovers who met in the Gutmana caves best experienced when visiting Latvia.
Entry fee: Free
Enjoy a Bobsleigh Ride
An exciting thing to do in Latvia involves a bobsleigh ride from the highest points in Latvia. Two parts involve this exciting ride, first, is the panoramic view from the start of the track. The view during the spring is certain to put one in a trance as one witnesses the beautiful hues of orange, brown and yellow. The second is the speed of the bobsleigh ride on a track that reaches a top speed of 110 kph. So, be sure you indulge in this activity when planning your next trip to Latvia.
Ride fee: € 12
Delve into the Castle of the Livonian Order
The Castle of the Livonian Order or Castle Sigulda is a popular castle to visit in Latvia. The castle dates back to 1207 and was built by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. Post that, the castle underwent refurbishing as a convent. The main gate to the north of the castle provides an excellent view of the complex from the top. An open-air stage in the centre of the property is popular for hosting concerts, festivals and other public events.
Entry fee: € 3
Investigate Secret Soviet Bunker
In 2003 a secret Soviet bunker popularly known as Līgatne Bunker was open to the public. This rare and random find can be one of the things to do in Latvia. At 2,13,000 square feet, the bunker is can house over 200 people for a duration of up to 3 months. The bunker stays protected with layers of dirt, cement and metal plates. You can visit the bunker via a tour which takes you around the bunker and tells you about its history.
Entry fee: Depends on the tour package
Latvia offers a captivating blend of history, nature, and adventure, making it a hidden gem in Europe worth exploring. From the opulent Rundale Palace to the quaint streets of Riga’s Old Town. There are abundance of cultural treasures waiting to be discovered. Nature enthusiasts can immerse themselves in the serene beauty of Gauja National Park or explore the mysterious Gutmana Caves. For thrill-seekers, a bobsleigh ride or a visit to the Secret Soviet Bunkers provides a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re intrigued by mediaeval castles or fascinated by the remnants of Soviet history, Latvia promises an enriching journey with surprises. So, pack your bags and embark on an adventure to uncover the charm and allure of this Baltic wonderland.