10 things to do in Latvia this summer

The sheer volume of wild nature in Latvia makes this one of the greenest countries in the world.

But Latvia also has some of the world’s most beautiful Art Nouveau architecture, delicious food, and a highly developed spa culture.

Here are just a few of the many things to see and do in Latvia!


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Riga’s art nouveau

At the turn of the 20th century, when the ‘new art’ of Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) prevailed in Europe, Riga was in fine fettle – the economy was booming, and the growing number of residents needed homes.

As a result, nearly one third of all the buildings in central Riga reflect the Art Nouveau style, with the richest collection in the Quiet Centre.

In Riga, you can view rich art nouveau architecture

Photo on Pixabay

Several of the buildings along Alberta Street are the work of architect Mikhail Eisenstein (1867–1920), the father of Soviet cinema master Sergei Eisenstein (1898–1948).

Today, some of the finest restaurants in the city reside in these architectural gems.


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Āraiši lake fortress archaeological park

Āraiši Lake Fortress is a painstaking reconstruction of a fortified settlement

Photo on Tripadvisor

Āraiši Lake Fortress, a painstaking reconstruction of a fortified settlement dating to the 9th–10th centuries, is the only site of its kind in Europe.

The park also features a complex of wooden abodes replicating ones found here in the Stone and Bronze Ages as well as the ruins of a medieval castle.

Āraiši Lake Fortress provide an interactive exhibition that explores the unique archaeological findings

Photo by Ansis Starks

Last year, the park unveiled a new interactive exhibition that explores the unique archaeological findings discovered on site.

Visiting the park should be on every history buff’s bucket list. But the trip is also worth it just for a glimpse of the breathtaking surroundings of Āraiši Lake.


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Ziedlejas wellness resort

Ziedlejas wellness resort lets you enjoy traditional Latvian spa rituals

Photo by Alvis Rozenbergs

Sauna rituals have a crucial place in Latvian folklore.

However, the Ziedlejas wellness resort proves that not everything traditional is necessarily outmoded. Here you can enjoy traditional Latvian spa rituals carried out by masters of sauna-bathing.

The Ziedlejas wellness resort is situated in the verdant Gauja National Park

Photo by Alvis Rozenbergs

The sauna, or pirts in Latvian, is a place for physical and mental cleansing and is great for one’s well-being.

In addition to bathing houses, Ziedlejas features immaculate guesthouses that have already gone viral on Latvian Instagram.

The Ziedlejas wellness resort offers not only sauna rituals but also guest houses

Photo by Alvis Rozenbergs

The resort is situated in verdant Gauja National Park.


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A graceful 19th-century brick bridge in Kuldīga

Photo on Unsplash

Stroll along the narrow cobbled streets of Kuldīga, and you’ll feel like you’ve travelled back in time.

Nestled in the middle of western Latvia, the town boasts a vast collection of well-preserved 17th-century timber houses – relics of Kuldīga’s heyday, when it was a capital of the Duchy of Courland.

Narrow cobbled streets of Kuldīga

Photo on Unsplash

Many of the wooden buildings have since been transformed into restaurants, cafés, and guesthouses, giving guests plenty of reason to linger.

The town also has a grand entrance – a graceful 19th-century brick bridge that offers a killer view of the Ventas Rumba waterfall.

From the brick bridge - view of the Ventas Rumba waterfall

Photo by Linda Jēkabsone


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Karosta (War Port) is situated at the northern end of Liepāja

Photo on Unsplash

Situated at the northern end of Liepāja, the so-called Karosta (War Port) area was a forbidden zone up until the 1990s.

Initially built as a military base of the Russian Empire under Tsar Alexander III, today the vestiges of the Soviet army and the wild Baltic Sea coast make this one of the most exciting destinations for strolling and exploring.

Graffiti of an elderly lady gazing out to sea created by a French artist under the pseudonym Al Sticking

Photo by Linda Jēkabsone

Highlights include the opulent St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral and the Northern Forts, which flaunt a large piece of graffiti by French artist Al Sticking.

But beware – it can get quite windy here. They don’t call Liepāja the ‘city of wind’ for nothing.

In Karosta, in the middle of residential houses, is hidden the opulent St. Nicholas Naval Cathedral

Photo by Linda Jēkabsone


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Daugavas loki nature park

Daugavas Loki is a nature park comprising eight bends in the river

Photo on Unsplash

Latgale, Latvia’s easternmost region, is dubbed the ‘land of blue lakes’. But in addition to countless mesmerising lakes, it’s also home to the most scenic part of the Daugava River.

Daugavas Loki, which translates to ‘meanders of the Daugava River’, is a nature park comprising eight bends in the river, each four to six kilometres long.

From the 24m high Vasargelišķi Sightseeing Tower opens picturesque meanders of the Daugava

Photo by Olga Kuzmina on visit Daugavpils

When the weather is warm, locals love to sail the calm river waters on rafts and enjoy the scenery.

When you’re here, make sure to visit Vasargelišķi Sightseeing Tower. Climb the 24-metre structure to enjoy beautiful views and the picturesque meanders of the Daugava from above.


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Veczemju bluffs

Latvia’s 500 kilometres of Baltic Sea coast are mainly characterised by broad, sandy shores. But there are some rare stretches of rocky seashore in the western region of Kurzeme as well as in the Vidzeme region north of Riga.

Curvy red bluffs in the Vidzeme region north of Riga

Photo by Aivars Gulbis on redzēt.eu

The 12-kilometre rocky shoreline in Vidzeme also features sandstone bluffs. Carved by the waves, these curvy red bluffs are a true marvel.


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Abgunste manor

Abgunste Manor - built in the 1780s

Photo on Abgunste.lv

At the beginning of the 20th century, there were around 2000 manors in Latvia, primarily owned by Baltic-German noblemen.

Today a number of these stately dwellings have been repurposed into hospitality establishments.

Abgunste Manor offers to celebrate your special occasions

Photo on Abgunste.lv

Abgunste Manor was built in the 1780s; it later burned down during riots, was rebuilt, and eventually also housed a school.

Abgunste Manor has reopened its doors as the guest house and venue for special occasions

Photo on Abgunste.lv

After a meticulous renovation in 2016, the manor reopened its doors as a guest house and venue for special occasions such as weddings and birthdays.

The manor extols its historical heritage – each suite is romantically furnished and gives a glimpse into the majesty of a bygone age.


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Engure lake nature park

With countless lakes, rivers, bogs, and a long segment of Baltic coastline, the diversity of Latvian nature is a constant delight.

This nature park encapsulating Engure Lake boasts spectacular scenery and wildlife.

At The Engure lake nature park, you can frequently see wild horses

Photo on Unsplash

The observation towers sitting around the lake are a favourite spot for local ornithologists, and the grasslands are frequented by wild horses and various breeds of cows.


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Alūksne Museum is located in the Alūksne New Castle

Photo on Unsplash

Located in the northeast corner of Latvia, Alūksne is one of the most idyllic towns in Latvia.

The town is defined by Alūksne Lake, which in summer brims with sun-flushed locals enjoying the warm weather. Several boathouses along its shores have been transformed into lovely accommodations equipped with boats.

The view of Alūksne Lake and the Temple Hill Park

Photo on Unsplash

Alūksne is a walkable town, and two of the stops worth including in your stroll are Temple Hill Park (with its glorious granite rotunda called the Temple of Glory) and the small train known locally as Bānītis.

The regional narrow-gauge railway was launched in 1903, and the surviving 33-kilometre route still operates daily between Alūksne and Gulbene.

The regional narrow-gauge railway station in Alūksne

Photo on Tripadvisor

A swaying ride in the carriages built in the mid-20th century is a fun way to appreciate the landscape of the Vidzeme region.

A new multi-sensory exhibition telling the history of the Bānītis was launched in 2018. The exhibit won the Latvian Architecture Award in 2019.


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Text by Ilze Vītola

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