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10.03.2014
 

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Welcome to Latvia



For travellers, the best thing about Latvia is that it is so compact. Its 500 km of sandy beaches are easily reached from historical towns, where medieval hanseatic foundations support baroque and art nouveau buildings, that become venues for cultural festivals during the summer. Families of storks happily give their seal of approval to the unspoilt nature, fresh air and clean water around them. In addition to Riga, its spectacular gateway, there are 6 other UNESCO world heritage listed sites. A trading hub for over 800 years, it is well versed in welcome. With such a variety, Latvia is best enjoyed slowly.


Latvia is a contemporary European country, and its capital city Riga - a modern metropolis, in which historical architecture, unique in Europe, alternates with the modern; one can feel the breeze of a centuries-old history and relax in modern night clubs, restaurants and comfortable hotels.


Latvia is made unique by its two different worlds - the European metropolis Riga and the rest of Latvia - a rural environment with unspoilt nature, tranquil towns and a green environment. Therefore, an observant traveller visiting Latvia will find excellent opportunities for recreation!


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History and culture


Latvia's history and culture is a rich cultural-historic heritage. Because of its multicultural mix, Latvia's history and culture stands out because of its variety, but at the same time its singularity and uniqueness.

  • Rīga from a Bird's Eye View

Just imagine for a moment, where else in such a small territory can one find unusual churches and ancient pagan sacred objects, where else is it possible to try out and participate in ancient traditions and witness something completely modern, where else can one enjoy historic medieval buildings and the unique Art Nouveau architecture of the beginning of 20th century which is unique in the world because it can only be created in a progressive and multicultural environment.

Why is Latvia's culture so unique? Because of its favourable geographical location, in the last millennium Latvia has absorbed the traditions and experience of, arguably, almost all European or even World nations, at the same time retaining characteristics which are special and unique only to Latvians. For example, the pagan traditions which are followed in almost every family or farmstead, such as Summer Solstice or Līgo when on many hills in Latvia bonfires are lit, around which people sing and party through the shortest night of the year until the dawn rises. Then there are Easter and Christmas - these festivities are celebrated twice, both as a Christian and as a pagan holiday. Latvia simultaneously honours Christian and Hebrew traditions, as well as elements of the German and the Slavic cultures.

The variety of cultures and their peaceful co-existence are exemplified by the fact that in Latvia one can see churches of different confessions - all of them ornate, for example, Catholic (Rīga St. Albert's Roman Catholic Church, Aglona Basilica), Lutheran (St. Peter's Church in Rīga), Orthodox (Rīga Christ's Birth Orthodox Cathedral) churches, and the prayer houses of Old-Believers (Rīga Grebenščikova Old-Believer Church).

Yet this is only a small drop in the sea of Latvia's history and cultural sites and events. The best way to learn about the rich historic and cultural heritage in depth is in this section. If you are interested in ancient folk traditions (that really can infatuate everyone, even the biggest sceptic), if you are a fan of old castles and historic estates, if you are interested in art and museums, and if you would like to be part of all that to be present at the Song and Dance Festival, then welcome - you are in the right place!



The Baltic Sea coast


Life in Latvia has been connected to the Baltic Sea for ages. Latvia has 500 kilometres of beach along the Baltic Sea, modern port cities, fantastic resort cities, old fishing villages, quiet, secluded and even unruly pockets of nature and diverse relaxation options. It's all there at the Latvian seaside.




Over one third of the 1 836 kilometre-long total Latvian border runs along the Baltic Sea. Locals tend to refer to it as two separate "seas" - what is called the Dižjūra (or Great Sea), which is the open coast along the Baltic Sea in western Kurzeme, and the Mazjūra (or Little Sea), which is the Gulf of Riga. The two bodies meet at Cape Kolka, where tourists flock to watch the crashing waves that have always proved dangerous for sailors.

The Baltic Sea coast is very diverse and multi-faceted. Starting with the wild western Kurzeme beach (which is almost untouched by civilisation because it was a closed-off territory during the Soviet regime and which was left with a considerable military history) and ending with one of the most popular and most modern Baltic resort town - the tourist-favoured city of Jūrmala.



Jurmala



The town of Jūrmala is proud of its unique natural resources - therapeutic thermal waters, peat mud, pine forests, healthy maritime climate, dunes and beaches covering 32.8 kilometres.

The beach is covered in white quartz sand, and "The Blue Flag", which is a sign of a high quality, safe and well-equipped beach, has been hoisted at Majori and Jaunķemeri beaches. The area has been adjusted for people with special needs. It is an excellent place for family holidays. Jūrmala health resorts and SPA centres offer an extensive range of beauty and health-care procedures.

Jūrmala is proud of its unique wooden architecture which has been a distinctive trait of its urban architecture since the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. The architectural features of Classicism, Art Nouveau, National Romanticism, and Functionalism harmoniously co-exist here. 414 buildings have been included in the List of Architectural Monuments, but there are more than 4000 historical buildings.

Jūrmala also offers the opportunity of recreation at one of the largest aqua parks in northern Europe - "Līvu akvaparks", which offers over 45 attractions for children and adults. "Līvu akvaparks" is open to visitors every day throughout the year.

Jūrmala is a city on the waves which invites everybody to keep coming back here. There are several museums and galleries in Jūrmala. International concerts are held here at Dzintari Concert Hall.

Jurmala is divided in 13 small areas - Priedaine, Lielupe, Bulduri, Dzintari, Majori, Dubulti, Jaundubulti, Pumpuri, Melluži, Asari, Vaivari, Sloka and Ķemeri.

Some tourist sites charge an entrance fee. A car permit for entrance into Jūrmala costs 1.00 LVL


Leisure activities


If you are among those who love to spend their leisure time actively, in Latvia you will never feel bored. Here you can find adventure parks, horse riding, sailing, sport activities, orienteering, skydiving and even such entertainment as flying in the vertical wind tunnel that is not found anywhere else but only in Latvia!



If you are tired of lounging in hotel and your body longs for action, then one or another opportunity of leisure activities is available just at your fingertips. Just make some steps out of the hotel restaurant. You can start with a modicum and go for a little walk (to look at environs of Sigulda or to stroll along the nature trails of Ligatne), or you can bike tour, or enjoy horse riding - a lot of farmsteads near Riga and all over the Latvia offer you such types of leisure activities.

You can also try something more extreme. For example, adventure parks will let you feel like Tarzan overcoming a wide variety of obstacles in cords suspended in trees. Latvia has several adventure parks, some of which are even near the centre of Riga - „Mežakaķis" in Mežaparks or "High Rope Park" in Jaunmarupe.

Orienteering sport is a very popular entertaining activity in Latvia. But, for the enthusiasts of wind sports, Latvia is the place to expand.

The wind and waves storming in the seaside of Kurzeme is the paradise for windsurfers and kaitsurfers. Also the biggest lakes of Latvia are the favourites of sailing sport lovers. For example, you can find several sailing sports facilities offering active recreation for any interested person on the banks of Kisezers in Riga.

If you want to jump with a parachute - here you are! Such possibilities are provided by the small Latvian airfields, such as Spilve airport in Riga, or airports in Jelgava, Daugavpils. You will get particularly sharp feelings from rubber-jumping. The bravest people can try out such activity on the Funicular cable car of Sigulda (in height of 43 meters) during summer season each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, but the vertical wind tunnel "Aerodium" is a completely new entertainment. Feel free like a bird and enjoy the free flight!


Spa and Wellness

In Latvia, there is every opportunity to receive high-level medical services, yet Latvians know how to ensure everyday well-being and strengthen their health by using both methods tried and tested the world over, such as spas and similar treatments, and skills and knowledge that have their roots in traditional medicine.

  • SPA

People in Latvia are closely connected with nature. That is why things that are elsewhere called landscape therapy, herbal medicine or aromatherapy and cost a lot of money are known here simply as long walks in the woods or by the sea, a thoroughly hot session in the sauna or a steaming mug of herbal tea - best for dealing with a physical and mental low. And the so-called work therapy, more commonly known in Latvia as "doing a few chores" around the country home, provides a city dweller with a great opportunity to take some exercise.

There are saunas in many houses and nearly every guesthouse or hotel, and they offer a wide range of treatments: from swatting yourself with besoms made out of plants, sweat-inducing teas, contrast showers, various massages and beauty treatments using natural preparations.

At a fair number of hotels and country "health farms", guests are offered spa services which use both world renowned cosmetics brands and products made on site from ingredients that come from the untouched Latvian nature. (Among other things, the unspoiled nature has inspired several Latvian entrepreneurs to create lines of natural cosmetic products: for example, the nature-friendly Madara products have already conquered the European market.)

Everyone can find the most suitable way of restoring energy and good cheer - whether at the hotel spas of Riga, Jūrmala, Liepāja and other towns, or amidst rural tranquillity. Also, activities such as horse riding, Nordic walking, bicycling and cross-country or downhill skiing in winter enjoy popularity. But to keep the spirit and the flesh awake, far more extreme pursuits can be useful: for example, winter swimming in an ice hole (maybe you wish to join the Latvian "seals"?). Still, a healthy lifestyle can be led in more peaceful ways: with a juice treatment or rubbing yourself with a rough linen towel, or a morning crawl on all fours following a special methodology.


For business travellers


Latvia has demonstrated its capacity to organise top-level meetings, proving to be most suitable for business conferences. In addition to seminars, business people can experience more of Latvia without much hurry.



Close to the centre


The advantage of Latvia and Riga is the airport's proximity to the centre of the capital - there aren't many places in the world where a hotel in the very heart of the country can be reached in 10-15 minutes. In your free-time take a leisured stroll through the beautiful Old Town to look at the famous Art Nouveau architecture of Riga in the "quiet centre" of the city.


Connecting West and East


As a regional hub connecting the West with the East, Latvia offers plentiful of opportunities for setting up business deals and carrying out negotiations. Hotels provide conference halls with all the necessary equipment, including synchronous interpreting.


Stylish hotels


The Association of Hotels and Restaurants of Latvia recommends more than ten hotels as suitable for business travels - "Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija", "Radisson Blu Ridzene", "Radisson Blu Daugava", "Radisson Blu Elizabete", "Bergs", "Hotel de Rome", "Konventa Sēta", "Islande Hotel", "Avalon", "Europe Royal Riga", "Maritim Park Hotel", "Europa City Riga". It is also possible to find good conference premises outside Riga - surrounded by rural tranquility though still being close to the city. Many countryside guest houses provide conference facilities and active recreation as well - after the business meeting is over you can hang the suitcase in a wardrobe, put the document files in a safe and together with your colleagues, employees, supervisors and business partners race down the roller-sled track or go on a horse-ride.


NATO summit too


Our country has successfully managed to host a NATO summit, a meeting of the European Reconstruction and Development Bank, has welcomed the US President, the British Queen, the King of Spain, the Japanese Emperor and other monarchs, the Pope of Rome and many other high guests.


Medical tourism



Every year more and more travellers choose Latvia as a place to improve their health. And it has an explanation - Latvia can offer highly qualified medical personnel and as highly qualified medical services as Western Europe for a price considerably lower than in other countries of the European Union.

Professional agencies of medical services in Latvia offer travellers a range of medical services and manipulations, including diagnostics, dentistry, oculist services, narcology, plastic surgery, reconstructive surgery, reproductive medicine and rehabilitation. The agencies of medical tourism provide a complete range of services - starting from transportation of the traveller to Latvia, placing in a clinic and arranging the medical services till escorting the traveller back to its home country.

Medical services in a foreign country is a delicate issue, but if you are considering starting a treatment course in Latvia, you can be sure, that you will be served by an experienced and highly recommended medical tourism agency, which will arrange the most professional medical staff in Latvia, being internationally acclaimed specialists in their field.

Besides as a country of medical tourism Latvia is not only the best choice due to the high quality of services, prices and professionals, but it also a place to improve your health. Latvia is not crowded with people and has a mild climate that helps curing faster. There is a rich cultural life and amazing architecture that will regale your heart.

To find out more about the opportunities of medical tourism, please read the Medicine brochure.




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