Here are my suggestions about main sights and possible activities in Riga and Latvia:
- catch the feeling of Old Riga! Buildings from Middle Ages, cobbled, narrow streets and a lot of caffees and restaurants! Riga itself is a green city with greenery and nice parks.
- an elegant area of Riga is the so called "quiet center". Here you can see many art nouveau buildings. This is also one of the most expensive districts in Riga.
- find out more about Latvia's history and visit the Occupation museum! Actually, there are many museums in Riga - I suggest visiting Open - air museum, Art nouveau museum, Sun museum, Latvian National museum of Art. If you are interested in other museums in Riga and Latvia, check the website http://muzeji.lv/en/museums/.
- you can catch great views of Riga from the top of St. Peters church and Akmens bridge (cross Daugava river partially and turn round).
- other important things - the Freedom monument; the Central market (former zepelin sheds); a boat trip on Riga canal. I've seen good comments about Riga free tour tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g274967-d1… I think, this could be worth it!
- if you wish, you can enjoy shopping and different spas.
- Jurmala is a nice resort city on Riga gulf. The main attraction is a very long sandy beach. In the center of Jurmala (Majori - Dzintari) you will also see a lot of small shops and cafes/restaurants and the beach is within reach (5 minutes walk from main street). Traditional Jurmala architecture (in the older parts) consists of wooden summer cottages.
Jurmala is quite popular and, if weather is hot, you could have some difficulties to get to Jurmala (traffic jams, packed public transport, lack of parking places).
- Best activities: Livu aquapark - a place where to get a lot of fun (especially, if weather is bad and water in the sea cold); go from Riga to Jurmala by boat (there are a few companies that provide these rides); if you go to Jurmala by car, you can visit a nature trail of Kemeri swamp celotajs.lv/cont/…hiking_kemeri_lv.html- really great sights (unfortunately, under reconstruction).
Jurmala - Kolka and Kolka
- Kolka is the "meeting point" of Baltic sea and Riga gulf. On the way from Jurmala to Kolka you will see dunes, pine woods and small fishing villages. In every village you can buy smoked fish of different sorts. On the Kolka beach you will see the remains of an old stone wall lighthouse (the new one is 6 km further in the Baltic sea). Nearby, there are several Liv villages. (Livs are a nearly extinct ethnic group, which used to live near the coast of Baltic sea. There is only about a 100 people left who speak the Liv language.)
Kolka - Ventspils
- On the way to Ventspils (approximately 16 km from Kolka) on the left side you can look at 3 small stones. These stones are plague stones from beginning of XVIII century. Inscriptions on stones in latin language tell about plague in this region.
- Going further to Ventspils, an object, definitely worth to visit, is the radiotelescope in Irbene. The eight largest in the world, used for counter-espionage in soviet times, now a center for radioastronomy. http://virac.venta.lv/en/
- You can get nice views from height, if you visit lighthouses (Ovisi, Mikeltornis).
Ventspils is a nice, pleasant and clean city at the coast of Baltic see. Unfortunately, my visit in Ventspils was a long time ago, so I can't suggest special top-sights for you. By all means, Ventspils is worth visiting.
Ventspils - Kuldiga, Kuldiga
- On the way to Kuldiga there are no special sight-seeing objects. Kuldiga is a small town, former participant of Hanza union. The main sight of Kuldiga is one of the longest brickstone bridges in Europe. The bridge is recently reopened after renovation. If you wish, you can cross by wading the widest waterfall in Baltic states (on Venta). The center of Kuldiga is lovely.
Kuldiga - Liepaja, Liepaja
- No special sights on the way to Liepaja.
- Liepaja is the third largest city in Latvia, twice the capital of Latvia (for a very short time in the WWI and WWII). Liepaja is called a city where "wind was born". In Latvia Liepaja has always been famous for its love to music (sculptures of guitar and drums, Latvia's first rock-cafe).
- As in Riga, so in Liepaja you can see some buildings in art nouveau style. And - similar to Jurmala, Liepaja has always been a resort city - you can make a nice stroll through a district of summer cottages and nice parks.
- The organ in St.Trinity church is the biggest in Europe. Until 1912 - the biggest in the world. Unfortunately, the church itself is not in the best condition.
- Visit the former military prison in Karosta (north part of Liepaja)! Here you can expierence interesting excursions, play spy games in former forts, stay over a night in the hotel (chambers - prison cells). www.karostascietums.lv/new/en/intro-en.html
Liepaja - Skrunda - Saldus
No special sights on this route.
Saldus - Auce, Auce
- Around Auce you will find some nice manor houses in Vecauce and Lielauce. Both are built in the middle of XVIX century and now serve as a hotel and a school.
- Going north-east to Dobele through Ile, approximately 20 km from Auce, you can visit the wood of Pokaini. For people that believe in esoterics this place is very important - they feel some stones here are hot or cold, admire stone rivers etc. Many don't feel anything. But everyone is different:)
Auce - Dobele
- Dobele is a small town with castle ruins and nice church. In the spring here is a great lilac garden.
Auce - Tervete/Jelgava
- You can skip Dobele and go further to Jelgava or Tervete. Jelgava is the fourth largest city in Latvia and has a tragic history. Almost all traditional architecture perished in the WW II. So the main sight-seeing object is the University of Agriculture (Castle of Jelgava). This university was the first institution of higher education in Latvia (built 1785). I suggest visiting this place - really beautiful. Jelgava is also the cradle of Latvian performance art and newspapers.
- Tervete is a nice resort place with many nature trails, castle ruins and castle mould. Tervete was a home place for a famous play-writer in Latvia. She invented different creatures in her works, and everywhere you will see wooden sculptures of them. Tervete is a good place for children - they will find nice playgrounds here.
Tervete - Bauska
- On the way to Bauska there are two beautiful manor houses - Mezotne and Rundale, especially Rundale. If you have to choose one, then Rundale is much more impressive - great manor house with a fantastic rose garden. Definitely worth visiting!
- Near Bauska, visit a museum of antique vehicles that were used for different (military, agriculture etc.) purposes at different times! Really interesting.
- The main sight is the castle of Bauska - very nice castle ruins in a good condition. Don't miss! www.bauskaspils.lv/en/castle-and-museum
Latvia can offer you much more than listed here. I named my favorite places, activities and attractions:) If you want to know more, just ask and I will try to help you.