Best time to visit Latvia

Best time to visit Latvia


Outside of the foreboding winter the country thaws out, with Jul-Aug the best time to visit Latvia if you fancy dipping a toe into the Baltic. Spring and autumn bring bird migrations with geese, ducks and divers overtaking much of the western shoreline as well as the wetlands and forests inland. Showers can occur at any time of year so keep this in mind as well as an overcoat. As half of Latvia is forested, autumn is gorgeous with Gauja National Park showcasing the changing foliage, albeit over shorter days.

Things to do in Latvia


Things to do in Latvia…

Walking tour of Riga. Riga is always best experienced with a local expert as details of the Freedom Monument, Laima Clock and ruined old city walls offer an intriguing insight into Latvia’s capital city. Doma Cathedral, St Peter's Basilica and Riga Castle will all, no doubt, feature on a walking tour with free time in the Central Market a great chance to get haggling for souvenirs.

Taste the difference. Typical Latvian dishes are pork based and accompanied with heavy black bread, although, a recent trend towards promoting the country’s national identity through its food is starting to turn stereotypical Soviet style fodder into something much more, urm, foodie. Smoked fish, pickled veggies, fresh cheese and sklandrausis (sweet carrot pie) are all to be found in Riga’s markets and bakeries, alongside some seriously delicious saldējums (ice cream).

As Latvia forms the rather generous filling in the Baltic state sandwich, taking a tour which combines Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia is certainly a tasty prospect. Border controls are practically nonexistent and as the Euro is used throughout there’s no pesky currency conversion required when moving from one seaside village or capital city to the next. A tri-country tour is an excellent means of threading together the history of the region as well as discovering those fascinating cultural nuances that make each Baltic state completely unique.

Things not to do in Latvia…

Forget your beach blanket. Latvia’s 530km shoreline features endless beaches with towering white sand dunes and bluffs bookending ancient fishing villages selling smoked fish, beer and nostalgia. Latvia’s western coast has remained untouched by development and become one of Europe’s last remaining wild shorelines with the beaches at Jūrkalne, Slitere National Park and Liepāja, amongst the most picturesque.

Stick to four wheels. Latvia’s made for leisurely cycling with quiet roads, low gradients and several coastal tracks leading cyclists past deserted beaches and whispering pine forests. The ride westwards from Riga to Jurmala is just under 40km and a well deserved swim in the Baltic Sea is all that’s required to freshen things up before returning to the saddle and exploring along the coast.

Forage without friends. Billberries, lingonberries and cranberries bring a burst of colour to the mossy greens and browns of Latvia’s pine forests however, delve a little deeper and you’ll discover the amber ears of chanterelle and the toasted umbrellas of porcini mushrooms supplementing a smorgasbord of wild delights. As with any foraging mission, picking the right produce to go in your wicker basket is essential and hunting for mushrooms with a local guide is the best way to learn about Latvia’s love affair with nature as well as grabbing some free forest goodies into the bargain.

Latvia travel advice


Itinerary tips

Bob Mathews, from our supplier Exodus, shares his favourite places to visit in Latvia: “Jurmala has a nice beach area (left is active; right side, non-active!) and an excellent open air/outdoor concert hall – check who’s playing before the visit. The gardens at Rundāle Palace are exceptional, as are the palace rooms, which were featured in the BBC’s adaptation of War & Peace. The Old Town district of Cesis is small but quaint and the castle grounds have re-enactments during the summer with traditional medieval food, music and dressing up.”

Understand the history

Jenny Aitken, from at our supplier Tucan Travel:
“It’s a good idea to read up on Communist history before you visit Latvia so you can fully appreciate the context of the modern country that you’ll find today.”

Riga advice

Simon Clifford, product manager at our supplier Exodus, shares his experiences of traveling in Latvia: “Riga's art deco Central Market is one of the largest in Europe and pivotal to Latvia finding and exhibiting a national identity through food and local produce.”

Natalie Greenhalgh, from our supplier, Exodus, advises on city sightseeing: “Visit St Peter’s church and head up to the top for the best views in Riga.”

Jenny Aitken, from at our supplier Tucan Travel, shares her Latvia travel tips: “Riga has an amazing Art Nouveau district that’s great to wander around and find all the hidden beauties.”
Photo credits: [Temp box: drewgerard] [Itinerary tip: Jevgenijs Slihto] [View from st. Peter's church : Adrián Pérez] [Art Nouveau Riga: fdecomite] [helpdesk box: Jorge Láscar]

Written by: Chris Owen
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