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Sigulda in Latvia is a city that has been granted the status of one of the most beautiful cities in the country. Located in the Vidzeme region, less than an hour from the capital Riga, Sigulda rests on the edge of the valley of the Gauja National Park; a lofty hideaway on the outskirts of the city embraced by dense forests famous for their spectacular colour change to fiery hues in autumn, filled with rocky cliffs and ochre-red sandstone caves, and fed by tributaries of the Gauja River.
Its natural offerings have given Sigulda the name of the “Switzerland of Latvia” and attracts those who wish to explore the countryside. However, while Sigula’s natural history is accessible through hiking and extreme adrenaline, it is also complemented by cultural attractions, from castles to heritage museum reserves. I’ve visited the region twice, sampling everything from the heights of its great valleys to the thickly forested depths.
An easy day trip from Riga, just over 50 kilometres from the big city, here’s what to do in Sigulda, Latvia, to make the most of this natural cultural and adventurous paradise.
READ MORE: How to Explore Gauja National Park.
READ MORE: Alternative Travel Guide to Riga
Getting around Sigulda
Although the heart of the green valley is only a 15-minute walk from the train station, the area is more extensive than it looks, so it’s worth having a car or two wheels to get around.
I hired an electric bike and set out to visit Sigulda Medieval Castle and the Turaida Museum Reserve on the edge of the valley. The 42 m high cable car takes you from one side of the valley to the other, especially to the Krimulda mansion.
Forest walks and bike rides are the main attractions. You can choose hour-long trails or half- or full-day bike tours if you want to cover a lot of ground, and it’s a scenic route to seek out the town’s famous caves. The cable car is often combined with a hike down into the valley, which eliminates the strenuous climb.
Sigulda nature highlights.
Ride the Sigulda cable car
Don’t you want to break a sweat and see the green basin of the area? The Sigulda Cable Car connects both sides of the Gauja River valley. This gentle glide is a chance to see how architecture and nature intertwine in Sigulda, with elevated views of the tributary, castles and the town’s famous bobsleigh track.
Hiking along the 7 km Sigulda hiking trail.
For those who want to get into the wider expanse of Sigulda, the town has a 7km hiking trail that runs through the forest and eventually takes you to the 10,000-year-old Devil’s Cave.
If you don’t have much time, you can drive along a narrow, bumpy road down to the Gauja River, where you can park and walk for about 10 minutes along the marked tracks to the Kajnieku footbridge. Crossing it will give you a better view of Devil’s Cave and the surrounding nature.
Visit Gutman’s cave, the largest grotto in the Baltic.
More accessible is Gutman’s Cave, which is located a few meters from the main road through the town of Sigulda and at the opening of the forest. Gutman’s Cave, the largest grotto in the Baltic States, is full of detailed inscriptions on the walls dating back to the 17th century.
Adventure activities in Sigulda
Ziplining and bungee jumping
You can also go bungee jumping from the cable car itself or add some speed to the zip line flight path, as the cable also functions as a parallel zip line passing overhead. This is not a super-fast ride, but more of a fast glide, but at a speed where you can comfortably take in the surroundings before being suspended above the opening in the trees, while waiting for the cable car (which goes back up to the zip lines).
Sigulda Tarzan Adventure Park
Down in the valley is the Tarzan Adventure Park, where you can climb, jump, bounce and roll down all sorts of adrenaline rides, such as zorb balls and catapults. You might be tempted to take the slide and catch the lift back from the centre of town. It’s added adventure fun next to the park itself.
Rides on the Olympic bobsleigh track.
You can also ride Latvia’s Bobsleigh track and reach speeds of up to 80 km/h on this 16-turn Olympic track, affectionately known as “Fast Bob” (you can also do a slower version of the course). Before the Russian Olympic tracks in Sochi, the 1986 Sigulda track was the only track in Eastern Europe.
Sigulda heritage and cultural monuments.
Sigulda medieval castle
Livonia Castle is closest to the centre of Sigulda: a 1207 fortress frequented by crusader knights and later rebuilt as a convent. Climb the north tower for regal views and walk the medieval ruins of other walls. The local carpentry and leather workshops continue ancient trading traditions. Livonia Castle is a 1207 fortress that was a base for crusader knights and later served as a convent.
The Turaida Museum
The Turaida Museum is the most visited museum in Latvia and preserves Latvia’s cultural heritage and history. A protected cultural monument, this huge estate is a showcase of living history from the last 1,000 years, with ancient manor houses, churches and a medieval castle (the Turaida Stone Castle) among some of the structures. The Folk Song Sculpture Park is a tribute to the great cultural love of sound, which extends into the Latvian Song and Dance Celebration in Riga every five years.
Krimulda manor house
Your first sight of Krimulda Manor will probably be from the left side of the valley from which you embark on the cable car ride, its butter-yellow neoclassical structure with white columns peeking out among the jade of the valley.
It was built in 1848, a noble structure overlooking the Gauja River valley that often seems to sit above the valley’s blanket of mist. Today it is a hotel and spa, with a herb garden and wine cellar. You don’t need to stay overnight to visit; instead, you can tour the collection of historic buildings, as well as visit for a wine tasting.
The Cane Park, built in 2007 as a tribute to Sigulda’s most popular souvenir and 200 years of history when walking tours in Sigulda became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The Cane Park is a tribute to the 200-year history of Sigulda’s most popular souvenir, when walking tours in Sigulda became popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
Visits to Sigulda
This full day tour to Cēsis, Sigulda and Turaida Castle from Riga covers the highlights of the Gauja National Park and medieval castles with a guide. Price includes hotel pick up and drop off, transport, guide and all entrance fees.
There is a full day tour of Sigulda that takes you through the nature and cultural attractions of the town.
How to get to Sigulda from Riga
Sigulda, a popular day trip from Riga, is easily accessible and within easy reach, with all means of transport to the city centre within an hour.
A 50-minute train takes you to Sigulda, which leaves approximately every two hours from Riga Pasažieru station and costs less than €2. I have used the Latvian Railways (PV) service and it is cost effective, comfortable and not difficult to manage. You can find and book Latvian trains here.
Bus from Riga to Sigulda is a more convenient option, as buses run more frequently. The main bus services are CASA, 1188 Latvia and Nordeka. The cost ranges from 1 to 3 euros.
The A2 road connects Riga and Sigulda in a one hour and 52.7 km drive. My second trip to Sigulda was by road. It certainly made things much easier and is an ideal companion if you want to get to the main points of interest outside the centre, such as the Turaida Museum.
Where to stay in Sigulda, Latvia.
If you’re thinking of staying overnight in Sigulda to make the most of the attractions on offer and see them at a leisurely pace, there are plenty of Sigulda hotels to choose from.
Hotel Sigulda is an elegant building situated in a leafy area near the Sigulda castles and the famous bobsleigh track. The restaurant serves international cuisine, and the swimming pool, sauna and steam room contribute to relaxation after a day in nature.
Spa Hotel Ezeri is a lakeside establishment near the centre of Sigulda. Focused on wellness, you can enjoy the sauna, steam bath and jacuzzi, among other treatments. There is even a garden dedicated to relaxation and filled with the sounds of nature. Kakitis is another spa property, built as an Alpine-style guesthouse.
Traditional and private properties
For quirky, traditionally styled holiday homes, take a look at Mednieku Namiņš. It looks like a gingerbread house nestled in the quiet wooded area of Gauja National Park and was once a former hunting lodge and tea house belonging to a baron.
The Pilskalni is a similarly styled property: an eco-friendly, detached holiday home with wooden decor and private garden. Mazais Līvkalns is on the outskirts of the town, close to hiking trails. It also includes the option to use the traditional bathhouse.
This post has been created in collaboration with Magnetic Latvia as part of the #TasteOfLatvia campaign.
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