Latvia is surrounded by Lithuania, Belarus, Russia and Estonia, with the Baltic Sea lapping against its western coastline. Here holidaymakers meet a country and discover a dynamic culture which relishes its brand-new freedoms and flaunts a gregarious side and a hunger for the outdoors.
There aren’t many places that haven’t been damaged by tourism – a cruise holiday to Latvia will take you to such a place.
Popular Ports in Latvia Country
Port of Riga
Founded in 1201, Riga is one of northern Europe’s hidden gems. On the east coast of the Baltic Sea, Riga is the capital of Latvia and boasts big-city attractions like opera, music and ballet. It’s home to a treasure trove of museums with everything from art and textiles to firefighting and medicine.
Most of the main attractions are in the Old Town, which is a Unesco protected area with unusual buildings and architectural masterworks. Here you’ll discover an array of restaurants and cafes – rest assured, you won’t be short of things to do.
What’s more, there’s a fabulous choice of spas, historical buildings and markets.
Port of Skulte
Skulte Port is set in Zvejniekciems, which means ‘fishermen’s village’ in Latvian.
In the 19th century at the seaside of Skulte, a small village formed, mostly populated by fishermen. Just 50km from Riga, Skulte is laden with forests and rivers, and tourists are a rare sight. The city’s historical landmarks and famous buildings are best discovered on foot.
Port of Liepāja
Found on the Baltic Sea, Liepāja is the largest city in the Kurzeme region and the third-largest city in the country after Riga and Daugavpils. Its affectionate nickname is ‘city where the wind is born’ because of the sea’s continuous breeze.
Offering pristine beaches and market stalls selling fresh fish, Liepāja has the sea running through its veins. The city holds its annual festival, Summer Sound, where festival lovers can enjoy a weekend of pop music and partying on the beach.
There’s also the chance to take a historic trip through the city on a single tram line, the first electric tram built in the Baltic states.
Port of Ventspils
Established more than 700 years ago, Ventspils is one of Latvia’s oldest ports. When you smell the sea and feel the wind blowing through your hair, you’ll be reminded of its maritime heritage
Being the deepest port on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea, Ventspils port serves the largest ships, which enter the Baltic Sea. It’s a transport, transit and industrial centre of international significance in Latvia and the Baltic Sea area. Beyond its busy port, Ventspils is home to glorious beaches, public art as well as an amazing range of activities for kids.
Located on the west coast of the Gulf of Riga, about 30km south of Kolka, Roja Harbour is a convenient, eye-catching port of call. It’s the first yacht harbour after entering Riga Bay and is set near a small river with the same name.
It’s surrounded by piers and there are good facilities for yachts in the inner harbour, close to the bridge. You’ll find some good restaurants here as well as a beautiful beach, with the town offering a pharmacy, bank and post office.
Thought to mean ‘mouth of Salaca’, Latvia is famed for hosting Positivus Festival every July since 2007, where it attracts hundreds of festival-goers each year. The town is around 100km from Riga and has a whole host of attractions. Visit the Veczemes Cliffs, about 20km away, where you can explore the sandstone caves and craggy rocks.
The Museum of Salacgriva is another good place to check out, home to the permanent exhibition Zutiņš murdā (‘lamprey in the fish pot’!). It shows the fishing history and traditions in Vidzeme seaside, together with ancient lamprey fishing methods.
Be sure to take a trip to the lighthouse which looks over the mouth of the Salaca River and bridge, built in 1925.
What Are the Best Cruise Ships for a Cruise to Latvia?
As soon as you step off your cruise ship in the Latvian capital of Riga, you’re on the brink of uncovering one of northern Europe’s flourishing tourist spots. Not only is it the largest city in the Baltic states and its geographical centre, it’s also the unparalleled cultural capital of the region.
Marella Explorer is a brand-new ship, launched in May 2018. It can accommodate 1,924 passengers making it one of the largest vessels. The ship sports a range of new-to-the-fleet features. Indulge in some relaxation at Champneys health spa (the first at sea). Or enjoy some fine dining in one of the upmarket restaurants and treat yourself to a tipple at the gin and whisky tasting bar. As for entertainment, there are a large number of shows – you’ll also find The Veranda adults-only terrace and Broadway Show Lounge. There’s also a kids’ club as well as a high-tech disco/bar/casino.
Shore Excursion Ideas
Surrounded by Russia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus and the Baltic Sea, Latvia is a beautiful blend of forests, beaches and medieval villages. From national parks to waterfalls, Latvia boasts plenty of outdoor excursions, perfect for everyone.
Ethnographic Open-Air Museum
Don’t have time to see the Latvian countryside? Then a stop at this open-air museum should be on your to-do list.
Nestled along the coastline of Lake Jugla just north-east of the city limits, this stretch of forest is home to more than 100 wooden buildings (windmills, churches and farmhouses) from each of the country’s four cultural regions.
Take a step back in time and discover Latvian culture at this museum where costume villagers share their traditional celebrations and crafts. It started collecting its exhibitions before the war and includes historical buildings from all four of Latvia’s provinces. Most of the buildings were built between the 17th century through to the 1930s.
Gauja National Park
Get back to nature in the glorious Gauja National Park, made up of cliffs, caves, rock formations, natural springs and breath-taking views. Established in 1973, the park stretches over more than 90,000 hectares, safeguarding the most beautiful sector of the Gauja Valley.
There’s an array of caverns in the Gauja National Park – Gutmanala, the most expansive cave in the Baltic states; Kalejala which is the longest; the unusual Liela Ellite; not forgetting Velnala in Sigulda, one of the most popular caverns.
Gutmanala’s walls are plastered with engravings and many believe its waters have healing powers.
You’ll find the Gauja River runs through the park and it’s studded with magnificent cliffs. If you’re up for some adrenaline, take a hike here, or try out mountain biking and canoeing.