14-DAY SELF-DRIVE TOUR IN LATVIA
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN RIGA
Arrival in Riga. Optional private transfer from the airport to the hotel. Check in to the hotel.
DAY 2: DISCOVER RIGA
Founded in 1201 by German bishop Albert, Riga is the largest of the three Baltic capitals. Riga is famous for its sophisticated Art Nouveau architecture – about 40% of the city center consists of Art Nouveau buildings, more than in any other city in the world. Walk around the city center and explore the most famous Art Nouveau buildings on Alberta Street and Elizabetes Street, as well as visit the Riga Art Nouveau Center. This lovely museum creates an atmosphere of the era and educates about Art Nouveau. Later, discover the jewels of the lovely Old Town: House of the Blackheads, City Hall Square, Riga Cathedral, St. Pether’s Church, Riga Castle, the oldest dwellings in the city – Three Brothers, and others. Let your intuition guide you through the cobblestone streets of Riga Old Town.
When you feel hungry, dive into the rich and colorful aisles of the Riga Central Market, one of the largest covered markets in Europe. Riga Central Market was opened in 1930, and it consists of five former Zeppelin airship hangars. Riga Central Market is a perfect place for tasting local products, such as smoked meat and fish, pickled vegetables, rye bread, Latvian craft beer, various dairy products, and seasonal treats.
DAY 3: RIGA – SIGULDA
This day brings you to the Gauja National Park, the largest and oldest national park in Latvia. Sigulda is one of the most popular places in the Gauja National Park where you can enjoy truly scenic views of the Gauja River valley and countless hiking trails that go up and down along the river. In order to see the most beautiful landscapes of Sigulda, make sure to visit Emperor’s View and Paradise Hill, or enjoy a fun ride in the cable car that brings you across the river valley. We suggest choosing one of the hiking trails or even combining several of them and going for a day hike, so you can experience the best of what the Gauja National Park offers.
If you are interested in medieval architecture and history, pay a visit to Sigulda Medieval Castle or Turaida Museum Reserve. If you prefer 19th and 20th-century history, national romanticism interiors, and art exhibitions, leave some time for exploring Sigulda New Castle. Don’t forget to climb the tower as it offers a magnificent view of the Gauja River valley and both of the other castles.
DAY 4: SIGULDA – LIGATNE – CESIS
Keep exploring the Gauja National Park by driving to the nearby historical paper mill village Ligatne which still allows to experience the 19th century vibe. Once, Ligatne paper mill produced such high-quality paper that it was used for the most important documents of the Russian Empire. Today, Ligatne is a peaceful and calm village, perfect for nature and history lovers. Walk around the historical village, explore its sandstone caves, used as cellars for storing different food products, or stop by the local winery to buy some fruit wine. If you are looking for a wild hiking adventure, follow the Ligatne River until it flows into the Gauja River.
Later drive to Cesis, a medieval gemstone of Latvia. Go for a romantic walk around its charming Old Town and visit Cesis Medieval Castle, the best preserved medieval castle in Latvia that invites you to explore medieval history walking around the castle ruins in candlelight. If you feel like diving even deeper into the history, visit Cesis New Castle too. If not for the history, then at least for the wonderful panorama from its tower. If you still feel full of energy, go and visit the natural wonders of Cesis – Cirulisi Nature Trails, Red Cliffs, or Eagle Cliffs.
DAY 5: CESIS – LUDZA – LUZNAVA – DAUGAVPILS
On this day, head southeast to Latgale, a very diverse and culturally rich region of Latvia. Latgale is known as the Land of Blue Lakes, offering more than 1,200 lakes for its visitors. First drive to Ludza, an old Latgalian town located in a scenic place between several lakes. Ludza is known for its 19th-century architecture with narrow streets and one or two-story buildings with unique closed yards. Go for a walk and explore the distinctive city planning. From a distance, you will spot Ludza Catholic Church and its two white towers standing right on the top of the hill. Not far from the church, you will find Ludza Medieval Castle Ruins standing on another hill overlooking lakes and offering a wonderful panorama.
Later drive to Luznava Manor, a real gem of Art Nouveau. The beautiful manor was built at the beginning of the 20th century, and it soon became very popular among painters, writers, and other artists. Nowadays, the manor has gained back its creative spirit – it hosts an annual summer plein-air and serves as an art exhibition hall, but it also offers permanent expositions dedicated to Stanislav Kerbedz, the first owner of the manor and a very famous railway engineer.
In the evening, drive to Daugavpils, the second largest city in Latvia. Stroll along Riga Street, a lively pedestrian street that offers several cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy your evening.
DAY 6: DAUGAVPILS – AGLONA – KRASLAVA – DAUGAVPILS
Dedicate your morning to exploring Daugavpils Fortress. It is a unique historical monument that tells a story of 19th-century military history. Inside the fortress, visit the Mark Rothko Art Centre, the only place in the eastern part of Europe where you can see the original works of Mark Rothko. The painter, born in Daugavpils, later became world-famous as the founder of abstract expressionism. If you feel like exploring another museum, consider visiting the Shmakovka Museum which explains the process of making shmakovka, a local version of moonshine.
Later drive to Aglona to see the top tourist object in Latgale – Basilica of Aglona, a richly decorated and very impressive baroque-style sacral complex that serves as the most important Catholic holy site and pilgrimage destination in Latvia.
In the afternoon drive back to Daugavpils via Kraslava. Stop for a while in this little town and go for a walk to discover colorful wooden buildings typical of Kraslava. Green, blue, yellow, red – all the colors blend together, creating a Slavic mood. If you are interested in exploring even more of Slavic culture, drive to Slutiski Old-Believers’ village. They are proud of their very distinctive way of building and arranging their households, and you can still see it today, especially, if you go to the Old-Believers’ Household Museum.
On your way back to Daugavpils, stop by Vasargeliski sightseeing tower which offers one of the most beautiful landscapes of the Daugava River and its famous curves.
DAY 7: DAUGAVPILS – RUNDALE – BAUSKA
Say goodbye to Latgale and drive to the magnificent Rundale Palace, the former summer residence of the Duke of Courland. The palace surprises its visitors with impressive baroque architecture, wonderful interiors, and breathtaking paintings on the ceilings. After visiting the palace, don’t forget to enjoy its wonderful gardens. The splendor of Rundale offers to experience the vibe of Versailles in the Baltics.
Later drive to Bauska, a lovely town with a typical medieval structure – two main streets going parallel to the river with a town hall and market square in the middle. Walk around the Old Town and enjoy its charming architecture. Visit the former Town Hall where you can get weighed and measured in the historical units of measurement. Later follow the Bauska Nature Trail that brings you along the picturesque Memele River towards Bauska Castle Museum. Bauska Castle Museum consists of two parts – Livonian Order Castle ruins and the 16th-century residence of the Duke of Courland. The museum offers various expositions dedicated to the history of Bauska, 16th and 17th-century costumes, and military fortification. Later, walk around the Bauska Hillfort and go to Kirbaksala where the Musa River and the Memele River flow together and create the Lielupe River.
Overnight: Mazmezotne or Bauska
DAY 8: BAUSKA – LIEPAJA
This day brings you to the western coast of Latvia, where the seaside city Liepaja awaits you. It is a vibrant port city with its own character. As most Latvian rock musicians come from Liepaja, the city is known among the locals as the Capital of Rock Music. Discover Liepaja at your own pace – enjoy the Art Nouveau buildings in the city center, try to find as many street art pieces as you can, explore the most hidden alternative bars with great live music, or stroll along the Promenade. If you are interested in military heritage, head towards Karosta, a former closed military territory. Visit Karosta Military Prison, parts of the former Liepaja fortress that are scattered along the seaside, and other historical sights. In the evening, go for a romantic sunset walk on the longest breakwater in Latvija – Liepaja Northern Breakwater that stretches into the sea for 1,8 km. The breakwater was built in the 19th century as a part of the military fortress, but today it is popular among local fishermen, as well as couples meeting up for a romantic picnic. If you feel like relaxing – enjoy the day at the beach.
DAY 9: LIEPAJA – PAVILOSTA – JURKALNE – KULDIGA
Keep driving along the Baltic Sea. The western coastline offers beautiful and picturesque views, as well as wild beaches untouched by civilization. First, drive to Pavilosta, a lovely port town with an artistic and bohemian vibe, especially, in summer, when many bars and cafes open their doors, but surfers and vacationers arrive from all over Latvia. Go for a walk on both breakwaters, enjoy a great panorama from the former Soviet border guard observation tower, spend some time at the beach, and simply enjoy your time in one of the cafes.
Later make a stop at Jurkalne, a small village that is known for the Jurkalne Seashore Bluff and one of the few Catholic churches in the Courland region. Peek inside the church, because something unexpected awaits you there – a model of a ship hanging from the ceiling. Jurkalne is also a perfect place for enjoying a calm and peaceful time at a wild beach – go for a leisurely walk along the seaside, and listen to the waves and seagulls.
In the afternoon, drive to Kuldiga, one of the most romantic and charming towns in Latvia which is often compared to Venice. Kuldiga is a very popular weekend getaway destination thanks to its lovely blend of cobblestone streets, historical 16th to 18th-century architecture, small canal meandering through the town, and the widest waterfall in Europe – Ventas Rumba. Discover Kuldiga at a slow pace – wander around the Old Town, enjoy some good food and drinks, and look inside art galleries, designer stores, and museums.
DAY 10: KULDIGA – SABILE – KANDAVA – VENTSPILS
Start your day by driving to Sabile, a small town located in the beautiful valley of the Abava River. Sabile is known as the wine town, so it is not a surprise that the symbol of this town is exactly Sabile Wine Hill. This vineyard is even included in the Guinness Book of World Records as the northernmost open-air vineyard. Visit this special vineyard, explore Latvian varieties of grapes, and enjoy a great view of the Abava River valley. Go for a walk around the narrow streets of the town and pay a visit to the former Sabile Synagogue which is transformed into an art exhibition hall.
Later go to the nearby Pedvale Art Park, a must-visit place in the region. It is an open-air art park created by Latvian sculptor Ojars Feldbergs. The concept of Pedvale Art Park is to blend together natural landscape, artistic expression, and cultural heritage. Modern stone sculptures and other artworks open up a world full of imagination where everything is possible. Enjoy the art park at a slow pace, observe the interaction between art and nature, and appreciate the peacefulness and beauty of the landscape.
Continue by driving to another little, but charming town – Kandava. It is proud to have the oldest stone bridge in Latvia, as well as a very cozy and hilly Old Town. Enjoy a slow walk around Kandava and take some nice photos of the winding cobblestone streets, cute houses, and panoramic views!
In the evening, arrive in Ventspils.
DAY 11: VENTSPILS
Dedicate this day to exploring Ventspils, a colorful and lively port city. Ventspils offers a wide range of exciting activities for everyone. One of the most scenic views can be found on the Ostas Street Promenade that stretches along the Venta River – big and small ships waiting for their next trip, old warehouses, an impressive collection of buoys that always surprise with their huge size, and some of the cow sculptures, an iconic symbol of Ventspils. If you are interested in history, go to Livonian Order Castle, the oldest medieval fortress in Latvia. In order to explore the traditional lifestyle in the region, visit the Seaside Open-Air Museum. In the evening, go for a peaceful walk on the Southern Breakwater or enjoy a sunset from the beach.
DAY 12: VENTSPILS – KOLKA – KEMERI – JURMALA
Continue driving along the Baltic Sea. On your way, discover the Slitere National Park and stop by tiny Liv fishermen villages such as Mazirbe, Kosrags, and Kolka. Walk around the villages and explore the fishermen’s lifestyle, try out some smoked fish or local dishes. When you reach Kolka, go for a short walk to visit Cape Kolka, a windy place on the beach where the water of the Gulf of Riga meets the waves of the open Baltic Sea. Next, continue driving along the coast and stop by such fishermen’s villages as Roja, Kaltene, and Mersrags, offering some open-air art, stony beaches, and a lovely lighthouse.
In the afternoon arrive in the Kemeri National Park. Make a short stop at Kemeri village, a former sulfur water and mud resort. Explore the center of the village: Kemeri water tower, sulfur water spring Kirzacina, Love Island, and Kemeri Hotel. Later head to the Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk, a must-visit sight in the Kemeri National Park. The bog is a magical place with an inexplicable beauty at any time of the year. Follow the boardwalk and enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the bog – vast landscapes, tiny pine trees, mysterious mist, dark lakes, and the dizzying smell of marsh Labrador tea.
Finish your day in Jurmala.
DAY 13: JURMALA
Spend the whole day in Jurmala, a popular seaside resort that is famous for its wonderful wooden architecture from the 20th century and fancy lifestyle. Go for a long walk along the beach or follow one of many architectural routes. When you start to feel hungry, go to Joma Street, a very lively pedestrian street full of restaurants, bars, and cafes. In order to discover the development of Jurmala as a seaside resort and learn about bathing traditions throughout history, visit the Jurmala City Museum. Art lovers are warmly welcomed at Art Station Dubulti, the only contemporary art exhibition space in Europe that is located in a functioning railway station. Aspazija’s House offers time traveling to the 1930s and peeking inside the life of one of the most influential female figures in the history of Latvia – poetess Aspazija. Enjoy Jurmala and your final full day in Latvia!
In the evening return back to Riga.
DAY 14: DEPARTURE FROM RIGA
Departure day. Check out from the hotel. Optional private transfer from the hotel to the airport.
- Art Nouveau architecture in Riga
- Gauja National Park – the largest and oldest national park in Latvia
- Latgale – the Land of Blue Lakes
- Mark Rothko Art Center in Daugavpils
- Basilica of Aglona – the most important pilgrimage site in Latvia
- Rundale Palace and its garden complex
- Liepaja – the Capital of Rock Music
- 16th to 18th-century architecture in Kuldiga
- Ventas Rumba – the widest waterfall in Europe
- Pedvale Art Park
- Cape Kolka – a place where two seas meet
- The Great Kemeri Bog
- 20th-century wooden architecture in Jurmala
The price for two people in a double room:
- 3-star hotels: 1150.00 EUR per person
- 4-star hotels: 1350.00 EUR per person
Single supplement: 510.00 EUR
- Rental car Toyota Auris or similar per program for 12 days
- Rental car delivery on Day 3 and drop off on Day 13 at the hotel
- Accommodation per program
- Well planned itinerary
- Support during the trip
- Roadbook (sightseeing objects, hiking routes, and other recommendations)
- 3h walking tour in Riga, Cesis, Kuldiga, or Ventspils: price for each tour is 120.00 EUR
- 5h hiking tour in Sigulda or Cesis: price for each tour is 250.00 EUR
- 2 h ceramic workshop in Latgale: price per person is 50.00 EUR
- 4 h Bog Shoeing tour in Kemeri National Park per person is 90.00 EUR
- 5h Kayaking on Gauja River per person is 90.00 EUR
- 3 h Bicycle tour in Jurmala per person is 70.00 EUR
- Ride with a summer bob in Sigulda per person is 40.00 EUR
- 3h Sklandrausi traditional cooking class: price per person is 70.00 EUR
- Private transfer from/to the airport: 55 EUR for private car (1 – 3 persons)
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