If you want some time out in the Latvian countryside while you’re staying in the capital, Riga, then a day trip out to Sigulda, Turaida and the Gauja National Park is the perfect way to do it.
Getting To and Around Sigulda
The best base for a day trip in the Latvian countryside is the small town of Sigulda, just over 30 miles east of Riga. You can get there by bus or train, and both take about an hour; usually, the train is in fact cheaper. From Sigulda, you can reach some sights on foot, or take a combination of buses and cable cars to reach the rest.
Castles in Sigulda
Walking distance from the train station in Sigulda, and after walking past the Sigulda Church, you’ll find two castles, appropriately named New Sigulda Castle and Old Sigulda Castle. The new one comes first, and it was built for the Kropotkin family in the nineteenth century. Further on and close to the river, thirteenth century Old Sigulda Castle is largely in ruins, but that’s what makes it so photogenic.
Krimulda Castle and the Gauja River
If you get your timing right, you can sometimes go bungee jumping from the cable car that travels over the Gauja River. Whether or not there’s really enough space for a bungee jump is a matter of personal opinion, of course! If you just want to enjoy some nice views, take the cable car over to the Krimulda Castle and Sanatorium.
Turaida Museum Reserve
The most visited attraction near Sigulda is actually the Turaida Museum Reserve (Turaidas muzejrezervats), a huge park with an old Lutheran church, a collection of statues and sculptures and most impressively, the partially-restored Turaida Castle (built 1214). You can climb up the restored main tower to get views over the Gauja River.
With plenty of outdoor activities to choose from, Sigulda is a great base to feel like you’ve got away from the city. Accommodation can also be found in Sigulda town itself if you want to turn the day trip into a longer countryside break.