Discover surprising things to do in Latvia

Latvia-it’s a country that many of us know very little about. During my visit, I was able to experience a lot, meet some incredible people, and eat well. But, it left me wanting to explore more. I’m pretty sure you’ll feel the same way!

Jessica in Kuldiga

Why visit Latvia? There are a bunch of reasons, but the simplest reason is that you’ll love it! There’s more to do than you thought possible and it’s just one of those special places that get overlooked far too often. Did you know that it’s one of the greenest countries because ~54% of it is covered in forests? Or that they have some of the fastest internet speeds in the world? There are 3,000 lakes and about 12,000 rivers, so it’s perfect for the outdoorsy-type. Oh, and a citizen of Latvia invented jeans, so yeah, there’s quite a bit to know and be impressed with here!

Old Town Riga, Girts Ragelis

For those who aren’t so outdoorsy, the capital of Latvia is a stunner of a city and a great place to start your visit. It’s at the cross-roads of Eastern and Northern Europe and has an incredible history. But, not gonna lie, it’s the storybook appearance that got me wanting to visit. It’s a walking downtown area with tons of beautiful spots, great shopping, and restaurants. Their Central Market is famous for being friggin’ MASSIVE, so that’s definitely worth a look.

Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk

Visit a Bog

Get outside! Go explore. I’ll admit that I don’t do this nearly enough, but I got to visit a bog during my time in Latvia and it was so nice. About 10% of the country is made of bogs which is a wetland. It was quiet (though that’s not always the case!) and just a special place to be…you could feel it. Latvia leaves a lot of land to be explored and appreciated by its citizens and visitors. It’s important to understand the land you live on and appreciate that being in nature is good for the soul.

Jurmala Beach

Play at the seaside

I went to Latvia in the winter time so I didn’t get to visit the seaside, but I hope you get to! Sean and I plan to have a nice road trip in this area soon (in the summer) and we will definitely be hitting the beach. With 500km of coastline (and much near Riga), it’s easy to get to the water to play. If you like to take long walks on the beach during the springtime, you might just meet some baby seals. Eeeeek! I wanna see a seal pup!

Jessica with Latvian Rhubarb Wine

Taste Latvian wine

Originally this post was going to be all about the wine in Latvia, but then I realized two things:
1) you probably have no idea there’s wine in Latvia (I didn’t!)
2) there’s so much more to Latvia that I had to share, but still, there IS wine

Wine in Latvia isn’t usually made from grapes and if you do find some, they likely import their grapes (which is totally fine!). It’s more fruit-wine country up here. Here’s a secret for you, I like fruit wine better than traditional wine. There, I said it. There’s a winery where I’m from with the best fruit wine in the USA, so I’m partial. Anyway, there are so many amazing places to try wine here. Here’s the tourism website for wine, but I go to taste wine from Krimulda Manor, Abavas Winery, Aizpute Winery, and Kabile Manor Winery. All amazing and all I would buy again! Yes, I drank a lot of wine on that trip, here’s the video to prove it.

Stay in a manor

Check out the Mālpils Manor. I mention this one because it’s not just a manor that’s stunningly beautiful with its distinct architecture. You can also take nature walks, horse-and-cart rides, visit the local dairy, take a little boat ride and more. Doesn’t it sound ridiculously romantic? Sounds perfect and it’s not far from the capital of Riga. But, there are a bunch more to visit you can visit and/or stay in.

Edole Palace

Visit a palace

Yeah…who doesn’t want to sleep in a palace? No, really? This is just another reason I love this country — there are surprises everywhere. Granted, I feel that most of us don’t know much about Latvia, so everything is a surprise and I love that. I’ve seen the term palace used interchangeably with castle, so take it what you will. It’s an awesome country to find grand buildings! Learn a bunch more about these beautiful places.

Koknese Castle Ruins

Explore old castle ruins

I’m not sure what I find more interesting, check out a preserved castle/palace or walking around the ruins of one. Nature taking over something so epic is just fascinating. What do you think? Well, if you do like that kind of thing, then there are plenty of ruins to see.

Turaida Castle, Gauja National Park

Admire a renovated (or well-kept) castle

If you do want to see how people lived back in the day instead of imagining it all through a pile of stones, check out some renovated castles that welcome visitors. There are quite a few and I love that they aren’t only beautiful but steeped in history as well. You might want to visit Gauja National Park with lots to see including Turaida Castle.

Lake in Lagale, Latvia

Take a Latvia experience tour

I took a complimentary tour with The Latvian Element and I would take every tour they have if given the chance. It was EXACTLY what I wanted in a tour: an enthusiastic guide, meeting with locals who are passionate about their craft, and the best local food. It was a foodie tour, okay, yeah, not a shocker to anyone who’s been a reader for a while. We took the “Food, Glorious Food” tour and would absolutely recommend it to anyone.

Watch the food tour I went on below.

Enjoy a beer or visit the beer spa

Latvians love their beer! They even created a beer spa in the heart of Riga. Here you can take a warm beer bath while drinking a cold one, get really clean from a scrub with grain, a steam bath with birch brooms soaked with beer, and a full-body massage with beer. You can also just visit to try their beer! What a cool experience for a beer-lover.

Riga Christmas market

Attend a Christmas market

If you are around Riga during Christmas, check out their Christmas market. I think the major, most well-known markets are too crowded. It just isn’t fun anymore when you are fighting to move or get a bite to eat. Heading somewhere like Riga, Latvia for Christmas will give you the festive ambiance you’re looking for with great food but without the hoards of people.

As I said, Latvia is full of surprises. I loved learning more about this place and when we go back, we’ll have even more to share! We seriously cannot wait. I’d love to know which of these things you would most like to do when you visit Latvia. Or do you have something to add? Leave it in a comment so others can check it out.

Wishing you joy and travels!

Jessica Cutrufello wearing a green floral dress, glasses and pink lipstick

Hi! I’m Jessica, an American who made Amsterdam her home in 2014. I share European gems through food and memorable experiences. Want to know more? Head to my about page or check out my YouTube channel.

Travel with us - Tuscany October 2022