"If you only have time to visit one provincial town in Latvia then it really ought to be Kuldiga," advises my Rough Guide to the Baltic States. With no train link, bumpy roads and buses from Riga taking anything up to three and a half hours to make the journey, you'd need to have plenty of time on your hands to make the trip worthwhile.
With a population of just over 13,000 you can easily navigate your way around all of Kuldiga's sights in a half day trip. From the bus station, a kilometre south of the town centre, follow Skrundas and Jegavas ielas until you see the whitewashed spire of the Holy Trinity Church, built in the 16th century like most of the buildings that survived the Great Northern War between Russia and Sweden. Between here and Kuldiga's pedestrianized main street, Liepajas iela, are a jumble of two-storey, half-timbered yellow and beige buildings including the oldest surviving wooden building in the town, first built in 1632. Liepajas iela itself doesn't have much of interest except for cashpoints and the wooden Stender's restaurant, which has outdoor seating, a reasonable selection of food and Cesu beer on tap for only ninety santimes a half-litre. Unless you're hungry, however, you're better off continuing straight on along Baznicas iela in the direction of St Catherine's Church and Kuldiga District Museum.
Currently undergoing external reconstruction, Kuldiga's small museum is housed in a pavilion first built as the Russian exhibition in the Paris Exposition Universelle. Although there isn't much to see inside, it's worth taking the short walk through the park, built on the spot where Kuldiga's castle once stood, to reach it, if only for the view of the river Venta from the observation point next door.
Flowing into the Baltic at Ventspils, the river forms what is thought to be Europe's widest waterfall in Kuldiga, 270-metres across (but only one and a half metres high) from rock face to rock face. You can easily walk across the rocks into the middle of the river, though the best views are over the bridge on the other side. Just don't expect anything spectacular.
Once you've seen the waterfall and the few streets that make up the town centre, you've seen pretty much all there is to Kuldiga. Although it's a relaxing place to break a journey between Riga and Ventspils or Liepaja (both of which are just over an hour away by bus), if you really want to see the Latvian countryside on a daytrip from the capital then Sigulda and the Gauja National Park make much more interesting options.