Due to amber, Latvia was famous as an ancient trading port. Germans traders came and founded Riga in 1201 and it eventually became the most powerful city of the Baltic Sea. Independence was first achieved in 1918, but lost when conquered by the Soviet Union in 1940. During WW2 the Nazis occupied for a bit before the Soviets came back. Both were brutal and it is estimated that 90,000 Latvians were killed by the Nazis and well over that were shot or sent to Siberia, and never heard from again, during the Iron Curtain period.
Population – 1,920,000
Money – Euro (as of Feb 2020 US$1 = €0.91; current rate available at XE.com)
Language – Latvian & Russian, but English is understood by many
Religion – 34% Lutheran, 24% Catholic, 18% Russian Orthodox
When to go – Summer when it is warmer
World Heritage Sites – 2 – Riga & Struve Geodetic Arc
Country formed – gained independence from Soviet Union on August 21,1991
In August 2019 I spent a month traveling around the Baltic states and Latvia was my last stop. I entered by bus from Estonia and stay the entire five days in the capital, Riga. Although, I did rent a car and venture to Sigulda & Cēsis in the east, the Rundale Palace in the south, and Jūrmala & the Ķemeri Moorland to the west (the Baltic Sea is to the north).
Likes, Dislikes, and Recommendations
Riga is not to be missed, but I also had the unique experience of bungee jumping from a cable car in Cēsis and hiking through bogs in the Ķemeri Moorland. The history of the area is fascinating with castles in Sigulda & Cēsis and the palace in Rundale is beautiful. If you want some beach time then Jūrmala is not to be missed. Plus they have a really intense ropes course.
Why don’t you take the time to read all the blogs I wrote from my time in Latvia and this will give you a good start to planning your own trip.
All Blogs From Latvia
Cēsis Castle is one of the most iconic and best preserved medieval castles in Latvia. The foundations of the castle were laid 800 years ago by the Livonian Brothers of…
In late August I was in Riga, Latvia and decided to rent a car and see a few sites outside the capital. The first place I wanted to see was…
People have been living in the area around Riga for thousands of years, but Riga itself was founded in 1201 as a port city and a base for the Germans…