Experience local culture and traditions in Riga by enjoying its annual Midsummer Festival, starting with a walking tour of the historic city center and its renowned architecture. Then participate in traditional songs, dances, and sauna rituals with locals at the festival, sleeping in the tranquility of Gauja National Park. Learn about Baltic culture and traditions with an herbal workshop, a carpentry workshop, and a visit to the open-air ethnographic museum.

Highlights

  • Explore the historic center of Riga, admiring its array of architectural sytles
  • Enjoy traditional songs, dances, and sauna rituals at the Midsummer Festival
  • Spend the night in Gauja National Park, the largest and oldest national park in Latvia
  • Visit the open-air ethnographic museum and take a traditional carpentry workshop
  • Discover Latvia's herbal medicine with a tea-blending workshop

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Riga - Explore the city Riga
Day 2 Discover Riga with a walking tour - Optional herbal workshop Riga
Day 3 Enjoy Riga's Midsummer Festival celebrations during the Summer Solstice Gauja National Park
Day 4 Visit the ethnographic museum and attend a carpentry workshop Riga
Day 5 Depart Riga  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Riga - Explore the city

Charming Houses in Riga's Old Town
Charming Houses in Riga's Old Town

Welcome to Latvia!

You'll start your trip to experience Jāņi, the Midsummer Festival, in the city of Riga, Latvia's capital. Despite being a large and globalized city, the Baltic States and its people have generally maintained their beloved cultural traditions and natural surroundings. Heavily inspired by nature, many locals devote themselves to ancient crafts and skills, which are typical of the region. You'll enjoy plenty of aspects of traditional Baltic culture at the Midsummer Festival.

Upon arriving in Riga, transfer from the airport and take some time to settle into your accommodation. Afterward, head out to explore the historic Old Town. To get a better feel for the city's layout, visit the "Panorama Riga" observation deck in the building of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. Here you'll get a bird's-eye view and witness the buzz of tourists and locals enjoying the city center.

Then take a stroll through the city's main green space, Bastejkalna Park. Stop to view the Laima Clock, which dates back to 1924 and serves as a popular meeting point with locals. Nearby you'll find the Latvian National Opera, a 19th-century, neoclassical theater. Enjoy dinner in the old town before heading back to your hotel for the night.

Day 2: Discover Riga with a walking tour - Optional herbal workshop

The Famous House of the Black Heads
The Famous House of the Black Heads

Founded in 1201 by the German bishop, Albert, Riga is the largest of the three Baltic capitals. Its historic city center is brimming with an array of architectural styles. The best way to experience the city is by foot, with a walking tour to admire its prized art nouveau buildings along Alberta Street and Elizabeth Street.

Then head into the Old Town with a visit to Riga Castle on the banks of the Daugava River. Nearby is the city's famous set of buildings, known as the Three Brothers. Built between the late 15th and mid-17th centuries, they remain as the oldest dwellings in the city. Next, stroll over to Riga Cathedral to admire Romanesque, early Gothic and baroque architecture, and then to the Gothic House of the Black Heads.

End your walking tour at the Riga Central Market for lunch. Here you can try an array of typical cuisine found in the region, such as smoked meats, pickled vegetables, Latvian bread, seasonal treats, and more. The market opened in 1930 and is one of the largest covered markets in Europe.

In the evening, you can opt to experience an herbal workshop in the city. Led by a local medicine man, you'll learn about different herb and tea blends while enjoying a traditional, home-made dinner.

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Day 3: Enjoy Riga's Midsummer Festival celebrations during the Summer Solstice

Gauja National Park
Gauja National Park

During Riga's popular Midsummer Festival, you'll celebrate the Summer Solstice on June 21st, which is the longest day and shortest night of the year. Today you'll experience traditional midsummer celebrations with the locals. At the festival, you'll participate in singing traditional songs and learning traditional dances. The celebration has been known to last until sunrise.

To help prolong your energy, and to take a break from singing and dancing, enjoy a sauna experience, which is a very important part of the local culture. In the Baltic States, sauna rituals are believed to restore the balance of mind and body. The festival's local sauna master will assist you in the traditional sauna ritual. After you've regained some energy, head back to enjoy more singing and dancing.

To truly experience the Summer Solstice, you'll stay overnight at a country guesthouse set within a tranquil Latvian forest in Gauja National Park.

Day 4: Visit the ethnographic museum and attend a carpentry workshop

Open-air Ethnographic Museum of Latvia
Open-air Ethnographic Museum of Latvia

Today you'll visit the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia, which showcases a variety of traditional buildings from the 17th to the 20th century. Enjoy a tour while admiring historic facades and detailed interiors, plus learn about peasant life in rural Latvia throughout the centuries.

During the tour, you'll also explore more about Latvia's Jāņi celebrations within the Midsummer Festival. Your guide will discuss the importance of this holiday within the context of rural life in ancient Latvia, divulging traditional methods of bread baking, cheese making, and beer brewing.

In the afternoon, you'll visit a local homestead for a carpentry workshop. Here you'll learn about typical Latvian trees, work alongside experienced craftsmen, and enjoy traditional toys and games made out of wood. End the afternoon with home-made tea and a bonfire with your hosts, then head back to Riga. 

In the evening, you'll enjoy a farewell dinner with folk music and modern Latvian cuisine at the popular restaurant, Musu.

Day 5: Depart Riga

Aerial View of Riga
Aerial View of Riga

Unfortunately, today you'll say goodbye to Riga. Depending on the time of your flight, enjoy a morning in the city or head straight to the airport.