Latvia is the heart of the Baltic States: all the best is concentrated here, which this amazing land is rightly proud of. A small country, taken in a dense semicircle by Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus and Russia, for a long time remained for Soviet holidaymakers something like “their own abroad”, and today it is still full of paradoxes. The refined elegance of urban architecture is adjacent here to the modest charm of authentic villages. Business centers are growing in megacities, and centuries-old castles silently keep the secrets of the past. Nature – the coast of the Baltic Sea, lakes, forests – is restrained in the northern way, but that’s why it is even more fascinating. People are tactful in a European way, but at the same time very hospitable: Latvians are already accustomed to living in a Western rhythm, but they also carefully cherish their own traditions.
Shopping in Latvia
Latvia can hardly boast of super opportunities for shopping at the highest level, but you can still find something interesting here. For example, recently the fashion for eco-standards has returned here, therefore, stylish clothes made from environmentally friendly materials have appeared in the markets and stores: yarn, linen, hand-made leather. Shopping centers with boutiques of popular brands have been built in large cities: prices for accessories, shoes and clothes are lower than in neighboring Estonia, but higher than in Lithuania.
Most shops are open from 8:00 to 22:00, in the capital – until 0:00. Small food stalls close earlier: at 19:00. Retail outlets at gas stations are open around the clock.
All kinds of glass, wood and clay products are often brought from Latvia, but the undisputed leader in the souvenir market is local amber. Original costume jewelry and interior decorations made from “solar” resin are sold in Riga, Jurmala, Liepaja – in other words, wherever a tourist steps foot. Latvian cosmetics also deserve attention: the products of the Dzintars factory are loved by entire generations, and the Stenders brand produces excellent bath products from natural ingredients. As edible souvenirs, we recommend Laima chocolates, cumin cheese, bottled beer and the famous Riga Balsam.
Cuisine and restaurants in Latvia
Fish and potato dishes are especially popular in Latvia. See other countries beginning with L. It is worth trying the Baltic salmon (good in all forms), herring casserole with boiled potatoes, potatoes baked with cheese. From meat dishes – taste chicken soup-puree, bacon patties, original “cheese” from a pig’s head, lamb in caraway sauce, pork ribs fried on a grill, as well as a beef steak with clopps onion sauce.
Interesting vegetable treats are gray peas fried with onions and smoked cracklings, and Sklandrausis pies, which look like cheesecakes. The most famous cheese is caraway, made from eggs and homemade cottage cheese, with a recognizable salty taste. And Latvians love rye bread so much that they even make desserts out of it: bread and cream soup with dried fruits and bread ice cream with lingonberry jam.
Note to the gourmet: Latvian culinary specialists are not alien to the craving for risky experiments. As a result of their creative breakthroughs, the world was shown, in particular, beer soup with dried fruits, semolina porridge with whipped buberté proteins, black bread jelly with cranberry juice and honey.
Almost all Latvian restaurants serve traditional dishes according to old recipes or modern interpretations. Many establishments use exclusively organic products from nearby farms. Self-service cafes are very popular: home-style delicious, and the prices are reasonable. In big cities there are specialized eateries (for example, fish or vegetarian) and establishments with cuisines from different nations of the world. Lunch for one in an inexpensive cafe will cost from 7-10 EUR, dinner with alcohol in a restaurant – from 30-33 EUR.
Entertainment and attractions
A week is hardly enough for a full-fledged excursion to the sights of Latvia. Riga, one of the most beautiful European capitals, will certainly become the first point of the program. Its historical center acquired its current appearance only in the 19th century: in the decor of elegant facades, the features of Art Nouveau are guessed. There are also sights with a much more ancient history: the Dome Cathedral with a world-famous organ was founded in the 13th century, the House of the Blackheads with a stepped roof – in the 14th. And in the Latvian capital there are many museums that tell about the history of everything in the world: from porcelain to navigation.
The best viewing platforms are equipped in St. Peter’s Church and the Riga TV Tower.
In the vicinity of Jurmala, there is the Kemeri National Park and an open-air museum that recreates the life of an old fishing village. The architectural dominant of Daugavpils is the Dinaburg Fortress, one of the largest fortifications in Europe. Cēsis is also a must-visit – the oldest Latvian city with the Venden Castle, founded in 1209. Sigulda is known for its magnificent landscapes and the monumental Turaida Castle, which today has been turned into a museum-reserve. The castle of the Livonian Order has been preserved in Ventspils as well. But the most impressive palace and park ensemble in Latvia is designed by RastrelliRundāle Palace: A sumptuous example of Baroque architecture with a charming French-style landscaped park.
A separate reason for traveling to Latvia is the endless holidays and festivals.
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