After years of foreign rule and Soviet control, Latvia has come into its own as a vacation destination. The country is located on the Baltic Sea between Lithuania and Estonia and is less traveled than the more popular Western European countries. Latvia offers beautiful coastline, pine forests, numerous lakes and rivers and a modern energetic capital city. If you’re looking for a European getaway that still feels a little like an undiscovered gem, then Latvia is the place to visit.
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Parks and beaches
A good portion of Latvia is covered with forests and lakes, providing plenty of options for hiking, biking, boating and exploring nature trails and parks. Gauja National Park is the largest park in Latvia. The park encompasses vast pine forests, many lakes and the Gauja River, which is lined by stunning sandstone cliffs. While visiting the park, you can also explore medieval castles and palaces, such as the reconstructed Turaida Castle—originally built in the 13th century.
Located on the banks of the Baltic Sea, Latvia also has its share of beautiful beaches. Jūrmala, a resort town on the West Coast, features long, white sand beaches and charming houses in the Art Nouveau style. In the summer, the sun only sets for a few hours in the middle of the night and Latvians flock to Jūrmala to soak up as much sunshine as they can.
Latvia’s capital city is quaint, charming, dynamic and urban all at the same time. Rīga is Europe’s Art Nouveau capital. Wander through the city and you’ll find the turrets and stylized decor popularized by the Art Nouveau style in the early 20th century. Throughout the city, Art Nouveau mixes with older gothic architecture and modern highrises and hotels. Wander through the Rīga’s Old Town and admire the medieval churches and stone buildings. At night join the locals in the clubs and bars—Rīga has an energetic and dynamic nightlife, especially in the summer when it stays light late.