Welcome to Riga, the capital of Latvia. The city is also known as "the Paris of the East". You can explore Riga’s city centre, which is also a walk-in open-air museum. Riga Cathedral is located in the old town – it’s an impressive sacral building which combines Romantic, early Gothic and Baroque styles. Close nearby is the House of the Black Heads, which has had its place in the old town for 700 years.
The Konventhof district is also worth mentioning. If you like legends, you should visit the Three Brothers, which is a building complex consisting of three closely adjoining buildings. You can also visit the Cat House, which is opposite the Large Guild. And don’t forget the Bremen Town Musicians statue, located between St. Peter’s Church and the cathedral. St. Peter's Church is one of the oldest buildings of medieval monumental art in the Baltic States and offers a breath-taking view of the city from the church tower.
Riga Castle is on the banks of the Daugava River and is the residence of the President of Latvia. The Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, located directly on Lake Juglas, is also worth mentioning: here, you can admire more than 100 historical buildings. Lastly, you can try the delicious birch sap at the central market.
You can stay in a hostel in Riga for as little as 16 euros per night in a 6-bed dorm.
The northernmost point of the Courland Peninsula is also the border between the Baltic Sea and the Bay of Riga. There’s a really great beach here and in spring you can watch the bird migration, which is a real spectacle.
The Cape Kolka lighthouse was put into operation on July 1, 1875 and is 21 metres tall. You can walk along the nature trail and enjoy the scenery. There’s also a visitor centre where you can get refreshments and buy some souvenirs. Be sure to visit the Liven Coast! Between Melnsils and Lūžna, you’ll pass Kolka. There, you can look at some old fishing villages and see how fish was caught in the past. Make sure you try the freshly smoked fish!
You can stay overnight in Cape Kolka in one of the local hostels. One night in a double room would cost you 28 euros.
Kuldiga, also known as Latvian Venice, has one of the most impressive landscapes in Latvia. The city is located on the Venta River and is included in the UNESCO Tentative List. There are large nature parks and wide streets which are great for cycling, or you can go horse-riding and hiking undisturbed. In 2007, Kuldiga was named the best tourist destination. The Venta Rapid is a 249-metre-wide waterfall, and you can go salmon fishing there.
Kuldiga also has the longest brick bridge in Europe. In the historical centre, there are small town buildings which are very well preserved and date from the 17th and 18th centuries. The highest waterfall in Latvia, which is 4.5 metres high, is not far away. The Kuldiga Museum is also nearby and stands on the site where the first castle of the Order of the Brothers of the Sword used to be. Only the cellar vault and some individual fragments of this castle wall remain. The famous sand caves of Riežupe is a large underground labyrinth of caves and also the largest in Latvia.
The old town is filled with beautiful wooden buildings. There are inviting cafés and restaurants selling local specialities. St. Catherine has a special significance in Kuldiga; not only is she the patron saint of the town and featured in Kuldiga's coat of arms, but the main church was also named after her. The Edole Castle is about 20 km westwards of the main church. This is still inhabited and houses a museum.
You can stay overnight in Kuldiga in a hotel. A single room will cost you 30 euros per night.
Roughly 165 km further east of Kuldiga is Rundale. The cultural centre here is Rundale Castle and Museum, a baroque castle built in 1765-1768. In the eastern part of the castle, you can visit the golden hall, the white hall, and the large gallery. The duke lives in the central area and the duchess lives in the western wing.
The castle has a French garden, which is about 10 hectares in size. Inside, there’s a beautiful avenue and a labyrinth, while adjacent to it there’s a beautiful rose garden covering 1 hectare of ground. The cultivation of roses from the 18th century to the present day is showcased there. The horse stables and the park are surrounded by a specially excavated canal filled with water. An amphitheatre known as "the green theatre" can also be found in this establishment. In total, Rundale Castle has 138 rooms and has three wings. It’s referred to as the little Versailles, and it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.
A night in a single room in a local hotel in Rundale costs 15 euros.
53 km away from Riga and picturesquely situated by the Gauja River, in Sigulda you can relax and get a good dose of culture. Starting with the Turaida Museum Reserve, you can explore an exciting museum and admire the medieval castle. The view over the Gauja Valley is breath-taking. The Tarzan Adventure Park has toboggan runs and many other attractions, making it one of the largest adventure parks in the Baltic States.
In Sigulda there are some ruins from the monks, while for adrenaline junkies there’s the rare Vučko vai Varde bobsleigh track, which has 16 curves and is 1420 m long. In winter, you can go down the mountain with Vučko, and in summer with Varde. You get a really great view from the Paradize Mountain – the panorama is really unique. You should also take a cable car to get a magnificent view of the Gauja Valley. The cable car is 42 m above the ground and if you want, you can even try a bungee jump! The New Castle was built exactly where the old one stood and now houses the Sigulda City Council. Take a ride on Zerglis, the only cable car in the Baltic States, to experience a speed of up to 60 km/h over the Gauja Valley.
During your stay in Sigulda, you can stay in one of the local hostels. For 22 euros, you can get a single room and relax ahead of your next few days.
Latvia has many different national parks, the largest and oldest being Gauja National Park. Indescribable nature, various caves and lakes can be found there, as well as countless hiking trails to Cīrulīši Nature Trail, near Cēsis and about 45km from Sigulda. It’s a little bit difficult to find this untouched spot of nature, but if you walk through the campsite and across the small bridge behind it, the trail starts in a somewhat hidden part of the forest. You’ll find lakes with natural springs that you can drink from.
At the most southwestern end of the national park is the Turaida castle ruin. The castle, which was built in the 13th century, was a permanent institution in the region for over 500 years, but it burned down completely in 1776. Its rebuilding began in the 50s, and it now houses a museum that describes the history and events surrounding the castle. You can get a great view of the lakes surrounding the national park if you take the rewarding climb up the small mountain.
Hostels near the national park are available for as little as 9 euros a night in a 10-bed dorm.