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Sigulda, Latvia is a town granted the status as one of the most beautiful in the country. Found in the Vidzeme Region, less than an hour from the capital of Riga, Sigulda rests on Gauja National Park’s valley edge; an elevated outer-city hideaway hugged by dense forests famed for their spectacular colour change to fiery hues in autumn, filled with rocky cliff faces and caves of ochre red sandstone, and fed by the tributaries of the Gauja River.
Its natural offering has given Sigulda the name of the ‘Switzerland of Latvia’ and attracts those eager to explore the countryside. Yet, while Sigula’s natural history is accessible via hikes and extreme adrenalin fixes, it is further complemented by cultural attractions from castles to heritage museum reserves. I’ve visited the region twice, sampling everything from its great wide-valley view heights and thick, woody depths.
An easy day trip from Riga, just over 50 kilometres from the grand city, here’s what to do in Sigulda, Latvia to make the most of this cultural and adventurous nature haven.
- Getting Around Sigulda
- Sigulda’s Nature Highlights
- Adventure Activities in Sigulda
- Sigulda’s Monuments of Heritage and Culture
- Tours of Sigulda
- How to Get to Sigulda from Riga
- Where to Stay in Sigulda, Latvia
Getting Around Sigulda
While the heart of the green valley is only a 15-minute walk from the train station, the area is more expansive than it looks, so it pays to have a car or two wheels to get around.
I hired an electric bike and set out to visit the Sigulda Medieval Castle and the Turaida Museum Reserve on the valley’s fringes. The 42m high cable car takes you from one side of the valley to the other, more notably across to Krimulda Manor.
Woodland hikes and bike rides are the main draws. You can choose hour-long tracks or half or full-day biking tours if you want to cover a lot of ground and it’s a scenic route to seek out the city’s famous cave dwellings. The cable car is often combined with a hike down into the valley, eliminating a strenuous clamber up.
Sigulda’s Nature Highlights
Ride the Sigulda Cable Car
Don’t want to work up a sweat and get a view of the area’s green basin? The Sigulda Aerial Cableway connects both sides of the Gauja River valley. This gentle glide across is a chance to see how architecture and nature intertwine in Sigulda, with elevated views of the tributary, castles and the city’s famed bobsleigh track.
Hiking Sigulda’s 7km Path
For those wanting to get stuck into the broader expanse of Sigulda, the town has a 7 km hiking trail that runs through woodland that eventually brings you to the 10,000-year-old Devil’s Cave.
If you don’t have much time, you can drive on a narrow, bumpy pathway that leads down to the River Gauja, where you can park up and walk for around 10 minutes on the signed tracks to the pedestrian Kajnieku Bridge. If you cross it, you will have a better view of Devil’s Cave and the nature that engulfs it.
Visit Gutman’s Cave – The Largest Grotto in the Baltic States
More accessible is Gutman’s Cave, which is just metres from the main road that runs through Sigulda town and at the woodland’s opening. The largest grotto type cave in the Baltic States, Gutman’s Cave is filled with detailed wall inscriptions dated back to the 17th century.
Adventure Activities in Sigulda
Zipline and Bungee Jump
You can also bungee jump off the same cable car or add some speed on the zip line flight route since the cable also doubles as a parallel zipline that runs above it. It’s not a super-fast journey, more a fast glide but at a speed where you can comfortably take in your surroundings before you hang suspended above the opening in the trees, as you await the cable car (which pulls the zip liners back up).
Sigulda Adventure Park Tarzan
Down below and nestled in the valley is the Adventure Park Tarzan where you can climb, jump, bounce and roll via all manner of adrenalin attractions like zorb balls and catapults. You might be tempted to take the toboggan down there and only get the ski lift back up from the town centre. It’s an added adventure fun either side of the park itself.
Ride the Olympic Bobsleigh Track
You can also ride Latvia’s Bobsleigh track and garner some speeds up to 80 km/h on this Olympic track with 16 turns, affectionately known as “Fast Bob” (you can take a slower version of the ride too). Before the Sochi Russian Olympic tracks, the 1986 Sigulda track was the only track in Eastern Europe.
Sigulda’s Monuments of Heritage and Culture
Sigulda Medieval Castle
Livonian Castle is the closest to the centre of Sigulda – a fortress from 1207 frequented by crusading knights and later rebuilt as a convent. Climb the north tower for regal views and wander the medieval ruins of other ramparts. The woodwork and leather workshops on-site continue old trade traditions. Livonian Castle is a fortress from 1207 that was a base for crusading knights and later served as a convent.
The Turaida Museum
The Turaida Museum is the most visited in Latvia and is preserving Latvia’s heritage and cultural history. A protected cultural monument, this huge estate is a living history showcase of the past 1,000 years, with old manor houses, churches and a medieval castle (Turaida Stone Castle), amongst some of the structures. The Folk Song Sculpture Park stands in tribute for the great cultural love of sound, continued in the Latvian Song and Dance Celebration in Riga every five years.
Krimulda Manor House
Your first glimpse of Krimulda Manor will likely be from the left side of the valley from which it stands as you embark on the cable car journey, it’s buttery yellow neoclassical structure with white columns poking through the jade of the valley.
It was built in 1848 – a noble structure overlooking the Gauja River Valley that often appears to sit above the valley fog blanket. Today it is a hotel and spa, with an accompanying herb garden and winery. You don’t have to stay overnight to visit; instead, you can tour the collection of historic buildings, as well as visit for a wine tasting experience.
The Walking Stick Park
The Walking Stick Park, constructed in 2007 as a tribute to Sigulda’s most popular souvenir and 200-year history when walking trips in Sigulda became popular in the 1920s and ’30s. The Walking Stick Park is a tribute to the 200-year history of Sigulda’s most popular souvenir when walking trips in Sigulda gained popularity in the 1920s and ’30s.
Tours of Sigulda
This full-day Cēsis, Sigulda & Turaida Castle tour from Riga covers Gauja National Park’s highlights and medieval castles with a guide. The price includes hotel pick up and drop off, transport, guide and all entry fees.
A full-day Sigulda hiking tour is available taking you through Sigulda’s nature and cultural attractions.
How to Get to Sigulda from Riga
A popular day trip from Riga, Sigulda is easily accessible and close by, with all transport modes to the town centre taking one hour.
READ MORE: How to Explore Gauja National Park
READ MORE: Alternative Riga Travel Guide
A 50-minute train brings you to Sigulda, which run approximately every two hours from Riga Pasažieru Station and costs less than 2 Euro. I’ve used the Latvian Railways (PV) service and its cost-effective, comfortable, and not difficult to navigate. You can find and book Latvian trains here.
The bus from Riga to Sigulda is a more convenient option since the buses run more frequently. The main bus services are CASA, 1188 Latvia and Nordeka. The cost is between 1-3 Euro.
The A2 road connects Riga and Sigulda on a one hour, 52.7km drive. My second trip to Sigulda was via a road trip. It certainly made things a lot easier and is an ideal accompaniment if you want to get to all major highlights outside the centre, such as the Turaida Museum.
Where to Stay in Sigulda, Latvia
If you are thinking of spending the night in Sigulda to make the most of the attractions on offer and see them at a leisurely pace, then there are plenty of Sigulda hotels to choose from.
The Sigulda Hotel is an elegant building set in a leafy area close to Sigulda’s Castles and the famed Bobsleigh track. A restaurant serves international cuisine, and a swimming pool, sauna and steam room add to the relaxation after a day out in nature.
Spa Hotel Ezeri is a lakeside property close to the centre of Sigulda. With a focus on wellness, you can enjoy the sauna, steam bath and whirlpool, amongst other treatments. There is even a dedicated garden for 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 and traditional style holiday homes, check out Mednieku Namiņš. It looks like a gingerbread house nestled in the quiet forest area of Gauja National Park and was once a former hunting lodge and tea house belonging to a baron.
The Pilskalni is a similar style property – a detached, ecological holiday home with wooden décor and a private garden. Mazais Līvkalns is on the outer edges of the town, based close to the hiking routes. It also includes an option to use the traditional bathhouse.
This post was created in collaboration with Magnetic Latvia as part of the #TasteOfLatvia campaign.