One of the most recent additions to the European Union is Latvia. Much like Bulgaria, and several of the other newest EU members, the country is an undiscovered jewel that is just waiting to be polished. Long hidden behind the veil of Communism, and overshadowed by the presence of the Soviet Union, Latvia is a developing country that offers a unique look into a still-pristine world that has been untouched by Western modernization, but which is also quickly developing into one of Europe’s star countries.
Located on the coast of the Baltic Sea and bordered by Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, and Belarus, Latvia is one of the three Baltic States. The country boasts 500 kilometers of untouched white beaches, and thousands of square kilometers of untouched nature parks and trails. The country is filled with medieval relics, from the castles at Cesis to the capital of Riga, which has been deemed a World Heritage Site. The country has long been considered one of the most important ports in this region of the world, dating back to ancient times, with Riga itself being founded in 1201 by the Germans.
Between the medieval cities throughout the country to the mountains and forests, rivers and lakes, and otherwise, the country is a teeming thoroughfare of medieval history. Still relatively undiscovered by the masses, Latvia is nevertheless a must-see destination for any traveler, newbie or veteran. Between the national parks, the cities, the various summer festivals, and the budding economy that is beginning to recover after years behind the Communist veil, Latvia is simply too amazing to be passed up.
Accommodations and transportation are fairly modern. English is understood by most of the younger generation, while Russian will be understood by the older. The country is best visited between June and September for summer activities, and winter months for winter activities. Latvian cuisine is rated among the best in Europe, and when combined with everything else this country has to offer, makes for a destination that will you want to visit over and over and over.