Latvia has very cold winters between December and March, when the average temperature drops to -4 C. Summers average a considerably more comfortable 16 C, while fall and spring are about 10 degrees cooler.
When to fly to Latvia
The summer months are the peak season. Some events occurring during peak season include May 4, the anniversary of Latvia's independence from the USSR and restoration of the Republic of Latvia. June 23 is Midsummer Eve. Book flights to Latvia in advance to secure the cheapest fares.
Spring and autumn are shoulder seasons.
The winter months – November to mid-March – can be very cold.
Getting around Latvia
Latvian Railway offers a good service throughout Latvia and into Central Europe. Bus, trolley-bus and tram services operate in the cities and there are good bus services to major cities throughout Latvia. Ecolines, Eurolines and Nordeka offer bus services to international destinations.
Ferries: the three main ports are Ventspils, Riga and Liepaja. They are mainly for commercial traffic, but from Riga’s port – very close to the Old Town – there are passenger services to Germany and Sweden.
Major rental-car companies include Hertz and Europcar.
Latvia insider information
- Riga’s charming Old Town is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The city also has one of Europe’s largest markets – the central market, which is housed in five Zeppelin hangars that date from the 1920s. Riga has a fine collection of Art Nouveau and medieval buildings. To get a bird’s eye view of the Old Town and the Daugava River, head to the upper levels of the Reval Hotel, one of the city’s landmarks.
- Kemeri – the wildlife reserve and national park is home not only to deer, elk, moose, wolves, foxes and wild horses and cattle, but there are about 900 varieties of flora there too.
- Livonia on the northern tip of Latvia (around Cape Kolka) was settled originally by the Livs, but conquered by the German knights – the Livonian Brothers of the Sword – in the 13th century. It is an area of outstanding natural beauty. In the 1990s, the Latvian Government declared the Livonian coast a protected area. No hotels or restaurants are allowed to be built there.
- Latvia has several medieval-era royal residences such as Bauska Castle and the Riga Order Castle, but the most famous is Rundale Palace, a baroque masterpiece, built by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the architect who designed the Winter Palace in St Petersburg and the Catherine Palace nearby.
- The cathedral of Aglona in southeastern Latvia is the country’s most important Catholic church, attracting thousands of pilgrims each year. It is sited at a spring which is said to have healing powers.
- Gauja National Park was founded in 1973, Latvia’s first national park. The park includes the valley of the Gauja River, Latvia’s longest river. The main attractions are Sigulda – Latvia’s “Switzerland” due to its reddish-brown rocks and caves – Cesis town and nearby Neo-Gothic Birini Castle.