A small country in the North East of Europe, Latvia is known on the political map since the end of the first World War. This exceptionally green and naturally beautiful land has been standing in the doorway from the East to the West and from South to North ever since the time that the last Ice age carved the deep valleys and left so many footprints in Latvian landscape in form of lakes, swamps and rivers.
The 64 573 square metres of picturesque land next to the Baltic Sea is home to an old ethnic nation, still bearing and nourishing the culture and language of the Proto-Indoeuropeans – Balts. Baltic is the only European language still featuring Sanskrit forms and words. In the Northern part of Latvia, one can find also features of another ancient ethnic tribe that once found its home on this land - the Livs.
Perpetual geopolitical movements and turbulences have been preventing the peaceful development of the nation, that was for centuries under the rule of German, Swedish and Russian order, but what the world has gained from this is a cultural and both East and West learned community, with a distinctive mindset and deep, 3000 years old roots in every footstep of their land.
Explore the four Latvian regions - Vidzeme, Latgale, Zemgale and Kurzeme. Discover the true Latvia – off the beaten tracks!
One could find thousands of reasons to visit Latvia! Here are the 10 most noted:
Latvia boasts pristine and untouched nature. Relax in secluded and uncrowded white quartz sand beaches, take a stroll through flora-rich forests or enjoy Latvian rural idyll by one of many Latgalian lakes or in Zemgale's meadows. Intrepid travellers will enjoy rafting down any one of the scenic Latvian rivers, feeling the thrill of running the rapids at one moment and admiring the remarkable sandstone cliffs situated on the banks of Vidzeme region's rivers - the next.
2. Natural harmony of Human-Nature-Animal
See first-hand the harmony of life between people, nature and animals in one of 4 Latvian national parks, 4 nature reserves, 42 nature parks or in the one biosphere reserve located on this small land called Latvia. See the work of the biggest beaver population on the continent, see and hear some of more than 200 bird species that nest in Latvia, discover elk, moose, wild boar, red deer and the beautiful wild lynx. Untouched nature reserves and endless forests are home to the rich Latvian flora and magnificent fauna.
3. Latvia's vibrant capital - Riga
Riga's Old town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here the treasures of Latvian history stand proudly, while the clatter of the only cosmopolitan city in Latvia surrounds them. Walk along the cobbled streets of the Old town or enjoy the imaginative facades of Art Nouveau buildings scattered around the centre of Riga. These more than 800 Art Nouveau or Jugenstil buildings reflect a unique mix of European Art Nouveau and Latvian romantic nationalism features. Riga offers a wide variety of activities to give into when on a cultural retreat.
4. Local cuisine
Latvia offers a special delight for all of your senses, especially when regarding food. Many Latvian chefs have embarked on a journey in search for contemporary Latvian tastes, following world class culinary methods and merging them with local traditional methods. Progressive chefs even offer to lead culinary masterclasses so that you can learn a new skill or discover hidden talents. Latvia is a paradise for chefs, because it is blessed by 4 distinct seasons (although our chefs would argue that we have 8 of them), allowing their imagination and creativity roam free and materialise on the plates of the visitors.
5. Traditional culture
Despite long periods of foreign rule, Latvians have clung onto their traditions and managed to keep them alive. Traditional features of ancient wisdom and lifestyle of balts and livs are interwoven in modern Latvian's everyday life and festive events. Uncover the reasons behind Latgalian hospitality, Zemgalian riches, Kurzeme's inhabitants' pride and Vidzeme's diligence. Learn about the Latvian unique relationship with Mother Nature, sing burdon together with Suiti women, learn a dance with one of many Latvian folk groups or visit one of the seasonal folk celebrations of the Sun calendar.
6. Architecturally rich towns and cities
Here you will find a wide variety of buildings from simple log houses with thatched roofs to decorative Art Nouveau and opulent Baroque buildings. Many manors and palaces dot the rural landscape, while centuries old churches are found in every city and small town in Latvia. Explore the magnificent architectural world of Latvian towns and cities.
7. Four enchanting seasons
Latvia is blessed with four distinct seasons, changing the landscapes from flashing autumn colours to calm, milky white winter colours. Here even a local can be amazed and surprised by nature's ever-changing character. Feel the different moods of Mother nature - winter tranquillity, waking of spring, hustle and bustle of summer and the sanctity of autumn! See Riga in winter - a sight from a Christmas card or visit one of the Latvian swamps in spring to enjoy bird migration.
8. World class arts - Song and Dance festival, Orchestra, Opera and Ballet
Latvia is well known as the land that sings, not only because Latvians have coupled almost every job they do with a song, but also because of the majestic Song and Dance festival happening every 5 years, where more than 30 000 participants in all age groups come together to celebrate traditional and contemporary Latvian song and dance. The singing and dancing culture in Latvia is so strong, that it manifests itself in every regional and national festival. Visit contemporary music festivals or visit one of many art galleries to see the vivid artwork of Latvian artists, who have been inspired by both Eastern and Western traditions. Or enjoy a performance of world-class Latvian opera, where talents like Elīna Garanča, Kristine Opolais, Marina Rebeka, Maija Kovaļevska, Inese Galante, Aleksandrs Antoņenko and Egils Silins have started their careers.
9. Mix of cultures and centuries
Latvia can proud itself in some stunning works of art and profound artists. The styles of different rulers of Latvia throughout the ages have formed a unique mix of cultures and eras, that is portrayed in city planning, on building facades, paintings, music and even dance choreography. Discover and explore the mix of Balt, Liv, German, Swedish and Soviet cultures. Feel the mixture of tradition and innovation in every field of art.
10. Unforgettable experiences
Latvians are practical, therefore hands-on experience is of value for almost every local inhabitant. Local craftsmen are willing to share their knowledge and let you try your hand in process of the making. Learn to cook a gourmet dinner or a traditional Kurzeme region "sklandu rausis", learn to brew beer, make oakwood barrels or a dugout canoe. Go husky dog sledding, bungee-jumping in one of the most picturesque alleys in all Baltics, learn to fly in an aerodium or experience being a prison inmate, "looked after" by KGB-costumed officers or participate in spy games in old Soviet coastal forts.
These are just a few of the myriad of possibilities that Latvia offers and that we can organize for your stay in Latvia!
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