Immigration. Travel. Living.

Life in Latvia – expat guide

With only one major city that hosts 33% of the Latvian population, one can be sure to be able to secure a small paradise without it being overcrowded.

Even though it is a small country, traditions here are valued and very much alive up to this day. It might take a few days, but all Latvians are generally welcoming. One can visit Latvia and find that natural beauty is at the core of this country.


Latvian nature

Latvian country is mostly flat with occasional hills in the countryside. It stretches along the shores of the Baltic Sea for 500 kilometers.

Various rivers and lakes, as well as long seashores offer diverse possibilities to enjoy nature at its fullest.

With only two million people sharing this country, there are many places where one can visit pristine nature without being interrupted by others. This is one of the many reasons why Latvians at first might seem a bit distanced. To get to know Latvians, extra time might be needed. This is because of their precaution towards others. To understand this, we must investigate Latvia’s historical baggage.



Latvia history

History has always been an important part of Latvia. For 51 years this country was occupied by the U.S.S.R. Only on August 21, 1991, Latvia declared its independence.

After the end of the 19th century Latvians were finally able to cultivate their cultural heritage. Many traditions and occasions of this country were celebrated once again. This appreciation of Latvian nationality is present up to this day.

Once a few years passed, Latvia was finally ready to take the next step in its journey of development.

After Latvia got admitted to NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the EU (European Union) in 2004, major changes began. Now Latvia is a developed country that has a lot to offer both to tourists and newcomers. Many people come to visit this country every year.


Cultural heritage

Most Latvians are pagans in their heart even though Christianity is the most widespread religion here. Various pagan traditions and occasions are still celebrated each year.

After Latvians became free of the Soviet rule their cultural heritage was reignited once again. Religious and folkloric festivals are now being celebrated each year.

What’s even more interesting is that each of the four Latvian regions has its own unique style of national clothing. Nowadays those traditional clothes are worn on special occasions.

The most noteworthy event that is celebrated each year is Jāņi. It is a pagan midsummer celebration where summer solstice is the main event. Huge bonfires are lit and special cheese is prepared. Beer is the main beverage of this event.

Many come to visit Latvia during this time of celebration. We can guarantee that if you visit Latvia at this time – you will be amazed.


Latvian mentality

While it is true that Latvians are shy, their willingness to open their doors to others is contagious. Because of their rich history, many Latvians can speak three languages.

You will hear at least two languages out on the streets. The second most popular language after Latvian is Russian. Younger people have also mastered English.

If you visit Latvia, you will notice that language knowledge is not the only thing that Latvians are proud of.

Most Latvians are proud to have Latvian nationality. This is celebrated on many occasions – Jāņi being only one of them.

Another large celebration is hosted every 4 years. It is the Baltic song festival where amateur traditional dance and music are combined. It is a massive event and even foreign Latvians come back to their country to revisit their cultural heritage.

This shows that Latvians are singing and dancing nation.



Latvia’s capital city – Riga is large enough to host 633 thousand inhabitants. It is full of surprises with its lively streets and architectural gems.

Over the past years, hip places have opened, and many buildings were restored to give this city a new look.

In 2014, it had a joint honor to be called the European Capital of Culture.

When the dark comes, Riga lightens up and the Old Town serves as a heart of the nightlife in Latvia. The atmosphere here is incredible and you can combine this experience with Old Town exploration.

Other Latvian cities are much quieter and are more suitable for those who love peace and nature. Visit any of the Latvian towns and cities to get to know the local culture.


Local cuisine

Another unique thing about Latvia is its cuisine. Over several centuries a special cuisine developed.

It was influenced by Lithuanian, Estonian, Belarusian, Russian and German countries. However, the cuisine here is like nowhere else. While being simple, it provides a variety of unusual dishes.

Grey peas with speck are portrayed as the most Latvian dish of them all. A local variety of dried peas are combined with fried onion and speck. Smoked bacon is added for additional flavor.

Another type of food that is commonly used is dense, dark rye bread. What is even more unusual is the dessert that is made from this bread.

The dessert is made from soaked dark rye bread that is mixed with sugar, dried fruit, and spices. Then it is topped with whipped cream.

When it comes to choosing meat, Latvians will mostly pick pork. Many dishes are prepared with this kind of meat.

For those who enjoy fish better than meat, there is a whole other part of Latvian cuisine. Direct access to seashores supplies fish and seafood that is prepared in many ways. Some fish are pickled, and some are dried or smoked.


Overall Latvian experience

Latvia is prepared to deliver lots of entertainment for different people. No matter what you enjoy most – nature, cities, nightlife or just sunbathing on the seashores – be sure that visiting this country is something to look forward to.

Its diverse nature and mentalities in combination provide a unique experience that won’t be forgotten soon. If you have fallen in love with Latvia and are looking for relocation options, you might want to read on these guides as well:


Visit Latvia and see for yourself the diversity it has to offer.

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