Discover Latvia, from the cobbled streets of its historic capital of Riga to the dense forests and waterfalls of Gauja National Park. After witnessing the famous Art Nouveau architecture of Riga, visit the sandstone caves near the medieval village of Kuldīga followed by a trip to the coastal resort city of Jūrmala. Along the way, you'll tour castle ruins, historic palaces, and discover Latvia's art scene with a visit to an open-air museum with over 150 works of art.

Highlights

  • Walk the historic streets of Riga and tour medieval buildings
  • Explore Europe's widest waterfall and northernmost vineyard
  • Spend a day relaxing on the beach at Jūrmala
  • Visit historic castles and palaces throughout Latvia
  • Take a candle-making class in the artsy town of Cēsis

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Riga - Explore Riga
Day 2 Castle & Palace Tour of Latvia Riga
Day 3 Castles Tour in Gauja National Park - Candle-Making Class Riga
Day 4 Day trip to the seaside resort town of Jūrmala Riga
Day 5 Nature Tour of Latvia - Depart Riga  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Riga - Explore

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

Welcome to Latvia!

Upon arriving at the airport, you'll transfer to your hotel and settle in before exploring Riga. This capital is the Baltic Region's largest city and a great place to immerse yourself in the rich history of Latvia. Founded more than 800 years ago, Riga's Old Town historic district is home to many medieval buildings, Art Nouveau homes, and Gothic churches.

Your own private tour guide will lead you through the city beginning in the downtown quarter, which is called the Quiet Center. Albert Street is a highlight of the area and is lined with Instagram-worthy Art Nouveau buildings. You'll even visit the Art Nouveau Museum to learn more about how this architectural style helped shape the city's history.

The evening is yours to roam around Riga at your leisure. If you'd like to enjoy a Latvian-style dinner, a reservation will be waiting for you at a popular local restaurant. Here you can taste a local liqueur called Riga Black Balsam, plus regional favorites such as homemade sausages and stewed cabbage. .

Later, you should head to Old Town and the House of the Blackheads, a 14th-century guild house that looks incredible lit up at night.

Day 2: Castle & Palace Tour of Latvia

The18th-Century Rundale Palace
The18th-Century Rundale Palace

During medieval times, many castles were built in Latvian territory, as it was then under the rule of German bishops and crusaders. These castles are incredibly well-preserved and today you'll get to visit a few of them. You'll start with the 15th-century Bauska Castle, which was built as a defensive fortress. Later, it became a royal house for the Duchy of Curland and Semigallia. The castle sits in a scenic position on a small peninsula where two rivers converge.

Next up are two palaces: Jelgava Palace and Rundāle Palace. First, you'll tour Rundāle. This expansive Baroque palace and gardens complex is situated in the plains of southern Latvia and is a little bit of Versaille in the Baltics. It was commissioned by the Duke of Courland in 1736 to be used as his summer residence. Today it's a museum.

On the way back to Riga, you'll stop at the 18th-century Jelgava Palace, another manor built for the Duke of Courland. This 669-room estate is the largest Baroque palace in the Baltic states. It was nearly destroyed during WWI, but it survived and today hosts the Latvian Agriculture University.

After returning to Riga you can spend the remainder of the evening discovering the city. Maybe head out to the riverside park where you can see the tall Laima Clock, one of the most landmarks in the city. Before retiring for the evening, enjoy dinner in Old Town.

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Day 3: Castles Tour in Gauja National Park - Candle-Making Class

Ruins of Turaida Castle
Ruins of Turaida Castle

Today's excursion is an exploration into medieval Latvia. A private tour will lead you through the forested scenery of Gauja National Park, plus the towns of Sigulda and Turaida to see ruins of Sigulda Castle and Turaida Castle. After Latvia's independence in 1991, the government focused on the restoration of these two towns, their monuments, and the surrounding region of Vidzeme.

Your last stop is Cēsis, which was founded in 1206 and is the third-oldest town in Latvia. Aside from its historic streets, it's also home to one of the largest areas of castle ruins in the country. And since the end of the 19th century, Cēsis has gained a reputation as a village of art and culture. Here you'll participate in a candle workshop where you'll learn about the history of candle making and try your hand at creating your own. You'll make candles of different colors, shapes, and aromas.

In the late afternoon, you'll return to Riga where you can explore the city's nightlife. There are plenty of hip bars and late-night cafés to try.

Day 4: Day trip to the seaside resort town of Jūrmala

A Beach Resort in Jurmala
A Beach Resort in Jurmala

After breakfast, your driver will transfer you to the coastal resort town of Jūrmala, which is famous for its wooden architecture and sandy beaches. Originally a cluster of small fishing villages, Jūrmala has been a beloved seaside resort for over 200 years, attracting many Latvian and international tourists. Its white-sand beach stretches for 21 miles (33 km), with local buses and trains connecting the various sections.

If you're an architecture lover, you can stroll the town's main street and admire the juxtaposition of ornate timber cottages standing next to giant concrete Soviet structures, plus a few contemporary masterpieces. Otherwise, you can simply relax along the shore, as there are many beach clubs offering umbrellas and sunbeds to rent. For lunch, there are great eateries along the town's main street, as well as throughout the beach.

In the early evening, you'll return to Riga in time for one final dinner in the country's capital city.

Day 5: Nature Tour of Latvia - Depart Riga

The Historic Old Town of Kuldīga
The Historic Old Town of Kuldīga

Maximize your remaining time in Latvia by heading out in the morning to the countryside and the 13th-century town of Kuldīga. Wander its historic streets then stroll the riverside where you'll see Europe's widest waterfall, which runs 800 feet (249 meters) across the Venta River.

Afterward, cool down with a visit to the sandstone caves of Riežupe. A 20-minute guided tour will take you through the caves by candlelight. Note that the caves maintain a 46°F (8°C) temperature, so be sure to bring extra layers. Next, you'll visit the village of Sabile, which is home to the world's northernmost vineyard. Although the town's history dates back to the 1200s, winemaking didn't begin in Sabile until the 16th century. 

On the way back to Riga you'll stop at Pedvāle, an open-air art museum featuring over 150 works of art. In the evening, you can opt to stay independently in Riga and Latvia for a bit longer, or head to the airport to catch your flight home.

Map

Map of History & Nature in Latvia - 5 Days
Map of History & Nature in Latvia - 5 Days