Going to Latvia? Here’s 20+ Amazing Things to Do and See During Your Trip
Latvia is one of the most lovely nations in Northern Europe. This little Baltic State is full of culture and pizzaz.
If you’re looking to visit Latvia, we’ve got a treat for you. Here is a list of the 22 best things to do in Latvia on holiday!
How to Spend Your Time in Latvia
If out of the ordinary is your style, then Latvia is certainly the holiday destination for you. This itty bitty country is tucked along the Baltic Sea.
Having been tossed between foreign powers for years and years, it is finally independent, stable and strong.
Its rough history has certainly given it quite a bit of personality. Latvia is the perfect destination for those who need a destination with some spunk.
Since Latvia is relatively small, you can surely do and see everything that Latvia has to offer in just one trip. We’ve made this list of the best things to do in Latvia so that planning your trip will be easy peasy.
Learn more about our trips to Northern Europe!
1. Visit the Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Center
The Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Center is truly out of this world. Several different projects are currently underway at this amazing astronomy center, so as a visitor, you’d get to see scientific developments in real time!
Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Center is the perfect place to bring the whole family, especially if you have little ones with curious minds and an interest in STEM.
In addition to checking out the astronomy center’s towers, visitors have the privilege of exploring an underground tunnel.
Admission is quite affordable, especially since you can buy family tickets for just 12 euro. Excursions start at just 8 euro.
You’ve got to add this amazing attraction to your itinerary.
2. Make a Stop at the World of Hat
Looking for a spunky museum to shake things up? While Latvia’s capital is filled with oddly specific museums, the World of Hat definitely takes the cake.
As its name suggests, the World of Hat is a museum filled with hats that represents different cultures from around the world.
You may not have woken up today dreaming of visiting a hat collection, but you definitely should not miss this attraction.
3. Pay a Visit to Latvia’s Resident Giant
Big Christopher is a Latvian icon. While Big Christopher’s statue is only a couple decades old, his story dates back to the third century.
According to legend, this friendly giant helped to carry a young boy across a river. As he trekked on, the boy became much heavier.
Once he got to the other side, the boy revealed that he was Jesus Christ, the son of God. He explained that the reason that he became heavier throughout the journey was that he was carrying the sins of the world.
Since this giant carried Jesus and all of the sins, he was given the name Christopher, which literally meant “carrier of Christ.”
His strength and courage is still honored today.
4. Fly Over to the Riga Aviation Museum
If planes are your jam, you have to stop by the Riga Aviation Museum. This wonderful museum has fighter jets, bombers, helicopters, civilian planes, gliders and more.
The Riga Aviation Museum is definitely a favorite of those who are fond of flying.
The museum has very limited hours, so be sure to call ahead to make your arrangements to visit. Their phone number is +371 26 862 707.
5. Be Wowed by the Pedvale Open Air Art Park
Location: Abava Parish
The Pedvale Art Park is one of the cutest places in Latvia. From animals to interactive modern art, there is so much to do and see.
Every piece of art in this open air museum is highly symbolic. The art is intended to teach viewers a lesson and challenge their ways of thinking.
In coming years, the Pedvale Art Park intends on reopening their artist residency, which means they will provide onsite housing to artists who will create in this stimulating environment.
Tickets are very cheap and you must reserve your spot at least three days before you plan to visit. You certainly do not want to miss this spot
6. Get Spooked at the Doll Garden of Sabile
The Doll Garden of Sabile was not created with the intention of being creepy, but the 200 glaring straw dolls seem to have a mind of their own.
This spooky garden was created by a local grandmother who has a lot of extra time on her hands.
Located on the main drag of Sabile close to the main town square, the grandma tends to her field of dolls almost daily. She has “babies” of all ages and walks of life.
The Doll Garden has been compared to the Chinese terracotta warriors—without the weapons.
7. Duck and Cover in the Araisi Lake Fortress
Location: Drabeši Parish
Are you interested in the history of ancient fortresses? If so, brace yourself because we’ve got a treat for you.
The Araisi Lake Dwelling Site is a reconstruction of an ancient fortress that was built over the remains of an actual ancient fortress. This is a history buff’s dream.
The impressive reenactment of the lives of the Latvians ancient predecessors is the perfect place to bring the kids for a medieval picnic.
8. Let the Kurmrags Lighthouse Guide You
Location: Liepupes Pagasts
The Kurmrags Lighthouse is Latvia’s little miracle. This tiny but mighty lighthouse as survived storms, but only with a little migration.
For nearly 50 years, the Kurmrags Lighthouse guided sailors in from the sea, but one strong storm in 1967 dimmed her light.
In 2005, the Kurmrags Lighthouse took another blow from a mighty storm, but this time, she was moved onto the beach. The lighthouse continues to inch towards the ocean.
Since the lighthouse is surrounded by private property, you can not park beside it. The best way to reach the lighthouse is by parking in a nearby public area and taking a stroll along the shore to reach this little beauty
9. Wine and Dine Your Way Around Latvia
Here at Hekla, we are all for getting to know a culture through its cuisine.
Latvian cuisine hits the perfect balance between simple and flavorful. The bulk of the Latvian diet consists of hearty meat and potatoes.
You’ll find something exquisite on every menu. There are a few dishes that scream “LATVIA” that you’ve got to try.
Some of these may sound a little wonky, but trust us. They are delicious.
5 Best Latvian Dishes
- Rye bread
- Pickles and sauerkraut
- Rasol (potato salad)
- Karbonade (pork schnitzel)
- Rye bread pudding
6 Best Restaurants in Latvia
10. Stop by the Corner House
The Corner House in Riga used to serve has a KGB bunker back in the day when the Soviets had power over Latvia.
Today, this KGB exhibit is part of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. The Corner House offers an accurate look into the life of the former KGB soldiers.
It is so neat to be able to see history in its original form rather than in a replication. When you’re viewing the original, you don’t have to worry about missed details and such.
You cannot miss the chance to experience this wonderful piece of history.
11. Visit the Mazirbe Boat Cemetery
Looking for a fun free attraction in Latvia? The Mazirbe Boat Cemetery is the perfect place for you.
The Boat Cemetery is exactly that: a resting place for boats.
A multitude of boats were dumped in these woods in the 1960s and 1970s. This is the only official graveyard for boats in the entire world, so many find it to be a very special spot.
The boats that rest in the cemetery were built and sailed all around the Baltic Sea.
Since all of the boats are wooden, the cemetery isn’t expected to last more than a decade. The wood is decomposing and turning into soil.
You have to visit this withering boats before they are completely gone.
12. Pop into P. Stradins Museum for History of Medicine
If you love science and medicine, you must carve out some time in your schedule to visit P. Stradins Museum for History of Medicine.
While this museum is full of awesome exhibits, there is one that you cannot miss: the two-headed dog.
The two-headed dog, which is preserved by taxidermy, was born of an experiment that pushed the science of organ transplants to where it is today.
A scientist took the head and circulatory system of one dog and attached it to the body of another. This freaky experiment helped to make waves in the area of organ transplants.
If you’ve studied medicine or you’re interested in going down that path, you should stop by this museum.
13. Jump Back to the 1920s in Cinevilla
The Roaring 20s marked an era of liberation and life like people never knew before. Cinevilla, which is “Filmtown” in English, is a neat attraction in Slampe that gives guests a taste of cinema from the 1920s.
While you can cover most of the grounds in 3 hours, many opt to enjoy Cinevilla for the night. There are 150 bed accommodations and a wonderful campground for those who choose to rough it.
You can eat lunch at Cinevilla’s pub, or you can pack a lunch if you choose! There are plenty of places to picnic.
What do you say? Are the roaring 20s calling your name?
14. Snap a Pic with the Three Brothers
Riga’s Three Brothers are some of the coolest buildings in all of Latvia. They make up one of the most Instagram-worthy spots in all of Latvia.
This series of three row houses depicts the evolution of Latvian architecture. It is part of the Latvian Museum of Architecture.
Architecture is a huge deal in Latvia since it has so many unique buildings that maintain historical structures.
You cannot leave Latvia without paying a visit and snapping a picture of the Three Brothers.
15. Stop by the Grave of the Mysterious Spirit Child
Location: Ventspils District
Abavmuiza Cross Stone is one of the spookiest gravesites in all of Latvia.
This mysterious headstone has over a dozen crosses haphazardly carved into it.
Legend has it that the crying of a young child was once heard around the grave when no child was present. The locals called upon a priest to help them figure out what was going on.
As the story goes, the priest instructed them to say 9 prayers and crave 9 crosses. His instructions worked and the child stopped crying.
Today, there are at least 13 crosses on the stone. It is unclear whether the story was simply a myth, or more locals heard more crying later that required more crosses to be carved.
You’ve got to visit this spooky grave to see for yourself.
16. Hide in the Ligatne Secret Soviet Bunker
Well, you probably won’t have a reason to hide when you’re in Latvia, but you should still check out the Secret Soviet Bunker in Ligatne.
Up until 2003, this bunker was still under top secret protection. This bunker was built to protect people in the event of a nuclear war.
The Secret Soviet Bunker is equipped with the required materials to sustain the lives of those who take cover there. It has everything from a clean water supply to a library full of Soviet favorites.
It is truly amazing that this slice of history has been preserved so well. It definitely helps that it has uncovered relatively recently.
Tours that include lunch in the bunker’s dining area, which is called a “canteen,” are 6.5 euro on weekdays and 8 euro on the weekend when given in Latvian. They are slightly more expensive when given in Russian or English.
You’ve got to bring the family to see this awesome bunker.
17. Admire the Beauty of the Venta Rapid
We love a good waterfall, so that’s why we believe you should stop by the amazing Venta Rapid.
This magnificent waterfall is not only the widest waterfall in Latvia, but the widest in all of Europe. It is quite short, especially compared to its great width.
This cute waterfall was once an obstacle for inland transportation when the boats were small and fragile. By the time arrangements were made to create a bypass in the 17th century, boats were sturdy enough to go over the short falls.
Today, the falls are used for easy basket fishing.
18. Visit the Bridge to Nowhere
Location: Irlavas Pagasts
The Bridge to Nowhere is yet another picture perfect spot in Latvia. This short bridge in the middle of a grassy meadow where it was supposed to connect two pieces of train track.
The bridge was built across the Abava River as part of a project before World War II. Once the war broke out, the project was halted.
Unfortunately, the lonely little bridge remains as a symbol of what should’ve been had the war not broken out.
There are no known plans to finish the railway at this time.
19. Sing Carols at the First Public Christmas Tree Marker
Whether you want to sing Christmas carols or not, you’ve got to stop by the marker of the First Public Christmas Tree.
This special little paver marks where one of Europe’s first public Christmas trees once stood. The spot has been marked since the 16th century, according to the records of the Blackheads’ Guild.
It is unclear whether there were Christmas trees in homes before this, or if the tree indicated by the marker was the first of its time.
Either way, you’ve got to stop by this spot for a merry photo op.
20. Karosta Prison Hotel
Want to spend the night in prison? You’ll be let out in the morning. We promise!
The Karosta Prison Hotel is one of the kookiest hotels in the entire world. It is quite creepy, but also super interesting if abandoned prisons are your thing.
If sleeping in a Soviet prison is not your jam, you’re welcome to stop in for a tour, show and meal.
In addition to the tours and overnight stays, you can play spy games and navigate an escape room at Karosta Prison. There are plenty of options for you!
This place just has to be added to your itinerary.
Are you up for a chilling overnight stay?
21. Attempt to Read the Petroglyphs of Virtaka Cliff
Location: Krimulda Parish
The Livonians, which are the ancient people who used to inhabit Latvia, certainly left their mark.
In 1986, the Virtaka Cliff was discovered by a cave researcher. This cliff is covered with petroglyphs, which are symbols etched into rock.
Each symbol has a unique meaning, but historians are still trying to figure out what the marks in this specific wall have to say.
Historians believe that the marks represent claims of property and possibly even records of death.
Whether you want to attempt to decode them or not, the petroglyphs are pretty cool to examine. They are signs of history in the form of a first hand source.
22. See the Stonehead of Salaspils
Picture this: you’re walking down the street and a giant stone head rolls out in front of you. Wouldn’t that be wild?
Well, the Stonehead of Salaspils isn’t exactly rolling around on the streets, but it is pretty interesting.
This history of this piece of art isn’t completely clear, but we do know that it was stolen, replicated then recovered over the past few decades. It has had a bit of a wild ride.
The Stonehead of Salaspils most recently made its debut as one of the famous stones on Fortnite, a popular video game.
You can check him out at his current resting place.
Amazing Northern European Destinations
Are you loving the idea of visiting Latvia? When you’re planning your trip to this lovely country, you’ve got to check out some of the surrounding nations!
Northern Europe has so much to offer. The Nordic, Baltic and Scandinavian countries are so different from your typical London, Paris and Rome holidays.
These nations up north offer a variety of rich cultures, histories and beautiful landscapes.
Read through some of our other Northern European travel guides. You’ll be glad you explored these options.
What do you say? Are you ready to grab your passport and your backpack and head for the hills?
Book your flight to Latvia today! You will be glad you did.
Tour Latvia with Hekla
Latvia is a such a little country. At Hekla, we add Latvia as a stop to other Baltic tours to make the most of your time in Northern Europe.
Check out some of our great tours with stops in Latvia.
Take one of these amazing tours to get to know the lovely Latvia.
Fall in Love with Latvia
Are you ready to head to Latvia? You’re sure to fall in love with the architecture, art, history and cuisine.
When you visit Latvia, you can expect to find a ton of beautifully designed buildings and many interesting museums.
Latvia is small enough for you to do it all, but not to small that you’ll get bored.
Book your flight and pack your bags. Latvia awaits.