In Europe, 76 destinations off the beaten path
Looking beyond Rome, Paris or London? Consider Europe's lesser-known destinations, such as Monschau, Germany, a town so quaint you can hardly believe it isn't a theme park or San Marino, one of Europe's oldest and smallest countries (drive through it slowly).
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Riga, Latvia( Beverly Beyette )
With a population of 800,000, Riga is the largest of the Baltic capitals. In many ways, it is also the prettiest. A river the Daugava runs through it, and it is rich in parks, which are bisected by a canal (once a defensive moat) crossed by 16 bridges. Aside from the pedestrian-friendly old city, with its intriguing narrow lanes and medieval squares, you'll see fabulous Art Nouveau façades, many of them along Alberta, Vilandes, Strelnieku, Antonjias and Elizabetes streets in the new city.
Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil, arrived in Riga at the turn of the 20th century and today the façades of many of the buildings, with their human figures, masks, animals and garlands of fruit and flowers, have been nicely cleaned up. There's another cache of Art Nouveau in the old town, notably along Kaleju, Kalku and Smilsu streets. (The tourism office has a free guide.)
-- Beverly Beyette
Read more: A stalwart Northern European trio
Pictured: Riga's skyline.