Latvia

The most famous travel spot is the capital Riga, a World Heritage Site. There are also many other great places to see, both urban and rural, such as Liepaja with its unique former secret military town of Karosta and a magnificent beach. Kuldiga with Europe`s widest waterfall and Cesis with its medieval castle ruins are also interesting.

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Basic Information

When I ask people what to go looking for in Latvia, usually only Riga comes to mind. More than half of the population lives in or near the capital, so it's kind of to be expected. Wikitravel isn't much help either, hinting towards Kuldiga and Cesis along with many things in Riga.

I bet all of these things are quite interesting, but it's all located in the west of the country. Exactly where I'm not going to be. So what's in the east, then? Forests. Lots and lots of forests. An occasional lake, some rivers and loads of interesting (gravel) roads. Transalp country.

By the way, the Latvian tourist slogan is "best enjoyed slowly". Hmmm.

Map

External Info
Distance traveled 209 km
Time spent 2 days

Places of Interest

disclaimer   These are only places that make up 90% of the plan for this trip. Whether or not I've actually managed to visit each and every one of them can be found in the ride report.

Rāzna National Park

I'll enter Latvia from the north-east, along the Russian border, which I've already been following through Finland and Estonia.

With the rest of the country already in a state which us Dutch would call a park, Latvia takes things a little more serious. Rāzna National Park is utterly beautiful and well worth a visit.

There's an old castle ruin on top of the Mākoņkalns hill with a nice story. Maybe nice isn't the right word. People haven't changed much in the past few centuries.

The legend has it that after the owner's death, the entire vast Volkenberg estate was divided among his daughters – Rose inherited Rēzekne, Ludza was bequeathed to Lucia, and Viļaka went to Maria. Over the time, the once mighty stronghold decayed and fell into ruin.

Latvia.travel
Mākoņkalns
Mākoņkalns, Rāzna

Courtesy of Latvia.travel

Daugavpils

The only city in Latvia I'll visit is its second largest city, Daugavpils. No idea what I'm expecting. Maybe a cheap hotel and some local Latvian food. It's not so much a must-see, but just a pit stop to continue the journey south across the border to Lithuania.

Well, there's a huge Russian-built 19th century fortress to take a look at. That might be interesting. Apart from that, Daugavpils is mostly the industrial capital of Latvia.

Historically, the city has played an important role in both the first and the second world war. Lots of monuments can be found throughout the city because of these events.

Daugavpils
Daugavpils

Courtesy of Latvia.travel


Ride Report

This is only what I remeber of Latvia and quickly wrote down during the trip. I'm sure I've missed some details here and there. Sorry! It's chronological, mostly.

After a short, rainy and scenic ride I arrived in Riga. I really dislike city traffic so I was glad I could park my Alp just behind the hotel and walk the rest of the visit. Hotel Valdemars was wonderful. The best hotel of the entire trip. Almost as luxureous as the Utne Hotel, for less than a quarter of the price. The food was just the best. Lots and lots of good food.

The next day I explored the city. The plan was to have a look around, find a place to sit down, enjoy a few beers and call it a day. The rain didn't really help. The first few hours I spent in the park, finding shelter for the rain under the trees and obscure structures. Once the rain cleared I went out to explore the city for a bit.

Riga, like Tallinn, is quite a nice city. It's not as beautiful or cozy, but it's still a nice blend of architectures worth visiting. At times it seems some parts are just build out of legos, giving Riga a nice and playful atmosphere.

The local beers I had, Piebalgas Alus and Tumšais Lux, aren't that nice. It was lacking in both volume and depth. Not a beer I wouldn't drink again, but I can't say I was that impressed. Because of the weather I had the terrass all for myself. A street musician played the Godfather theme on a flute just around the corner, making the whole experience a little creepy. I enjoyed it.

Riga was a nice city to visit. Not a destination in and of itself for future trips, but I wouldn't mind visiting again. After a very good breakfast I left for Lithuania the next day.


Photos

These are the photos taken during the trip through Latvia using this gear. Hopefully they're in chronological order. If you'd like a larger version of a particular photo, just let me know and I'd be happy to make it available to you. All photos can be redistributed freely under the Creative Commons BY-SA 3.0 license.