Entertainment of Latvia

Entertainment in Latvia: traditional and modern

Entertainment

Entertainment in Latvia is diverse and quality, but relatively cheap. Regular spectator events are especially cheap, but you may expect good deals elsewhere too. Latvia excels in some particular types of entertainment: ice hockey spectating, winter sports, sandy beaches. Foraging (berries/mushrooms) in summer/autumn and under-ice angling in winter are other local traditions you may try.

Urban entertainment: Culture, Nightlife, Sport

Traditional culture (theaters, opera, concert halls) is concentrated in the city downtowns. Theater plays are mostly Latvian while the music is more international. There are also Russian-language venues.

Best nightlife is in the Old Town of Riga. In sunny summers Jūrmala resort outcompetes urban clubbing, with its Basanavičiaus street becoming one large crowded multi-stage gig area every evening.

Latvian urban entertainment became popular with foreigners for weekend trips, especially for bachelor parties. The prices are generally lower, the plane routes are plentiful and many local companies specialise at such services.

A pedal-powered moving bar in Riga, popular for bachelor parties
A pedal-powered moving bar in Riga, popular for bachelor parties. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

“Modern entertainment”, such as cinemas, bowling and pool, are most easily found at the largest shopping malls of the main cities. Each Akropolis mall also includes a public ice rink. Some casinos are also in the malls, but many are in the downtowns.

Top spectator sport in Latvia is ice hockey, the modern city arenas providing local teams’ home games. Riga team plays international games at the KHL league (mostly covering ex-Soviet Union) while the town teams are limited to the local leagues. Football and basketball are also popular, though the quality is generally lower.

The arenas also host irregular major concerts, although in summer they move to open air (parks and stadiums). Moreover, out-of-city music festivals are especially popular in summer.

There are no permanent theme parks but temporary funfairs visit in summers. A large indoor water park stands at Jūrmala.

Recreation: Nature, Parks and Active Tourism

Foraging (mushroom and berries), angling and hunting are traditional entertainment. Recently it was done for subsistence and if you wouldn’t eat the fish you caught you would still raise quite a glimpse. Some Latvian city-dwellers even own suburban agricultural land plots where they enjoy growing food, but this is something a foreigner wouldn’t experience.

Fishing in coastal Riga
Fishing in coastal Riga. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The five National parks are the best introduction to Lithuanian nature. Roaming is generally free of “private property” signs as they are limited by law.

Winter sports is relatively popular in Latvia, even though the country have somewhat limited natural conditions, having no hills. However, short Alpine skiing tracks exist, while many fields are converted for ice hockey in winter. There are also good bobsleigh tracks available.

Extreme sports have also been rapidly growing in popularity since 2000s, such as BMX biking.

In the seaside resorts there are opportunities for boat trips to the sea and one may also rent water bikes. Sunbathing is however the main activity for tens of thousands resort visitors as the beaches are all sandy, wide and free-to-use. There are various beach cafes right on the sand in major resorts such as Jūrmala.

Summer bike rentals are available in the cities, and the quality of bicycle paths is improving.

Many companies offering active recreation lack English websites. It is possible to order through a travel agency but this may increase prices several times. It may be the best to come up without reservation in such cases, although this is possible only in some places (cities/resorts).