Top Sights in Latvia

Stork in flight with spread wings against blue sky and wooden power pole
Spread your wings!

With a land area of about 65,000 km2, Latvia is a wee bit smaller than Ireland and a tad bigger than West Virginia. But despite its diminutive dimensions, it offers beautiful beaches, fairy tale forests and intriguing medieval towns, as well as some truly bizarre sights - how about an abandoned Soviet bombing range?


Home to about a third of the country's roughly 2 million people, Riga is a huge city for a pint-sized country. But Latvia's four regions are also wonderful to explore. Latgale in the east has stunning lakes, super friendly people and a rich blend of cultures (all lovers of homemade vodka). Vidzeme, in the heart of the country, boasts ancient castles overlooking scenic river valleys, and bungee jumping, bobsleigh and other adrenaline rushes. Zemgale, the nation's southern breadbasket, has magnificent Rundāle Palace and a brace of quirky shrines, farms manors. And Kurzeme in the west has the UNESCO-listed gem Rundāle and a coastline scattered with shipwrecks and folks speaking the world's rarest language.


Below are just a few of the gems to be discovered on your Latvian adventure. I've included both popular "must-sees" as well as a few lesser-known spots. There are plenty of links for further information, including some to articles I've written for various publications.

Go here for regional timetables and book bus or train tickets.

Sigulda and Cēsis

Red brick towers of Turaida Castle in Sigulda, Latvia
Towering Turaida

Just 50 km from Riga, Sigulda is a stress relief mecca for city slickers. Hike or boat through lovely Gauja National Park, time travel at ancient Turaida Castle, and slide down the world-class bobsleigh track.

A bit further east, explore the top secret Soviet bunker in Līgatne and the charming castle ruins and cobblestoned streets of Cēsis.

Rundāle Palace and Zemgale

Yellow Rundāle Palace with green hedges in foreground
Fit for a duke

Built in the 18th century by the megalomaniac Duke of Courland Ernst Johann von Biron, Rundāle Palace is a vast monument to impeccable good taste and decadent indulgence. Wander through 43 rooms packed with priceless furniture, artwork and chandeliers, then savour the sweet rose gardens.

Kuldīga, Sabile and the West Coast

Old red brick bridge and historic houses in Kuldīga, Latvia
Kuldīga's old world charm


Map of Top Sights in Latvia