I often hear surprising stories and interesting anecdotes from travellers who have visited Riga. Many people are surprised to find a city that is completely different from the one they had imagined. Many visitors expect Riga to consist of a lot of massive grey buildings, but instead they find a bustling European city rich in pastel colours, historic statues and beautiful buildings. Riga is quite simply a wonderful weekend destination that is becoming more and more popular each year. Quite a few people I know have said they have experienced amazing weekends in Riga, enjoying its great restaurants (many of which are inexpensive for the quality of cuisine on offer), sightseeing and shopping. In 2017 Business Insider named Riga the best value destination in Europe for Christmas shopping, and every shopaholic will be happy about wonderful goods – and wonderful prices – to be found in the shops of Riga. And with its vivid nightlife, many bars and inexpensive prices, Riga remains a popular party destination.

Visitors to Latvia often think of Riga as the number one place to visit, but this fascinating country offers a wide range of charming towns, exciting attractions and spectacular sights that are well worth checking out – and, luckily, some of them are only a short drive from the capital. October is the perfect time to see Vidzeme in all its autumn glory. Every year my Facebook newsfeed fills up with amazing pictures of the beautiful natural landscapes around Vidzeme: Sigulda, Cēsis, and Valmiera. Vidzeme is the most beautiful place to enjoy a sunny autumn weekend. If you haven’t visited the region before, you might be surprised how many beautiful, easily accessible places Vidzeme has to offer.

#1 Sigulda

Just an hour’s drive from the capital Riga you will find Sigulda, with its breathtaking views of the River Gauja valley. Sigulda is the perfect destination for hiking, romantic walks or bike rides. There are also plenty of modern attractions designed to appeal to more adventurous travellers. You can test your strength and courage at the Mežakaķis and Tarzāns sky playgrounds, slide down a real bobsleigh run or even fly in a wind tunnel at the Aerodium.

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Gūtmaņala Cave. The biggest cave in the Baltic States features ancient inscriptions dating back to the 17th century. And legend has it that the spring that flows out of the cave has healing powers.