Once a medieval war zone, peaceful Talsi, 115km from Rīga, is the commercial centre of northern Kurzeme and the gateway to western Latvia’s desolate Cape Kolka. Locals are ferociously proud of the nine small hills that guard the city’s cobbled lanes and nearby lakes, but there’s very little that would appeal to a tourist.
Talsi is the unofficial transfer junction for those taking the bus between Latvia’s western coast and Cape Kolka. If you want to break up the journey, the staff at the tourist office, located in the Talsi Folk House, can recommend a couple of countryside gems such as Lake Usma, 30km west – a puddle of water polka-dotted with seven islands and backed by leafy forests. Spend a night on the lake at Usma Spa Hotel & Camping, the perfect get-away-from-it-all option for those who seek peace. You can fish, sail, row, swim and enjoy a full array of spa treatments at this lakeside site, 1km south of Rte A10 on the road to Usma village.