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Latvia – The Amber Country

While the country of Latvia isn’t the best known among Northern Europe’s Baltic countries, it generously entertains and enriches the minds of those who come to visit.  Roughly the size of West Virginia, the “Amber Capital of the World” shares a landscape diversity similar to that of that state. As one of the greenest countries in the world, forests occupy around half of its area and are home to wolves, lynx, and black bears.  Throughout Latvia, diverse experiences abound, creating opportunities for everyone to enjoy a visit.


Captivating a wide range of travelers, Latvia is a country of cultural richness and immeasurable beauty. Here is a list of experiences that lucky visitors should not miss:



Riga serves as Latvia’s capital city and is known for its contrasts, allowing past and present to mesh seamlessly, which creates a unique atmosphere. Stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Riga’s Old Town and check out the impressive medieval architecture dotted around original cobblestone streets. 

St. Peter's Church

Take time to visit St. Peter’s Church and the iconic Riga Cathedral. Walk through the Alberta iela neighborhood’s Art Nouveau District and check out the ornate facades and elaborate decorations. Museums to visit are the Latvian National Museum of Art, which houses an extensive collection of art from all ages, and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, which is home to exhibits detailing the periods of Soviet and Nazi occupation. 

Castle of Light
Castle of Light

Shaped like a giant mountain with a glass flame on top, the Castle of Light is home to the impressive national library.

Kuldiga is a town with charming streets lined with historic buildings and home to Europe’s widest waterfall, Ventas Rumba.

Gauja National Park’s pristine wilderness is crisscrossed with hiking trails that lead to limestone cliffs and breathtaking natural landscapes.

Jūrmala is a picturesque seaside resort and home to many spa hotels, Art Nouveau architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene.

Cape Kolka is perfect for coastal hikes, birdwatching, and breathtaking sunsets along its rugged coastline. It is located on the Baltic Sea, next to the entry to the Gulf of Riga.

Rundale Palace
Rundale Palace

Rundale Palace is one of Latvia’s most magnificent architectural treasures. This 250+ year-old palace is in Pilsrundāle and is known for its stunning Baroque and Rococo architecture. While there, be sure to check out the gorgeous and well-tended garden.

A Taste of Latvia

Latvian grey peas with bacon can be found at restaurants around the country. Try this traditional national dish and savor its comforting texture and delicious flavor. After this flavorful experience, many visitors desire a repeat performance. To satisfy this craving at home, prepare the dish using the following recipe.

Latvian Grey Peas with Bacon



  • 18 oz dried grey peas

  • 8 oz diced bacon

  • 1 medium chopped onion

  • 2 minced garlic cloves

  • Salt and pepper (to taste)




Prepare the grey peas:

Rinse peas under cold water and soak overnight.

Cook the peas:

Place peas in a large pot, cover with water, cover the skillet, and bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and simmer for 90 minutes.

Skim off the foam, drain the cooked peas, and set aside.


Cook the bacon and onion:

  • Cook the diced bacon in a large skillet over medium heat for 12-15 minutes.

  • Add the chopped onion to the slightly crispy bacon and cook for 5 minutes.

  • Add the minced garlic to the skillet and cook an additional 2 minutes.


Combine peas with bacon and onion:

  • Add the cooked grey peas to the skillet, salt and pepper to taste, and stir well.

  • Cook 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.



  • Transfer food from skillet to serving dish.

  • Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.

  • Eat as a main dish or side dish and serve with crusty bread and boiled potatoes.

By Lisa Osborne Blalock

Footloose Travel & Tours

1 Comment

As a German, looking at the pictures of Riga, it feels almost like looking at one of the old German Hanseatic cities, even today reflecting the earliest German influences. In her words and images, Lisa always manages to enthusiastically describe and capture sights that cause the reader (and me, of course) to want to pack a suitcase and take off right now to experience what she writes about in IBNews! Thanks, Lisa! Doris Ganser, Transimpex Translations

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