Practically unknown as a tourist destination, Latvia is the place to go for an authentic experience in a remote country. But this country won't be unknown for long. Latvia is bent on getting rid of its dark Soviet-era past and speeding ahead into an energetic and vibrant modern land. Latvian tourism & travel is on the rise. The number of visitors to Latvia is increasing every year.
The capital city of Latvia, Riga is full of bustling nightlife, cobblestone streets and art nouveau architecture. It's a vibrant metropolis situated on a plain divided by the Daugava River, boasting an historic old quarter, enormous parks, stunning colorful architecture, an energetic club and café scene, and international cuisine. Its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site but this status might be lost (so UNESCO has warned) if the glitzy glass high rises continue to sprout up as fast and as furiously as they have been the past decade. After all, Riga was once called the "Paris of the East" and the people are proud of this moniker. Visit the beautiful Latgale, Latvia one of the historical and cultural destinations of the country.
The pace of life slows down away from the fun capital, where historic old villages seem to be frozen in time. You might feel as if you're the first person ever to visit some of its villages, its crumbling castles and its old therapeutic resorts on the Baltic Sea. Since it's so far north, summer nights last a long time. Twilight comes at midnight and by 4 am it's light again. Summers are full of a frenetic energy since Latvians feel they have to live as much as possible during this time after the long dark and cold winters. Beer gardens are suddenly everywhere in the summer, even in small villages, and visitors are often overwhelmed by the sudden outbursts of dancing in the streets at summer festivals.
Visitors are also impressed with the beauty and serenity of Gauja National Park in Eastern Latvia. The park is between Sigulda and Valmiera Falls. Founded as recently as 1973, the national park is Latvia's first. Protecting the region's flora and fauna, and full of forests, hiking trails, rivers and lakes — great for canoeing — the park is a wonderful way to explore a little-known natural region of a little-known country. You should also visit the historic towns of Sigulda and Cesis, interesting in their own right, but also the main entry points for the park itself. Latvia tours can be arranged with many local travel agents.
Many find it difficult to comprehend that this little country was in the iron grips of the Soviet Union such a short time ago and in spite of their severe suffering under both the Soviets and Nazis, Latvians have somehow maintained a friendliness and tranquility rarely found in other parts of Europe.
Visit Latvia before it's discovered.