The Slow Traveler's Guide to Latvia Q&A
In the last few years, Latvia has become a hotbed for travel in Europe. This small country has all the right ingredients: affordable yet high-quality accommodation; stunning natural sights; excellent food and drink at affordable prices; and most importantly, friendly locals who are eager to invite you into their homes. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There’s so much more to this tiny Baltic country than meets the eye. How much do you know about Latvia? Here is a quick guide to everything you need to know about traveling in Latvia as a slow traveler.
What is the history of Latvia?
Latvia has a long and storied past, shaped by war, oppression, and immigration. It was controlled by Slavic tribes, Germanic tribes, Vikings, the Hanseatic League, the Teutonic Order, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Russian Empire, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and the Soviet Union before finally becoming an independent state again in the early 1990s. The country's capital, Riga, is a particularly interesting city. Not only does it have a fascinating history (being one of the oldest cities in Northern Europe), but it also has a diverse population of ethnic Latvians, Russians, and the descendants of Jewish and German immigrants who were forced to flee during World War II.
What are the best things to do in Latvia?
First, let’s talk about the weather and seasonality in Latvia. The best time to visit is from May to September when the weather is warm and the crowds have mostly gone home. The weather in October is unpredictable, with rain, wind, and the occasional snowfall. November and December can be cold, and January through March are very cold and snowy, with temperatures below freezing and occasional blizzards. The most popular places to visit in Latvia include Sigulda, home to the popular “Bobsled Track,” Rundāle, a castle, and Jūrmala, a seaside resort town. If you’re looking to get out of the city, the Kurzeme, Vidzeme, and Zemgale regions are all excellent places to explore.
What is the cost of living in Latvia?
The cost of living in Latvia is surprisingly low. You can get a decent meal for about 2 euros, and a beer at a bar is about 1.50 euros. A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant will cost around 20 euros. A travel card is 15 euros and works for the bus and tram. A pint of beer at a bar will cost no more than 3 euros, and a bottle of wine is between 7 and 10 euros. The general cost of food, transportation, and accommodation in Latvia is significantly cheaper than in any other Western European country. A single traveler can live comfortably on around 800 euros a month.
What is the best food to eat in Latvia?
The best food to eat in Latvia is definitely pork! There are many different types of pork dishes, including the famous "Celme" and "Biezu skrebi" (pork ribs) found at many local restaurants. Another must-eat Latvian dish is the "Cepumes" (Potatoes with cheese). There are many different variations, but they’re all delicious. You can also try "Labs pelds" (traditional stew), "Zivs izlepums" (herring served in a variety of ways), "Koldskieds" (potato pancakes), "Suls un biezums" (soup and meat served in a bread roll), and "Ugunsgrisene" (traditional gingerbread).
What are the best things to do in Riga?
Riga is a beautiful capital city, with a lot of old architecture, and a central riverfront area that’s great for walking and exploring. Visit the Museum of Occupation to learn about the short period (just 21 years!) that Riga was under Soviet control. Walk along the River Daugava to the Freedom Monument, which is a symbol of Latvians’ fight for freedom from Soviet control, and stands over the House of Blackheads, the former meeting place of Riga's merchant guild. Visit Riga ēsti to see over 50 restaurants, cafes, and dessert shops along the riverfront. Spend a day at the Baltic Sea, where you can visit Jurmala, a beach town just 20 minutes outside the city.
Does Latvia have a lot of expats?
Latvia has a small expat community, but they are very active. They have their own expat Facebook groups where you can find everything from dates to language exchanges. You can also find events listed online by various organizations. Many expats in Latvia work in information technology, teaching, the development sector, and engineering.
Does Riga have co-working spaces?
Yes! Riga has a few co-working spaces, including Collider, which houses a plethora of events by interesting folks in the creative scene. You can also find other co-working spaces like Workaholics and Punctum.
Which airlines fly directly into Latvia?
The best way to get to Latvia from the United States is with a direct flight from New York or Boston. From the UK, the best option is to fly from London. Unfortunately, there are no direct flights from other European countries. The best way to get to Latvia from other parts of Europe is to fly to one of the above-mentioned cities and then change to a flight to Riga. Alternatively, you can fly to Vilnius, Lithuania, and take a bus or train to Riga. Once you’re in Latvia, you can travel by bus or train to other cities in the country, including Sigulda, Riga, and Liepaja. You can also fly to Estonia and take a bus to Latvia. The best airlines to fly to Latvia include AirBaltic, British Airways, Lufthansa, Ryanair, and Finnair. Ready to travel to Latvia? Book with one of these airlines to get a discounted flight, and start planning your trip today! You’re now ready to travel to Latvia as a slow traveler. You know what to expect, what’s worth seeing, and where to go. So, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and go explore this amazing destination!