Founded by the Livonian Order in the 13th century, Latvia’s third-largest city wasn’t a big hit until Tsar Alexander III deepened the harbour and built a gargantuan naval port at the end of the 1800s. For years the industrial town earned its spot on the map as the home to the first Baltic fleet of Russian submarines, but after WWII the Soviets occupied what was left of the bombed-out burg and turned it into a strategic military base.
For the last decade, Liepāja (pronounced lee-ah-pa-yah) has been going about searching for its identity like an angsty teenager. The city’s growing pains are evident in the visual clash of gritty warehouses stacked next to swish hipster bars and tricked-out nightclubs. The local tourist office often calls Liepāja ‘the place where wind is born’, but we think the city’s rough-around-the-edges vibe is undoubtedly its biggest draw.