To say that year 2020 was quite the roller coaster would be an understatement. After the turmoil that has been 2020, we’re sure that a lot of you could benefit from getting out of the house, changing the scenery and clearing your mind from all the mental clutter that we’ve all been collecting for the past year. That’s why we have prepared a short list of places in Latvia you can visit in order to treat your well-being.
They're available all year long, so you can come as soon as it's safe and whenever you’re ready - Latvia will be waiting for you.
The sea has always been a place of contemplation. Maybe it has something to do with its character, which in a way so closely resembles ours: it can be serene and peaceful while always maintaining the potential of a storm. And what better place to enjoy the vastness of the sea than Latvia, which has a shoreline that is almost 500 kilometres long?
If you wish to experience the Latvian shoreline at its rockiest, there is the cape of Mērsrags, the second largest cape in Latvia, which is characterised by large stacks of sea rocks both in the sea and among the shore. If you’d like to enjoy the view from a high vantage point, a good bet would be Ēvaži Steep, which are the highest steep banks along the coast of the gulf of Riga. To experience the truly wild and beautiful nature of the Baltic Sea, we recommend visiting the beach of Pāvilosta, which is rich with piers, creating spectacular ice sculptures among its walls during the winter.
However, to fully encompass the nature of the Latvian shoreline and its beauty, one of the best options would be to hike along the trail of Jūrtaka, which is a part of the European long distance path E9. Its distance in Latvia is almost 600 kilometres and the route is divided into 20-kilometre-long segments, equipped with options for transport and accommodation.
Latvian sauna rituals
Latvians take their saunas very seriously. For us, it’s a way to replenish the body and spirit, a test of strength and endurance and a way of socialising. Traditionally, Latvian saunas accommodate only a few people at a time and the whole experience is usually led by an experienced sauna master, who is familiar with all the intricacies of the rituals. The temperatures in a typical Latvian sauna can reach up to 90°C - but you always have the option of dialling it down.
A good place to get acquainted with the Latvian sauna culture is the open-air Sauna Museum. It hosts about twenty different saunas from various periods and all regions of Latvia, and they’re not just for looks, because you can bathe in every single one of them. The museum is open all year long and it provides accommodations as well.
However, if you wish to “ease into” the sauna culture of Latvia, a good option would be Mārciena Manor Hotel, which offers both a traditional Latvian wet sauna and a SPA centre - the best of both worlds, in other words.
If you had to name the single, most mystical place in all of Latvia, this would be it.
Pokaiņi Forest is home to a multitude of legends, myths and other supernatural tales of Latvian folklore, but not only that - it is also quite scenic. Inside the forest, rock formations shape piles, walls and rivers, called Pokaiņi Stone Agglomerates, and there are several walking paths you can take to experience the magic of Pokaiņi up close. If you wish to learn more about the forest's supernatural qualities, there is always the option of a tour guide as well.
Great Oaks of Latvia
Oak trees contain a special meaning for Latvians. They symbolise strength, inspiration, endurance and honour. You can witness the oak’s presence in the Latvian Coat of Arms, our songs, legends and an oak tree was even depicted on the most common banknote of Latvia’s former currency. And it makes perfect sense too, because no one can deny the grandeur that’s emanated from a great oak - which is a very old tree that has reached a specific height and width.
Latvia is the proud home of Kaive Oak, the thickest tree in Latvia and in all the Baltic states. It’s protected as a natural monument and it has been even depicted on Latvian postal stamps. Among other great oaks worth visiting is the second-largest Kanepji Sacred Oak, which has been struck by lightning, thus creating a large cavity in the middle of it, as well as Seja Oak, which is said to have been a place of assembly for ancient Latvian military chiefs before going into battle.
We hope that this article has inspired you not only to find out more about Latvian nature, its culture and travel opportunities, but also to start your quest towards a peaceful and balanced state of mind, wherever you may be. Remember to stay safe and we’ll see you soon!