I bought my husband the flight tickets on a whim. It was Christmas after all, and being a couple who loves traveling, it seemed like an ideal gift. I’d only been to Latvia’s capital city, Riga, once, but spent no more than a few hours there. That brief travel made me want to return ever since and this time, I brought Chris along.
It was supposed to be dreadfully cold in February but if one is well-dressed against the blistering wind, they said it could be stunning. So we set off with a mission to discover the Winter Wonderland in this small Baltic state, and well, they were right! Despite the cold, Latvia was stunning! We loved it there and I’m sure you’ll do so too. Here are some reasons why:
- Amazing Architecture And Design
Architecture fans will be stoked to find this city filled with colorful and dramatic facades that stand till today.
What sets it apart from other European cities is its abundant presence of Art Nouveau buildings on the streets of Riga. Wander along the city and the Art Nouveau district and be mesmerized.
For fans, there is even a period apartment which serves as Riga Art Nouveau Museum. There, you’ll discover how an apartment in Riga is furnished in the beginning of the 20th century.
Even if you’re not an architecture fan, you’ll still find it all very breathtaking.
- A Mixture of the Old and the New
Old Riga, a part of the city that’s still preserved with Riga’s ancient past, may already impress you with its variety of stunning historic buildings, and cobbled lanes. But delve a little further into this medieval town, and you’ll find a thriving nightlife within.
There are bars, beer gardens, cafes and eclectic boutiques tucked away in these narrow lanes. You’ll never know what you’ll find when you walk down the street!
- Tasty Eats at a Cheap Price
You’ll be surprised to find traditional and modern cuisine at an affordable price. From upscale restaurants, to hipster coffee joints, you’ll find everything you want for almost nothing. It’s a refreshing change, especially if you’ve just come from expensive cities like London or Paris.
And don’t for once, let the low costs fool you into thinking you’ll have something mediocre in return. MUTE for instance, may put any cafes in Melbourne to shame by serving signature cocktails and breakfast foods (their Eggs Benedict are to die for) at a tastefully decorated atrium for less than 5 Euros per person.
If you’ve been out partying till the wee hours in the morning, be sure to check out Pelmini XL, which serves everything from gigantic Russian dumplings and salads, to vodka and yogurt. Here, you can have a bowl of vegetable or meat dumplings topped with sauce for less than 2 Euros.
- Cēsis, a Picturesque Medieval Town
Escape to Cēsis if you’ve a few more days to spare. Only a 100 km from Riga, this charming 800-year-old city is the place to head to if you like skiing, castles and nature.
The city is surrounded by the Gauja National Park, with plenty of lush, green meadows and tranquil forest trails to explore during the warmer months. The castle itself lies in the middle of the town, surrounded by ruins and cobbled roads, that has remained untouched since the Middle Ages.
You can also take a romantic stroll through the park that surround the castle grounds. The few pavilions that scatter within the park offers you a sanctuary to retreat to with your loved ones. In winter, this town becomes almost mystical. Cloaked in snow and ice, ancient secrets seem to whisper in the wind.
- Free Wi-fi…Everywhere!
Unfortunately, most European cities don’t offer wifi connection in public places – but not Latvia. Here, you can get connected at all times, even at a bus stop, in a supermarket or in a taxi!
I was surprised and overjoyed to find the wifi connection don’t usually come with a password. This way, you won’t feel Internet deprived and will always be able to update the virtual world about your travels constantly.
If you do go to Riga, be sure to bring your camera, your curiosity and lots of energy! There are plenty of things to do, mostly free things or if not, at very affordable costs. Accommodation options are in abundance, at every budget, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to find a place at very last minute.
What are you waiting for? Make Latvia part of your bucket list now!