Adoration 4 Adventure’s recommendation for finding adventure and nature in stunning Sigulda, Latvia.
Where can you find a destination that provides both stunning sceneries as well as activities for adventure-lovers? Well, take a flight to the Latvian capital of Riga, then a short train ride to the tip of the Gauja National Park. Here you will find Sigulda, a charming town packed full of nature and adventure attractions, many of which can be accessed by foot.
And if that wasn’t enough, it is also in a gastronomic region specializing in “Wild at palate” cuisines featuring ingredients from the local forests.
I spent two action-packed days here and was blown away by how much there is to offer in this lovely location. Following is all that I enjoyed during my visit. If you are looking for more thrills, they also have cable car rides, zip lines, and bungee from above the Gauja National Park.
Planning a trip to northern Europe? Read my guide to Tallinn, Estonia for first-time visitors.
Bobsleigh and Luge Track
Location: Šveices iela 13
When it comes to bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton, Latvia excels. Latvian athletes have been awarded an impressive amount of medals for these sports in the Olympics and other world championships.
Sigulda can be referred to as an “Olympic City” as the home of several medalists as well as a Bobsleigh and Luge Track. This 6-floor high track was designed for competitions and training. It is one of the only tracks of this kind opened to the public.
All visitors to Sigulda have the opportunity to walk along the 1200+ meter long track. During the period between May and September, it is possible to enjoy a bobsleigh ride on wheels reaching up to 85km (52 miles) per hour. Then in the winter from November until mid of March, you can take a ride in a “soft bob”, a bobsleigh with padding that can achieve speeds of 80km (49 miles) per hour.
Adventure Park Tarzans
Location: Peldu iela 1
Adventure Park Tarzans is a must-visit for all thrill seekers. The largest outdoor adventure park in the Baltics has a surprising amount of experiences, including paintball shooting, archery, obstacle course, and many rides. There is something for every member of the family.
Upon arrival, we took the toboggan down the slope. The cart zooms along a track, winding through bends and turns, reaching up to 40km (24 miles) per hour. There is a brake so you can control your own speed. Once reaching the bottom, I was excited to try the Crazy Roller, a giant circular cage that rolls 360 degrees with its passengers inside. I have visited a lot of theme parks in my life, however, this was a new ride for me.
After pumping up our adrenaline, it was time to relax with the chairlift back up to the top of the slope. This two-person ride gives incredible views of the Gauja Valley.
Camping, canoeing, kayaking, and rafting with Makars
Locations: Siguldas pludmale, Peldu 2, Sigulda and Canoe camping, Gaujas 36, Ligatne
For a combination of both natural beauty and adventure, look no further than Makars. With two locations in Sigulda and Ligatne, Makars offers tours and rentals for canoeing, kayaking, or rafting. Camping is also available if you want to extend your time being close to nature.
During my visit to Sigulda, we took a 2-person kayak along the Gauja River. Makars transported us and the kayaks to Ligatne, where we began our peaceful down-river journey. This route is 25km (15 miles) and took an hour to return to the Sigulda site by kayak. No previous kayaking experience is necessary. There are also longer routes of up to 210km (130 miles) over seven days.
Nature and history
Livonian Order Sigulda Castle
Location: Pils iela 18
Within the valley of Sigulda, there are three historic castles, all of which should be explored. The first we visited, was the Livonian Order Castle. This medieval castle was built by German “warrior monks” known as the Livonian Brothers of the Sword.
Now over 800 years old after surviving wars, changes of ownership, restoration, and finally reopening to the public in 2012. Within the complex, there is a viewing deck of the valley from which you can see all the way to Krimulda Manor. At the entrance of the property, there are a few gift stores including a shop that makes the iconic Sigulda walking sticks. Here you can watch the process of the walking sticks being made.
Turaida Museum Reserve
Location: Turaidas iela 10
The historical center of Turaida stretches across 42 hectares of protected land and monuments. The jewel of the museum reserve is the Turaida Stone Castle. Visitors can climb the 5-storey high main tower for 360-degree views of the valley and surrounds.
There is also a unique Folk-song Park with 26 spiritual statues in homage to Latvian folklore. The statues were created by hand in 1985, and on national holidays the area is filled with traditional folk music.
Location: Turaidas iela 2a
In a mystical place like Sigulda, there is bound to be at least one fable. Gutman’s Cave is the center of the tragic and beautiful tale of the Rose of Turaida. This story can be found in many places in Sigulda, including the Turaida Museum Reserve, and is best experienced in person. However, if you can’t wait until your visit, you can read more on the Sigulda Tourism website.
Within the cave, there are inscriptions dating back to the 17th century, commissioned by nobles to display their family names and coat of arms.
Hiking to Krimulda Manor
Location: Mednieku iela 3
To see the third castle within the valley, we decided to go by foot. Sigulda is made for hiking, with many cared for trails and walking tracks. There are signs to help you find your way. Walking from the center of town takes you past Adventure Park Tarzans, then across the Gauja River.
The beauty of the forest makes the journey just as good as the final destination, and you may find yourself smiling blissfully and falling more in love with Sigulda with each step.
Eating and drinking
Location: L. Paegles 15a
Doma provides a low-key and relaxed dining whether it be for lunch or dinner. This place is highly recommended by locals, with fresh ingredients and outdoor seating available. We split a burrito and homemade burger for lunch, both of which were tasty and satisfying without being too heavy.
Location: Ausekļa iela 9
Mr. Biskvits is a popular lunch-time favorite and all for good reason. The atmosphere is cozy and chic with rich warm interior colors and the delicious smell of pastries. We came here for coffee and cake, grabbing a corner table and relaxing to the soothing tunes while enjoying our drinks.
Location: Pils iela 6
Hotel Sigulda is located walking distance from the train station. It couldn’t be easier to arrive, from a short stroll to the hotel followed by a swift and friendly check-in. I stayed in the standard double room on the ground floor and was excited to find a bath tub in my room (just what you need after an action-packed day!). The room is spacious and comfortable, also with a desk so you can work if needed.
We also had dinner and breakfast the following morning in the hotel. Dinner was an absolute treat with three-courses made from local produce. Breakfast is served buffet-style and has a huge variety to choose from. There is a patio out the front of Hotel Sigulda, so even if you don’t stay here, it is still a lovely place to come for a coffee or glass of wine.
I was a complimentary guest of Sigulda Development Agency and the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia, however, my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.
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