Ventspils developed around German colonies on the coast of the Baltic at the estuary of the river Venta. Having been subjected to various occupations, wars and plague, it finally gained independence in 1991. The port was developed for export of soviet goods, which in addition to the excellent train links has allowed the city to develop rapidly over the last 20 years. The proximity to the sea and the city’s parks are the most appealing aspects, with most people spending the weekends outside as much as possible. There are some areas of historical and cultural interest, but the friendly atmosphere and tidy, modern streets are reason enough to visit. It is in fact one of the wealthiest city’s of Latvia, and the style of restaurants and bars reflect this, as do the public art displays and installations. In addition to the decent hotels, a more rustic option is seaside camping which can be done in your own tent or in one of the many wooden huts than can be rented. It doesn’t get dark in the summer months so you’d be well advised to bring some sort of mask.


Livonian Order Castle – This is one of the country’s oldest fortresses and was established in the late thirteenth century, then remodelled in the fifteenth and later converted to a prison a further four hundred years later. The exhibitions are very modern and the Ghost Cellar is a particular highlight and the nature of the museum is very hands on and particularly appealing to children.

[ Ventspils Museum] – The castle described above makes up one third of the Ventspils Museum, the other two counterparts being the Seaside Open-Air Museum and H. Dorbe Memorial Museum. The Seaside Museum covers 7 hectares which contains exhibition halls and galleries which mainly cover the topics of local life. The exhibits are linked by a narrow-gauge railway. The latter part of the museum is the house of H. Dorbe, a local historian and writer.


There are three main shopping centres set amid the more densely populated residential areas, these are Top, Tobago and Elvi. They mostly sell clothes and household goods for the Latvian residents so do not head here expecting to pick up any high-end fashion accessories. The centre is made up of more modern, smaller shops selling everything from clothes to souvenirs. There is a daily market in the old town selling fresh food.

Dining and Nightlife

The best restaurants are located on the bank of the Venta, Upis being a prime example which serves authentic Latvian fodder and also offers bowling and a disco at weekends. The main street of Kuldigas is host to a number of decent eateries, mostly offering similar Latvian food and decent beer. Garlic toast tends to be the most common bar snack, although it will ward off women as well as mosquitoes. Those in search of wild nightlife may well be disappointed, there are a few pubs, often with friendly and interesting themed décor, but not a lot else. Perhaps this is one of the reasons for the city’s extreme tidiness.

Tourist Information

Address: 7 Tirgus StreetPhone: +371 3622263Fax: +371 3622263E-mail: tourism@ventspils.lvWebsite: []


Ventspils has its own [ International Airport] with two runways, commercial flights do not currently operate here however. The nearest airport is [ Riga International Airport] which can easily be reached by shuttle bus or taxi from Riga city centre and takes roughly fifteen minutes. Riga is 3 hour’s drive from Ventspils, with buses leaving hourly.