My travel year 2021 in review

2021 turned out to be a very rich travel year for me. Maybe you have heard that Google maps know everything about what you do. Here is what it tells me about my travel in 2021: I have travelled a total of 46,396 km, which is equivalent to going around the world once. According to Google, I covered 564 km on foot, drove 15,327 km, travelled 1,552 km by public transport, and flew an impressive 28,624 km. I visited nine foreign countries, two of them for the first time, namely Monaco and Malta. I was travelling intensively around my home country the whole year. I started travelling internationally only in June when borders were slowly opening in Europe. So let me begin with some highlights for each month of the year of my homeland travel followed by my international travel.33 apriku church P1015093

January. Auseklu Mill.

Some days in January 2021 were freezing in Latvia, and I guess, in the coldest one when the outside temperature was minus 27 degrees Celsius, I visited Auseklu Mill, located 70 kilometres south of Riga. The Auseklu Mill Museum is a place with a long history where the "Ausekli" watermill was built on the Iecava River in 1896. Now here you can find a farmstead with a renovated windmill and watermill. While visiting the watermill, you will have an opportunity to see the grain milling process, be able to appreciate museum exhibits – such as ancient agricultural and household items – and relax in the banquet hall.21 ausekla dzirnavas P100061622 ausekla dzirnavas P100062920 ausekla dzirnavas P1000575

February. The Nature Park of Lake Engure and seaside villages.

The Nature Park includes Lake Engure and the land around it. Due to the diversity and the number of endangered species of plants and birds, the Ornithological Reserve of Lake Engure is one of the richest territories in Latvia. In winter, I did not see birds but had a chance to spot some wild horses and cows, and I also enjoyed views of the Baltic Sea in wintertime.24 engure P101181425 engure P101184927 engure P1012102

March. Lielstraupe Castle.

Lielstraupe Medieval Castle is one of the most outstanding castles in Latvia. The Great Straupe Castle was built during the 13th century by the Fon Rozen family, one of the German noble families who governed this area for 700 years. It is unique as both the castle and the church are located in one building.29 straupes pils P101392231 straupes pils P1013978 Even though this was my second visit, I saw the castle interiors only for the first time.

April. Apriki Church.

The first of April is my birthday and I celebrated it with a few days of travel to the Southwest of Latvia. A true gem of this trip was the brilliant Apriki Church near Aizpute. This country church from the 17th century is rightly considered to be the pearl of the sacred art of Kurzeme. The Apriki Church acquired its glorious interior in blue-white and gilded tones in the middle of the 18th century. The interior composition is dominated by the Rococo spirit, with some elements having distinctive Baroque style features. By the way, it has no electricity until now.33 apriku church P101509335 apriku church P101510536 apriku church P1015108

Flying fish in the Venta River, Kuldiga.

In the spring of 2021, I wanted to see a flying fish in the Venta River next to Kuldiga for the first time. Every spring, sea fish head up the river of Venta for spawning. On their path, they need to cross a 249-metre wide natural Venta Rapid, which is the widest in Europe, in the city of Kuldiga. Due to this, Kuldiga became famous as a "place where they catch fish in the air". As the weather was quite patchy, I just saw a few flying fish. 11 kuldiga zivis P102746712 kuldiga zivis P1027500

May. Talsi.

The name of Talsi city was first mentioned in 1231. The historical centre of Talsi is situated between two lakes. In Talsi, everything is nearby and close, twisted in a colourful picture. Nine hills and both lakes cherish the history of many centuries.16 talsi P1028660

June. Hiking a part of the Baltic Coastal Hiking trail (Jurtaka)

The section of the trail between Roja and the Kaltene Church is one of the most extraordinary parts of the seashore of Latvia, where the coast is notched by small capes and coves with a very narrow beach. All over the coast, there are piles of boulders of different sizes with the green foliage of black alders hanging over them.38 roja jurtaka P103007941 roja jurtaka P1030105 In some places, an unpaved road goes right along the coast and a lot of former fishermen homesteads are aligned next to it. It was not easy, but the scenery was beautiful.

June. Aluksne.

Small Aluksne town located about 200 kilometres northeast from Riga recently got very popular among local and international travellers. 18 aluksne pils P1042477The main attractions of the town include a gorgeous Lake Aluksne, a stunning manor park with many masterpieces of small architecture, a narrow-gauge train multimedia exhibition, Aluksne Castle, and an extraordinary church.

July. Rundale Early Music Festival.

I was really happy to be able to pay my annual visit to one of many Latvia summer music festivals, the closing concerts of the Early Music Festival in Rundale Palace on the 3rd of July. The festival features the masterpieces by Handel, Vivaldi, Telemann, Gluck, and other Baroque masters. A combination of gorgeous outfits, authentic instruments and Baroque architecture gives the festival a unique presence.42 rundale early music P105318343 rundale early music P105319845 rundale early music P105328046 rundale early music P1053300

August. Ranka Manor.

Ranka manor house was built around the middle of the 18th century and was expanded later, but it was completely destroyed in two fires in the late 20th century. Since 2013, a huge effort has been invested into restoring the Ranka manor complex. It was not included on my list of most fascinating Latvian manor houses just because the manor house of Ranka is still in ruins.110 ranka manor P1086959111 ranka manor P1086961112 ranka manor P1086968

September. Renovated Landscape Park in Kemeri.

The park was created in the middle of the 19th century and features a network of winding paths interspersed with architectural objects – pavilions, rotundas, bridges across the artificial canals fed by the Versupite River that flows through the park. 117 kemeri park P1109790The Sulfur Water Pavilion, built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, stands in the south-eastern part of the park. The park surrounds a former hotel building. This white building is a brilliant example of Neo-Classicism in Latvian architecture. The majestic outline of the building earned it the nickname of the White Liner. 115 kemeri park P1109779At present, visitors can admire the White Liner only from the outside. Hopefully, it will open one day again.

October. Ungurmuiza Manor.

Ungurmuiza Manor complex is a unique ensemble of wooden architecture from the 18th century. The manor is one of the few Baroque-era wooden manor houses still standing in Latvia. Today, the Ungurmuiza complex features a guest house and a museum, making it a perfect place for relaxation and recreation. 120 ungurmuiza P1109988121 ungurmuiza P1109999Visitors can enjoy the special atmosphere of the manor house by taking a walk in the park beneath the huge oak trees. The exquisite interior paintings of the building are also finely preserved. I used the opportunity to stay overnight in Ungurmuiza and enjoyed mouth-watering meals in their restaurant.

November. National day decorations in Ogre.

In November, the city of Ogre is decorated with national flags, an alley of red and white umbrellas is created in the central square of the city, and both pedestrian bridges over the Ogre River are illuminated in the colours of the Latvian flag. 127 ogre at night P1144302128 ogre at night P1144329Those interested can walk the large circle, which is more than 7 kilometres or go for a shorter walk of about 2 kilometres. I did 7 kilometres and it was awesome.

December. The Janis Cakste Memorial Museum.

Janis Cakste (1859-1927) was Latvia’s first president (1922-1927) whose residence was in Auci, about 60 kilometres from Riga. In 2018, a new exposition was opened in the renovated servants' house. This modern and contemporary exposition tells about the fate of the first President of Latvia and his family in the context of Latvia's history and the development of democracy. 131 auci P1156440131 auci P1156440Basic information about exposition is also available in English.

International travel 2021

Starting from June, I was able to travel internationally. One thing special about my international travel in 2021 was that I travelled to more islands than any other travel year, including Crete, Santorini, Iceland, Madeira, Malta, and Gozo. Another thing I found out is that there is much more to see in every place than just the most popular tourist sights.

June. Crete and Santorini.

Greece was one of the first countries to open its borders for travellers in 2021, so I decided to go there. Even though Crete was not on my bucket list, I found it fascinating, with the highlight being the Samaria gorge hike.85 iron gate P1041500 I started and finished my trip in Heraklion and visited its stunning Archaeological Museum. 84 heraklion archelogical museum P1041788I also went on a boat trip to Santorini, but it seemed to me just a tourist trap. 87 santorini P1030584I was forced to stay there an extra day because of the transport employees’ strike, which was really unpleasant.

July. Iceland.

It was my third trip to Iceland and the first in the summertime. I am a fan of colourful mountains, and because of that, I wanted to see Landmannlaugar, which is accessible only in the summertime. It was a blast.64 landmannlaugar P1054022 The other highlight of the trip was Diamond Beach, next to the Glacier Lagoon.65 diamond beach big P1064993 I saw a lot of stunning waterfalls as well. 62 raudarfoss P1075062And yes, I do not recommend using Blu Car rental. Their customer care is outrageous.

August. Tartu.

Tartu is the oldest city in the Baltics. It is the second largest city in Estonia and home to one of Northern Europe’s oldest universities. 55 tartu P108761856 tartu P108761357 tartu P1087639Recently, Tartu was elected to be the European Capital of Culture in 2024. Nice city, definitely worth visiting.

September. Cote d’Azur and Monaco.

I became interested in travelling to France just a few years ago, and yes, there is a direct airBaltic flight from Riga to Nice, so I decided to go. I really loved Nice, not so much Cannes. 80 nice hotel negresco P1109657Less visited Toulon was interesting, and a walk by the sea from Mourillon was fantastic.81 mourillon walk toulon P1109407

October. Rome, Lazio, and Umbria.

My fourth visit to Rome and its surroundings was proof that you should not limit yourself by visiting famous tourist sights but rather dig deeper to find more fascinating places and views. It’s very true about Rome.50 saint john lateran P1121655 I also visited Orvieto on this trip and I think it’s a real gem.

November. Madeira.

Madeira, a part of Portugal, is a compact island that can be discovered in a week. The island has a lot to offer: warm sunny weather, beautiful landscapes, great food and drinks, and a lot of activities. I enjoyed tours of local travel agencies in full instead of renting a car.74 east tour madeira P113351276 nuns valley P1144190

November. Malta.

There were two reasons I travelled to Malta in November: cheap direct Ryanair flight from Riga and the weather being warmer than in Latvia in November. Despite poor weather over several days of my trip, it turned out a real discovery due to the fascinating history of Malta and the stunning architecture of Valletta and Mdina. 90 lower barrakka gardens valletta P115588992 balconies rabat P1155588Gozo was completely different with its saltpans and down to earth life in general.

December. Vilnius.

I was happy to be able to take my traditional trip to Vilnius in December to see their Christmas tree in a Cathedral Square, and I must admit I was not disappointed.100 vilnius christmas tree P1156559101 vilnius christmas tree P1156568

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What did you think? What are your travel experiences of 2021? I’d love to hear from you so please add your comment below.

  • Published by Anita on January 21, 2022

    Author: Anita Sāne

    Anita 03 18

    About the author
    Anita is a part-time traveller, passionate photographer and a retired career woman from Latvia, 
    travelling mostly solo for more than 15 years. She is a skilled travel planner who plans and executes her travels by herself. Anita wants to show you how to travel the world and open your mind to new experiences. Follow her on FacebookInstagramPinterestTwitter and Bloglovin.


    Your "Your travel year 2021 in Review" article is absolutely fantastic! It's incredibly inspiring and has reignited my wanderlust even more. As a solo traveler myself, I deeply resonate with your insights and experiences, finding them both relatable and motivating.

    I also wanted to mention that I recently booked my solo tour through Four Wheel Drive India Pvt. Ltd. Their commitment to charitable initiatives, especially their efforts in supporting children and dogs, resonates deeply with me. It's heartening to support a company that not only provides exceptional travel experiences but also makes a positive impact in the community.

    Thank you for sharing your adventures and for encouraging others, like myself, to explore the world fearlessly. Here's to many more exciting travels ahead!

    Your article on "Your travel year 2021 in Review" is absolutely fantastic! It's incredibly inspiring and has ignited my wanderlust even more. As a solo traveler myself, I find your insights and experiences truly relatable and motivating.

    I also wanted to share that I booked my solo tour packages from Four Wheel Drive India Pvt. Ltd. Their commitment to charity and their efforts in helping children and dogs resonate deeply with me. It's heartening to support a company that not only provides amazing travel experiences but also gives back to the community in such meaningful ways.

    Thank you for sharing your adventures and for encouraging others, like myself, to explore the world fearlessly. Here's to many more exciting travels ahead!

    Your website is amazing with different types of travel if you want to visit our website for more information.
    I love your article. Pictures are beautiful and words are lovely.
    I love this idea of the yearly travel recap post. Beautiful pictures and great site!
    You certainly did have a great travel year in 2021 - both by the numbers and with places you visited. I love the variety of places as well as the interesting experiences you had. It was not always an easy year to travel. But sure well worth it!
    Your photos are always so beautiful and I especially love the winter in Latvia photos. Latvia was one of the countries we were headed to in 2020 when the world shut down. I hope it will return to our travel itinerary by 2023. Great post and I saved it to refer to when we are headed to Latvia.
    One day, I will get to Latvia and the other Baltic States. Thank you for sharing these memories.
    The Baltic Coastal Hiking Trail looks so beautiful to go on. You definitely had some amazing trips in 2021 despite the pandemic!
    Wow! You’ve done so much! It's amazing. I haven't been able to travel internationally for more than two years now, so I’m quite envious. Good on you to seize these opportunities.
    I have just one word after reading this post - Lucky!

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