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Riga, Latvia is a fantastic city that offers so much for travelers. This UNESCO Heritage city offers many attractions for visitors – from the largest European central market, to some of the best art nouveau architecture, a historic Old Town, and a lot of fun within easy walking distance. But if you’ve got a bit more time, here are the ten best day trips from Riga, from closest to furthest.

BEST DAY TRIPS FROM RIGA

Best Day Trips from Riga, Latvia | image: statues at Salaspils Nazi labour camp
Photo by Nicholas

Salapsils, Latvia

Salapsils might be the easiest day trip on this list, being just a 30-minute ride by bus or train from the Riga Central station. If you feel like cycling instead, follow the Daugava river southeast. Be aware that the route is partially unpaved. When you get there, the promenade is a simple grassy park dotted with rest stops, sculptures and even the ruin of an old church. Pass the city and go a little further along the riverbank to find an ‘A’-shaped monument to Ako, the leader of the Livs who fought against and lost to the Northern Crusaders in 1206. A large stele in the area with reindeer drawings on it marks the first known human settlement in Latvia, with the remains dating back 11 millennia!

The town of Salaspils expanded quickly during the Soviet occupation to accommodate workers for the nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, so the housing blocks aren’t much to look at. The drab architecture makes the blue-and-gold St George Church stand out even more, especially on a clear day. The National Botanic Garden is another green lung right next to the station with 14,000 species of plants. Some people also visit the memorial at the Salaspils Nazi labour camp northwest of the town. Of the original camp buildings, only the foundations and a few layers of brick remain, but seven enormous statues recalling the brutality of the place dominate the landscape. These and the toys at the children’s section of the camp make it a poignant spot for reflection in the woods.

Suggested by Nicholas from Rambling Feet

Best Day Trips from Riga, Latvia | image: cafes on pedestrian street in Jurmala
Photo by Anwar

Jurmala, Latvia 

Located a short distance from Riga, Jurmala makes a perfect day or longer getaway from the city. The Latvian resort town is famous for its beautiful beaches, historic wooden homes, and gorgeous nature.

The main stop for most people is Jurmala Beach, which stretches for miles along the Gulf of Riga. You’ll be able to stretch out on the sand, play games, or grab delicious food at one of the nearby cafes and restaurants. In particular, Jomas street has a large selection of places to stop, eat, and people-watch. If you are there for the day or longer, you can also perhaps find an interesting concert at the local Dzintari concert hall, dating from the late 19th century and featuring concerts from classical to contemporary.

The incredible old wooden houses of Jurmala are beautiful works of architecture and history. Wandering and exploring the neighborhoods and enjoying the houses is a fun excursion. Many of these were built in the late 19th and early 20th century as summer villas. Unfortunately, many are still private homes, so touring isn’t possible.

Jurmala is easily accessed from Riga by car, bus, or train. Trains and buses leave regularly to the town and take roughly 30-40 minutes to reach Jurmala. As it’s a resort town, there are plenty of places to spend the night if you choose to extend your trip. 

Suggested by Anwar from Beyond My Door

HOT TIP: Schedule your Jurmala, Kemeri National Park, and Ventspils trips together since they’re in the same general direction.

Best Day Trips from Riga, Latvia | image: people in a line bog shoeing in Kemeri National Park
Photo by Lora

Bog Shoeing in Kemeri National Park, Latvia

One of the most unique experiences in Latvia is going bog shoeing in Kemeri National Park, which is just an hour outside of Riga. While the city is great to explore, the park is the perfect place to go if you’re craving to be in nature.

Bogshoeing uses similar footwear to snowshoes, except instead of walking on the snow, you’re walking through the bog! It’s a unique sensation as the shoes allow you to stand on the bog safely without being pulled down.

Bogshoeing is a unique and beautiful way to see the park’s forests. As our guide explained, being in nature is a big part of the culture there. This unusual activity allows the locals to explore an otherwise inaccessible part of their natural landscape.

If you’re looking for a bucket list adventure to add to your list while traveling in Latvia, don’t miss this! It’s surprising how beautiful bogs can actually be. You’ll get to learn about the nature, origin, and flora and fauna of swamps while participating in an environmentally-friendly and fun activity. 

Suggested by Lora of Explore with Lora 

Best Day Trips from Riga, Latvia | image: part of castle in Sigulda, Latvia
Photo by Kylie

Sigulda, Latvia

A great day trip from Riga is to the Latvian town of Sigulda. It takes around 1 hour on the train from the main train station in Riga. There are several different things to do in Sigulda. 

A popular activity for a day trip is to have a ride in a bobsleigh down the Sigulda bobsleigh track. There are several different options, including an adapted metal bobsleigh (that reaches speeds of 105km/h), a foam bobsleigh and ‘The Frog’, where riders slide head first, laying on their stomachs, down the track! In the summer, when the track isn’t frozen, there is a ‘summer bob’ on wheels which can go up to 85km/h.

Other attractions for thrill seekers include an outdoor skydiving wind tunnel, an alpine rollercoaster, ziplining, bungee jumping, and a high ropes climbing course. The Castle of the Livonian Order in Sigulda is the remains of a castle that dates back to 1207. Parts have since been restored, and it is possible to take a tour and even try on chainmail armour. 

For those that like nature, several hiking trails lead to caves and viewpoints looking over the Gauja River. Several companies offer stand-up paddleboard and canoe rentals.

Suggested by Kylie from Between England and Iowa

HOT TIP: Schedule your Sigulda, Cesis, and Gauja trips together since they’re in the same general direction.

Best Day Trips from Riga, Latvia | image: Rundale Palace in Latvia - with gardens in the forefront

Rundale Palace, Latvia

Almost on the border with Lithuania lies the beautiful Rundale Palace, currently a museum. Due to its location, Rundale Palace is frequently featured as a stop for travelers going from Vilnius to Riga

The original manor was built in the late 14th century. The castle is found on a 1555 list of castles. In 1735, the old castle was torn down and the current structure was built. After passing through various Dukes and Duchesses, the palace was annexed to the Russian empire in the late 1700s. It has been damaged and repaired through various occupations and wars.

Today, visitors can see glorious rooms housing beautiful artwork. You can visit the Duke’s quarters, the Duchess’ quarters, and the kitchen to get a true feeling of what life in the 1700-1800s must have been like for the gentry. 

Don’t miss the gardens. From fruit trees to flowering bushes and roses, they are every horticultural aficionado’s dream. The French Garden, Rose Garden, and parks have been restored to the original 1735 landscape design. Before you hit the road to either Riga or Vilnius, enjoy some tea and cake in the castle’s cafe in the basement.

Suggested by Annick from The Common Traveler

Best Day Trips from Riga, Latvia | image: snow covered Cesis castle
Photo by Ellis

Cesis, Latvia

Cesis is located at the edge of the beautiful Gauja National Park and is the perfect combination of history, culture, and nature. Surrounded by the forests and rivers of Gauja, there are endless outdoor opportunities. But the town itself with its medieval castle is also well worth a visit. 

Cesis was once a stronghold of the Livonian brothers of the sword that laid the first foundations of a castle on the hilltop in the 13th century. The castle and, therefore, Cesis town saw many turbulent times. The Livonian war in 1577 and the Great Northern war in 1703 left the castle in ruins, but every time it was rebuilt. 

Cesis was also an important Hanseatic trade town with a prominent location on several trade routes due to its proximity to Riga. Riga is only 2 hours away from Cesis and is therefore a perfect day trip from Latvia’s capital. The Cesis castle is one of the best preserved castles in the country. 

Besides the castle there is a charming old center and a number of beautiful churches. Cesis is a small town and therefore you can see everything in a day. You probably have some time left to see some of the beautiful countryside and explore one of the nearby hiking or cycling trails.

Suggested by Ellis from Backpack Adventures

Best Day Trips from Riga, Latvia | image: River with green forest in Gauja National Park
Photo by Bradley

Gauja, Latvia

A day trip from Riga to the Gauja National Park can be one of the best ways to spend the day away from the capital. Take a breath of fresh air away from the bustling tourists and city crowds in the oldest and largest national park in Latvia.

With impressive biodiversity, different landforms, natural springs, and all-around gorgeous sceneries, there are lots to discover over 91,000 hectares of nature oasis. The sandstone outcrops and cliffs are one of the most famous attractions in the park, with colorful structures formed up to 350 million years ago. Gutmanala is a well-known grotto, the largest one in the Baltic states, while Kalejala is the longest one. As it stretches along the beautiful Gauja River, you will stumble upon various cliffs, including Erglu and Kuku, made of sandstone on dolomite on their banks.

Moreover, there are more than 500 cultural and historical sites in the park, varying from castle mounds and churches to windmills and manor houses. Araisi Lake Castle, for instance, is a reconstructed settlement site from the 9th century.

Getting here from Riga is extremely easy as there are regular trains and buses every hour. It would take roughly 2 hour 40 minutes by train and 3 hours by bus. And if you have rented a car, the drive to Gauja National Park is only 1 hour 40 minutes.

Suggested by Bradley from Dream Big, Travel Far

Best Day Trips from Riga, Latvia | image: Hill of Crosses covered in crosses
Photo by Annick

Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

If you are looking for the best day trips from Riga, Latvia, you happened in the right place! Because you are about to discover one hidden gem held as one of the most beautiful destinations for a day trip from Riga. Of course, you cannot miss it.

Although there is no real history behind the origin of Lithuania’s Kryžių Kalnas or the Hill of Crosses is covered by thousands of metal and wooden crosses with charm. 

Located outside the northern city of Šiauliai, the Hill of Crosses is reachable in a two-hour car ride from Riga. The entrance tickets cost 4,00EUR as a contribution to keeping this place alive.

The very first crosses started to appear in the 19th century, and they’ve kept appearing ever since. People placed them here whether for mercy or being thankful that their wishes came true.

With time this place becomes home on the growing mound of religious fervor. Although the state tried several times to take it down, this unusual magical site endures as a powerful testament to devotion.

Hurry up on visiting it before the State win and proceed with removing the HIlls of Crosses. Don’t forget to stop at the Pokaini Forest, an ancient holy site, to breathe in all the energetic air. And to have lunch at the Jaunpils medieval pub, part of the oldest castle’s section.

Suggested by Giorgy aka the Goofball from GEXTREMETRAVEL 

HOT TIP: Schedule your Hill of Crosses and Rundale Palace trips together since they’re in the same general direction.

Best Day Trips From Riga, Latvia | image:  front of Vizium
Photo by Kristine

Ventspils, Latvia

Ventspils is a charming town full of flowers and fountains located on the western coast of Latvia, some 2h from Riga. You can go by bus, but a car is preferable. There are tons of free parking all over town, so no need to worry!

Honestly, there are so many things to do in Ventspils that they are hard to fit in a day trip. But if you don’t have more time to spare, these are must-dos.

Enjoy the Ostas Ielas Promenade with fountains and sculptures. There, you get a great view of the sea gate and the port. The medieval Livonian Order Castle is located on the promenade as well.

The most interesting are sculptures of buoys and a ship propeller that were actually taken from the sea. And there’s a Pilot Ship that you can go up on!

Make sure to not miss Lielais square. There’s a huge fountain called Fregate Valzivs – it’s very impressive!

Another must-visit place is the Southern Pier – it’s the perfect place for watching the sunset, as you can actually go all the way to the lighthouse.

If you’re more science-minded, go and visit the science centre Vizium – there are interactive exhibitions there. And even if you don’t care about science, go on top of the building’s roof, as it offers an incredible view of Ventspils.

Other interesting activities are the Open-air museum, Adventure park, and Anchor park (full of old anchors), but they require quite a lot of time.

You’ll notice plastic cow sculptures all over the city – that’s because Ventspils has joined the International Cow Parade twice! There are actually 27 cows in Ventspils – how many did you spot?

Suggested by Kristine from Wanderlust Designers

Best Day Trips From Riga - snow covered aerial view of Tallinn, Estonia.
Photo by Kenny

Tallinn, Estonia   

Tallinn is the capital city of Estonia – together with Latvia, it is one of the three former Soviet nations along the Baltic Sea. The two cities are connected by train, and it is also possible to travel from Riga to Tallinn on a sightseeing tour bus.  

Tallinn is a great place to visit as it is now under travelers’ radar for being an up-and-coming travel destination. Its picturesque old town captures a unique cultural scenery that could be competed on foot in a day. 

Plan your walking tour in Tallinn Old Town at the Town Hall Square – the area is filled with iconic landmarks, cathedrals, and buildings in various architectural styles and religious backgrounds. Check out Saint Olaf’s Church, Saint Mary’s Cathedral, and Aleksander Nevski Cathedral as you walk through the streets and alleys. Take a stroll along the Walls of Tallinn, these medieval walls are built for hundreds of years, and the trails also lead to one of the most impressive viewpoints in Tallinn, the Toompea Hill. The viewpoint offers a panoramic view of the old town and the modern district’s skyline to the Baltic Sea and beyond.  

If you are visiting the city during the holiday seasons, get in the festivities at the markets at the Town Hall Square and have a taste of the delicious local cuisine; Tallinn enjoys one of the best value-for-money living standards in Europe, and so Tallinn is also a great place to have a fine-dining experience at some of the high-end restaurants or cafes, the prices are lower than the same level in other European countries.  

Suggested by Kenny from Knycx Journeying

Do you have a favorite Day Trip from this list? Let us know below!

If you’re interested in more posts about the region, check these out:

Happy travels!
Annick, The Common Traveler

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10 Best Day Trips From Riga, Latvia: The Common Traveler shares 10 recommended day trips from Riga. Explore Latvian beaches, historic castles, and adventures such as bogshoeing, and bobsledding! Click here!

#riga #latvia #cesis #bobsledding #bogshoeing #jurmala #rundale #tallinn #hillofcrosses #gauja #sigulda #salapsils #ventspils