In the midst of shedding its stalwart old Soviet image, Latvia is a sizzling, vibrant and mesmerizing country that is still relatively undiscovered by the tourism masses. If you're looking for a European experience that's untrodden and unpretentious, Latvia could be your jackpot. Riga, the capital, is a treasure trove of art-nouveau architecture, fascinating history and pumping nightlife. In the smaller villages, you might think yourself travelling back in time as you discover castles, cobblestones and friendly locals ready to welcome you with open arms. The charm and serenity of this place is rarely found elsewhere on the continent.

Latvia is an extension of the East European Plain and its flat terrain differs little from that of its surrounding neighbors. Latvia borders Estonia in the north, Lithuania in the south, the Baltic Sea with the Gulf of Riga in the west, Russia in the east, and Belarus in the southeast. About 10% of Latvian territory consists of peat bogs, swamps and marshes; however, rich coniferous forests dominate the landscape here, covering approximately 42 percent of the land. Latvia also boasts a great number of lakes and an abundant river network.

With latitude matching that of Labrador, Latvia's climate is part maritime, part continental. Winters are generally very long, dark and cold with average temperatures dipping to about -5°C. Through the summer months, Latvia is especially magical. Extremely long daylight hours bring with them a general exuberance and joie de vivre, making July to September the ideal time to visit. Visitors can expect summer temperatures in the 16-18°C range.

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