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Latvia Holidays

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Latvia Travel Guide

Latvia, is considered the pearl of the Baltic States, one of the European Union member states, situated in the North of Europe on the shores of the Baltic Sea. Latvia is a country offering unspoilt nature, with 500 km long sandy beaches and 45% of the territory covered by natural forests. Since ancient times Latvia has been at the cross–roads between East and West, North and South. Therefore, Latvia is a multi–cultured state, where the traditions of all these countries have merged, creating a unique environment, the like of which is not to be found anywhere in the world.

The most famous travel spot is the capital Riga, a World Heritage Site. There are also many other great places to see, both urban and rural, such as Liepaja with its unique former secret military town of Karosta and a magnificent beach. Kuldiga with Europe`s widest waterfall and Cesis with its medieval castle ruins are also interesting. Tourists can also enjoy the wild beauty of Latvia's unspoilt sea coast, which is 500 km long and consists mainly of white, soft sandy beaches. Forests, which cover approximately a half of Latvia's territory, offer many nature trails and nature parks.

Things to see

Latvia it yet to be properly discovered by the large tourist crowds, however, those who have visited are always most positively surprised by the charms of this Baltic country.

Latvia's dynamic capital, the historic city of Riga, is a great place to spend some time. It boasts a truly lovely old quarter, full of magnificent Jugendstil architecture, winding cobblestoned lanes and many steeples. Yet, it is a modern, metropolitan city with a vibrant nightlife and a strong economic impulse, to the extent that the rise of modernist buildings is threatening the old town's World Heritage listing. Riga's vibe gets under many travellers' skins, perhaps for the strong contrasts between old and new or maybe because of the seemingly painless blend of Latvian and Russian cultures, as almost half of the city's inhabitants are of Russian origin. To get a sense of the city, wander through its large, manicured parks, stroll through the historic quarter and then kick back in one of the many cafs or outdoor terraces. Among Riga's best sights are the impressive Riga Cathedral, St. Peter's Church and the bustling Central Market.

Although Riga is by far the country's main tourist destination, there are a bunch of other places well worth a visit. At just 40 km from the capital is Sigulda, with the nicely reconstructed Turaida Castle, an interesting castle museum as well as the deep Gutmanis Cave. The town is beautifully located in the Gauja valley and has been called the "Switserland of Latvia" for its steep cliffs and banks. It's known for its winter sports opportunities and makes a great base for explorations of the fine nature around it. The coastal city of Liepaja is known to Latvians as "the city where the wind is born", for the sea breeze it constantly enjoys. It has a nice beach and a charming town centre with a colourful mixture or architectural styles, from wooden houses and spacious parks to Art Nouveau and concrete, Soviet–era apartment buildings. Liepaja's neighbourhood of Karosta was built in the late 19th century as a naval base for Tsar Alexander III and was later used by the Soviet Baltic Fleet. Its splendid sea side panoramas, former military prison and fortress remains now make it a popular tourist sight.

Cesisis one of the country's oldest towns and has a charming centre with cobblestoned lanes, historic wooden building and a few impressive castles. Kuldiga boasts Europe's widest, though at two meters high unspectacular, water fall. It's part of the Venta Rapid, one of Latvia's natural monuments. Despite its limited hight it's still a nice sight and the town itself is worth exploring too. The colossal white Cathedral of Agnola is a worthwhile day trip from Daugavpils, the second largest city in the country. Jelgava has two fine sight in its baroque style Rundale and Jelgava palaces.

Cities

Riga – the capital city with more than 800 years old history, with the popular holiday suburb of Jurmala right by Daugavpils – second biggest city in Latvia. Features many factories and other industries. Liepaja – city of music on the Baltic Sea coast, which is always windy. Latvians believe that the wind starts in the city; and well–known Latvian musicians come from there. There is a very interesting former secret military town called Karosta, between a lake and the sea. One of the world's largest pipe organs. Famous summer event Baltic Beach Party in July. Fantastic unspoilt, white, soft sandy beach. Madona – a small scenic town in eastern Vidzeme, surrounded by hills, forests and lakes, capital of winter sports. Sigulda – popular town with many interesting castles and historic places. Most popular attraction outside Riga for foreign tourists. Ventspils – hosts one of busiest ports in Europe. It is possible to observe incoming ships.

Climate

The best time to travel to Latvia is from June to mid September, when it is warm and plenty of local food is available. January and February are the coldest months. October and November have autumn rains and daylight is short.

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