Four Reasons Why Latvia Should Be On Your Travel Radar

Four Reasons Why Latvia Should Be On Your Travel Radar

Deserted beaches, Riga’s thriving art scene, a boggy landscape (better than it sounds, promise) and architectural feats that paint a fascinating picture of the country’s Soviet past make Latvia a must-visit in our books. Here’s a handful of reasons why this Eastern European country should be on your travel radar.

other Eastern European destinations such as the Czech
Republic and Hungary have gained traction in recent decades,
Latvia has remained a blindspot for travellers. Why? Honestly,
we’re clueless. Deserted, sandy beaches crossed by free-roaming
horses, the art city of tomorrow, a boggy landscape (more mesmeric
than it sounds) and lofty architectural feats that paint a
fascinating picture of the country’s tremulous past make it a
must-visit in our books. Here’s a handful of reasons why Latvia
should be on your travel radar.

A few great reasons why you should be planning a trip to

Riga’s biennial is a big deal

If you want any proof that Riga is one of Europe’s most
up-and-coming art cities, look no further than its annual
biennial of contemporary art, RIBOCA. When it first ran in 2018, it
was received with great acclaim, notably for the way in which it
sophisticatedly navigated Latvia’s Soviet past. 2020’s biennial was
supposed to emanate from a new gallery space in Andrejsala, an old
industrial port turned vibrant arts hub, but its opening has been
delayed for reasons we need not explain. In the meantime, the
culturally curious should pop into Riga Art Space, Putti (a modern
jewellers-cum-gallery) and Kim?, a contemporary art centre. RIBOCA has also
transformed this year’s programme into a series of online talks and
virtual exhibitions; check it out here.

Beautiful bogs (seriously, hear us out)

As hiking trips have become increasingly popular, so too has
amateur mountain landscape photography. Dare we say it: panoramic
shots taken at the zenith of some European crag are starting to
feel a little passé. Just us? For a hike like no other, make tracks
for Latvia’s mist-strewn bogs. Don’t be put off by the name, these
are luscious, low-lying eco-systems – ambient reserves of swaying
long grass, fragmented by mirror-like pools. Dependent on where you
choose to hike, there’ll either be a purpose-built walkway
suspended over the bog or you’ll need to grab a pair of snowshoes
to prevent you from sinking in. We recommend the 8,000-year-old
Great Kemeri Bog or following the Cena Moorland footpath.

Beaches we’d rather keep a secret

It might be just across the Baltic Sea from Stockholm‘s much-loved archipelago, but Latvia’s
beaches don’t get the attention they deserve. Let’s keep it that
way. The Jurkalne Bluffs – tree-topped cliffs set over restless
sandy shores – skirt Latvia’s west coast and are known for being
remarkably untainted by human intervention. Approach via the Pape
Nature Reserve to catch sight of the park’s wild horses and auroxen
(a type of cattle). If you’re a surfer looking to catch some waves,
visit the small coastal town of Pāvilosta, where kites swarm
overhead like birds of paradise and fish dinners are served
steaming fresh from sandy-bottomed shacks.

For dystopian Soviet ruins

Some people see architecture in purely aesthetic terms, as
something to be observed and photographed (perhaps as a nice
background for one’s Instagram feed). Sounds familiar? Maybe
Latvia’s ugly architectural history isn’t for you. If, however,
you’re someone who’s interested in architecture’s lived experience
– how it can be used to enforce ideology and structure society –
then you’ll love scouting out the relics of Latvia’s turbulent
past. For long-abandoned military bases, visit the Skrunda radar
station or the Zeltini nuclear missile base. The Dubulti Railway
Station in Jūrmala, now a gallery space, is a striking example of
70s modernism, while the 80s-style TV Tower, Vanšu Suspension
Bridge and Riga Congress Centre are impressive testaments to Soviet

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