A-Z TIPS FOR A FUN SUMMER IN LATVIA

May 29, 2018By

Dear all,

The English Conversation Club is pleased to share our A-Z of things to do in Latvia.
This came about as part of our conversation club activity last year and we had a lot more fun adding to the list last week.  We hope it offers some inspiration on activities to keep you and your guests busy this Summer season.
Kind regards
Katy

Aerial view of Old Town and Daugava, Riga, Latvia

IWCR ENGLISH CONVERSATION CLUB

A-Z TIPS FOR A FUN SUMMER IN LATVIA

This list came about during a brainstorming session of the English Conversation Club (an activity offered to members of the International Women’s Club of Riga).  The list is by no means extensive but all of the locations have been visited and are recommended by at least one of the group so it may give you some inspiration for fun activities and places to visit or eat in Latvia this Summer 2018.     

Amatciems – countryside retreat, rent a cottage, lakes, nice rafting close by http://www.amatciems.lv/

Araisi – village on water built in the middle of a lake. Nice to visit on a day trip and combine a visit to Cesis http://www.latvia.travel/en/sight/araisi-archaeological-museum-park

ABPark – new amusement park opened June 2017 that has the first dinosaur trail in Latvia. Several activities suitable for families with children. http://abpark.lv/en/

Andrejostas – selection of lovely riverside restaurants – Muusu Terrace, Riga Sunset Lounge, Naples, Aqua Luna or Koya (reservations for the outdoor areas are a must during the Summer season).

Villa Anna – Nice hotel in Apsuciems (small village between Jurmala and Kolka) http://www.villaanna.lv/en/sakums

Annas Hotel – http://m.annashotel.com/mobile.php?lang=eng&sec=manor

Aircraft museum – interesting to see old planes but it is not allowed to be inside any of them L – recommended more for those who are real aircraft enthusiasts. http://en.airmuseum.lv/home/
Arbooz cafe – http://arbooz.lv/en/about-us/

Ala bar – local beer and food in a cellar with entertainment.  http://www.folkklubs.lv/en/about-us

Alaverdi – Georgian restaurant https://www.alaverdi.lv/en/

Beer – Some of our tried and tested favorites are Mezpils, Lielvardes, Valmiermuiza best served by the river, on one of the summer terraces in old town or anywhere in the Latvian countryside.

Balzams & Black Magic Cafe – best tried in cocktails! Visit Black Magic Cafe in old town where Balzams was born and try some handmade chocolates (beware of the ghost!).  Also offering chocolate making sessions if booked in advance. http://www.blackmagic.lv/en/kafejnica.html

Bauska – visit the castle and motor museum  http://www.tourism.bauska.lv/en/

Babooshka cafe – newly opened bakery in old town. Try the cakes made from all natural ingredients.  Also working with locals who can bring their home baked cakes and sell them. https://www.facebook.com/BabooshkaBakery/

Botanical Gardens – in Riga http://www.botanika.lu.lv/eng/ (where you can also escape to the tropics in the beautiful Butterfly house) or Salaspils http://www.nbd.gov.lv/en/national-botanic-garden

Blooming rhododendrons in Babīte (May 15 – June 15) https://www.rododendri.lu.lv/eng/

Blooming lilacs festival in Dobele (May 4 – June 10) https://www.cerinusvetki.lv/svetki

Beaches – other than the obvious Jurmala check out Bolderāja and Vecāķi Beaches or the Seaside at Kaltene or Mersrags:

https://foursquare.com/v/vakarbu%C4%BC%C4%BCu-pludmale/4c2714a9f1272d7feeb187c5

https://foursquare.com/v/vec%C4%81%C4%B7u-pludmale–vec%C4%81%C4%B7i-beach/4bb8ab6a3db7b7133678219a

http://www.latvia.travel/en/node/221191

http://www.mersrags.lv/turisms/en/

Cesis – beautiful place to visit.  Pretty little town with a castle where the staff are all dressed in medieval clothing.  Tour the castle and towers with a real lantern. http://www.cesis.lv/en  

Cielavina  – traditional nut cake (meringue with nuts)  – a must taste!!

Castles – Rundale, Bauska, Cesis, Dikla, Koknese, Turaida

Cycling routes – Great route for family trip is Kipsala-Jurmala where you can return by train if tired. For more experiences: http://www.bicycle.lv/eng/


Daugava – the river!  Enjoy dinner on the river or try a river cruise which depart just opposite old town.

Dinner in the sky – eat your dinner on restaurant above old town suspended from a crane! https://www.dinnerinthesky.lv/en/

Dill – the favorite herb of Latvian cuisine

Dzintars – amber, cheese and also a wonderful traditional local cosmetic brand

Doma cafe – in Sigulda. Highly recommended http://domacafe.lv/en

Diklu manor – https://diklupils.lv/en/

Dziesmusvētki! The Song and Dance Festival (June 30 – July 8) You may find the main events are already sold out but there are many other activities to attend as part of this festival  – musical events (many without tickets), exhibitions, crafts markets, etc. https://dziesmusvetki.lv/en/about-the-celebration/the-song-and-dance-celebration/

Dzintaru koncertzāle (in Jurmala) https://www.dzintarukoncertzale.lv/?lang=en

Ecocatering – catering company established by a young Latvian man, find them at the moment at Kalnciema market on Saturday mornings – try the burgers! http://www.ecocatering.lv/en/

Egle – lovely outdoor restaurant in old town with music  http://spogulegle.lv/?lang=en

Engure – small  fisherman’s village (after Jurmala) – go to buy the fresh or smoked fish! http://www.latvia.travel/en/sight/engures-ezers-nature-park

Ezeri – Lakes in Latvian. There are many to enjoy fishing, swimming and boating.
 

Fazenda restaurant – lovely fusion restaurant – Multiple locations – we like the one in town and at Nometnu iela http://en.fazenda.lv/

Mr. Fox – healthy and cool lunch restaurant (opposite Albert’s Hotel) https://www.facebook.com/mrfox.lv

Fish market – don’t miss this section when you go the Central Market https://www.rct.lv/en/

Fishing is allowed in all public lakes and all rivers but you have to buy a seasonal permit. https://www.makskeresanaskarte.lv/

Galleria Centers – some good shopping in old town http://www.galerijacentrs.lv/en/

Gardā pupa – vegetarian restaurant https://www.facebook.com/GardaPupa/

Gauja national park – hike, stroll, raft, camp, ride horses and visit Turaida castle and ‘the cave” (beware it’s a very tiny cave)! http://www.latvia.travel/en/sight/gauja-national-park

Gan Bei – great asian food – multiple locations and they do delivery! http://lage.lv/ganbei/

Golf – Viesturi, Ozo, Saliena or travel to Sigulda (Reina Trase) where you can also rent accommodation and use the canoes to travel the course along the stream and ponds.  Look for the special kids golf camps too. http://www.golfsviesturi.lv/, http://www.ozogolf.lv/eng/, https://www.liveriga.com/en/3664-saliena-golf, http://www.reinatrase.lv/vasaras/en/golf_38/course (lovely accommodation available at Reina Trase if you want to make a weekend out of it).

House of the Blackheads – a must stop for photo opportunity – you can also take a tour http://www.latvia.travel/en/sight/house-blackheads

History of Medicine Museum (Pauls Stradins) – much more interesting than it sounds and worth a visit to learn about the development of medicine through history.  Right in the center of Riga. http://www.mvm.lv/en/

Hotels – need some more space for your visitors? Check out Radisson Blu or Park Inn, there are many to chose from in Riga   www.radissonblu.com  

Hercogs – family restaurants in Kipsala, Marupe, Mezaparks. The Kipsala location has an outdoor floating seating area  with lovely city views. http://www.hercogi.lv/

Incukalns – residential area near Sigulda.  Big annual horse tournament in late Summer. http://www.incukalns.lv/public/lat/turisms1/aktiva_atputa_apskates_objekti/

Indian Restaurants Raja and Singhs – both serving wonderful curries! http://indianraja.lv/, http://www.singhs.lv/

Jurmala – Beach of course, but check out the open air museum and family parks https://www.jurmala.lv/

Jelgava – 40km from Riga – worth visiting the Agricultural Academy (former palace) to see the Cellar which holds the tombs of Latvian Dukes and was built by the same architect who built Rundale Palace.  See the building built by Peter the Great – the first educational academy in Latvia. See the sand sculpture festival Sand Sculpture festival http://festivali.jelgava.lv/en/12th-international-sand-sculpture-festival-jelgava  and http://www.jelgava.lv/lv/sakums/

Jani – Midsummer festival on 23 June – have a beer and each some Latvian food on the riverside at Nov 11 Krastmala.  The locals will leave to the visit the countryside so Riga is left for the tourists. http://www.latvia.travel/en/article/summer-solstice-celebrations

Kuldiga Waterfall – the widest waterfall in Europe (ok so it’s not very high but it is wide and beautiful).  Check out the old town and watch the fish fly up the waterfall. http://www.kuldiga.lv/en/

Kemeri national park – tour the bog along wooden walkways (next stop after Jurmala) or visit the beaches. http://www.latvia.travel/en/sight/kemeri-national-park

Kolka – Small village where the Gulf of Riga meets the Baltic Seas meet – take the boat trip (this is seasonal) to see it from the sea. http://www.kolka.lv/

Kalnciema Market – Saturdays from 10am -4pm, slow food, live music, local producers, great food. Don’t forget Thursday evenings in the Summer visit the outdoor concerts here!  Eat at Maja restaurant. http://kalnciemaiela.lv/en/market/

KGB museum (not suitable for young kids) & Museum of Occupation http://okupacijasmuzejs.lv/en/visit-us/

Kusku muiza – Near Tukums – beautifully restored manor house set on a lake, serving absolutely delicious foods.  Art lovers will appreciate the fantastic works of art throughout the building. Stay overnight, book a party, tour the building or just come for a slice of delicious cake on the terrace overlooking the lake.  Pre-

booking recommended. http://www.kuksumuiza.lv/en.html

Kim? – modern art museum multiple locations http://www.kim.lv/sakumlapa

Kolonade restaurant – http://kolonade.lv/en/

Lavender Fields – best visited in July when the lavender is in full bloom and buy some lavender Products.   www.Lilaslavender.com  

Laima – visit the chocolate museum and make your own chocolates (booking recommended) http://www.laima.lv/en/museum/

Liepāja – (Did you know?… The seaside from Kolka to Lithuania was closed during soviet times as a border of USSR) http://www.liepaja.lv/page/22  & http://liepaja.travel/en/home/

Lampa (in Cesis) – This year June 30 and July 1 – Latvian conversational festival – this year’s topic is how to bring positive change to Latvia.  Entrance is free 😉 https://www.festivalslampa.lv/gb/

Laba Daba (meaning good nature) Music Festival https://www.labadaba.lv/eng

Lellu Theatris – Go see a show at this children’s puppet theater

Ligatne – Ligatne Nature trails – great with kids to see wild animals.  Visit the secret soviet bunker museum (very exciting and not scary so recommended for any age group) – Inside tip…you can even plan a birthday party here! http://www.visitligatne.lv

Lucavsala – Perfect for a day out with the family – this island opposite Riga Plaza offers playgrounds, wakeboarding, cafe, ice cream, beach, picnic areas, a dog path and dog beach.  Check out this link for concerts and other events offered this year https://www.liveriga.com/en/7306-lucavsala-island

Locale restaurant – Georgian & Italian Cuisine in old town Riga http://locale.lv/en
Lilaste – Close to  Saulkrasti. http://lilaste.com/?page=about_us&lang=en

Latgale – (Eastern part of Latvia) http://visitlatgale.com/en/ – seems so far away, but beautiful nature and lot of lakes. The largest city – Daugavpils, offers lots to see (like Mark Rothko Art Centre),where you can see how Daugava looked before hydroelectric power stations http://www.visitdaugavpils.lv/en/turisma-objekts/nature-park-daugavas-loki/

Mezaparks – swim at the lake beach, visit the zoo, rent a bike or skates, mini golf, frizbee golf, playground, Tarzans rope climbing (for all age groups) http://www.latvia.travel/en/sight/mezaparks

Maja restaurant at Kalnciema market http://www.restoransmaja.lv/en/

Munchausen museum – behind Saulkrasti (on the road to Estonia) Relive Baron Munchausen’s fantasies http://minhauzens.lv/en/home/   

Marciena muiza – Beautiful Manor house and spa and pool http://www.marciena.eu/index.php/lv/

Mr. Biskvits – fab lunch & cakes in Sigulda opposite the train station http://mr.biskvits.lv/

Muusu restaurant – Excellent food in Old town and Riverside at Andrejostas http://www.muusu.lv/

Malpils manor – http://malpilsmuiza.lv/en/

Miera iela & district  – small cafes, bars, shops of Latvian designers.  Excellent craft beer bars. https://www.liveriga.com/en/8928-miera-iela

For bigger events and concerts of this “community” look information: https://www.facebook.com/strickavilla/

You can visit design market/event on June 9 2018, https://www.facebook.com/events/206547323479408

National library of Latvia  – read the books, enjoy the building and the view over the Daugava https://www.lnb.lv/en

Nica – village on the sea, nice for an overnight to enjoy the beach http://www.latvia.travel/en/tourism-center/nica-tourism-information-point

Naples restaurant (Andrejosta) – pizza and pasta and the wonderful view http://naples.lv/

Nature parks – yes, there’s a long list… https://www.daba.gov.lv/public/eng/visiting/

Open air museum (Ethnograph Museum) – see the traditional latvian buildings set beautifully in the forest near the lake.  Remember to go on the first weekend in June to the enormous market in the museum. At Easter time see how they colour the eggs Latvian traditional style. http://brivdabasmuzejs.lv/en/

Olympics sports center http://www.olimpiskais.lv/lv/

Ostas Skati – restaurant on Kipsala best in summer when you can sit outside and enjoy the river http://ostasskati.lv/en/offices/restaurant/

Positivus – 3 day annual music festival in July https://www.positivusfestival.com/en

Paintings – buy the beautiful paintings on Livu Square in old town https://www.liveriga.com/en/1641-livu-square

Pashkevich Jazz Club – https://www.facebook.com/pashkevichjazzclub/
Pāvilosta. A small seaside town where you may meet some of your Riga friends in the summer months http://www.pavilosta.lv/en

“Prāta vētra” (July – August). Five concerts this year by Latvia’s most popular pop-group with great concert performances.  https://www.ekase.lv/en/tickets/performances/prata-vetra-summer-concert-tour

Q – So apparently there is no Q in Latvian!!! But we found one anyway…
Qooqoo Latvian fashion brand www.beqooqoo.com  

Ramkalni – Toboggan track (and skiing for kids and beginners in Winter) http://www.ramkalni.lv/

Rundale – visit the palace http://rundale.net/en/ Looks beautiful every day, but some days are more special http://rundale.net/en/calendar-of-events-in-rundale-palace-in-2018/

Riits Restaurant – Latvian food served in style with great daily specials on Dzirnavu Street http://www.restoransriits.lv/

Riviera restaurant in the Art Deco district http://rivierarestorans.lv/en/

Riga TechGirls – Women in Tech organisation (NGO) to educate and inspire women about technology. Free workshops to learn digital skills such as intro coding, 3D printing, internet safety, etc. Monthly meetups to hear directly from inspiring women leaders in the technology sector. For list of upcoming events, go to https://www.facebook.com/RigaTechGirls and www.rigatechgirls.org.    

Roger Waters in Riga (25th August 2018) http://www.fbi.lv/en/event/roger-waters-24-08-2018.ev-686/

Skyline bar – go for a cocktail, dinner, lunch or brunch and enjoy unrivaled panoramic views of Riga http://www.skylinebar.lv/

Sigulda – lots to do here and just an hour from Riga; try hiking, Tarzans tree climbing, tobogganing, bungee jumping, rafting, golf or visit the castle  http://tourism.sigulda.lv/

Saulkrasti – beaches, summer houses, fewer people than Jurmala and even a nude beach for those who prefer to go without clothes! http://saulkrasti.lv/en/

Salacgriva (near Estonian border on the seaside) perfect for seaside camping, rent the cottages, nice option for a teambuilding escape http://www.salacgriva.lv/eng/salacgrivas_novads/

Salaspils National botanical garden – 15km from Riga and a nice day outing  http://www.nbd.gov.lv/en/national-botanic-garden

Staro Riga festival of light – November http://www.staroriga.lv/013/lv/

Tree climbing – parks in Mezaparks, Sigulda, Jurmala, Liepaja and Daugavpils https://www.tarzans.lv/en  / http://www.kakiskalns.lv/mezakakis/?lang=en

Tervete nature park –  perfect outing for kids with miniature houses the kids can go inside, cycle around and climb the tower steps and enjoy the view from the top (around 1 hour drive from Riga) http://www.latvia.travel/en/sight/tervete-nature-park / http://www.mammadaba.lv/en/tervete-nature-park

Tērvete’s park is maintained by Latvian State Forests (Latvijas Valsts Meži). They have a lot of other nice places to visit and discover nature of Latvia:

http://www.mammadaba.lv/en/

Toboggan – Tarzans in Sigulda, Zviedru Cepure on the way to Sabile  and Ramkalni in Sigulda (See above)

Turaida Castle – (next to Sigulda) http://www.turaida-muzejs.lv/home_en1/

3 Pavaru Restorans on Torna Iela  – international, fun, interesting food http://www.3pavari.lv/en/

3 Brothers – the oldest complex of dwelling houses in Riga (take a photo and tour the LAtvian architecture museum. http://www.latvia.travel/en/sight/three-brothers

Upenes – blackcurrant in latvian 😉 Also in the  purple balzams, try the tea made from the leave it’s a cure for the common cold

Una Vita – Latvian brand designing bags.

Uzvaras park – In summer you can rent rollerblades and in Winter cross country skis to use on the track http://www.infoski.lv/trases/uzvaras-parks/

Ventspils – beautiful beach, lots of themed parks for children and very family friendly town, visit the waterpark and the adventure park next to the beach (in Summer).  Ride the little train and check out the many animal sculptures. In August visit the “days of Ventspils” and enjoy the special activities and flower festival where you can see the gorgeous creative bouquets, ice-skating, castle, old chapel. http://www.ventspils.lv/eng/   Where the River Irbe feeds into the sea is a very special place for those who like wild nature: http://www.visitventspils.com/en/things-to-do-in-ventspils/707/?category=36

Vecriga Kuka – puff pastry filled with cottage cheese cream

Virtuli – Latvian donut with powdered sugar and jam – grab some while strolling around the central market

Valguma pasaule – 2900 m barefoot walk! Great adventure for everyone young and old (one of our members Granny’s did it at 90 years of age!) http://valgumapasaule.lv/en/contact-us/

Did you know?  There is no W in Latvian?!

Waterpark in Jurmala Akvaparks – fun for all the family http://www.akvaparks.lv/en/

White Nights http://rigathisweek.lv/event/cultural_agenda/festivals/white-night/522

Walking sticks – buy the walking stick souvenirs sold in Sigulda – it’s traditional

Zoo – at Mezaparks http://rigazoo.lv/public/index_en.html

Zinoo – children’s science center at Galleria Riga – summer camps and children’s parties http://www.zinoo.lv/home/

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