The Baltic States are three fascinating countries of north-eastern Europe, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The prime tourist season runs from April to September. Travel agency holiday packages are also affordable at this time of the year.
May is often warmer and sunnier than June. Nature is at its full glory at this time of year, with fresh new leaves uncurling on the trees, riotous blossoms racing across the countryside, and storks coming home to roost. Hotel prices slash down to off-season rates and the country lodging also operates at off-season rates and cottages are easier to reserve at short notice. Lakes are often warm enough for a quick swim.
Summer is a time to consider getting out of the capital to explore the regions and its wide range of affordable ecotourism opportunities. Visiting the country during other seasons is another option. From October to March, Riga streets are reclaimed by locals, prices go down, and cultural events heat up. For outdoor enthusiasts, Latvia offers a host of inexpensive winter sports options.
In summer, the most popular destination for tourists and locals alike is Jurmala, a string of villages running along the sandy Baltic coastline nearest Riga. June is often cool and rainy; it is an excellent time to visit if you wish to experience the largest holiday of the year, the midsummer celebration. Most of the tour packages cover this in the itinerary. The weather in July and August is usually the warmest. But summer nights can be quite chilly.
Autumn in Latvia is long and beautiful. The leaves fall slowly and remain colourful until the end of October. Latvia usually experiences an Indian summer in September and into October, with warm sunny days and crisp, cool nights. Autumn is also the time of the harvest, with a bustling organic market cropping up in Riga, and a wide variety of fresh, local foods in restaurants.
January and February are the snowiest months, and the best time for winter sports. Unlike in Riga, where snow generally doesn’t stay for long, Latvia’s ski resorts are always white and festive. Most ski areas also offer cosy cottage rentals at excellent rates. Sigulda, apart from being the closest ski resort town to Riga, and accessible by a short train ride, also offers an exciting ride on its bobsled track. Riga, as well as many other towns, provides open-air ice skating during the winter season, and cross-country skiing through quiet forests and over rolling country hills is a national passion. New Year festivities also draw travellers who are interested in the fantastic nightlife. At this time of year, Riga becomes a magical Christmas fairytale.
Wooden Christmas markets sell hot cups of mulled wine along with handcrafted souvenirs. The medieval buildings of Old Riga become covered with snow, and warm taverns fill up with cheerful people. Latvia is a nation full of theatre-goers and Riga theatre, opera, and ballet are at their very best at this time of year. Tickets are quite affordable.