Latvia, sandwiched between outgoing Lithuania and the more reserved Estonia, has been forging its own distinctive style in recent years. There is a sense of buoyant energy in the country but also a certain coarseness. These qualities are exemplified in the capital, Riga – the cosmopolitan hub of the Baltics. Wander through its streets to find elegant and whimsical Jugendstil buildings, a sprawling industrial area and art nouveau architectural masterpieces, or immerse yourself in immaculate views of the forest landscapes and crisp blue lakes. You can explore all of this and more on a Latvia tour with Bunnik Tours. Book a group tour online today or contact one of our friendly Travel Specialists.
Latvia Facts & Tips
Did you know?
- Latvia has over 12,000 rivers and 3,000 small lakes! In summer, the temperature can hit 20 degrees, so they may be a little chilly…
- The internet downloading speed in Latvia is one of the fastest in the world!
- Venta Rapid, located in Kuldiga, is the wildest waterfall in Europe, with a width of up to 270 metres, depending on the season, but the waterfalls themselves are not particularly high.
- The longest summer day in Latvia lasts 17½ hours.
- Latvia’s current flag design has been in use since 1280. Only Denmark’s flag is older.
- The first decorated Christmas tree originated in Latvia.
- The most popular summer sport is basketball and in winter, it’s ice hockey.
- Ballet star Mikhail Baryshnikov and film director Sergei Eisenstein were born in Riga.
Visas & Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to Latvia do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
The Australian Embassy in Sweden is responsible for Latvia:
Klarabergsviadukten 63, 8th Floor
111 64 Stockholm
Ph. +46 0 8 613 2900
Fax. +46 0 8 613 2982
The Australian Honorary Consulate in Latvia:
Ph: +387 33 209 202
Fax: +387 33 214 634
The official currency of Latvia is the Euro. Notes come in denominations of €500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5.
The recommended currency to take to Latvia is the Euro. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have Euro’s with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Riga is approximately €2.50 - €3.
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately €10.50
- The price dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately €25.
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately €3.50 - €4
Traditional Latvian food is plain and hearty. Latvians are proud of their fine breads and dairy products, and no Latvian meal is complete without whole-grain or rye sourdough breads and yoghurt or cheese. Fish, sausage, pork and beef provide most of the protein – flavouring comes from caraway, cream, dill and onions. Laima chocolates are a Latvian specialty. The Laima factory has been producing chocolates and other sweets for more than 125 years – it’s the country’s oldest factory.
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
Summer is warmish, while spring and autumn can be mild. Winter, which lasts from November to mid-March, can be very cold and heavy snowfall is common. Rainfall is common throughout the year.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
In Riga, walking is a great way to see the city sites and soak up the relaxed atmosphere. Otherwise, taxis are privately owned and all of them should have a meter box. At night, it is safer to grab a taxi, but there may be a night surcharge.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Latvia…
Much like its Baltic neighbours, Latvia is known for its amber jewellery. You can buy pieces which come with certificates of authenticity from most jewellers; these are generally set in gold, silver or bronze. You can also find small pieces strung onto leather or used to decorate photo frames or other home decorations. Hand-knitted woollen items are also common throughout Latvia and tend to have Nordic patterns. Linen is also widely available, and you can buy it by the metre or in the form of tablecloths, bedding and napkins.
Carry moist wipes for cleaning your hands after using public transportation and being out and about. They can be invaluable on sticky summer days. And carry some toilet paper or tissues in case you’re faced with using a public restroom.
Smoking is acceptable almost everywhere.
If entering a church or mosque both sexes should cover shoulders and legs. In a mosque, women will most likely be asked to cover their hair with a scarf (usually provided).
Celebrations & Public Holidays
Latvia is incredibly proud of its medieval heritage and celebrates this with several fun festivals throughout the year. Two of these are the Midsummer Festival in late June and the Cesis Castle Medieval Fair, held in early May each year. The city of Riga celebrates with the Riga City Festival, the Light Festival and Riga Restaurant Week Festival.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year’s Day
- Easter Friday and Easter Monday
- Labour Day (May 1st)
- Declaration of Independence Day (May 4th)
- Midsummer Eve & St John’s Day (Midsummer Day) (June 23rd & 24th)
- National Day (November 18th)
- Christmas Eve
- Christmas Day
- Boxing Day
- New Year’s Eve
Latvia’s capital, Riga, is the largest of the three Baltic capitals. It celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2001 and for its anniversary, many of its buildings were restored. Latvia’s capital and main port is a beautiful city with an almost German ambience and the bustle of a true metropolis, whose true appeal lies in the wonderful art nouveau art and architecture that makes up the heart and soul of this city. The oldest buildings are influenced by German and Swedish architectural styles and stereotypical Soviet-epoch concrete buildings also dot the cityscape. The historical centre of Old Riga is a delightful place to wander the cobblestone streets and soak up the local atmosphere.
What is the best month to visit Latvia?
The best time to visit Latvia is during the spring months, from March to May and the summer months, from June to August. The climate during this time is warm and sunny, perfect for a range of outdoor activities!
What is Latvia famous for?
Latvia is a charming country with a rich culture, known for its beer, art nouveau buildings, stunning natural scenery and more!
Art nouveau buildings
Riga, the capital city of Latvia is known for its stunning art nouveau architecture that features multi-story buildings, geometric patterns and neoclassical windows. Riga has the most art nouveau architecture in the world and also features many mediaeval buildings too. Other most visited buildings include St Peter’s Church, Riga Cathedral and the Art Nouveau Museum.
White sandy beaches
As Latvia is located near the north coast of Europe, they have many white sandy beaches. Their most popular beach is ‘Jurmala’, a beautiful sandy beach that is 20 minutes away from Riga. Summer is the best time to visit the beaches as the weather is warm and sunny.
Lakes and waterfalls
Latvia is known to have a number of beautiful waterfalls, lakes and rivers. Latvia is the perfect place for nature lovers as they can explore surreal views and do a range of outdoor activities, including kayaking, canoeing, swimming, hiking and more!
If you’re a beer lover, Latvia is the place for you! Latvia is home to a number of local breweries that make a range of different beers, most commonly producing gaišais, a pale lager and tumšais, a dark beer. If you want to try true Latvian beer, we recommend going to a local microbrewery for a delicious and smooth taste.
Castles and palaces
Latvia has a range of beautifully designed palaces and castles. Rundale Palace is their most famous design due to its pristine architectural style, which is similar to the Palace of Versailles. Other famous castles and palaces include Turaida Stone Castle, Castle of Cēsis and Daugavpils.
Is Latvia a beautiful country?
Latvia is an incredibly beautiful country that is positioned between the Baltic Sea and Estonia. It was even voted as the world's most beautiful country in a national online poll. Latvia is known for its stunning architecture including art nouveau and medieval buildings, impressive blue lakes, white sandy beaches and green forest landscapes.
Is Latvia good for a holiday?
If you’re a lover of nature and pristine architecture and views, then Latvia is the perfect destination for your next holiday. There are plenty of things to do, such as touring the charming Old Riga to see the Dome Cathedral, St Peter's Church and Old Riga Castle, soaking up the atmosphere at the colourful Riga Central Markets, exploring the impressive Turaida Castle and so much more!
How can I tour Latvia as a responsible traveller?
At Bunnik Tours, we believe in responsible travel and sustainable tourism. For more information, visit our Sustainable Tourism hub.
Can't find the answers you're looking for? Check out our FAQs.
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