I’ve wanted to write about Latvia ever since I got back in July, but I kept putting it off because I just didn’t know what to say to do the country justice! I wrote the post in my mind and even re-typed it but nothing ever sounded right. So, I’ve decided to chuck the perfect prose and simply urge you to add Latvia to your European itinerary. And most importantly, when you go, venture outside of Riga!
I don’t know what it is, but most people who make it to Latvia limit their stay only to Riga for a day or so before heading off to Estonia, but Latvia is so much more than Riga! The countryside is so beautiful – you could drive for miles and miles and see nothing but lush green, red, and yellow plains. You could buy a basket of Latvia’s super sweet strawberries and enjoy them atop a gorgeous view overlooking charming little towns. You can see medieval ruins hidden in Sigulda, a region of the country commonly referred to as “the Switzerland of Latvia”. You can venture into the little towns – I recommend Kuldiga – which is so picturesque, you’d swear you were in a fairytale and not real town in a country formerly under Soviet rule. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
I spent three days in Latvia and fell in love with the country immediately. The beauty of the Latvian summer, the friendly locals, the lack of commercialization outside of Riga, the plentiful rivers, lakes, and hidden waterfalls — there are so many places perfect for retreating to with a book for the ideal lazy summer’s day! The whole country was like one big stress relief, and I was mesmerized by its natural beauty. Oh, and the colors in Latvia! I don’t know what’s in the Latvian water but all the fields were so vibrant and vivid. It was like the country was in HD! Latvians also love flowers so there are flowers everywhere — on the window sills, on the streets, on fences, by doors, etc — which made for the most charming towns I’ve ever seen in all my travels. I know I’m making a big claim here, but it’s true!
I’d also like to add a note about the people. There’s an energy and optimism that I could just sense which is amazing given that the country escaped Soviet rule only twenty years ago. I may be biased since I went to Latvia on the heels of Russia, but the two countries were like night and day. Can you tell I just ate up my Latvian experience?
So it’s true — in three days I pretty much fell in love with the country and was so sad to leave. I could have definitely used a few extra days to visit the fishing villages, the Baltic coastlines, and the famed Rundāle Palace – just to name a few – or try my hand at bobsledding and zorbing (hell yeah!). I loved that I was pleasantly surprised by Latvia given it’s so off the standard European itinerary… and admittedly, I would have never even detoured there if it weren’t for the Russian visa headache I had — what a hidden blessing! For everyone else – please, please go. Go now before the rest of the world does. And when you go, make sure you venture outside of Riga!
Since I loved Latvia so much, I couldn’t select just a few photos to share here. Here are some of my faves: