5 Things to Know Before Visiting Latvia

Have you ever considered hopping on the plane and visiting one of the most beautiful countries of Eastern Europe (in all terms possible)? Deep forests, fantastic national parks and a great deal of green spaces – these are the things that describe Latvia the most. Yet like most countries, it is not without its obvious flaws. So, without further ado, let us hop right into the facts!

1. Russian influence:
There is an interesting relationship between the Latvians and the Russians in Latvia. First and foremost, you should know that Russians make up the largest ethnic minority in the country (over 25% of the local population consists of Russians). What this means is that you are going to run into quite a lot of them and speaking their mother-tongue helps a lot. Not to mention the fact that the perceived indifference that they often present at first can be shattered by addressing them in their own language. Russians in Latvia are reserved and they avoid eye contact but do not think that the Latvians are any different. If you are an obvious tourist, they will avoid you at all costs because they particularly despise small talk. If you have a few intelligent conversations in mind and also dabble in Russian, you might find yourself in a cool situation. Know, though, that sometimes, ethnic Russians and Latvians do have different opinions and they tend to resort to quarrelling. The political subjects of the former Soviet Union are a particularly sensible subject and we recommend that you avoid them at all costs unless you know exactly what you are getting into (we advise further research).

2. Crime:
This is an unfortunate one but it cannot be ignored: crime in Latvia is quite a problem – especially in Riga (the capital city). Pirate cabs are like mosquitoes in a swamp and their rides will sometimes take so long that you are going to wonder whether you are on your way out of the country or just visiting a local attraction. Always encourage taxi drivers to start their metres because agreeing on a price does not work in the same fashion as it does in Latin America (you agree on a price and then the drivers will act like it never happened). Additionally, do not fall prey to the allure of random friendly women – they will often only be the harbingers of a nasty experience as they will lead you to shady clubs or bars. These establishments will contain certain individuals who are extremely adept at stripping you of your hard-earned money. Pickpockets are also a problem and they come in all shapes and sizes. Always watch your back and all will be well.

3. Cash:
As we have said a million times: do not resort to your credit card in Eastern Europe for it shall not get you far! Carrying around a moderate amount of cash at all times is highly advised as that is what motivates most service providers. Also, the less you have to stick your card in any suspicious machine, the better. Why? Because there have been countless targets of card cloning and identity theft in Latvia. What this means is that ATMs should always be used when they are within the bounds of banks or in places frequented by many people (never use the ones that are hidden away around some corner).

4. National parks:
Without spoiling too much for you, we recommend that you not only visit Riga but also the countryside. As we have mentioned above, Latvia is quite a green country with a great deal of parks and natural reserves. These places will be tranquil, often quite devoid of people and excellent for recreation. Latvia is the absolute definition of a recreational country – a place of grandeur and of inspiration. Definitely a must-experience for artists looking for creativity! Notable locations to explore include Gauja National Park, Kemeri National Park, Lake Engure and Slītere National Park.

5. Beauty and sex ratio:
Here’s the thing about stereotypes: they are mostly broad generalisations that have only a slight tangency with reality. Having cast that out on the table right away, the time has come to contradict ourselves for Latvia holds true to one of its famed stereotypes: its beautiful women. You don’t have to go far to read all about this for most top lists on Google talking about the beauty of women will include Latvia on them. We assure you that no matter where you might have been in your life, you have not beheld so many gorgeous blondes in one place. Additionally, recent studies have suggested that, there are about 1.18 females per male in the country, meaning that there is quite a shortage of men there. This has also led to former sex tourism in Latvia but since scams have doubled and prostitution has become a grey area, we recommend that you avoid such things.

Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Latvia and how have they shaped your overall impression of the country? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to check back for some exciting updates from time to time!

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