Backpacking Latvia

Do you fancy visiting a metropolis far away from mass tourism? Latvia has unique, natural scenery, and plenty of largely undiscovered spots. The pearl of the Baltic States offers spectacular landscapes and lots of places of interest. Have fun exploring our ideal backpacking route for Latvia.


Important Basics

Language (Latvian)
EnglishLatvian
HelloSveiki
Goodbyeuz redzēšanos
Thank youPaldies
Yes
No
Capital city

Riga

Form of Government

Parliamentary Republic

Best Time to Visit

June to August

Fun Facts
  • The Ventas Rumba waterfall is 250 metres wide, making it the widest waterfall in Europe.
  • Latvia has internet connections that are among the fastest on the globe.
  • Before the introduction of the euro in 2014, Latvia used to have lats.

Cities

Riga

Welcome to Riga, the capital of Latvia. The city is also known as "the Paris of the East". You can explore Riga’s city centre, which is also a walk-in open-air museum. Riga Cathedral is located in the old town – it’s an impressive sacral building which combines Romantic, early Gothic and Baroque styles. Close nearby is the House of the Black Heads, which has had its place in the old town for 700 years.

The Konventhof district is also worth mentioning. If you like legends, you should visit the Three Brothers, which is a building complex consisting of three closely adjoining buildings. You can also visit the Cat House, which is opposite the Large Guild. And don’t forget the Bremen Town Musicians statue, located between St. Peter’s Church and the cathedral. St. Peter's Church is one of the oldest buildings of medieval monumental art in the Baltic States and offers a breath-taking view of the city from the church tower.

Riga Castle is on the banks of the Daugava River and is the residence of the President of Latvia. The Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, located directly on Lake Juglas, is also worth mentioning: here, you can admire more than 100 historical buildings. Lastly, you can try the delicious birch sap at the central market.

You can stay in a hostel in Riga for as little as 16 euros per night in a 6-bed dorm.

Cape Kolka

The northernmost point of the Courland Peninsula is also the border between the Baltic Sea and the Bay of Riga. There’s a really great beach here and in spring you can watch the bird migration, which is a real spectacle.

The Cape Kolka lighthouse was put into operation on July 1, 1875 and is 21 metres tall. You can walk along the nature trail and enjoy the scenery. There’s also a visitor centre where you can get refreshments and buy some souvenirs. Be sure to visit the Liven Coast! Between Melnsils and Lūžna, you’ll pass Kolka. There, you can look at some old fishing villages and see how fish was caught in the past. Make sure you try the freshly smoked fish!

You can stay overnight in Cape Kolka in one of the local hostels. One night in a double room would cost you 28 euros.

Kuldiga

Kuldiga, also known as Latvian Venice, has one of the most impressive landscapes in Latvia. The city is located on the Venta River and is included in the UNESCO Tentative List. There are large nature parks and wide streets which are great for cycling, or you can go horse-riding and hiking undisturbed. In 2007, Kuldiga was named the best tourist destination. The Venta Rapid is a 249-metre-wide waterfall, and you can go salmon fishing there.

Kuldiga also has the longest brick bridge in Europe. In the historical centre, there are small town buildings which are very well preserved and date from the 17th and 18th centuries. The highest waterfall in Latvia, which is 4.5 metres high, is not far away. The Kuldiga Museum is also nearby and stands on the site where the first castle of the Order of the Brothers of the Sword used to be. Only the cellar vault and some individual fragments of this castle wall remain. The famous sand caves of Riežupe is a large underground labyrinth of caves and also the largest in Latvia.

The old town is filled with beautiful wooden buildings. There are inviting cafés and restaurants selling local specialities. St. Catherine has a special significance in Kuldiga; not only is she the patron saint of the town and featured in Kuldiga's coat of arms, but the main church was also named after her. The Edole Castle is about 20 km westwards of the main church. This is still inhabited and houses a museum.

You can stay overnight in Kuldiga in a hotel. A single room will cost you 30 euros per night.

Rundale

Roughly 165 km further east of Kuldiga is Rundale. The cultural centre here is Rundale Castle and Museum, a baroque castle built in 1765-1768. In the eastern part of the castle, you can visit the golden hall, the white hall, and the large gallery. The duke lives in the central area and the duchess lives in the western wing.

The castle has a French garden, which is about 10 hectares in size. Inside, there’s a beautiful avenue and a labyrinth, while adjacent to it there’s a beautiful rose garden covering 1 hectare of ground. The cultivation of roses from the 18th century to the present day is showcased there. The horse stables and the park are surrounded by a specially excavated canal filled with water. An amphitheatre known as "the green theatre" can also be found in this establishment. In total, Rundale Castle has 138 rooms and has three wings. It’s referred to as the little Versailles, and it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

A night in a single room in a local hotel in Rundale costs 15 euros.

Sigulda

53 km away from Riga and picturesquely situated by the Gauja River, in Sigulda you can relax and get a good dose of culture. Starting with the Turaida Museum Reserve, you can explore an exciting museum and admire the medieval castle. The view over the Gauja Valley is breath-taking. The Tarzan Adventure Park has toboggan runs and many other attractions, making it one of the largest adventure parks in the Baltic States.

In Sigulda there are some ruins from the monks, while for adrenaline junkies there’s the rare Vučko vai Varde bobsleigh track, which has 16 curves and is 1420 m long. In winter, you can go down the mountain with Vučko, and in summer with Varde. You get a really great view from the Paradize Mountain – the panorama is really unique. You should also take a cable car to get a magnificent view of the Gauja Valley. The cable car is 42 m above the ground and if you want, you can even try a bungee jump! The New Castle was built exactly where the old one stood and now houses the Sigulda City Council. Take a ride on Zerglis, the only cable car in the Baltic States, to experience a speed of up to 60 km/h over the Gauja Valley.

During your stay in Sigulda, you can stay in one of the local hostels. For 22 euros, you can get a single room and relax ahead of your next few days.

Gauja

Latvia has many different national parks, the largest and oldest being Gauja National Park. Indescribable nature, various caves and lakes can be found there, as well as countless hiking trails to Cīrulīši Nature Trail, near Cēsis and about 45km from Sigulda. It’s a little bit difficult to find this untouched spot of nature, but if you walk through the campsite and across the small bridge behind it, the trail starts in a somewhat hidden part of the forest. You’ll find lakes with natural springs that you can drink from.

At the most southwestern end of the national park is the Turaida castle ruin. The castle, which was built in the 13th century, was a permanent institution in the region for over 500 years, but it burned down completely in 1776. Its rebuilding began in the 50s, and it now houses a museum that describes the history and events surrounding the castle. You can get a great view of the lakes surrounding the national park if you take the rewarding climb up the small mountain.

Hostels near the national park are available for as little as 9 euros a night in a 10-bed dorm.


Riga

Riga

Welcome to Riga, the capital of Latvia. The city is also known as "the Paris of the East". You can explore Riga’s city centre, which is also a walk-in open-air museum. Riga Cathedral is located in the old town – it’s an impressive sacral building which combines Romantic, early Gothic and Baroque styles. Close nearby is the House of the Black Heads, which has had its place in the old town for 700 years.

The Konventhof district is also worth mentioning. If you like legends, you should visit the Three Brothers, which is a building complex consisting of three closely adjoining buildings. You can also visit the Cat House, which is opposite the Large Guild. And don’t forget the Bremen Town Musicians statue, located between St. Peter’s Church and the cathedral. St. Peter's Church is one of the oldest buildings of medieval monumental art in the Baltic States and offers a breath-taking view of the city from the church tower.

Riga Castle is on the banks of the Daugava River and is the residence of the President of Latvia. The Ethnographic Open-Air Museum, located directly on Lake Juglas, is also worth mentioning: here, you can admire more than 100 historical buildings. Lastly, you can try the delicious birch sap at the central market.

You can stay in a hostel in Riga for as little as 16 euros per night in a 6-bed dorm.

Cape Kolka

Cape Kolka

The northernmost point of the Courland Peninsula is also the border between the Baltic Sea and the Bay of Riga. There’s a really great beach here and in spring you can watch the bird migration, which is a real spectacle.

The Cape Kolka lighthouse was put into operation on July 1, 1875 and is 21 metres tall. You can walk along the nature trail and enjoy the scenery. There’s also a visitor centre where you can get refreshments and buy some souvenirs. Be sure to visit the Liven Coast! Between Melnsils and Lūžna, you’ll pass Kolka. There, you can look at some old fishing villages and see how fish was caught in the past. Make sure you try the freshly smoked fish!

You can stay overnight in Cape Kolka in one of the local hostels. One night in a double room would cost you 28 euros.

Kuldiga

Kuldiga

Kuldiga, also known as Latvian Venice, has one of the most impressive landscapes in Latvia. The city is located on the Venta River and is included in the UNESCO Tentative List. There are large nature parks and wide streets which are great for cycling, or you can go horse-riding and hiking undisturbed. In 2007, Kuldiga was named the best tourist destination. The Venta Rapid is a 249-metre-wide waterfall, and you can go salmon fishing there.

Kuldiga also has the longest brick bridge in Europe. In the historical centre, there are small town buildings which are very well preserved and date from the 17th and 18th centuries. The highest waterfall in Latvia, which is 4.5 metres high, is not far away. The Kuldiga Museum is also nearby and stands on the site where the first castle of the Order of the Brothers of the Sword used to be. Only the cellar vault and some individual fragments of this castle wall remain. The famous sand caves of Riežupe is a large underground labyrinth of caves and also the largest in Latvia.

The old town is filled with beautiful wooden buildings. There are inviting cafés and restaurants selling local specialities. St. Catherine has a special significance in Kuldiga; not only is she the patron saint of the town and featured in Kuldiga's coat of arms, but the main church was also named after her. The Edole Castle is about 20 km westwards of the main church. This is still inhabited and houses a museum.

You can stay overnight in Kuldiga in a hotel. A single room will cost you 30 euros per night.

Rundale

Rundale

Roughly 165 km further east of Kuldiga is Rundale. The cultural centre here is Rundale Castle and Museum, a baroque castle built in 1765-1768. In the eastern part of the castle, you can visit the golden hall, the white hall, and the large gallery. The duke lives in the central area and the duchess lives in the western wing.

The castle has a French garden, which is about 10 hectares in size. Inside, there’s a beautiful avenue and a labyrinth, while adjacent to it there’s a beautiful rose garden covering 1 hectare of ground. The cultivation of roses from the 18th century to the present day is showcased there. The horse stables and the park are surrounded by a specially excavated canal filled with water. An amphitheatre known as "the green theatre" can also be found in this establishment. In total, Rundale Castle has 138 rooms and has three wings. It’s referred to as the little Versailles, and it’s one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

A night in a single room in a local hotel in Rundale costs 15 euros.

Sigulda

Sigulda

53 km away from Riga and picturesquely situated by the Gauja River, in Sigulda you can relax and get a good dose of culture. Starting with the Turaida Museum Reserve, you can explore an exciting museum and admire the medieval castle. The view over the Gauja Valley is breath-taking. The Tarzan Adventure Park has toboggan runs and many other attractions, making it one of the largest adventure parks in the Baltic States.

In Sigulda there are some ruins from the monks, while for adrenaline junkies there’s the rare Vučko vai Varde bobsleigh track, which has 16 curves and is 1420 m long. In winter, you can go down the mountain with Vučko, and in summer with Varde. You get a really great view from the Paradize Mountain – the panorama is really unique. You should also take a cable car to get a magnificent view of the Gauja Valley. The cable car is 42 m above the ground and if you want, you can even try a bungee jump! The New Castle was built exactly where the old one stood and now houses the Sigulda City Council. Take a ride on Zerglis, the only cable car in the Baltic States, to experience a speed of up to 60 km/h over the Gauja Valley.

During your stay in Sigulda, you can stay in one of the local hostels. For 22 euros, you can get a single room and relax ahead of your next few days.

Gauja

Gauja

Latvia has many different national parks, the largest and oldest being Gauja National Park. Indescribable nature, various caves and lakes can be found there, as well as countless hiking trails to Cīrulīši Nature Trail, near Cēsis and about 45km from Sigulda. It’s a little bit difficult to find this untouched spot of nature, but if you walk through the campsite and across the small bridge behind it, the trail starts in a somewhat hidden part of the forest. You’ll find lakes with natural springs that you can drink from.

At the most southwestern end of the national park is the Turaida castle ruin. The castle, which was built in the 13th century, was a permanent institution in the region for over 500 years, but it burned down completely in 1776. Its rebuilding began in the 50s, and it now houses a museum that describes the history and events surrounding the castle. You can get a great view of the lakes surrounding the national park if you take the rewarding climb up the small mountain.

Hostels near the national park are available for as little as 9 euros a night in a 10-bed dorm.

Latvia Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Riga
Home - Riga
Flight
50
6-bed dorm
16
2. Riga
Riga
-
6-bed dorm
16
3. Riga – Cape Kolka
Riga – Cape Kolka
Rental car
Double room
28
4. Cape Kolka
Cape Kolka
-
Double room
28
5. Cape Kolka
Cape Kolka
-
Double room
28
6. Cape Kolka - Kuldiga
Cape Kolka - Kuldiga
Rental car
Private room
30
7. Kuldiga
Kuldiga
-
Private room
30
8. Kuldiga - Rundale
Kuldiga - Rundale
Rental Car
Private room
15
9. Rundale - Sigulda
Rundale - Sigulda
Rental Car
Private room
22
10. Sigulda
Sigulda
-
Private room
22
11. Sigulda – Gauja NP
Sigulda – Gauja NP
Rental Car
10-bed dorm
9
12. Gauja NP
Gauja NP
-
10-bed dorm
9
13. Gauja NP
Gauja NP
-
10-bed dorm
9
14. Gauja NP – Riga – Home
Gauja NP – Riga – Home
Rental Car + Flight
50

Total price.

Flights 100,00
Transportation 200,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 262,00
Total562,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Pankuki:  Latvians love pancakes and like to start the day with them. Whether you pair them with a salty filling like cheese or meat, or a sweet filling like syrup and fruit, pankuki are a must in Latvia.

Soups

Skabenu Zupa: the sorrel soup is a speciality of the country and is especially popular in winter.

Chalodni Borscht: a cold beetroot soup you should try at least once when travelling through Latvia.

Main courses

Rye bread:  Latvians are very proud of their rye bread, and you can order it in restaurants with different spreads or as a side dish.

Potato salad: in Riga, a very special potato salad is made with the fish lamprey. The fish is used to prepare every salad, giving it a completely new taste.

Pork and peas: a dish for the festive season is a pig’s head with yellow peas. It’s usually served with potatoes and other vegetables.

Piragi:  these bread pockets are usually filled with bacon and then baked. Very simple but very tasty.

 Potato pancakes: in Latvia, a lot is made from potatoes and so are the potato pancakes. They’re traditionally served with pickles and sour cream. This is a typical Latvian meal.

Drinks & Snacks

Riga Black Balsam: this black herbal liqueur has a very bitter taste and is often drunk after meals.

Kvass: Latvians love their bread beer. Kvass is similar to a malt beer, and you can try it on every street corner.

Latvia

In Latvia, payments are made in Euros. See prices for certain products and the cost of living below:

Cost of living

Food

Free time

Personal hygiene

Dos

Free walking tours in the cities: these are great for backpackers – totally free and very informative.

Just do it: perhaps you haven’t heard much about Latvia yet and you’re still unsure? Just do it! The country has way more to offer than you might think - go and see for yourself.

Laima sweets: a speciality you’ll love. Buy some to take home, you won't regret it.

Don'ts

Using mobile phones in churches: in Latvia, there are lots of Russian Orthodox churches, where there’s a strict ban on the use of electronic devices.

Going into the forests alone: Latvia’s forests are very beautiful and suitable for hiking, but never go alone, because you can get lost faster than you think.

Neglect history: Latvia has an interesting history that you should not neglect. There are numerous museums that can teach you a lot about it.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Temporary passport

National ID

Temporary national ID

Child’s pass

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert Koch Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Since Latvia is in the Schengen Area, there aren’t regular checks on persons at the EU's internal borders. It’s still obligatory for EU citizens to carry an identity document showing their nationality, however. Please also inform yourself on the current entry regulations regarding the Corona virus. Current information about this can be found at your country’s Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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