Still undiscovered by the tourist masses, this sizzling Baltic adventure will definitely become the continent’s star attraction in the years to come. In fact, some scenes of the Tamil film Maattrraan was shot in the beautiful locales of Latvia. A pleasant climate, pristine surroundings, broad beaches, culture and history, marvellous architecture and an exciting nightlife in the modern metropolis. Even the most jaded traveller will be mesmerised.
Places to see
Latvia’s dynamic capital, the historic city of Riga, is a great place to spend some time. It boasts of a truly lovely old quarter, full of magnificent Jugendstil architecture, winding cobblestone lanes and many steeples. Yet it is a modern, metropolitan city with a vibrant nightlife and a strong economic impulse. To get a sense of the city, wander through its large, manicured parks, stroll through the historic quarter and then kick back in one of the many cafés or outdoor terraces. Among Riga’s best sights are the impressive Riga Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church and the bustling Central Market. Old Riga is the historical and geographical centre of Riga on the right bank of the Daugava.
Venta Rapids is a rapid on the Venta River in Kuldīga, Latvia. It is the widest rapid in Europe — 249 metres and up to 270 metres during spring floods. An interesting phenomenon can be observed near the waterfall in spring and autumn when spawning fish try to get over the waterfall by jumping through the air. While the beauty of the Venta waterfall is not the wild, breathtaking beauty of the major waterfalls in the world, the Venta waterfall and the old brick bridge still create the impression of an idyllic, quiet town. Looking from the side of the bridge, it seems to be just a small waterfall. To appreciate its true beauty, one must spend at least ten to fifteen minutes there and climb down to one of the river banks.
Latvia has four national parks: Gauja National Park, Ķemeri National Park, Slītere National Park and Rāzna National Park. Gauja National Park is located in the most picturesque stretch of the Gauja River valley, from Valmiera to Murjāņi. This 95.3-km long, scenic stretch of the Gauja River stands out with its vast diversity of nature and the presence of cultural historical monuments — more than 500 monuments of culture and history are located in the park — castle mounds, masonry churches, manor houses, water and wind mills, as well as other archaeological, architectural and art monuments. The park is particularly noted for the Devonian sandstone cliffs, in some places as high as 90 metres, along the banks of the Gauja.
Cēsis is one of the country’s oldest towns and has a charming centre with cobblestoned lanes, historic wooden buildings and a few impressive castles. Nestled amid the pine forests of the Gauja National Park lies the ancient city of Cēsis. It is also believed that Cēsis is the birthplace of the Latvian flag, one of the world’s oldest. Today, Cēsis is a major destination for foreign tourists and for local Latvians who simply want to relax in the national park and in the shadow of medieval splendour. Discover the city’s old town, which has remained virtually untouched by this century’s wars or take a hike in the surrounding forests.
Latvia’s second largest city has the largest population of Russian speakers in the country. Located on the far edges of the eastern frontier near Latvia’s borders with Belarus and Lithuania, the city’s architecture is more reminiscent of Vilnius than Riga, only not as well preserved. The city was established around the Dinaburg Fortress, built by the Livonian Order of German Knights in 1275. Daugavpils developed on the crossroads of various cultures and religions. Daugavpils is a spacious, green city with a delightfully provincial charm. Despite its quaint atmosphere and low prices, the city possesses fully modern services. Daugavpils Fortress, the Daugava River, and the forest landscape park are some places you might want to see.
They call it the “Switzerland of Latvia” for its picturesque scenery, making it a favourite among both locals and foreigners. It is located only 53 km from Riga, making it an easy day trip. Each season here has its own charm. Places worth visiting are the Turaida Castle, Birini, Krimulda Castles, the Gutmana Cave — the deepest cave in Latvia known for its holy spring — and the Gauja River. In summer, the place becomes alive with adventure enthusiasts with activities such as bungee-jumping and balloon riding taking place. In autumn, you can always roam the slopes or walk near the banks of the river taking in the fall beauty and in winter, Sigulda possesses the premier cross-country and downhill ski resort of Latvia, offering specially equipped and lightened ski-tracks, downhill skiing, and bobsled tracks.
Things you need to know
How to get there: Multiple
carriers offer services from Hyderabad to Riga, Latvia. A one-way trip with two stopovers in between will cost you `39,000. The shortest time taken is 13 hours, 30 minutes.
Best time to go: The ideal time to visit Latvia is from April through September, with July and August being the peak tourist season in the country. The summers in this country are warm yet comfortably bearable. This is also the time when a number of festivals are organised. Early autumn, September to be precise, is a good time for a Latvian experience .