Lonely Planet guide to Latvia

Published: 15 August 2007

Latvia is the small, flat and largely boggy meat in the sandwich between its Baltic neighbours.

It packs a lot in though: start with Rīga, its vibrant coastal capital, and move on to photogenic castles, music festivals and scenic river valleys.

When To Go:

In spring, the weather is warm, the days are long, flowery cottage gardens blossom and the cultural calendar oozes fun.

April and May, when the lucky stork returns to its nest, and the land and its people open up after winter, convey a real magic. June is midsummer-madness month and equally evokes the Baltic peoples' close ties to nature and their pagan past.

Summers are short but sweet. July and August (high season), the warmest and busiest months, and a time when many Balts go on holiday too, can also be the wettest and subject to the odd thunderstorm.

December to March sees snow-clogged streets, ice-glazed pavements and roofs laced with killer icicles. Ice skating, tobogganing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing and getting whipped in a sauna are this season's invigorating activities.

Avoid soggy March when the snow thaws, bringing with it far too much slush for enjoyment. Autumn, when snow falls then melts, is equally miserable.

Latvia - Fast facts

Full Name: Republic of Latvia
Capital City: Rīga
Area: 64,589 sq km / 24,938 sq miles
Population: 2,348,784
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +2 ()
Languages: Latvian (official), Latvian is one of the two languages of the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. Russian (other)
Religion: Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Russian Orthodox
Currency: Lat (Ls)
Electricity: 220V 50HzHz
Electric Plug Details European plug with two circular metal pins
Country Dialing Code: 371