Top 50 Things to Do and to See in Latvia

Latvia is officially the Republic of Latvia, is a country in the Baltic region located towards the Northern part of Europe. It is said that the best thing about Latvia is that it is so compact. Its 500 km of sandy beaches are easily reached from its historical towns. Latvia is one of the popular tourist destinations of Europe that offers unspoiled nature, UNESCO world heritage sites, spectacular castles and some of the famous historical monuments. With such a variety, Latvia is best enjoyed slowly. Fifty things that you can enjoy in Latvia along with you family is listed below:

1. Cēsis Castle

The Cesis is one of the loveliest ancient towns of Latvia and is dominated by the ruins of a medieval castle and its surrounding park, suffusing the atmosphere with a romance all its own. The castle was constructed then destroyed and again constructed, today the castle dates back to the early 16th century. You will also find a picturesque park here that is a venue for concerts, theatrical productions and other events. Food prepared according to medieval recipes is not hard to come by, and the town’s beer is made by one of the oldest breweries in the Baltic.

2. Saint John’s Church

Saint John’s Church is one of the major tourist attractions of Latvia. You will find it quite close to Cesis castle. Once upon a time it was the tallest in Livonia, the German-controlled part of Latvia during the middle Ages. The church was built during thirteenth century, it is still imposing despite having been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. The sounds of the church’s majestic organ echo through the surrounding streets. The interior holds tombstones dating from Livonian times.

3. Rundāle Palace

The Rundāle Palace of Latvia is one of most impressive tourist attractions of the country. The palace is among the most outstanding Baroque and Rococo architectural monuments in Latvia. Adjacent to the palace is a French-style Rococo garden that is the largest and most beautiful in parks, worth a visit. It was constructed between 1736 and 1740 under the stewardship of Italian architect Bartolomeo Francesco Rastrelli.

4. Aglona Basilica

Aglona Basilica is a beautiful Late Baroque structure from the late 18th century; its two towers are as high as 69 meters. The Aglona Basilica holds a treasure trove of paintings, sculpture, and objects d’art. The major attraction of this place is considered to be its 17th-century Byzantine icon of the Virgin Mary, famed for working miracles.

5. Jūrmala

Jūrmala is the largest seaside resort town in the Baltic countries, is certainly among the major tourist destinations of Latvia. The city is gifted with some of the exceptional natural resources that said to have attracted plenty of tourists since the late 18th century: healing mineral water springs; medicinal mud that is applied as a skin treatment. The beach sections in Majori and Jaunķemeri are Blue-Flag certified, which gives evidence to their high standards of cleanliness, safety and infrastructure. It is considered as an ideal destination to spend a holiday with the whole family. In Jūrmala you will also find unique wooden buildings, which have distinguished this city from other urban centers in the region since the 19th century. The city host one of the largest water parks in Northern Europe

6. Gauja National Park

The Gauja National Park occupies an area of around 917 square kilometers, is the largest national park in Latvia. This park is one of the favorite attractions of the city where you can find plenty of things to explore. The park also offers rivers and streams, large and small lakes and unspoiled woodlands present unlimited opportunities for recreation. Some of the famous activities include Canoeing, rafting, bicycling, horseback riding, bird-watching.

7. Kuldīga’s Old Town – and the Rumba

Kuldiga is a little beautiful and incomparably charming town that is appreciated by artists and other creative people. The town offers a picturesque ancient town that’s been nearly untouched since the seventieth centuries. Once here you can find that the narrow lanes wind between little, one-storey wooden houses; water gurgles over ancient stones, and artisans hawk traditional, colorful textiles next to what’s now the tourist information office. The city’s Old Town and the 19th-century, red brick bridge that spans the Venta River are applicants for UNESCO world heritage status.

8. Turaida Museum Reserve

The Turaida Castle Park occupies an area of around 42 hectares is home to numerous of natural, cultural and historical treasures. The red brick tower of the 13th century castle is considered as the major landmark of this place that stands out most prominently even today. You will also find a beautiful wooden church that dates to 1750, and then there’s the place to ponder the memory of the legendary Rose of Turaida.

9. House of the Blackheads

It is believed that the House of the Blackheads is the crown jewel of Old Town in Riga and one of the most impressive tourist attractions of the country. This spectacular structure was built during the 14th century, destroyed by the Soviet Army, but also reconstructed during the year 2001. During the 19th century two wings have been added to the original construction and the second floor was transformed into celebration hall. The House of the Blackheads is surely worth a visit.

10. Nativity of Christ Cathedral

Anther prominent place to visit in Riga is the Nativity of Christ Cathedral is a spectacular Orthodox Cathedral positioned in the capital of Latvia. The Cathedral was built during the late 19th century in traditional Neo-Byzantine style. The church also presents some popular icons by Vasily Vereshchagin. The interior of the cathedral is impressive with the images and other holy object being lightened from the little windows. This cathedral has become one of the most popular tourist places to visit in Riga, worth a visit.

11. Gutmanis Cave

The Cave of Gutmanis Cave is considered to be the record breaker one in terms of its depth in the Baltic region and measures 19 meters deep, 10 meters and 12 meters width. It is believed that numerous legends are covered under the Gutmanis Cave. According to some legends a renowned healer who is believed to named it, lived there and used the waters for meditation. Though, you can still see the wall paintings telling the tragic story of a princess, and that is another reason to visit the Gutmanis Cave!

12. St. Peters Church

St. Peter’s Church is considered to be one of the famous landmarks of the city of Riga. It is said that its original construction was inspired by the St. Mary’s church in Rostock. The Lutheran temple is supposed to date from the 13th century but the church was actually was constructed as Catholic Church. After the 16th century, it transformed into Lutheran. Because of its numerous destructions, the facade has gone through several stages from Gothic, Romanesque to Baroque styles while the church interior remains Gothic.

13. Ventas Rapid

Ventas Rapid is the widest waterfall of Europe, although it is not the waterfall that people normally expect that the water falls from merely 2 meters. It is more often referred as a rapid but still it is the widest of them with its remarkable 249 meters. You will find it situated quite close to the tiny town of Kulgida. It is indeed one of the famous natural phenomenons of the country that can be reached by walking through a brick bridge from the centre of the city.

14. Turaida Castle

The Turaida Castle is one of the impressive castles to be found in Latvia. It is a beautiful medieval castle situated on the Gauja river bank that was constructed during the 13th century for the archbishop of Riga. It is a significant fortress of the middle Ages and it has been under Swedish, Polish and Russian rule. It was rebuilt during the 20th century after which, the castle has become one of the most popular locations in the county as it is part of Turaida Museum Reserve which features several other attractions in the area such as the oldest wooden church and Dainu Hill.

15. Riga Castle

You will find the impressive Riga Castle on the Daugava river banks, is considered a must-visit attraction while you are on your way to the Latvian capital. This magnificent castle is today serves as museum and also the residence of the president. It was originally constructed during the 14th century by the Livonian Order though it has gone through several reconstructions, all of which have added something different to its appearance.

16. The Cat House

Located in the old town of Riga, the Cat House is a wonderful structure that was built during the 20th century and their name comes from the two black cats situated on the tops of the two towers. The architecture of the house symbolizes a combination between medieval architectural elements and some of Art Nouveau. The Cat House deserves a spot in your sight-seeing tour in Riga.

17. Freedom Monument

The Freedom Monument located in Riga is a memorial that is dedicated to the soldiers who took part in the Latvian War of Independence. The magnificent monument includes column, sculptures, while the centre of the monument features tetragonal shapes minifying over one another. Some of the beautiful art represents the history and culture of Latvia. On the top of the column you will find a copper statue of Liberty raising three stars. Don’t miss the symbol of Latvian freedom and independence!

18. Latvian Open-Air Ethnographic Museum

One of the most interesting museums to visit in Latvia is the Open Air Ethnographic Museum, located in the country’s capital. The museum is situated in the middle of a pine forest on the banks of Lake Jugla and offers a collection of more than a hundred traditional buildings from all corners of the country, some almost four hundred years old. You will also find approximately thousand period objects on exhibit that offers a view of traditional Latvian life from the seventeen century onwards.

19. The Old Town of Riga

Riga Old Town is located between the Daugava River and the tiny Pilsetas canal, thus technically forming an island. This area is roughly rectangular, measuring 500m by 1500m, and can easily be covered on foot. Today the historical centre of Riga still contains buildings of different times, from 13th century churches to 20th century Soviet buildings, leading to an inscription on the Unesco World Heritage list. The old town offers some of the spectacular attractions, to start with, are the Freedom Monument, Pilsetas canal, Bastejkalns Park and the famous 19th-century neo-classical National Opera House.

20. Dome Church

The Dome Church located in Riga is one of the oldest and largest churches in the Baltic States; it was commissioned during the thirteenth century by Bishop Albert of Livonia, the founder of Riga. During the 16th century, Riga adopted Lutheranism and the church became the protestant cathedral of the city. A smaller Roman Catholic cathedral, St. Jacob’s, was built just 100m north by the still considerable community. The two churches continue their function today.

21. Town hall square

Town Hall Square is the unofficial centre of Riga, is one of the famous places to visit in Latvai. This square is situated at the place of the original German trading post. It is a 50 by 50 square leads in the west to Strelnieku Square. It is said that during the Second World War the German bombings badly destroyed the square. The house was reconstructed and after the war after Latvian independence the new government had them finally rebuilt according their original plans. The current Roland is a recent copy of the 19th-century statue that was destroyed during WWII.

22. The Sun Museum

The Sun Museum is considered to be the Europe’s only museum that is dedicated to the Sun, to be found in Riga. The founder of the museum first bought a small sun shaped pendant from the sunny Portugal. Soon enough collection of different sun shaped objects became quite a passion to Iveta Gražule. Today you will find the collection of suns has grown to a remarkable exposition with hundreds of items. You can also witness the works of craftsmen and artists from almost all countries of the world, including Latvia, which has a separate exhibition.

23. The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is considered as must-visit tourist attractions of Latvia. This spectacular museum is available in a low-lying, black and grey structure between the Latvian Riflemen Statue and Ratslaukums, featuring the 50 years in which Latvians suffered under Soviet and Nazi occupation. The museum gives a thorough history of life under communist and fascist rule through a mixture of donated personal artifacts, photographs, propaganda posters and official documents.

24. Riga Zoo

The Riga Zoo is considered as one of the famous tourist spots of the country’s capital. It is found in a huge park towards the northern part of Riga. The zoo is open from 10 to 18 most of the year; the ticket office is open from 10 to 16 or 10 17, depending on when. You get a map with the tickets, so that you can easily explore the zoo. You will find some of the best animals, big exotics like tigers and lions, really small ones and native ones like owls, squirrels and cattle. The zoo is an ideal destination for enjoy with the entire family.

25. St. Saviour’s Church

The St. Saviour’s Church is a famous church of Latvia. It is an interesting red-brick church that was constructed during the 1857 by a group of British traders on 30 feet of British soil brought over as ballast in the ships transporting the building material. What you will find today, is a lively community of believers who belong to the Church of England. You can also attend a classical concert here.

26. Riga Ghetto

The Riga Ghetto is considered a must visit for those visitors who are interested in Jewish history. The history says that around 5000 Jews were among the thousands of Latvians deported to Siberia by the Soviets from the years 1940-41. When the city fell to the Germans, new agressive atrocities began with hundreds of Jews being executed, being blamed on trumped up charges of killing some Germans.

27. Latvian Museum of War

Latvian Museum of War is one of the interesting museums to visit in Latvia. There is a lot of things to witness in thee Museum was established during the year 1916 in honour of the Latvian Riflemen units. It is said that the location of the museum is appropriate that in the Old Town’s Powder Tower, a 14th century fortification still pockmarked with cannon shot.

28. Turaida Museum Reserve

Turaida Museum Reserve is a famous place to visit in Sigulda. The famous attraction f this reserve is the Turaida Castle, a red brick archbishops’ castle discovered during the year 1214 on the location of a Liv stronghold. It was blown up when lightning hit its gunpowder store in the 18th century. The museum offers an interesting account of the Livonian state from 1319 to 1561.

29. Gūtmaņis Cave

One of Sigulda’s famous attractions is the Gutmanis Cave that is that are covered by graffiti that dates back to the 16th century – including the coats of arms of long-gone hunters. This cave is very popular and has a significant role in the tragic legend of the ‘Turaida Rose’. It is said that Sigulda’s local beauty, Maija, was taken into Turaida Castle as a little girl when she was found among the injured after a battle of 1601. A lot of men admired her but she loved Viktors, a gardener at Sigulda Castle. They would meet in a cave halfway between the two castles.

30. Karosta Prison

Oen of the Liepāja famous places of interest is the Karosta Prison. An imprisonment facility until the year 1997, currently it offers variety of tours. It was actually constructed as a sanatorium in 1900, the Soviets, Nazis and most recently the Latvians used the place as a military prison. Graffiti left behind by former inmates reveals the horrors incurred doing hard time here.

31. Fortress

Daugavpils’ most spectacular tourist attractions and one of the country’s famous landmarks is this huge fortress that was constructed during the year 1820 by the Russians. The fort is to be found towards the northwestern side of town and occupied by the Soviet army until 1993. A red-brick bunker monument by the entrance states that the Tatar poet Musa Jalil languished here from September to October 1942, in what was then the Nazi concentration camp Stalag 340.

32. Dock No 18

Dock No 18 is one of Ventspils’s famous sights to visit. Ostas iela, a riverside promenade offering some of the best views of the bustling industrial port on the opposite riverbank, leads east along the water. You will find that the Hecogs Jēkabs boat sails around the mouth of the Venta River, a 45-minute trip; it departs six times daily from dock No 18. The Sea Stone (1998), at the distant eastern end of the walkway, is an enormous rock dug out from a depth of 17.5m

33. Turaida Church

The Turaida Church is one of Sigulda’s famous religious sites to visit. You will find the Turaida Church right on the path to the Turaida Castle in the Turaida Museum Reserve. This little wooden-spared Turaida Church was constructed during the year 1750 and housing a small history exhibition. The hillside behind the church is known as Daina Hill (Dainu kalns) and shelters the Daina Hill Song Garden. The daina (poetic folk song) is a major Latvian tradition, very famous in the country.

34. South Mole

The prime attraction of Ventspils is the South Mole to be found laced with a sandy, dune-backed beach stretching south from the river mouth. Breakwaters poke 1km or so out to sea from the mouth of the river to form Ventspils’ Sea Gates, with a narrow entrance that makes it treacherous for shipping if there’s any sea running. One of the popular activities of this region is the cycling 1km from the northern end of the beach, along the South Mole walkway, to the lighthouse at the end of the southern breakwater.

35. Knights’ Stronghold

The Knights’ Stronghold was constructed during 1207 and 1226 among woods towards the northeastern edge of Sigulda. You will find only some remains of this Knights Stronghold. You will find that this castle is not renovated, but its ruins are perhaps more reminiscent because of that. There’s a great view through the trees to the archbishop’s reconstructed Turaida Castle, on the far side of the valley.

36. Regional Studies & Art Museum

The Regional Studies & Art Museum is one of the interesting tourist attractions of the country. You will find some of the best artifacts on display inside this art-Nouveau house guarded by two stone lions. The museum also exhibits high-quality reproductions of abstract painter Mark Rothko’s paintings.

37. Jūrmala Park

The Jurmala Park is one of Latvia’s extremely popular tourist attractions. The park occupies an area of nearly 0.5 sq km of parkland. With woodlands and dunes, this park is ideal for strolling. Grand wooden Art-Nouveau summer homes, built by Liepāja’s wealthy citizens from the year 1870s onward, grace the streets around the park. Once here you can also get a chance to participate in a game of miniature golf or tennis or check out the skate park.

38. Liepāja History & Art Museum

The Liepaja History and Art Museum is surely a place worth a visit. In the museum collection you will find items of carved amber ornaments dates back to 1500 years, this itself is considered as reason enough to visit this museum of art and history. Other exhibits include remarkable Stone and Bronze Age artifacts unearthed on local archaeological digs, you will surely love the beautiful collection of old jewellery and weapons and vintage memorabilia from both world wars.

39. Museum of Horns & Antlers

The museum of Horns and Antlers is an interesting place to visit in Latvia. You will find 518 elk antlers here. The collection that you will find here is from one man’s lifetime of work as a forest warden in the national park (none are hunting trophies). Outside, antlers hang from the street signs. Vaide is on the Livonian coast, snuggled among a wilderness of sea, sand and spectacular beaches and pine forests.

40. Pētertirgus (Peter’s Market)

One of the famous Markets to visit for shopping in Latvia is the Peter’s Market. Vendors have touted their wares at the outdoor market on Kuršu laukums from as old as the seventieth century. This famous market of Latvia was prolonged in the year 1910, when a pavilion was constructed adjacent to the square. Currently visitors can find stalls inside and out this bustling complex, selling everything from furniture, local crafts to fruit, vegetables and slabs of meat.

41. Krimulda Castle and Manor

The Krimulda Castle and Manor is one of the famous places of Latvia representing its culture. The Castle was constructed in between 1255 and 1273. Once upon a time the Castle was used as a guesthouse for visiting dignitaries. Cable car is a best way to reach this place, which crosses the valley every half hour and affords splendid views. The big white building just west of the northern cable car station is Krimulda Manor constructed during the year 1897. Today it is a sanatorium.

42. Swedish Gate

The Swedish Gate is a famous tourist attraction of Latvia. You will find it towards the centre of Old Town. The gate was constructed into the city walls during the year 1698 to celebrate Swedish occupation. East of that is the round 14th-century Powder Tower, it is considered to be the only survivor of the 18 towers in the old city wall and home to the War Museum.

43. Talsi

Talsi is among the fairly attractive tourist destinations of Latvia. The cool and calm atmosphere of this place will surely interest you. Rising above Lake Talsu on the eastern side of town is Pilsētas dārzs, an ancient Cour castle mound topped by Freedom Sun, a statue of a man sitting Buddha-style. It was erected in 1996 in remembrance of Latvia’s freedom fighters.

44. Sporta Bāze Baiļi

One of Sigulda’s favorite activities is kayaking, popular among both tourist and locals alike. Valmiera’s Sporta Bāze Baiļi arranges various one-day canoe trips (24km, Valmiera to Strenči), (83km Valmiera to Sigulda) or (45km, Valmiera toCēsis).

45. St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church

You can find in the Old Town and explore some of the best 18th-century architecture. Pils iela is the main street, cutting across Old Town towards its east-west direction. Peering across Brīvibas iela is the neo-Byzantine St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, constructed during the year 1901 and crowned with five onion domes.

46. Livonian Order Castl

The Livonian Order Castle is an interesting place to visit in Latvia. This 13th-century Livonian Order Castle present a cutting-edge interactive museum on castle history, with digital displays and two panoramic telescopes for tourist to enjoy an eagle’s-eye view of the port and city. This famous museum presents some of the finest pieces of amber discovered on archaeological digs in the region.

47. Līvu Laukums

The Livu Laukums is Rīga’s fairly popular sights; this square is to be found quite close to the busiest entrance to Old Town along Kaļķu iela, offers beer gardens by summer and an outdoor ice rink by winter. The square is overlooked by the Great Guild which faces the yellow-painted Cat House on Meistaru iela 19 that decorates many a postcard.

48. Bowling Centre

The Bowling Center is considered to be the favorite tourist attractions of children. It’s a great place to visit with kids. The huge recreation complex houses eight bowling lanes, air hockey and pool tables, a children’s play area and a bar and restaurant. Adults will likely dig the complex too, especially if it’s freezing outside.

49. Seaside Open-Air Museum

The Seaside Open-Air Museum is located in Ventspils, Latvia is one of the fairly popular tourist attractions. You will find it towards the southern part of the Ventspils beach. The museum offers you with a collection of fishing craft, anchors and other seafaring items. On weekends between May and October you can ride around the museum’s extensive grounds on a narrow-gauge railway dating to the year 1916.

50. St Nicholas Evangelical Lutheran Church

One of the famous religious sights of Ventspils, Latvia is the St. Nicholas Evangelical Lutheran Church. Walking west from St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, along Pils iela, you can detour south down Tirgus iela to Rātslaukums, an attractive cobbled square overlooked by St Nicholas Evangelical Lutheran Church, constructed during the year 1835.

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