Route: Riga-Gauja National Park-Valmiera-Cesis-Rezekne-Razna National Park-Aglona-Daugavpils-Rundale-Bauska-Jelgava-Liepaja-Kuldiga-Ventspils-Slitere National Park-Cape Kolka-Dundaga-Kemeri National Parl-Jurmala-Riga
Duration: 8 days / 7 nights
Day 1 Arrival-RIGA
Arrival to the airport and transfer to the hotel. Rest of day dedicated to the visit of Riga.
The heart of Riga lies in its old town. Each step on its cobbled streets reveals a page of the eight centuries long history of the city. It is small enough to make you feel at home and at the same time also big enough to keep you enraptured by its history and UNESCO world heritage. During your visit you will discover the most historical spots of the old town like the Cathedral, the Riga Castle, the Swedish Gate, the St. Peter’s Church, the Dome square, the building of the Three Brothers, the Freedom monument, the Art Nouveau district and many other sites. Overnight.
Day 2 RIGA-GAUJA NATIONAL PARK-VALMIERA-CESIS (150 km)
Morning breakfast and car delivered at the hotel. Departure to Valmiera with several recommended stops on the way. Easily reached from Riga, Sigulda sits at the south of the Gauja National park on the tall banks of the ancient Gauja valley. Surrounded by historic sites, the town itself features the Sigulda Medieval Castle ruins, originally built by the Sword Master of the Venn Order in 1207. The later, Livonian Order convent with its Gothic apertures and the main gate tower survive and provide a wonderful backdrop for summer’s open-air concerts.
Next stops are across the deep Gauja valley and there is only one way to cross – by the 43 m-high cable car. Opened in 1969, it is the only one in the Baltic States and provides spectacular views.
Disembark at Krimulda Manor for stunning views back to Sigulda. The castle ruins are medieval, but the first mansion was built in the 15th century. The existing example of Classicism was built in 1848 for Prince Lieven. At the base of a sandstone cliff sits Gūtmaņala, the longest erosion cave in the Baltics, formed 10 000 years ago by Ice Age waters. Associated with many legends, it is an ancient cult site. Back up the top of the valley, the Turaida Museum Park hosts a valuable collection of historical artifacts. Explore the cultural heritage of the Gauja Livonians, climb the medieval stone castle tower, see the drawbridge, battlements, gates and guard towers, chapel and secret passage. Turaida Church is beautiful and elegant in its simplicity. Continuation of the trip to discover the beautiful town of Valmiera. Visit of the city with its old town with Livonian Order castle ruins and Saint Simon’s Church, both dating to the 13th century. Engineering works in 2005 uncovered a section of the city’s northern defensive wall with a loop hole and cobbled road. Still in the Old Town, the Dispensary, Valmiera’s oldest wood building, retains its medieval appeal and is part of the Valmiera Historical Museum. Its collection ranges from Iron Age archaeological relics through medieval and pre-industrial artifacts to contemporary art and design by well-known regional artists. Departure to Cesis and check-in at the hotel. If you stop while meandering through the cobbled streets of Cēsis Old Town, you may only see buildings as old as the cobbles themselves. Imposing St. John’s Church was a Livonian Order cathedral and stands by the restored Rožu laukums, once the market square. The Rauna gate is the symbolic junction between the old and new towns. The Livonian Order fortress ruins in the Cēsis Castle and Manor Complex date back to 1220, but its circular towers were built at the turn of the 15th century. The Baroque Jaunā Palace was built for Count von Zeever in 1777 and now houses the Cēsis Local History and Art Museum. Overnight.
Day 3 CESIS-REZEKNE-RAZNA NATIONAL PARK-AGLONA-DAUGAVPILS (310 km)
Morning breakfast and departure to Aglona. During the trip we recommend several stops. Rezekne is a well known city in the heart of the Latgale region. Located some 240 km from Riga the city was built on seven hills. Despite many of the historical buildings were destroyed during the World War II, the city still hold many interesting sites to be visited like the ruins of Rezekne Castle hill, the Heart of Jesus Cathedral, the St. Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, the Orthodox Church of the birth of Holy Jesus’s mother, the Art House, the Culture and History museum, the monument “united for Latvia”.After the visit of Rezekne and before the arrival to Aglona we suggest a stop at the Razna National Park. Latgale’s special feel, marvellous landscapes with castle mounds, waters, and woods, Lake Rāzna – great natural diversity characterizes the newest Latvian national park. The area is home to several lakes. One of them – Lake Rāzna is the second biggest lake in Latvia. Thanks to its sandy beaches Lake Rāzna is referred to as the Latgalean Sea. The lake is abundant in fish and there are several equipped resting areas ashore. Lake Ežezers is notable for about 70 island-like formations about half of which are overgrown with reeds and canes. There are estimated 33 – 36 islands in the lake. Rāzna National Park is home to the 3rd highest hill in Latvia – Lielais Liepukalns (289 meters above mean sea level) which is notable for its relatively impressive altitude for our conditions. Next to Lake Razna on top of Mākoņkalns Hill (248 m above mean sea level) there are pieces of the unassailable Volkenberg stone castle built in the 13th century by the Livonian Order. Departure to Aglona. In Aglona you won’t miss the stunning Aglona Basilica, as its shining white spires stand out for miles, a great help to the many believers who make the annual pilgrimage to the centre of Latvia’s Catholicism. Wonder through the huge churchyard and step inside to view its subtle pastel colouring and lavish gilded altar. For your less spiritual needs and everything you ever wanted to know about bread and bread-making, Aglona also has a Bread Museum – tasty and educational. Still in Aglona, feel the suffering of more recent history at the World War II Museum, explaining some of the miseries that little Latvia and its people endured at the hands of warring super powers. Near the Aglona Basilica, on the shores of Aglona lake, stand the sculpture garden and ornamental plantings of Karaļa kalns (The King’s Hill) with sacred wooden sculptures carved in gratitude to God and Jesus. Transfer to Daugavpils for the overnight.
Day 4 DAUGAVPILS-RUNDALE PALACE-BAUSKA ( 230 km)
Morning breakfast at the hotel and some free time to discover the city of Daugavpils. The historical centre of Daugavpils is a town planning monument of national importance. The central part of the city was developed in the 19th century in accordance with the design documents approved in St. Petersburg in 1826. Daugavpils is one of the few Latvian cities that can boast of a unique ensemble of classical and eclectic buildings. Departure to Bauska with plenty of fantastic places to visit during the trip. In the Bauska’s area the first stop is certainly the Rundale Palace. At Rundāle Palace, one of the most outstanding architectural monuments in Latvia, one can relish the luxurious interiors of the 18th century, grow dizzy from the fragrant rose garden, enjoy the fountain sparkling in the colours of a rainbow and experience the carefree everyday life of the court of Duchy of Courland. The palace of Ernst Johann von Biron, a favourite of the Russian Empress Anna Ioannovna, designed by the legendary architect Francesco Rastrelli of the Russian Royal court is one of the most outstanding monuments of Baroque and Rococo art in Latvia. Appreciate the magnificent exterior, the luxurious interior and Baroque rose garden with the largest collection of roses in Latvia. Also high-quality concerts and art events are often held here.
Visiting the rooms, exhibitions and learning about the history of the palace and the park, a whole day can easily be spent here. Not far away from Bauska city we also recommend you to visit the Mezotne Palace the most outstanding monument of Classicism architecture in Latvia. The palace boasts beautiful interiors, a high class hotel, conference rooms and a restaurant. It was built on the orders of Russian Empress Catherine II for her children’s beloved governess Charlotte von Lieven. A well-maintained English-style garden surrounds the palace. Arrival to Bauska’s hotel and check-in (Bauska county). Rest of the day dedicated to the visit of Bauska city and his famous castle. On the strip of earth between the Mūsa and Mēmele rivers, not far from the place the two converge to become the Lielupe river, you’ll find two medieval castles. One of them indeed has turned into ruins, but from its tower the view of the wonderful Bauska city appears along with its surrounding panorama. In the second castle you’ll find a museum where you can not only get acquainted with the castle’s history, but arranging an appointment in advance, you’ll be able to try on medieval outfits, dance a few renaissance dances and enjoy medieval foods. The castle surroundings are as if they were made for leisurely walks. Overnight in Bauska.
Day 5 BAUSKA-JELGAVA-LIEPAJA (240 km)
Morning breakfast at the hotel and departure to Liepaja. The trip will allow to discover several unique places. Jelgava is a city located in the Zemgale region and some 40 km from Riga. Jelgava was the capital of the united Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1578-1795) and the administrative centre of the Courland Governorate (1795-1918). A must to see are the Jelgava Palace , the Holy Trinity Church tower, the exhibition of Latvian Railway History Museum, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Virgin Mary, the St. Simeon and St. Anna’s Orthodox Cathedral, the St. Anna’s Lutheran Cathedral, the History and Art Museum of Gederts Eliass. Departure to Liepaja and check-in in the hotel. Rest of the day to be dedicated to the visit of the city. Liepāja is home to both broad and sandy beaches to enjoy the summer at and a peculiar cultural, architectural and military heritage. You have to see the adorable wooden architecture and Art Nouveau buildings, visit art galleries and walk through the fortifications built at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. Liepāja is an ancient harbour city on the east coast of the Baltic Sea, where people have been living for more than 750 years. Liepāja is a city of music and culture. Visit international music festivals and concerts or enjoy yourself in city’s music clubs. See the world’s longest amber necklace and the biggest mechanical organ in the World! Liepāja is a city of contrasts.
Walk the labyrinths of the Northern Forts with torchlight, discover the exotic nature of the architecture of the Military Port Karosta or the former prison, explore the Art Nouveau buildings in the city centre and the unique wooden architecture in Seaside Park! Liepāja welcomes you with its “Blue Flag” beach popular with vacationers and surfers, quayside Promenade, trendy accommodation, cosy cafes and pubs. Overnight.
Day 6 LIEPAJA-KULDIGA-VENTSPILS-SLITERE NATIONAL PARK-CAPE KOLKA-DUNDAGA (270 km)
Morning breakfast at the hotel and departure to Dundaga for a day of great spots discovery.
Kuldiga is one of the most beautiful towns in Latvia. Kuldīga has always been admired and praised by both poets and painters. The red roof tiles and the calm atmosphere of the charming small town of Kurzeme encourages taking a slow stroll through the silent streets, riding a bike or watching a movie under the open sky. Visit Kuldīga – one of the “European Destinations of Excellence”. The historical buildings of Kuldīga, capital of the former Duchy of Courland, and its nature create a unique, harmonious ensemble, which cannot be found anywhere else in Europe.
The centre of Kuldīga, developed in 17-18th century, has preserved its old wooden houses shaping small and narrow streets, while foundations of the houses in the old town form the banks of the small Alekšupīte River. The picturesque brick bridge in Kuldīga is one of the longest such bridges in Europe. The town is also famous for the widest waterfall in Europe Ventas Rumba (249 m). During springs and autumns a peculiar view can be observed at the waterfall, when the spawning fish swarm tries to cross the waterfall by jumping in the air.
Probably the most outstanding photos of your Latvia trip will be taken in Kuldīga! Your trip will continue to Ventspils. Ventspils is an ancient 13th century mariner and fishermen city, where a harbour and a “Blue Flag” beach live in a perfect harmony. Its inhabitants possess the stubbornness of the sea wind and the soul of flowers. Take your children and friends and visit the capital of flowers and fountains, the family and recreation friendly seaside city. Ventspils welcomes you to rest at the “Blue Flag”white sand beach at the Baltic Sea or spend an exciting time in outdoor and indoor water amusement parks. The curious ones will enjoy the only digital planetarium and observatory in Latvia. The history becomes alive in the Old Town Market Square with musical carillon bell tower, Livonian Order Castle, House of Crafts and the narrow cobbled streets of Ostgals. It is a special experience to ride the 1916 steam engine “Mazbānītis” from the Seaside Open Air Museum or take a trip on the excursion boat “Hercogs Jēkabs” along the harbour. The city is also famous for its cow parade, extravagant flower sculptures, flower-beds and fountains. Departure and visit of the Slitere National Park. The territory of Slītere National Park may be considered a unique museum of the geological history of the Baltic Sea. It is home to a 30-50 m high ancient shore precipice of Baltic ice lake covered with a broad-leaf forest rich in terms of species as well as a dune ridge and narrow hallow complex. Seaside with sandy beach and dunes, dry dune pinewood, seashore and several kilometres of long dune ridges interchanging with narrow hollows are an integral part of the park. The park is located on the migratory bird flyway, in spring a huge amount of migratory birds can be spotted out here. The park is inhabited by rare and endangered reptiles, such as a pond turtle and copperhead snake and in the vicinity of Kolka – natter-jack toad. In fishing villages on the seaside one can get to know the Liv or Livonian cultural heritage – an essential part of cultural-historic heritage of Northern Europe. Just few minutes away from the park you will discover the Cape Kolka. Cape Kolka is a narrow earth cape where two seas meet : the Baltic Sea or the Big Sea and the Gulf of Riga or the Little Sea. Known as Domesnes in the old days, Cape Kolka was recorded on a rune stone in Sweden in 1040. During storms, particularly with strong southerly winds, the waves can be as much as 7 m high. The cape continues as underwater shallows all the way to the Kolka lighthouse. The sculpture on Cape Kolka is by Ģirts Burvis and is a monument to those who were “taken by the sea.” You can see the wreck of a wooden ship (thought to be from the 19th century), a rock called the Heart of Europe (Krišjānis Valdemārs considered Cape Kolka to be the centre of the continent), a series of information stands about Valdemārs, and a former Soviet coastal defence base. The Latvian Border Guard continue to use the base today. During migration season, Cape Kolka is a location for birds to gather and rest that is of Northern European importance. Bird watchers will love this place. Cape Kolka has a visitors centre and, during the summer only, a small cafeteria. The pines that have fallen on the beach are interesting – they have been washed away by the sea. Under the water around Cape Kolka is the largest ship cemetery in the Baltic Sea. The location is dangerous for swimmers because of shifting currents and sands. The ruins of the old lighthouse at the end of Cape Kolka date back to the 18th century. What you see there is the southern tower. The northern tower was washed away by the sea during the latter half of the 19th century. You can visit Cape Kolka at night, because the road from the car park is well lit with solar batteries. We recommend the circular route (3 km) along the seashore to and from the Cape Kolka Pine Trail, which will be fully restored in 2013. Drive to Dundaga region and check-in in the hotel (Dundaga county). Overnight.
Day 7 DUNDAGA-KEMERI NATIONAL PARK-JURMALA-RIGA (150 km)
Morning breakfast at the hotel and departure to Riga. On the way stop to Ķemeri National Park which offers its visitors various options for outdoor recreation. It is Natura 2000 area notable for the great biodiversity: Ķemeri Moorlan rich in small lakes; nearly all types of forests characteristic of Latvian latitudes; meadows grazed by forest animals as well as wild cows and horses; seaside with white sandy beaches and dry pinewood; 3 big lakes which are not only easy on the eyes but also create a miraculous sense of peace with their vast and calm waters. Ķemeri area is rich in various minerals and healing waters. Ķemeri resort was founded back in the 18th century and people from all over Europe came to enjoy its sulphur springs and moor mud baths. Departure and stop in Jurmala. Jurmala is the largest seaside and balneotherapy resort in the Baltic States and has a long history of being a resort area. Located only 25 km from Riga it possesses unique natural resources, like curative mineral waters, medical healing mud, pine forests, a healthy seaside climate, sand dunes and 33 km of white sand beach. The town of Jurmala takes pride in its wooden architecture, a unique characteristic of the city since the 19th and early 20th century. Art Noveau, National Romanticism, and Functionalism coexist in harmony. And over 400 buildings are included in the listing of architectural monuments. Arrival to Riga in the afternoon and check-in in the hotel. Drop-off of the car in the late afternoon. Overnight.
Day 8 RIGA-Departure
Breakfast at the hotel and free time for additional visits and/or shopping in Riga. Transfer to airport.
PRICE PER PERSON (minimum 2 participants):
based on group size
Single room supplement: 265,00 Euro (when available)
The package includes:
2 ways transfer (airport-hotel-airport)
7 overnights in double room in hotels 3*/4* or rural sites/guesthouse with morning breakfast
Car rental from day 2 to day 7 (full kasko insurance, self risk €400, for minivan €500)
–for 2 people : VW Golf or similar
–for 3-4 people: Renault Megane SW or similar
–for 5-8 people: Renault Trafic or similar
Services and taxes
The package does not include:
Flights and Visa (if required)
Parking costs (hotels and sites)
Any other costs/expenses not specified under “The package includes”
Walking guided tour of Riga old town (3 hours): 160,00 Eur
Deposit of 30% upon reservation
Balance payment (70%) 40 days before arrival
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