The Latvian capital is home to the country's main airport and is the biggest transport hub in the Baltics. It's on the up as a European city break destination and also hosts annual Christmas markets that are growing in popularity. Like all the Baltic capitals, Riga is home to a fascinating medieval Old Town, with colourful buildings and grand Russian Orthodox architecture. Visitors will want to admire the view from St Peter's Church and see the impressive façade of the House of the Blackheads, one of the city's most recognisable landmarks. And yes, the beer is cheap!
The main highlight in Cesis is the medieval castle, dating back to 1209. Besieged by Ivan the Terrible during the Livonian War in the 1500s, it's now one of Latvia's most visited tourist attractions. Cesis town itself was built on a series of ridges in the Gauja River Valley during the Middle Ages. The centre is one of the best-preserved medieval town centres in the Baltics, home to winding cobbled streets and painted timber buildings.
So Latvia isn't top of the list for your European summer beach break. But that's not to say it doesn't have several options. Popular with Latvians for their summer breaks, Jurmala is the largest resort town in the country. It's located just 25km from Riga at the centre of the 'Latvian Riviera', which stretches for 30km along the Gulf of Riga. The long, sandy Blue Flag Jurmala Beach is the place to make the most of the country's short summer - it was a favourite getaway location for the late Nikita Khrushchev.
Construction of Rundale Palace was very stop-start, and it took 32 years from the start of work in 1736 for it to be completed. Initially built as a summer residence for the Duke of Courtland, it passed to Catherine the Great when Latvia was absorbed by Russia in 1795. Today it is one of the most visited attractions in Latvia, and restoration work costing €8 million concluded in 2014. As well as exploring the palace itself, visitors can walk the manicured gardens, based on a traditional English lawn.
Kemeri National Park
Sparsely populated and wild, Latvia is home to many great national parks, and Kemeri is the country's third biggest. Located just a short drive from Riga, it's a great day trip option for travellers to the city. Known for its unique biodiversity, the park is home to natural features including the Kemeri Bog and Lake Kanieris. These are an important stopover for migratory birds and other species such as otters make use of the wetlands. Walkways and raised platforms help visitors head into the park to see some of the rare wildlife that lives here.
Hilly Sigulda is a popular holiday resort town, known for its series of crumbling but beautiful historic castles. The medieval Castle of the Knights of the Sword dates back to 1207 and visitors can climb the castle walls for incredible views. And the recently reconstructed Turaida Castle dominates the skyline of the area. These picturesque castles are surrounded by misty woodlands and lush greenery, with meandering rivers crisscrossing the landscape. It's a truly beautiful part of Latvia!
Daugavpils is located in Latvia's far south, close to the border with both Lithuania and Belarus. It is a largely Russian-speaking area and much of its architecture is similar in design to that of St Petersburg. Daugavpils Fortress was once a powerful emblem of the Russian Empire and the 5,000-capacity Orthodox Cathedral of Saints Boris and Gleb also wouldn't look out of place in Moscow.
To help further plan your visit to Latvia, check out our handy Travel Guide resources:Latvia tours - browse our trip offering to Latvia Best Time to Visit - climate and seasons in Latvia
Top Travel Tips - useful information on money, health, food and shopping
Tourist visas - what you need to know to enter Latvia