Latvia, a little country in the Baltic region was ruled for a long time by Swedish, Polish and Russian. We will call it little because they have a population close to 2 million. Call it traveller-friendly or solo traveller friendy. It’s cheap and easy to get around Latvia without renting a car or calling a cab.
When I asked people about Latvia, a lot of them had no idea where it is even located, while a lot of them associated it with Russia. To make it simple, it’s located below Estonia and above Lithuania (I know, I haven’t helped you here). To make it simple, it’s next to Russia in the East and across Sweden on the west after the Baltic Sea. (You can see the map below, can’t get easier).
Latvia, a little country in the Baltic region was ruled for a long time by Swedish, Polish and Russian. We will call it little because they have a population close to 2 million. That’s about 10% of Mumbai’s population alone, or maybe it’s just India that’s overpopulated. Even after independence, about 25% of the population is of Russian origin and small minority groups from neighbouring countries. That can be seen slightly even in the way Riga has also recently been in the news for its Tech Startup scene.
Call it traveller-friendly or solo traveller friendy. It’s cheap and easy to get around Latvia without renting a car or calling a cab. A return ticket for a 1-hour train ride (to Jurmala) cost me about 2.7€, the same in Dublin is a tram ride a few minutes away. And, of course, you can rent e-scooters too. The best part is people are helpful and yes, people speak English too (if that’s a concern). Similarly, accommodation was almost 3 times less compared to Western Europe.
Every country has contrasting landscapes! But Latvia is just half the size of Greece and after a 2-hour ride from the capital, you’ll feel like you’re in a different country. You have the old town and the new town next to each other in Riga and a few hours away and you’re close to the sea and parks filled with tall trees
Soviet and Russian History
Latvia before formation was a part of Russia until 1918 and further a part of the Soviet Union until about 1990-1991 (read here). This has given birth to various Soviet structures many of which can still be observed to date.
Latvian Academy of Sciences (Riga, Latvia) – location
While the organization was formed around 1946, the structure was built between 1950 and 1961 after WWII. The soviet also built similar structures in Warsaw and Bucharest (see below). While housing soviet architecture, the tower offers a panoramic view of Riga for 6€ (approximately 5.5$), the best part is that it’s within walking distance from the centre, approximately 15-20 mins.
And here are the towers in Warsaw and Bucharest. (I was surprised when I saw all of them as my itinerary was Riga to Warsaw to Bucharest)
Karosta & Liepaja
This is one that might not seem interesting to everyone for the extra travel. On the west of Latvia, Karosta, a port used during the war. houses one of the most brutal prisons housing those who spoke against Tsar and the communist party. Karosta prison now serves as a museum and an accommodation experience (I couldn’t find the booking option though, so best to contact them here)
Liepaja, on the other hand, has this unique beach with ruins of war all around, not so crowded with tourists (not so like the olden visits it would get back in time).
A must visit during autumn when the colours brighten up the areas in a mix of bright yellow and yellowish-green. About 60 mins from the centre and a round ticket should cost you approximately 3.7 € (~4$).
While the area boasts a unique scenery, it also has adventure sport that won’t be too heavy on your pocket.
If you’d be interested in a more detailed guide, click here (work in progress :D).
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