05 January 2017 by Anna Staford
Soaking its toes in the Baltic sea, is Latvia, between Estonia and Lithuania. It is a place that must be on your holiday destinations bucket list. Let’s see why.
According to Latvia’s travel website, Latvia is “among the world’s greenest countries”. So any activity linked to nature that you can think of – bird watching, trekking, walking, etc.– is something you can do in Latvia. Make sure the activities you plan are covered by your travel insurance policy to ensure that you have peace of mind while away.
Read also: Ecotourism: 6 Places to Enjoy the Nature
The Capital of this country can offer you both entertainment and relaxation. You can enjoy the comfort of a modern city and yet enjoy a glimpse of the past as you walk through the old quarters of this Baltic city. See the contrast between the Old Town and the Art Nouveau District.
Just 10 km away from Riga’s airport you can find the official resort of Jurmala. This is the perfect place to relax and sunbathe near the sea without temperatures reaching the scorching heat of some locations. Enjoy the mild weather of this area by trekking in its woodlands (34% of the area’s surface), and give yourself a mud bath to rejuvenate your skin. Also, enjoy cultural attractions like the Jurmala City Museum or the Dzintari Concert Hall.
Established in 1973, this natural park offers a variety of landscapes; rocks, cliffs, sandstone outcrops and caves. The Gutmala grotto, dug out of sandstone by the Gauja river, displays the beautifully carved messages of visitors from the past.
Read also: 11 Must-Visit Gardens in Japan
On the Araisi lake, there is an archaeological museum park with a reconstruction of a fortified settlement of the Latgallians–the ancient Latvian tribe. The settlement was uncovered in the 60s and 70s. After a detailed study, a replica was created of what the fortification would have looked like. You can visit the medieval castle ruins and the prehistoric wooden houses from the stone and bronze age. It will definitely change your perspective of ‘wooden floors’.
Read also: 7 Castles You Can Actually Rent on Airbnb
When you think of a manor house you may think of typical scenes from Pride and Prejudice or similar. This manor house, built in 1723 by Baron von Urgern is slightly different because it has a noble feel to it, but the whole thing is made out of wood. It is used for exhibitions and concerts so aswell as enjoying the entertainment – you can take a walk through the park beneath the ancient oak trees and visit the tea house built in 1753. You can also spend a night in one of the guest rooms at the manor house, or the old school building or eat at the restaurant.
Imagine the changing shapes as the morning sunlight reveals the spiky roof of a castle tower through the blanket of fog that covers the forest.
In Sigulda you can visit two castles of different styles. The New Sigulda Castle with its extravagant neo-gothic architecture, which contrasts with the more sober medieval style of the old Sigulda castle of the Livonian order. Dating back to 1207 this fortress, and all the activities in it, will help you understand what it was like to be a knight, or to be one of the poor souls punished in the stocks.
Not far from Riga, the capital, there is the Turaida Museum Reserve. This area is like a portal to the past. Start with the Turaida Stone Castle, constructed in 1214 to replace the prior wooden castle. You can finish with the manor and its ancillary buildings to help bring to life the history of this country.
Līgatne trails allow you to get up close and personal with Latvia’s nature. You can watch native animals along more than 5 km. of trails beneath the woods. This area provides a sanctuary for animals that have been wounded, or that may not survive in the wild on their own and is a unique experience for all the family.
Read also: Best Hiking Trails in Greenland
Near the castle of the Livonian Order, this town is perfect for spending either one or several days. You will see the contrast of old and new architecture and if you are into fishing, you will enjoy the open-air fishing museum. Or opt for the waterpark to provide fun for all ages.
Only 90 km from Riga, this is one of the oldest towns in the country. Home to the Livonian’s Master, it also has a rich history to tell. Worth mentioning is the Cesis castle which is among the most impressive ruins in the Baltic states as well as New Cesis Castle, which is very different to the older castles that we have mentioned and home to a history and art museum for the area.
Now you know there are some truly great reasons to visit Latvia. Plan your trip and get going! Remember that any trip is better when you go with peace of mind and that is achieved by having a reliable travel insurance to cover any unexpected mishaps.