Local name: Republika Latvija
The capital Riga is located right in the middle of the country. In the west Latvia has a coast on the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga, which cuts deep into the land from the north-west. In the east Latvia borders with Russia and Belarus.
Latvia is almost 65.000 kilometres in size, and easy to get around in. Though there is barely any public transport out in the countryside, you can easily rent a car and the roads are generally quite good.
In the north Latvia borders with Estonia and in the south with Lithuania. Many travellers combine a trip to all three countries when they head in this direction. The following areas are regions that you should really visit when you go to Latvia:
This area is in the west of Latvia, it’s very rural and sparsely populated. It’s a great area for walking. The north of Kurzeme has lots of forest and hills and is lovingly known by the locals as the ‘Switzerland’ of Latvia.
This is a very hilly region. The Gauja river flows through here, and it’s home to the Gauja National Park. This is also the highest part of the country: the Gaiziņkalns (310 metres).
This central plain is very fertile, and the river Lielupe runs through this landscape with its many tributaries.
If you’re after adventure, this is where you should go in Latvia. It’s barely ever visited by tourists, and it’s the poorest area in the country. The Russian influence is strong here. There are many lakes, swamps and rivers in this area.