Latvia

Image of Riga places to go in Latvia

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A Little About Latvia

Latvia is the middle of the three Baltic states.  It’s situated between Estonia and Lithuania, on the Baltic Sea.  It also shares borders with Russia and Belarus.  Its capital, Riga, was the European capital of culture in 2014 and is a highly popular tourist destination.

Along with the other Baltic States, Latvia has a long history of occupation.  It has been occupied by the Polish-Lithuanian Empre, the Russian Empire, and in the 20th century by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.  The country gained its independence in 1991, and is now a part of both the European Union and NATO. Read more about the history of Latvia (particularly Riga) here.

  • Population: Around 1.9 million
  • Capital city: Riga
  • Official Language:  Latvian
  • Currency: Euro

Places To Go

Riga

The capital city of Latvia.  This is where most people base themselves when in Latvia.

Other Places To Visit

As we mentioned above, most people tend to base themselves in Riga when in Latvia.  One popular day trip that many people take from there is to Jurmala Beach, on the coast.  It’s around a 30 minute train trip from Riga.

Jurmala Beach. @Wikimedia Commons

Travel Tips And Things To Know

Best time to visit: The warmest months are June through September.  You’ll also get the most daylight hours at this time.  If you’re visiting Riga, prepare yourself for an influx of stag do’s most weekends.  This could be a good or a bad thing, depending on what you want.

 

Getting around:  If you’re travelling to Riga from either Tallinn or Vilnius, the bus is the best option for getting there.  Lux Express runs direct buses daily between Tallinn and Riga and also Riga and Vilnius.    The trip takes 4-5 hours and prices usually starting from only €5. You can book online, or book at the coach station before you go.

The other option for travel to Riga from either Vilnius or Tallinn is the tourist bus.   Traveller Tours runs a daily tourist bus for transfers between Riga and Tallinn or Riga and Vilnius.  It costs €55. For the price of the tour, you get your transfer, and a full day guided tour of the countryside.  You can generally book online a day or two before you want to go, but double check their website, as tours may sell out during peak season.

For transport in and around the country itself, Riga has a trail station where you can catch a train to Jurmala Beach, another popular tourist spot.

 

Expenses:  Latvia is relatively cheap compared to a lot of other European countries.  Transport is cheap, and you should be able to find a hostel dorm room for €10-15.  A meal out should cost less than €10, and a pint of beer in Riga will set you back around €3.

 

Onward Travels:  The most popular destinations to travel to after Latvia are Tallinn (Estonia) and Vilnius (Lithuania).  Most people will be going to one or the other, depending on the direction of their travels.  For more info on both, check out our Journey Idea:  The Baltics and Poland, where we detailed our travels through the Baltics.