The largest of the Baltic States, Latvia is full of beautiful landscapes, rolling plains and hills, quiet dairy farmlands, dense forests, grand palaces and ruined forts. It has a shoreline on the Baltic Sea with whie sandy beaches. Take a holiday to Latvia for a taste of the food and festivals, music and culture to be enjoyed here.
If history and architecture are your thing, explore the hundreds of castles, manor houses and churches in Latvia. There are magical works of art and museums and world class classical music and opera. Art Nouveau architecture can be found in the finest collection of buildings in Europe most dating from the 1890s to WW1. Take in the feel of the middle-ages in more than 30 castes and medieval fotresses, some of which date to the 13th and 14th centuries. Visit the many art galleries for classical works of ark or wander the cobbled streets of the towns with their independent galleries.
The capital of Latvia, Riga is indeed a centre for culture and festivals with lots of folk and music events throughout the year. In November the Staro Riga Festival of Light is held in the historic part of the city which is bathed in unusual and imaginative patterns lighting up the parks and historic monuments. There is a Medieval festival in May, the Riga Opera Festival in June, Fish and Sea festivals in July and the Sacred Music Festival in the Autumn. Other unusual events include the winter Ice Sculpture Festival, Sand Sculpture and Old Sports Car Racing. The Arena Riga is home to the National Ice Hockey team, the most popular sport in Latvia. Amongst the city festivals is a midsummer celebration where it seems the entire country sets out to light bonfires, sing traditional songs and dance enjoying food and drink into the night when it never really gets dark. At Christmas there are wonderful Festive Markets selling mulled wine, local foods, amber, linen, jewellery, handmade textiles and woodcrafts. If you love city breaks, take a holiday to Riga for something different.
The food of Latvia is delicious and fresh with Riga hosting the biggest market in Europe offering a huge selection of continental foods and local natural produce. It’s the biggest outdoor and indoor market in all of Europe and partly comprised of five of the worlds nine remaining Zeppelin hangars which are now UNESCO protected. The food pavilions offer meat, fish, dairy and green grocery produce and are open seven days a week. There are hundreds of restaurants in Riga too featuring cuisine from around the world. Organic food can be tasted with the local fruit and vegetables, visit family run rural farms which maintain a traditional way of life.
Holiday in Latvia for a relaxing break, maybe to include one of the many wellness and spa hotels. Tradtional spa treatments with traditions stretching back to the 18th century can be enjoyed here in the many spa resorts. The fresh pine filled air and white sand beaches offer a beautiful setting for a relaxing holiday. Many of Latvia’s craftsmen have ‘open houses’ and farms where you can try out their skills for yourself and learn more about traditional methods of handicrafts. Some of the trades you can experience include glass blowing, stone masonry, bee keeping or making your own pottery. You can milk a cow, bake bread or mend a fishing net too!
For Natural History holidays head into the country and experience the four national parks, a biosphere reserve, four nature reserves and 42 nature parks. An amazing 42% of Latvia is covered in forest made up of Birch, Norway Spruce and Scots Pine with hundreds of kilometres of untouched wild coastlines. More wild wolves roam in Latvia than anywhere else in north west Europe and the biggest beaver population of the continent also live here. There are over 200 species of birds living here. In the heart of the countryside you can also find elk, moose, wild boar, red deer and wild lynx.
Enjoy 530 km of pristine white sand beaches flanked by sand dunes and pine forests, slow down the pace of life and take in the blue flag beaches, some of them deserted and wild. There are fishing villages, seaside towns with great restaurants and endless options of great picnic spots. This is a good choice for a Family Holiday too, especially if you like your beaches not too hot and less crowded than the Med!
With a low population density (the entire country is home to about the same number of people as Paris!), open spaces, wild beaches and a strong cultural and foodie environment, head to Latvia for a low key, slow paced relaxing and educational holiday. I can tailor make a holiday to Latvia for you whether you are travelling alone, with a family or want to join an escorted tour or adventure.