Latvia — Attractions
Most of Latvia’s main attractions spring from its long and eventful history, leftover sites that are impressive on a global scale and just a week would not do the country justice. From Riga, many are just a few hours away by car so getting around is never an issue. Riga Castle is the heart of Latvia’s tourism industry, as it contains two of the more renowned museums within its walls. The northern district, Karosta, is home to a Soviet-built world that rivals the capital.
Built in the 15th century, Riga Castle is one of the most illustrious edifices in the Baltic States. It sits on the banks of the River Daugava, and was continually restructured, refurbished and retooled between the 15th and 19th century. Today, the castle is a popular attraction primarily due to its two interesting museums that are housed within. The Museum of Foreign Art boasts some of the most treasured international art in the country. Also within the walls is the National History Museum of Latvia showcasing thousands of exhibits that stretch as a far back as the tribal culture.
Address: Pils laukums 3, Riga, Latvia 1900
One of the best spots in Latvia for a family day, Riga Zoo is located in the district of Mezaparks, and sees more than 300,000 visitors annually. There are 3,000 different species housed within the park, which has grown substantially from its humble roots of just 500 animals in 1912. The zoo is renowned throughout Europe as one of the most efficient bird conservation institutes on the continent where the owl and spotted eagle are carefully monitored and studied.
Address: Meza prospekts 1, Riga, Latvia, 1014
Karosta, which literally translates to” War Port,” was constructed during the first Russian occupation of Latvia. Used as a naval base, there is a famous breakwater that stretches nearly two kilometers into the ocean which visitors can explore halfway. Be wary of high winds though, as waves can become dangerous. The main attraction is the Karosta Prison, which was used as a military prison up until 1997. Today, it is inoperable, but visitors can spend the night inside the jail, being processed and incarcerated just like a former convict.
Address: Karosta, Liepaja, Latvia
This red-bricked castle is found in the city of Turaida, and even though it has been reconstructed in recent times, still manages to radiate a magnificent historical ambiance. It is the center and symbol of the Turaida Museum Reserve and sits only three miles from the heart of Sigulda, which is one of Latvia’s most impressive cities with an excellent view of the surrounding valley.
Address: Turaida Palace, Turaida, Sigulda, Latvia
Krimulda Palace and Ruins
Even though there are still plenty of operating castles and palaces throughout Latvia today, the Krimulda Palace and Ruins preserves a phenomenal moment in history as it was mostly destroyed through wars in the 17th century. Nevertheless, the ruins are an important part of Sigulda’s past.
Address: Krimulda Palace, Krimulda, Latvia
Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation
Located in the center of Riga, this landmark is actually two museums in one, so history buffs will certainly enjoy having a full day to explore. Most exhibits are in English and there are summary rooms and multilingual brochures.
Address: Palasta iela 4, Riga, Latvia 1050
The Riezupe Sand Caves
Near the city of Kuldiga, the Riezupe Sand Caves are an interesting labyrinth of underground caves. They stretch more than a mile long, but only about half of that can be explored. Nevertheless, they do provide an interesting adventure for those looking to see deeper than the surface of Latvia, literally and figuratively.
Address: Riezupe Sand Caves, Riezupe, Latvia
Riga Art Nouveau district
Perhaps the most photogenic part of Riga is it’s remarkable At Nouveau district, reckoned to be the best preserved area in all of Europe. Up to 40 percent of the buildings in the historic center have some sort of Art Nouveau touch, and a few blocks north of central park are packed with magnificently preserved building fascias demonstrating this striking form of expression popular just a century ago.
Address: Central district, Riga, Latvia
Museum of the Occupation of Latvia
Located within the capital adjacent to the central square, the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia houses information about the period of control by Nazi Germany and the USSR. Once used as a museum for the notorious “Red Rifleman” during the Russian revolution, this imposing black-colored building depicts some of the most important parts of the country’s history with the warring superpowers.
Address: Latviesu strelnieku laukums 1, Riga, Latvia 1050