Since Latvia is going to take a big place in the guide section, an individual guide for the second biggest city of this amazing country should be made!
With a population of 100.000, this is Latvia's second city, in the last century, it was one of the biggest jewish hubs in the north of Europe, and some synagogues still stand in the city centre, it used to be a rich cultural city and famous artist were born here like Mark Rothko (the one whose paintings sell for more than 45 million dollars). The city had also Polish and German influence as you can appreciate in it's old name, Dinaburg. But the WW2 hit this city very hard and almost 80% was destroyed, along with the Jewish population, today you can just see the remnants of old Daugavpils in the Old Town and more specially in Rigas Iela. After the WW2 Daugavpils became a very important Soviet industrial hub, and it experienced a reborn, along with a big russian migration and therefore russification (now 60% of Daugavpilites speak russian, but most of them are not ethnic russians). After the independence many of the industries lost the connections to Moscow and went bankrupt, and thats why there are some parts of the city with a lot of abandoned factories, but since Latvia joined European Union, the city is recovering, starting to renew it's old past, but adapting and not hiding it's Russian legacy.
So... why is this city interesting? It is incredibly interesting because is not the typical cozy turistical town but a huge historical and cultural place in the north of Europe, in fact you can visit different areas and places of the city where you can easily recreate how the life was in the Baltics since the 18th century until the recent years.
The city is located in the south of Latvia, it takes 3h from Riga by train (a little bit more by bus) and the same from Vilnius (making it a nice place to start visiting Latvia if you come from Lithuania). There are regular trains and buses from Riga and one bus per day at 17:00 from Vilnius of Ecolines company. In Daugavpils, both train and bus station are very close to the centre since the first is in Riga Street (the main street of the city) and the bus station is just 2 minutes from it. Very close to the bus station the is an original park which has a lot of diferent benches, made by a lot of alternative designers.
One of the places that first will get your attention is the huge fortress that is close to the centre of the city, in fact, is becoming the symbol of the city and there has been a lot of ongoing efforts to restore this magnificent complex to it's former glory, entrance to the fortress is free, but you may head to the information office inside (the red building) where very skillful guides will explain you all the history of the site (like how a fortress thought to stop Napoleon became the training place for future aviatiors and soviet cosmonauts).
Inside the fortress is also the city most famous museum, the Mark Rothko Art Centre, where you can find many paintings from this artist as long as other modern art exhibitions, all in an incredible building with very nice indoors, the restaurant of the museum, Arsenals, is a perfect place for lunch since even if it looks very fancy, the prices are quite cheap (Chef's pasta dish plus soup for 5 euro).
In the way to the Old Town, you should visit the Zoo (Latgale Zoo), which in the outside looks (let's be realistic) terrible, but inside is the coolest mini-zoo I ever was, with snakes, monkeys (even exotic smaller ones), kaimans and fishes... and the coolest ant colony ever and the best is that all this for 30 cents!
In the centre you should head to the information office in Vienibas Square (the one with Latgole hotel), there they will explain you where the oldest buildings are, the centre is a mix between 19th century buildings, the first independent latvia architecture and 90's architecture. The best street to walk by is Rigas Iela (Riga Street) which is the city main pedestrian way and is fully restored. The street finishes in the train Station but thats the opposite direction to centre, so after you explore it a bit, you should head back to check the rest of the old town. In the Saules Street is the Latvian house (Latviesu Maja), which opens on Wednesdays and Fridays, if you speak Latvian or Russian you can hear the explanation of the traditional Latvian everyday objects since the 19th century, but any foreigner can also check them for free. Around the University is the city most famous restaurant, Gubernators, and definitely my choice if I would be a tourist, they have awesome local beer as well as a wide selection of food, the interior is very original since it combines traditional Latvian and Russian tools with any other kind of things from all over the world (actually is the place which inspired me to start WTF Worldwide).
Also very close the university is Galerija Bunkurs (Bunker Gallery), which is in my opinion, the best collection of Soviet and WW2 (Allied and German included) things I have ever seen, from Air raid alarms, encrypter machines and horse gasmasks to secret KGB documents and the first Tvs which appeared in this part of the globe, to go there you need to go on Saturdays from 10-14 or make an appointment with the owner (Phone in this link, open comment) at the moment the visit is just avaliable in Russian, but maybe in the future there would be some English explanation to some of the huge amount of objects displayed.
Recently, a new exciting activity has opened in Daugavpils... the Escape room! As somebody with experience on them, I really recommend it due to its atmosphere and a different way to make the puzzles, involving a lot of out-of-the-box thinking! Check it out here
If you want to learn some history of the city, for very good price, you should go to Daugavpils Museum, with a big amount of objects from the last century (carts, pictures, ortodox icons, soviet propaganda, old clothes and furniture...). In the centre there are several places to eat such as Taller (which also works as disco) and Ukrainska Hatka (where you can try Ukranian food for around 3 euros). If you want to have a coffee or bakery in a fancy french-style place without emptying your pockets you should go to Shokoladna (in the centre and also in Riga street), but if what you are looking is for a cool place to have a beer, you are lucky, a pub with strong character is in the town: Artilerijas Pagrabi, located in the non-pedestrian part of Riga Street is a very Latvian place where live music, original decoration and regional beer makes an excellent combination.
So as you see, this city will be an unusual but interesting place to see if you are visiting Latvia, I hope you have a great time here!
In this section you will find all you need to become a little expert in the guide place, without expending a lot!