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Wedged between Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia is one of the three Baltic Nations, nestled in the northeast corner of mainland Europe.
Since ancient times, Latvia has been a well-known trading post, earning recognition from empires as far as Rome and Greece for cultivating amber, which was then more valuable than gold. As a result, Latvia has long been a melting-pot of nationalities, attracting foreign visitors and workers from around Europe. Additionally, gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, it then flourished economically, while leaving behind separate geographical regions, all with different social attitudes and cultural disparities, making Latvia even more exciting to explore today.
A trip to Latvia means getting close to nature; it has the fifth highest proportion of land covered by forest in the European Union, almost thirteen thousand rivers, four national parks and over thirty thousand species of wildlife and plants. Unsurprisingly, then, it’s popular for cycling and hiking holidays, and the relatively short coastline has some gems for beaches, with the best silver stretches of sand to be found outside the capital, Riga, and by the resort town of Jurmala.
Latvia’s shining light, however, is the capital city. Set upon the Daugava River, close to the Baltic Sea, the cosmopolitan Riga oozes art nouveau, with facades decorated with intricate carvings of mythological creatures and a picturesque skyline primarily of Gothic spires. Famous for its UNESCO World Heritage Site listed Old Town, the city itself has been shaped by over eight hundred years of history, all while boasting modern art centres, trendy bars and innovative restaurants. Riga is also widely acknowledged as the birthplace of the Christmas tree, with some accounts dated back to the 1500s, meaning the city becomes even more striking during the festive season.
Ferries traverse the Baltic Sea to a few ports on the Latvian coast, including the capital and a couple of port towns further west. With regular ferry routes from a couple of destinations in Sweden, it’s easy to reach Latvia from the Scandinavian Peninsula, while the slightly less frequent crossings from northeast Germany make it accessible from mainland Europe.
Recently travelled on the Stena Britannica from Harwich to Hook of Holland - and I have to say I was impressed! The ships are brand new so everything was top notch from the restaurants through to the bar areas, drinks were reasonably priced on board as was food in the buffet restaurant - there was also A ‘la Carte style dining however we did not visit there. Cabins were spotlessly clean and well equipped, with wider beds than normal ferries and with the addition of flat screen TVs and free Wi-Fi internet - makes this an above average ferry crossing. I would without a doubt use this crossing again.Read More Read Less
I''ve been on the Serenade to travel from Helsinki to Stockholm and was very impressed: it''s like a real little city and the entertainment, food and cabin were great! Would definitely love to travel on it again...Read More Read Less
My friend and I travelled from Helsinki to Stockholm on the Symphony and from the moment we walked onto the gang plank it felt like more of a cruise, than a ferry crossing! From the massive themed atrium full of shops and "street" entertainment such as singers and jugglers, to the glass lifts which take you to your decks - it was very impressive. As cabins go they were pretty standard, had everything needed for an overnight trip and were comfortable with en-suite facilities. The staff were extremely friendly especially in the bars, they would engage you in banter whilst you waited for drinks. The buffet restaurant was amazing, had every type of food you could think of from salads, to curries to chicken fajitas and nachos! Even better than the food choice was that beer and wine was included, and was self-service! After dinner and a few cocktails in one of the bars, we went to watch the midnight show - which was fabulous, and thoroughly engaging. The disco bar goes on until dawn, where the youngster’s party continue their party! The ship was first class, had excellent facilities and I would not hesitate to travel again if I was ever back in Helsinki or Stockholm.Read More Read Less
"Hi from France"
I travelled on board the Symphony several times, everything is perfect on this beautiful ferry, many shops with professional and extremely kind staff, entertainment is high quality, cabins are very clean and well-appointed (mirrors, electrical outlets properly located, storage, very functional lighting). Everything is done to satisfy the customer and I wish to travel on board again soon. Thanks!Read More Read Less
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