Latvia is a land of magical charm and unique beauty. With its quaint small towns and its enchanting forests, Latvia holds much for the adventurous traveller. Explore Latvia and discover the scenic delights of this Baltic wonderland.

Getting around

Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Latvia has an excellent bus network, offering extensive transportation coverage across the country. Latvia’s rail network connects Riga with several destinations, including Tukums, Liepāja, Daugavpils and Skulte, though may be somewhat limited as an option for reaching more isolated locations. Taxis are plentiful and easy to find in Riga and other main cities.

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

Tour Guides

Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography, environment & weather

Latvia is situated alongside the Baltic coast, and covers an area of 64,589 square kilometres. The country is very flat, with 98% of Latvia’s surface lying under an elevation of 200 metres. Latvia holds over 12,000 rivers and over 3,000 lakes, while woodlands cover 52% of the country.

Latvia’s climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream flowing across the Atlantic Ocean, and experiences mild summers and cold winters. Depending on the season you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.

World Heritage Sites

Latvia has 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, with another 3 on the Tentative List. You can view the official list of the sites here (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/lv). The listed sites currently include:

Historic Centre of Riga, filled with hundreds of buildings in the distinctive Art Nouveau

Struve Geodetic Arc, a remarkable multinational project involving Latvia and several other nations involving a chain of survey triangulations to measure a portion of the world’s surface.

Festivals & events

Numerous festivals and events dot the calendar in Latvia. One of the biggest events in Latvia is the Latvian Song and Dance Festival. Held every 5 years, the festival brings together tens of thousands of performers for mass performances of folk songs and classical choir songs, with orchestral concerts and exhibitions of photography, art and folk craft also staged. The Staro Rīga Light Festival is an eye-catching event, with the bridges, buildings and squares of Riga illuminated by elaborate light shows. Other notable events include the Riga Opera Festival in June and Autumn Chamber Music Days.

Reading list

Latvia: A Short History, by Mara Kalnins
The Case for Latvia, by Jukka Rislakki
Latvia: A Love Declaration in 35 Pictures, by Jacques Sauvage
Lāčplēsis, by Andrejs Pumpurs

Eating & Drinking

Latvian cuisine is built around starch, vegetables, meat and fish. Rye bread occupies a central part of the Latvian diet, with Latvians consuming around 50kg of rye bread a year. Indeed, rye bread is not only included as an accompaniment to most meals, but is also served as a dessert in the form of rye bread pudding, made from sweetened rye bread, fruit, cinnamon, and whipped cream. Given the many lakes and waterways that thread through Latvia, fresh fish are abundant and are widely consumed, with smoked fish a staple of Latvian cuisine. Other notable Latvian dishes include rasol (a potato salad made out of layers of meat, eggs, vegetables, mayonnaise and sour cream) and pelmeni (dumplings made from unleavened dough and filled with minced meat, vegetables or cheese).

Latvians will often wash down food with either Riga Black Balsam (a liquer made with a range of herbs including pepper, ginger, linden flower and rasberry), or kvass, an alcoholic beverage made from rye bread.

Health & Safety

Generally speaking, Latvia is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling. Street crime does sometimes occur in major cities, including bag snatching and pickpocketing, so pay close attention to your belongings and to your personal security.

Electrical Supply

Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Latvia’s electricity supply runs at 230V and 50Hz. Latvia uses both Type C and Type F plugs, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.

Crafted tours for World Travellers

Tours of Latvia

Baltics Small Group escorted Tour Latvia Estonia Lithuania
On Sale

The Baltic States, flexing their economic muscles, continue to become a focus of interest everywhere. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the subsequent integration of Germany bound the region into the engine of the European economy. Our program studies the diverse histories of and influences on, the Baltic States and studies how each of them is coping with its different form of independence.

21 days
Europe
Level 2 - Moderate

FAQs

Responsible Travel Tips for Latvia

  1. Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
  2. Carry a card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
  3. Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
  4. When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums & galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
  5. Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
  6. Before departing, make sure you have a number of euros in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.

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