Nestled in the heart of the Baltic region of Northern Europe, Latvia is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. From its stunning natural beauty to its rich history and culture, this country offers a wealth of experiences for travelers of all interests. Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history buff, or a food lover, Latvia has something to offer you.
The country’s capital, Riga, is a beautiful city with a rich history that dates back more than 800 years. Its Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a maze of narrow cobblestone streets lined with colorful buildings, charming cafes, and historic landmarks such as the Riga Cathedral and St. Peter’s Church. The city’s vibrant art scene, which includes the Latvian National Museum of Art and the Riga Art Nouveau Centre, is a must-see for art enthusiasts.
Beyond the city, Latvia is known for its pristine natural landscapes, including dense forests, tranquil lakes, and sweeping coastline. Visitors can hike through the Gauja National Park, home to some of the country’s most stunning scenery, or explore the unspoiled beauty of the Kemeri National Park. The country’s stunning coastline offers opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports, while its numerous lakes and rivers are ideal for fishing, boating, and kayaking.
Latvia is also known for its rich cultural heritage, which is reflected in its music, dance, and festivals. The country is home to several folk festivals throughout the year, including the annual Latvian Song and Dance Festival, which attracts thousands of participants and spectators from around the world.
As with any travel destination, it’s essential to be aware of the dos and don’ts of the local culture. Respect for local customs, cuisine, and language can go a long way in making your trip to Latvia a memorable and enjoyable experience. With its unique blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, Latvia is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list.
However, as a first-time traveler to Latvia, it’s important to be aware of some customs and practices that may be unfamiliar to you. This knowledge can help you navigate the country more easily, interact with locals in a respectful manner, and avoid any potential misunderstandings or cultural faux pas.
In this context, it’s essential to know the do’s and don’ts of traveling to Latvia, such as learning a few basic Latvian phrases, being mindful of Latvia’s weather conditions, and respecting Latvia’s cultural heritage. By keeping these tips in mind, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip while exploring the wonders of this beautiful Baltic nation.
#1. Greet people with a big smile.
Of course, we humans have this thing where if we see someone smiling and starting their day and greetings right. We also come in with positive energy. The same goes for this country; the people in it are so used to it that they appreciate it more than anything. It is an everyday thing to greet travelers in this country with a big smile and some handshakes, so you should too. It does not matter if you are meeting someone there in a formal setting. Just do it all the time. Greet everyone in Latvian with a cheerful smile.
#2. Try the local Latvian food.
When you head to Latvia, you should try their cuisine with a mix of Baltic, Scandinavian, and Russian. There are a lot of popular dishes in this country that you must try, such as sauerkraut and potato pancakes. You are going to miss a lot if you do not give these Local foods a try.
#3. Respect the Environment.
Make sure that when you go into Latvia, you do have a good time but make sure that you are not disrupting any of the environment. Latvia is highly known for its unique and pristine natural environment. So when you do visit this country, make sure that you give respect to it. Take care of your trash and be mindful of your surroundings.
#4. Learn some Latvian Phrases.
Of course, one of the things that you should be mindful of when visiting another Country, just like Latvia, is to learn what language they use and make sure that you would take your time to learn some basic Latvian Phrases. However, they can speak English. The people in Latvia would appreciate even the basic of all basic Latvian phrases, just as reiki, which would mean Hello, and penalties which would mean Thank you. A bit of thought counts.
#5. Take your shoes off when entering houses or apartments.
Yes, it is a custom thing over in Latvia to remove your shoes when you are going to someone’s apartment or house. This is a big sign of respect and helps keep their houses or homes clean.
#6. Visit Riga’s Old Town.
A famous town over in Latvia that has an exceptional architectural basis. This is one of UNESCO’s world heritage site that allows the people that visits Latvia to experience one of the fantastic architectures from the old times. Aldothou modernized. It still has the famous House of the Blackheads and St. Peter’s church. Make sure to do and stroll around to feel the historical place.
#7. Always have Cash with you.
Okay, here this out. Although credit cards, debit cards, and virtual money are excellent and available in Latvia. Bringing a ton or at least some pocket cash with you is still an excellent idea. Since many rural areas and towns are offered in Latvia, having cash with you would allow you to get souvenir purchases or snacks from street vendors.
#8. Be aware of your surroundings.
One of the things that you must Do over in Latvia is to be careful of your surroundings. Do not get me wrong, Latvia is a very safe country. Still, since you are a traveler and a visitor, you must always keep aware of your surroundings, especially if you have a kid with you or expensive belongings. If you are alone, be very aware of things, especially in poorly lit and crowded areas.
#9. Dress to Latvia’s customs.
In many countries, some things are already customed for those who have lived there for a long time. However, Latvia does not have a set of traditional clothing. You must dress appropriately for many things, especially in formal or business settings. You must dress modestly if you visit things such as traditional or historic sites. Also, since at times in summer Latvia is a scorching country, You might want extra clothes that are still formal or appropriate but not too hot.
#10. Do try the Black Balsam.
Black Balsam is probably a new term that you have just read in this blog post. This is a must-try since Black Balsam is a vast and famous Latvian tradition. It is a Latvian drink made with liquor from herbs, roots, and spices from Latvia, giving it a unique Latvian taste. It is usually served in restaurants. However, it has been modified over the years. It has remained a drink that people must try when visiting the country. Though albeit, it is a solid liquor that you would enjoy!
#1. Don’t be so loud.
Being loud is fine, of course, but only in some places. Latvia is not one of those places, such as NYC, where you can be loud and obnoxious without anyone noticing or being tired of you. Latvians tend to be a reserved and private type of people. So when you do visit this country, it is essential not to be loud, especially in quiet areas such as libraries or traditional museums that this country has.
#2. Be attentive and on time.
Suppose you are a person that is bad at being on time. This is different from the country for you. Latvians have high recognition and value of the word punctuality. It exists for everything, from appointments created in the country to meetings and even vehicles if you plan to commute. Being late in this country is a big disrespect and can lead to an awful impression of you.
#3. Never forget to tip.
This is one of the controversial things about Latvia. Tipping is not the norm in Latvia, but the country lately has re-opened to many tourists after the pandemic. The tourist areas always ask, or at least the services and things that the places offer, for a little tip. Sometimes they do not insist but to ensure even a penny would suffice.
#4. Politics and Religions are a no-no.
In this country, talking about politics and religion is not prohibited. Still, Latvia has its share of political and religious divisions. One of the most prominent unique practices you can have is to avoid discussing the abovementioned topics. Especially if you are out in public and to those people who live in Latvia that you have just met while traveling there. Be sure to stick to neutral topics.
#5. Never ignore Latvia’s landscape.
No wonder to us that Latvia has one of the most beautiful landscapes, nature, and natural wonders. Since Latvia is the home to Europe’s most beautiful-looking landscapes, which include Gauja Park and the soothing Jurmala Beach, take advantage of exploring the country, especially if you will be there for quite a while!
In conclusion, Latvia is a fascinating country that offers a wealth of experiences for travelers. From the charming city of Riga with its historic landmarks and vibrant art scene to the pristine natural landscapes of its national parks and the stunning coastline, Latvia has something for everyone. Its rich cultural heritage, reflected in its music, dance, and festivals, is a testament to the country’s proud history and traditions.
However, it’s important to remember that as a visitor, it’s essential to be respectful of local customs, language, and cuisine. Learning a few basic Latvian phrases and familiarizing yourself with the local culture can go a long way in making your trip a memorable and enjoyable experience. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or a glimpse into a unique and fascinating culture, Latvia is a destination that should not be missed.