Latvia Driving Guide – SPEND LESS, DO MORE
Latvia, among the world's greenest countries, lies between Estonia and the Gulf of Riga to the north and Lithuania to the south. The treasures of Latvian nature, such as rivers, lakes, the beaches and forests, are freely accessible to everyone. In fact Latvia has one of the longest sand beaches in Europe and in July and August the water is warm enough to swim comfortably.
Driving in Latvia can be fun and is by far the best way to see the country. Urban roads are generally in good condition and well maintained, even in winter, although night driving is not recommended in rural areas.
Explore Riga, the European capital of free WiFi, and beyond
Riga, the multicultural capital of Latvia, is located on the Gulf of Riga coast, at the mouth of the largest river, the Daugava. Long stretches of beach and pine forests lie just 20km from Riga’s centre.
A UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage city, Riga is known for its medieval buildings, unique Art Nouveau examples, as well as traditional wooden houses. Visiting the Riga market is an essential experience. Make sure you try the famous Latvian black bread and marvel at the beautiful amber jewellery for which Latvia is famous.
Both Jurmala and Ķemeri National Park make excellent day trips from Riga. Jurmala, a mere 40kms from Riga, is a unique ‘health’ resort town with a 26km long pristine sandy beach, the largest water amusement park in Northern Europe, and one of the largest collections of historic wooden houses in Latvia. Hiking and biking are great activities in these beautiful surroundings, but for something more relaxed try one of Jurmala’s many healing spas.
Introducing Western Latvia (Kurzeme) — Driving from Riga to Ventspils
Kurzeme region (Courland) offers endless kilometres of natural beauty. The region’s coastline of sandy beaches is tailor-made for off-the-beaten-track adventures, whilst the small fishermen’s villages on the Kurzeme seashore welcome visitors with many delights.
The drive from Riga to Ventspils via Saldus and Kuldiga, is approximately 225km. Saldus is a small town in Kurzeme nestled in a cosy valley next to the River Ciecere and Lake Saldus. Famous as the ‘sweet town’, you can watch the local sweets manufacturers at work and sample their treats. Plan to the hugely popular rock festival ‘Saldus Saule’ (The Sun of Saldus), which is the oldest traditional rock festival in Latvia.
A 50km drive from Saldus takes you to the historical centre of Kuldiga. Kuldiga town has preserved its typical provincial style - narrow streets, peculiar one-storey houses with a chimney in the middle, and red roof tiles are still preserved. The Aleksupite River flows directly along the walls of many buildings, which is why Kuldiga is often called the ‘Venice of Latvia’.
Your last stop is the harbour town of Ventspils on the coast of the Baltic Sea. The River Venta, after which it was named, runs through it. Some of the must-see places are the old town, with narrow cobbled streets, quaint buildings and squares, and the Castle of the Livonian Order - one of the oldest medieval fortresses in Latvia.
Return to Riga from Ventspils via Cape Kolka
From Ventspils you can drive back to Riga via Kolka, on approximately 187km of mostly coastal road. Cape Kolka (Kolkasrags) is where the Baltic Sea meets the Gulf of Riga. Hauntingly beautiful, a journey here feels like a trip to the end of the earth - a special experience to share. Cape Kolka’s lighthouse (Slitere) is located on the only Latvian sea island where the tundra-like expanse is home to a variety of wildlife.
Latvia is an unusual destination with a lot to offer, and we believe you should spend time doing more, without spending more. To find the best deals and choices for rental cars and accommodation you need not look further than Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels.
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