Unless you have a passion for the Baltic States or Latvia, normally no one in Europe has ever heard of Daugavpils. This was the case for me before 2010 when I went for the first time in this city not for tourism but for work!
I have indeed worked at the local university as french teacher for the french embassy. When I went to Daugavpils for the first time, a certain September 1st, accompanied by staff of the embassy, I didn’t found the city very welcoming: soviet architecture, fine rain and soviet local food … I even began to think how I will manage to “survive” in this city more than a month with this special atmosphere: austere, sad, no smiling people (typical soviet behavior actually) and very few things to do !!
Then finally, after living a year in this city, survived the sadness of autumn (very gray) and the intense cold of winter (I had up to -38 ° Celcius !!). I learned to find advantages to this city which certainly does not come easily … That is why I want in this article to share with you what I learned about Daugavpils!
Daugavpils is the second largest city in Latvia. It is special because 90% of people speak russian although Wikipedia tells us that Daugavpils is made up of 52% Russian. This fact makes Daugavpils the only russian city in Europe and that’s why, many people come there to learn russian:
You should therefore bear in mind that there is a slight difference between Daugavpils (and its region) and the rest of Latvia.
Visit Daugavpils: useful informations
How to get to Daugavpils?
If you come from Riga or another regional city, the best way to come to Daugavpils is by train or bus. The journey takes 4 hours and half. My preference goes for the train as there is Wifi in it but the bus is ok also for it will allow you to get a glimpse of the villages. The reference website for bus and train schedules in Latvia is 1188.lv
Possibilities of connections with other cities
Daugavpils is a node of communication and you will access according to the direction you will take to several destinations:
– to the east to Krāslava (the meanders of Daugavpils) and then to Belarus.
-to the south to Lithuania and then Poland (there is a bus from Daugavpils to Kaunas and Vilnius)
– to the north to Rēzekne, Ludza and then either Estonia or Russia (there is a night train from Riga and makes a stop at Rēzekne for Saint Petersburg in Russia).
Excursion to Ludza (oldest village of Latvia according to Latvian people)
How long does it take to visit Daugavpils?
One day is enough to visit most of the city (the fortress and churches) but as the city is large, I recommend you to rent a bike or a car (ask at the front desk of Latgola Hotel).
Where to eat in Daugavpils?
The best place to eat in Daugavpils is the Latgola Hotel. Easy to find, it is the tallest building in town! If you do not want to eat there then I recommend you to have a look of the last floor to enjoy the view (it’s free).
Photos of Latgola Hotel and the Daugavpils Theater:
11 things to do and see in Daugavpils
1- Daugavpils a multicultural city: visit the churches of the 4 cults
If Daugavpils was an object she would be a die! This city has indeed many facets: it has taken several names according to history and invasions: today Daugavpils in Latvian – Даугавпилс (in Russian), Dünaburg during the german empire and Dvinsk during the russian empire. Daugavpils is a relay city at the crossroads of several cultures, languages and civilizations. In Daugavpils most people speak Russian even if many nationalities live together: there are people from Belarus, Russia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine. After visiting the fortress of Daugavpils, it is important to visit the churches of the four cults (they are all in the same area): Catholic Church, Protestant Lutheran, Orthodox and Orthodox old believers (very rare to see). This is unique in all Baltic States. To see these churches, you will have to go on the Avenue of 18 Novembra iela (10 minutes walk from the center) or with trams 1 or 3.
1st photo: Orthodox church, 2nd photo: Old Believers church, 3rd photo: Protestant Lutheran church, 4th photo: Catholic church.