Ieva MiltinaIeva Miltina 13 JULY 2020 116 views 5 min. read

6 reasons why Latvia is an underrated gem of the Northern Europe

116 views 5 min. read
uploads/Latvia.jpg

Where is Latvia? 

Latvia, one of the three proud Baltic states with a cozy and green capital city named Riga, celebrated its 100th birthday just a few years ago. Albeit the lack of a long history of being called a country, this small nation is rich in nature, culture, and character. The geographical location and the historical conquests of rather big and influential neighbors in this land might have been why Latvia still remains an undiscovered gem for many (maybe besides the ex-Soviet sister countries that have long praised the beaches and the cultural scene here).  

Overlooked by many in favor of more popular destinations, this small country has heaps to offer an enjoyable, safe, and very importantly - an affordable trip to North Europe, so I offer some reasons why travel to Latvia should be one of your next go-to destinations.

1. Nature is the core of Latviandom!

Latvia nature

You don't have to be an outdoor junkie to find some interest in what I am about to say. Latvia nature is not only one of the most abundant resources here, but since the beginning of time, it has been the base of life and daily rituals for people residing in this territory. It is a deity for Latvians, who are still somewhat pagan even after centuries of Christianity. It means that up to nowadays, it is very, very common to perform different nature-related rituals and seek guidance in the signs visible in plants, animals, and weather. 

What does Midsummer night dream say about love?

For example - try swinging in the spring equinox to avoid mosquitoes or washing your feet in flowing water in the dawn of Midsummer night to see your future spouse's reflection! Okay, you might say it is silly and somewhat hard to prove the legitimacy of such doings, but in this article's context, exactly this connection to nature and these weird, but unique ways to praise the power of nature is the reason to visit. Latvia, ASAP! Suggested holidays for that is the Midsummer night (held on 23-24 June each year), which is bigger than Christmas for the locals.

Talking about nature, it is important to note that Latvia is also a perfect spot for anyone who just loves being in nature - forests, beaches, vast countryside fields, and countless hidden spots, where you will likely not meet a single soul. Charmingly untouched is Latvia's raw beauty, and this is where you can still find these remote places not capitalized upon (yet).

2. Forest strawberry jam, anyone?

strawberry

Slightly continuing on the route of the story about nature, one should definitely mention also how connected the Latvian plates are to the source of origin. Foraging in forests for berries or mushrooms has never gone out of fashion (yes, besides the official 4 seasons Latvians have a mushroom season too!) and even if not done by oneself, the goods are sought for in markets eagerly and eaten fresh, frozen or made into delicious condiments. Even if you are not a great foodie looking for exquisite gourmet experiences, surely will a sweet dollop of forest strawberry jam handpicked by someone's grandmother taste heavenly on your warm Sunday pancakes!

And if you are looking for something familiar to put in your belly, it might be handy to know that Latvian cuisine consists of many influences from the countries who technically owned the land before. Anyone into German, Russian (or let's say - Soviet) or Scandinavian cuisines will find locally prominent dishes to satisfy the tastebuds.

3. Parties until dawn is a real thing here!

Party

Yes, travel to Latvia is great if you are looking for fun and restless nightlife! No curfew and lots of delicious local beers and liquors to try in bars and cafes. These places may keep you engaged in fun times with friends and strangers even up to the moment to witness some more-serious looking people going to work. And you know what is best? After a few glasses of funny lemonades, everybody happily becomes your friend for the night, and dancing is not reserved for the couples only! Such friendly twirls in dance are rarely observed anywhere else, and honestly, it is often mentioned by the fellow Latvians as one of the things they miss the most about the bars while being somewhere else in the world.

4. Squeezing much travel in a short time?

Riga city

Latvia is definitely great for that! Besides the obviously short distances inland, it also stands in the Baltic states' center and is a short trip away from many other European capitals. After spending some time in Riga, you can easily reach Estonia and Lithuania for weekend trips (takes about 3-4 hours by bus), take an overnight cruise to Stockholm, or just jump over the border to meet the "big brother" Russia. I still do suggest spending as much time as possible exploring the uncharted corners of Latvia, because it is just so easy, close and convenient. FYI, Riga's trip to one of the furthest points of this country takes just about 4 hours!

5. Are you looking for a unique location for work or a remote job?

Cabin

Wink wink! Look no further. Imagine a cabin in the middle of the forest or a barrel furnished as a mini apartment on the beach with a spectacular view looking towards Baltic sea waves. And another barrel to be used as a sauna next to it. Sounds perfect for relaxed working times, doesn't it? It does get better. The great internet is available almost anywhere! With that said - the wilderness of Latvian land as given inspiration to many hospitality entrepreneurs to offer truly magnificent spots for work or leisure in places where literally nobody will disturb you. Okay, maybe except the mosquitos.

If you are not looking for a very remote location to get focused on your job, Riga will fit splendidly. Developed business and start-up scene with well-established connections to Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, a myriad of world-class co-working spaces and all within walking distance in this culture and nightlife filled city. It might be a great place to shift the routines but still stay "in the roll" whether you are a freelancer, start-up entrepreneur, or just looking for a place to get inspired for your next venture.

6. Cheaper than Scandinavia, wilder than Western Europe!

Triangle

Last but not least. Don't overlook this holy trinity of travel - Latvia is affordable, still unique, and very safe. The price level is still lower than many of the more developed EU countries, but the quality of life is quite high. The country has the charm of raw and untouched beauty and thus has lots of unique spots to discover. And if you are worried about safety - Latvians are rarely worried about nature coming after them because this land does not experience any earthquakes, hurricanes, or deadly animals (besides the very feared viper snake and deadly annoying, but not actually deadly mosquitoes). 

Also, during the outbreak of COVID-19, Latvia was considered one of the exemplary states fighting the spread of the virus. It just means it is very safe to visit this tiny corner of the land up to date. Additionally - Latvians are distant inland and in person too; therefore, with some planning and considerations before coming, this is probably one of the safest spots currently in the world.

Combining these three qualities truly makes a combo for a "smart" choice for a destination, but coming here, you will understand that the number of reasons to be here extends to way more. If things you have read above haven't curbed your appetite for seeing this modest but rich country yet, just open your browser and write "flying people in Latvia," which might do the trick! See you soon!

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Ieva Miltina Activist and entrepreneur

Ieva Miltina is an activist and entrepreneur of many sorts. By profession project manager of marketing and culture events, in her heart she is a passionate traveler and a cook, soon to become a pastry chef. Deeply rooted in non-formal education she has been involved in youth work since her teenage years and up till nowadays holds a deep interest in innovative approaches to learning and personal development, which she transfers to people from all Europe during various international trainings.

Always looking for new discoveries and adventures she happily shares her positive view on the world and the neverending stories with the people who cross her path. While studying hospitality and tourism management she wrote a thesis on home-chefs, which ignited her dream of owning her cozy and heartwarming home restaurant, which will hopefully materialize very soon. Meanwhile writing articles and doing food photography she is working towards another dream of hers - becoming a published author someday. 

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