Riga, Latvia has become popular across Europe as a cheap weekend getaway for uninhibited, dark-beer soaked fun. And while that’s all well and good, simply hitting the best bars in Liga is missing out on much of what makes Latvia so special. For a different kind of escapist getaway, head to the spa town of Jurmala, about 20 minutes outside the capital. The one-time summer retreat for communist party elites is still adorned with waterside manors and luxurious hotel spas. It’s also right on the Baltic Sea, if you were looking for an unexpected beach vacation.

Latvia, like most of Europe, is also ripe with history, whether that means the mural-covered wall built to keep the Russians out of parliament in 1991, or the wealth of castles in the Latvian countryside. Read on to see why this little country on the Baltic Sea has gotten such a fantastic reputation, and why it needs to be on your next Eastern European itinerary.