What Is Latvia Known For? The Most Alluring Features of the Baltic Country

The beautiful Baltic nation of Latvia may not be the first destination that pops into your mind when you think of a sophisticated European vacation. Yet, many things in Latvia add to the charm of this country and make it worth a visit. So, what is Latvia known for?

Rich cultural heritage, historical landmarks, breathtaking landscapes, and delectable cuisine are some of the many things that will leave a lasting impression on Latvia’s visitors.

The Latvian Song and Dance Festival

The country has a rich cultural heritage, strongly emphasizing folk traditions, music, and dance.

Latvians are proud of their traditions and celebrate various festivals, such as the Song Festival (Dziesmu svētki) and Midsummer’s Eve (Jāņi).

UNESCO also recognizes the Latvian Song and Dance Festival as an intangible cultural heritage. Held every five years, this festival attracts thousands of participants and spectators from around the world.

It brings together singers, dancers, and musicians from across the country for a celebration.

Rich History

Latvia has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years. Influences from various civilizations, such as Vikings, Swedes, Russians, and Germans, mark the Latvian heritage.

It was an essential center of trade and commerce during the Middle Ages. Latvia’s historical landmarks and architecture comprise popular tourist attractions, and it is home to several UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Riga’s historic center and the Struve Geodetic Arc.

Riga: The Beautiful Capital City

Latvia’s vibrant capital city, Riga, is renowned for its stunning and well-preserved architecture, particularly the Art Nouveau buildings lining its streets, dating back to 1904-1914.

Riga has been fittingly labeled as the “Paris of the North.”

Multi-story building designs, geometric patterns, ornamentation, and neo-classical doors and windows are the main elements of this architectural style.

Walk around Elizabetes Street, Alberta Street, and Audēju Street 7 to soak in the fascinating Art Nouveau architecture. Other must-visits include St Peter’s Church, the Riga Cathedral, the Art Nouveau Museum, and The Three Brothers.

The city’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a testament to its medieval charm and lively atmosphere.

Riga Central Market, one of Europe’s largest markets, is a must-visit for tourists and locals. You’ll be delighted by the vast array of local delicacies, fresh produce, and artisanal crafts in this bustling market with Art Deco and Neoclassical styling.

Riga is also known for its lively nightlife and thriving arts scene.

Baltic Cuisine

Latvia is famous for its delicious cuisine, with dishes like grey peas with bacon (pīrāgi), potato pancakes (Kartupeļu pankūkas), sauerkraut stew (skābētu kāpostu zupa), and rye bread (rupjmaize).

These hearty dishes often feature locally-sourced ingredients.

Black balsam, a traditional herbal liqueur, is popular among locals and visitors. It’s concocted from over 24 different plants, flowers, buds, roots, juices, oils, and berries soaked in oak barrels. This is something you must try once in your lifetime.

Enchanting Palaces and Castles

Castles and palaces are the highlights of many Baltic countries, including Latvia.

You’ll find many castles and manor houses that showcase Latvia’s medieval past.

Some magnificent structures, like the Turaida Stone Castle, Rundāle Palace, Castle of Cēsis, and the Daugavpils Fortress, offer a glimpse of the country’s history.

Latvia’s palaces and castles were built over different centuries; hence they vary in style and structure. If you want a unique experience, you can opt for an overnight stay in the Mezotne Palace and Rumene Manor.

Pristine Nature

Latvia is known for its beautiful and diverse landscapes, including stunning sandy beaches along the Baltic Sea coastline, pristine forests, and picturesque lakes. It is a haven for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

With an emphasis on environmental conservation, the country has numerous national parks and protected areas that showcase its biodiversity. Kemeri National Park and Gauja National Park are among the country’s natural treasures.

Latvians have a deep appreciation for nature and outdoor activities. You can enjoy exploring the Baltic Sea coastline or hiking in national parks.

The Watery Wonderland

The 12,000 rivers, 3,000 small lakes, and many majestic waterfalls of Latvia are excellent for swimming, canoeing, or kayaking.

That’s not all; the widest waterfall in Europe at 249 meters wide, Ventas Rumba, is in Latvia. However, seeing as it’s only two meters high makes it slightly disappointing if you were expecting a Niagara Falls-like extravaganza.

Latvia’s longest river, the Gauja River, is the only one that starts and ends within the country.

Don’t miss out on walking around one of the lakes for a tranquil experience.

While Lake Lubāns, located in the middle of Eastern Lowland, is Latvia’s largest lake, Razna Lake, surrounded by sandy beaches, is the second-largest. If you visit here in the winter, you can try out ice fishing.

The Beaches

Latvia is not deemed a beach destination but is home to over 313 miles of sandy beaches.

The water may not have spa-like temperatures, but they make for a great chilly dip at the peak of summer, with temperatures of about 20oC.

Jūrmala, a popular seaside resort town along the Gulf of Riga, is Latvia’s most famous beach destination. Its charming wooden villas, sandy beaches, beach bars, waterparks, festivals, and rejuvenating spa facilities are perfect for any family vacation.

Ventspils, Pape Nature Park, and Jūrkalne Bluffs are other great Latvian beach destinations.

The National Parks

A considerably large proportion of Latvia’s landscape is covered in forest, with over 20% of that land being protected.

Four national parks, 40+ nature parks, seven protected marine zones, 24 micro reserves, and over 500 nature reserves and monuments make Latvia one of Europe’s greenest and most-looked-after countries.

Here’s a fun fact: In 2012, Latvia topped the Environmental Performance Index.

The best time to visit Latvia to explore these pristine habitats comfortably is between April and September when the weather is warm.

Experience the Kemeri National Park bogland with the Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk. You can experience the true splendor of nature – pine trees, wild herbs, limpid pools, and mosses.


For a country with 40-50% of its land covered in forests, it is no surprise that Latvia is home to diverse wildlife.

The species include wolves, red foxes, lynx, deer, elk, wild boar, beavers, otters, lesser-spotted eagles, and 7,000 stork breeds.

If you’re a nature enthusiast, head to Pape Nature Park for some bird-watching in autumn and Ragakapa Nature Park or Tervete Nature Park for wildlife-watching.


Despite being a small country in population size, Latvia has produced several world-class athletes, establishing its name in the sporting world. Latvia excels in various sports disciplines, including basketball, bobsleighing, javelin throwing, long-distance running, etc.

With a strong basketball culture, Latvia consistently performs well in international competitions, and basketball players like Kristaps Porziņģis have gained global recognition.

The country’s cold winters also provide the perfect opportunities for winter sports, such as cross-country skiing, ice skating, and ice hockey (the Latvians love ice hockey).


Latvia has a long history of producing high-quality amber jewelry. Amber, a fossilized tree resin, is often referred to as “Baltic gold,” Latvia is among the world’s leading sources of this.

Looking for a Latvian souvenir to take back home? Amber jewelry and artifacts make splendid souvenirs.

Traditional Crafts

Latvia is renowned for its traditional crafts like amber jewelry and intricate woodcarvings. It also has a rich tradition of craftsmanship in areas like pottery, ceramics, and weaving.

If you come across local markets or festivals, you’ll find artisans showcasing their exceptional skills.

The Best Part? It’s Budget-Friendly!

Affordable accommodation, food, and sightseeing make Latvia an extremely budget-friendly destination. Remember, their locally brewed beer also comes at an affordable price.

It’s no wonder that families and backpackers prefer Latvia, and especially Riga, for budget-friendly vacations. Moreover, Riga is a relatively small capital city, and you can walk around the city without spending on transportation.

What Is Latvia Known For? Here Are Some More Things

  • Female Models: A strange yet exciting fact, Latvia produces more female models per capita than most countries. Latvian women are famed for striking looks and enviable beauty. Only Estonia, Lithuania, and Denmark rank higher than Latvia.
  • Beer: A beer lover’s heaven, Latvia’s local breweries make region-specific beers. That means you can try hundreds of beers – tumšais (dark beer) and gaišais (a pale lager) are the most popular.
  • Vertical Wind Tunnel: To experience skydiving without actually skydiving, visit the Aerodium in Sigulda. It’s Eastern Europe’s first vertical wind tunnel. You can do flips and somersaults mid-air with a mighty puff of wind lifting you to hover inside the tunnel.
  • Education Scene: The country values education and has a high literacy rate. It is home to several prestigious universities and educational institutions, attracting students from all over the world.
  • Ethnographic Open-Air Museum: The Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum will offer you a glimpse into the architectural heritage and traditional rural life.

Summing It Up

If you were wondering, ‘What is Latvia known for?’ a wide range of things add to its charm and allure. Latvia is known for its beautiful landscapes and vibrant festivals. It is also famous for its historical sites, such as Riga’s Old Town and the medieval Turaida Castle. Additionally, Latvia’s mouthwatering Baltic cuisine and rich cultural heritage make it a unique destination in Northern Europe.

Latvians are known for their hospitality and warm nature towards visitors. Add the abundance of nature, architecture, and culture, and you will have a memorable visit.

Jude Uchella

Jude Uchella is a passionate research writer whose work has been published on many reputable platforms, including MSN, Wealth of Geeks, and more! He prioritizes research, writes comprehensively, and only shares factual and helpful content. He is a reader’s delight!

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