When is the best time to visit Latvia?
I actually think Latvia is probably a beautiful country all year around, but I have to suggest you visit in beautiful Autumn. The country is known for its famous Autumn colours which resemble Indian spices and I cannot begin to explain how beautiful the scenery is here.
As you drive through the country you will constantly be greeted with beautiful views!
We visited during the month of October and found it to be a pleasant temperature, and everything was relatively quieter which means no mass tourism (which we aren’t a big fan of). It felt like you had the whole place to yourself!
But, that being said, I’ve also seen pictures of Latvia covered in snow and it looks amazing, so I can imagine winter is also a fabulous time to visit. And of course Summer brings with it sunshine and the chance to swim in the many wonderful lakes throughout the country.
So basically, any time is a great time to visit Latvia.
How long should you spend in Latvia?
Bradley and I spent roughly around 4 days in Latvia and this involved roadtripping throughout the country from entering via Lithuania, to leaving for Estonia. This included a day in the beautiful capital, Riga.
I actually think we rushed it a little bit, so I would suggest a week if you want to see all the best attractions Latvia has to offer then opt for a 1 week stay.
But, we did get to see a lot within our time here and if you plan on just visiting Riga, I suggest you rent a car and venture outwards to see some of the amazing views and castles on offer.
How to get to Latvia
You can easily get to Latvia via flying to Riga! Flights leave from all of Europe and are relatively inexpensive. You should check Skyscanner for the best prices on the web.
Or, you can do what Brad and I did and drive to Latvia. The freedom of having a car really gives you a chance to see all that this beautiful country has to offer.
But, if you choose to fly, then I suggest you still rent a car for a couple of days to explore more of the country!
You can also get ferries to Latvia from a number of countries, which is great if you want to take your own car. This includes Sweden and Germany!
14 top things to do in Latvia
Okay, now it’s time for the part you came for, a list of the top things to do in Latvia. This list is based on everything we did in Latvia, and some things I included that we went to that were closed!
1. Explore Rundale Palace
Rundale Palace is located just over the border from Lithuania and it’s a magnificent castle with beautiful grounds. It’s 11 euro for an all-inclusive ticket that takes you through the castle and it’s French Garden.
I actually think the best time to visit this area is during the Spring or Summer because then you’ll get to experience all the amazing colours in the gardens.
You can buy tickets ahead of time on their website here. And apparently it’s free entrance from June to September!
TOUR: You can book a private group tour here which includes a tour of this palace and some other awesome castles in Latvia. Book it here.
2. Explore quaint coffee shops in Riga's Old Town
Riga is the crown jewel of Latvia and everyone always flocks to the capital city. It’s no surprise why either, it’s beautiful!
Filled with cobbled streets, a beautiful river flowing through and a lovely atmosphere, I could spend days wandering through this city.
When brad and I visited, it was very quiet, and it was hard to believe we were in a capital city.
We wandered around the Old Town and stopped at a local bakery and coffee shop. It was located down a cobbled street and the houses were painted in a variety of colours.
We sat outside with a cappuccino and hot chocolate and a couple of pastries and just enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere that Riga exudes.
It’s not expensive either!
3. Check out the unique House of Black Heads
So, this is located in Riga, and before we visited, I really didn’t know what to expect, due to the name and whatnot. But it’s a beautiful piece of architecture and it’s actually home to a whole host of history.
Built in 1344, it’s super old too! You can take a tour of the inside, but it has to be a guided tour. Admission: €3 - 6 (tickets on sale until 17:00); guided tours €15.
This is one of the most popular things to do in Riga, Latvia.
4. Visit the important historical site of Salaspils Memorial
The Salaspils Memorial is situated outside of the Riga centre, but I think it’s an important place to visit.
The memorial is made up of a variety of large statues, representing different “feelings”. They are located where a once Nazi police prison and labour correctional camp was formed. The camp itself imprisoned Lithuanian, Estonia and Latvian civilians, military personal and transit prisoners.
There is lots of information explaining the nature of the camps, and all the people who died here and how. It’s a very tragic story, and it's a sad experience, but an important one.
It’s free to enter. It’s definitely one of the more unique things to do in Latvia, and maybe not on every tourist “hot list”, but it’s an important site that deserves recognition.
5. Wander through the Gauja National Park
Latvia has a variety of beautiful national parks, but probably the most famous is the Gauja National Park. It’s a beautiful park, and even more beautiful when the trees turn shades of orange, red and yellow.
There are a variety of walks within this park to suit all ages so it’s a suitable spot for everyone.
One of the great things to do in Latvia if you want to experience the wonderful outdoors!
6. Visit the unique Gutmana Caves
This is definitely one of the most random things to do in Latvia. The Gutmana Caves are the widest and highest caves in all the Baltic Region. It’s the oldest tourist attraction in Latvia and it’s got a really interesting story behind it.
I won’t tell you it here, because that’ll ruin the story, but I will tell you it’s a tragic one and involves 2 star crossed lovers.
It’s also free to enter the Gutmana Caves.
7. Exhilarate yourself with a bobsleigh ride
This is one of the things to do in Latvia that Brad and I arrived one day too late, as it had closed. But, we still got to check out the area and see the tracks. So, in Latvia, you can go on an exhilarating Bobsleigh ride down a racing track.
This can be done in both Summer and Winter, but in winter there is snow. You reach up to speeds of something crazy like 70 mph and it’s only around 12 euro for a go. Bradley was so excited about this spot, and I was so disappointed it had just closed!
But, you can walk around the building and if you go to the top floor in autumn you’ll be greeted with an amazing view of the surrounding area just bursting with Autumn colours!
If you just want to go in and explore the building and find the views, then it’s only 40cent to enter.
Read Also: How To Take Better Travel Photos
8. Explore the Castle of the Livonian Order
Oh, this was one of my favourite castles in Latvia (Latvia has quite a few good ones!). The entry fee was only 3 euro, which compared to castles in Ireland, is an absolute steal!
The castle itself has some amazing view points and you can get a lift to the highest point to check out the landscape. There is also some information points explaining the history of the castle and its purpose.
The castle is the cover image of this post!
9. Marvel at Turaida Castle
Another one of the great things to do in Latvia! This beautiful castle was nestled among the beautiful trees of orange, red and yellow and it makes for an epic drone shot!
It’s one of the more pricer castles to enter, (at 6 euro! :P) but that’s because it is a popular tourist spot and it’s located in a large complex which you have full access too.
We arrived a little late in the day (it was closing soon) and didn’t realise it was so big! So, arrive here with plenty of time.
It’s only 3.50 euro entrance from November during the winter season. But you can find out all the information about the complex here on their website.
It’s 1.50 euro to park your car, or free in the winter!
TOUR: If you're planning on visiting Riga and don't want to rent a car, you can actually take a tour from Riga to see this castle and the other 2 awesome castles I mention in this post. BOOK IT HERE.
10. Visit the Secret Soviet Bunkers
This was a spot I wanted to see in Latvia because it seems totally random and unique, but we ran out of time. But if you’re looking for a super unique thing to do in Latvia, then this is it.
It’s a secret Cold War bunker that’s been open to the public since 2003. At 213,000 square feet, the hideout could hold 250 people for up to 3 months if a nuclear attack occurred.
It was protected by layers of cement, dirt and metal plate! You’ll need to visit via a tour which you can organise here….Contact the Rehabilitation Centre for visiting times (00371 64161915 or 00371 26467747. Mail: email@example.com)
Oh yeah, and if you plan on heading north after Latvia, you should definitely check out the KGB Cells located in Tallinn (Estonia) as well!
11. Wander around Cesis Castle Complex
This is another one of the most beautiful spots in Latvia and another favourite of mine! Again it’s only a couple of euro to enter, but the castle is in really good shape.
You can even head up one of the towers and at the very top (Which you wind up some dodgy and claustrophobic style stairs) there is an interactive exhibition which shows the story of the castle that we found super interesting.
You can visit the old and the “new” castle, but we opted for the old. The castle is also located in one of the cutest Latvian towns, beside a lake with beautiful scenery. Cesis is a wonderful place and you could easily spend a day and night here wandering through the town and checking out other hotspot in the areas.
But definitely go for the castle! One of my favourite things to do in Latvia.
12. Have lunch in Valmiera
Valmiera is a beautiful little town located in Latvia, we drove through this town as we were making our way to Estonia, and I actually think it’s great. It’s got a beautiful river running through it and it makes for a perfect picnic spot, which is what we did.
There is also a museum, shopping opportunities, and lots of walks to do, so it’s a great place to visit for a day.
13. Take a cable car ride in Sigudla
I had to include this, as I’m a sucker for a cable car ride. I didn’t know this was here until we were at one of the castles and seen it in the distance.
Well, the views below you (that I could see) are amazing, so I think it’s totally worth doing a cable ride to get a panoramic view from above of all the beautiful forest (especially in autumn and winter!)
It’s 12 euro for the 7 minute ride that will take you over the Gauja River from Sigulda to Krimudla and you’ll get views of Krimulda Manor, the Bobsleigh and Luge Track, and the Turadia castle.
14. Relax at Jurmala beach
We didn’t go to Jurmala beach but it was on my original Latvian itinerary, it just didn’t fit in with our road trip itinerary. However, I also think it’s better to visit a beach during the summer months so you can take full advantage of it of course!
But this is a blue flag beach and one of the most popular beaches in Latvia, so if you’re visiting Latvia in the summer season then take a day trip and go there.
There are restaurants lined on the beach with sunbeds to relax and when temperatures can hit up to 30 degrees Celsius in the summer months in Latvia, you’re going to love it!
There is a museum in the area to and you’re super close to the Kemeri National Park which is a bird lovers dream.
So there you have it, my guide on the best things to do in Latvia. I hope you’ve found some inspiration from these Latvian sights and hopefully you’ll get to see them all.
Is Latvia expensive?
No! Latvia is one of the cheapest countries in Europe to visit and that’s one of the reasons why we loved it. Shopping was inexpensive for groceries, alcohol is cheap (cheaper than the UK in the majority of cases). And tourist sites are very reasonable too. For example, most castles we visited were either free or cost $2-3 entrance.
Hotels throughout the country can vary in price, but tend to be on par with the rest of Europe, but the great news is that there are lots of amazing wild camping spots located throughout Latvia which is perfect if you’ve got a campervan/caravan or even if you want to pitch a tent.
They typically have toilets and fire pits too which is awesome!
If you are on the lookout for reasonable accommodation, then I suggest you use Booking.com to search for the best deals.
Eating out in Latvia is also super reasonable, even in Riga, it’s capital. You can dine for as little as 6 euro a meal in some areas and the average would be around 8-10 Euro which is great value for a city meal!
Basically Latvia is a country that will be as cheap or as expensive as you make it.
Where to stay in Latvia
If you’ve got your own campervan/motorhome or caravan (or tent) then you’ll find lots of awesome wild camping spots located across Latvia. The majority of them have toilets, fire pits (to make a fire and cook food) and bins.
Wild camping in Latvia is legal, providing you’re not on private land.
If you’re opting for accommodation in Latvia, then I suggest you use Airbnb to look for properties in general, or booking.com for the best deals on hotel stays in Latvia. There are lots of places to stay so you’ll have lots of choice.
Sample Latvia Itinerary
To give you a quick idea of the route we did, I’ve listed the sights we see and in what order, decide what you’re closest to and start your trip there based on this route (if you wish!).
But we have a full Baltic Roadtrip itinerary that goes into more detail about our Latvia route and the chance to see the other Baltic countries.
This will take 3-4 days
- Rundale Palace
- Salaspils Memorials
- Riga: House of Black Heads/ St Peter's Church/ Riga Castle, Freedom Monument, Central Market, Riga Old Town
- Sigulda: Gauja national park, Gutmana Caves, Castle of the Liovan Order, Cable Car, Turaida Castle and Sigulda Bobsleigh.
- Cesis: Soviet Secret bunker and Cesis Castle
Last few notes
Just a few more facts and figures to help you with your adventures through Latvia
- Latvia gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991
- They use Euro as their currency
- Most places take cards, so use Revolut or Monzo for the best exchange rates.
- Fuel is relatively inexpensive by European standards
- They drive on the right hand side of the road
- Most people we spoke to knew some English
- If you don't want to rent a vehicle then consider tours from Riga
So there we have it, my guide on the best things to do in Latvia, which turned into a slight Latvia travel guide, but hey, more information is better than no information!
I hope you’ve found this post useful and if you’ve got anymore awesome places to visit in Latvia, or great things to do, then drop me a comment below.
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