In the last years Latvia won itself a name of a popular long-weekend destination with Riga as a main attraction. However, there are so many beautiful places in Latvia that deserve the attention of the tourist: from amazing nature, to beautiful castles and lovely towns.
When I stayed in Riga I had the opportunity to visit the amazing Rundale palace. Unfortunately I was spending only a long weekend in Latvia’s capital and hadn’t the opportunity to explore the country as a much a I wanted. Therefore, I asked other traveller what their favorite day trips from Riga are. And here they are the best recommendations for most beautiful places to visit from Riga on a day trip.
Read more: How to spend the perfect weekend in Riga
- 1 Rundale Palace
- 2 Ethnographic Open-air Museum
- 3 Cēsis Castle
- 4 Salaspils Memorial
- 5 Kemeri National Park
- 6 Sigulda
- 7 Kuldiga
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Here they are, the 7 best Riga day trips!
by Daniela, the author of this blog
Located in the South of Latvia at only 60 km from Riga, Rundale Palace (Rundāles pils) is the perfect day trip from Latvia’s capital. Besides, it’s a good lesson in history. The palace used to be the summer residence of the Dukes of Courland. The Duchy of Courland and Semigallia existed between the 16th and 18th century, when it was annexed to the Russian Empire in 1795.
The Rundale Palace was built between 1736 and 1768 for Ernst Johann von Biron. After Courland was annexed to the Russian Empire, Catherine the Great gifted the palace to the brother of her lover Prince Platon Zubov – Count Valerian Zubov.
The Palace is an amazing example of Baroque architecture with Rococo elements. You’ll visit the Duke’s and the Dutchess’ quarters, a number of ballrooms, and the palace’s kitchen. As the palace is beautifully restored, you’ll be stunned by the lavish furnishings and the exquisite decorations.
There’s no palace without a beautiful garden and Rundale is no exception. The French garden is a meticulously manicured garden in the style of Versailles, and the rose garden offers a unparalleled romantic escape.
How to get from Riga to Rundale Palace
The easiest way to get to the palace from Riga is by car. If you don’t want to rent a car, there are still options to reach the palace by public transport, although you will need to change buses at Bauska and walk for about 5 km. Therefore, I highly recommend that you take an organized trip by bus from Latvia’s capital, if you don’t want to rent a car:
Address: Rundale Palace Museum, Pilsrundale, Rundales pagasts, Bauskas novads, LV-3921 Latvia
Admission fee: June to September: adults – 13 EUR, students – 10 EUR, schoolchildren – 4,50 EUR; October: adults – 11 EUR, students – 8 EUR, schoolchildren – 3,50 EUR; November to March: adults – 8 EUR, students – 6 EUR, schoolchildren – 2,50 EUR; there are different options for a short or a long route with or without the French garden. Consult the website for more info.
Opening times: May & October: daily, from 10 am till 6 pm; June to September: daily, from 10 am till 6 pm (garden till 7 pm); November to April: daily, from 10 am till 5 pm
Ethnographic Open-air Museum
by Michele from MD Harding Travel Photography
The oldest outdoor museum in Latvia is just 30 minutes by car from Riga city centre. Home to traditional thatched roof dwelling houses, craft workshops and a 13th-century wooden church. See how people used to live, watch traditional handcrafts being made such as candle making, horseshoeing and weaving.
Throughout the year you can enjoy local festivals, enjoy the beautiful scenery, if visiting later in the day witness incredible sunsets over the lake and in the winter possibly some ice fishing! It is a very tranquil location even on a busy holiday, with lots of space in a natural pine forest and buildings to explore.
How to get from Riga to the Ethnographic Open-air museum
The museum is located at the outskirts of the town, at some 13 km from the Old Town. Bus lines 1, 28, and 29 stop at the museum. You need to get off at Brīvdabas muzejs bus stop.
Address: Brīvdabas iela 21, Rīga, LV-1024, Latvia
Admission fee: Summer season (May 1 – September 30): adults – 4 EUR, students – 2 EUR, schoolchildren – 1,40 EUR; Low season (October 1 – April 30): adults – 2 EUR, students – 1,40 EUR, schoolchildren – 0,70 EUR;
Opening times: Summer season (May 1 – September 30): daily, from 10 am till 8 pm; Low season (October 1 – April 30): daily, from 10 am till 5 pm, February & March: Wednesday till Saturday, from 10 am till 5 pm
Author’s Bio: Michelle is a freelance professional travel photographer and writer/blogger who provides services in commercial photography and travel marketing. Check out Michelle’s travel blog – Michelle’s Monologues.
by Ingrid from Second-Half Travels
Cēsis is a charming small town that makes an easy and worthwhile day trip from Riga. Its main attractions are two castles: a well-preserved medieval ruin and a newer castle that functions as a museum. Guests are given candle lanterns to explore the atmospheric and dimly lit medieval castle. Visitors with mobility issues should be aware of uneven floors and narrow and steep stairs.
Despite the medieval castle’s romantic aura, it has a tragic past. In 1577, 300 people in the besieged castle committed mass suicide by blowing themselves up with gunpowder rather than surrender to Ivan the Terrible. The castle’s Western Tower offers panoramic views of the surroundings from its loft windows. Don’t miss the multimedia presentation on the castle’s long and bloody history on the third floor.
The new castle, the former gatehouse of the outer bailey, is now a museum with interesting historical and art expositions.
In the summer, the old castle’s courtyard hosts craft workshops with jewelry makers, woodworkers, blacksmiths, and printmakers in period costume. There are also demonstrations of medieval games and archery and cooking stations. Nearby is a medieval kitchen garden with vegetables, herbs, and medicinal plants cultivated in the area 500 years ago.
Both castles are sited in a lovely landscaped park with a pond. There is also a beautiful small Orthodox church, as well as the 13th-century St. John’s Church. In July and August, many weekend concerts and festivals also take place there.
How to get from Riga to Cēsis Castle
There are frequent bus and train connections to Cēsis from Riga. The trip takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes. The historical castle area is in the town center, a 10-minute walk from the combined train and bus station. Cēsis and its beautiful castles make it also the perfect stop on any itinerary around the Baltics.
Alternatively, you can book a day-trip to Cēsis from Riga. Another option is to combine Cēsis, Sigulda and the Turaida Castle in a one-day tour from Riga.
Address: Pils laukums 9, Cēsis, LV-4101, Latvia
Admission fee for the whole complex: Summer season (June 9 – September 30): adults – 8 EUR, students – 4,50 EUR; Low season (October 1 – June 8): adults – 5 EUR, students – 2,50 EUR; each castle or exhibition can be visited separately and you can pay per attraction
Opening times: from 10 am till 6 pm; May 1 – September 30: Monday-Tuesday only the Medieval Castle is open); October: closed on Mondays; November – March: closed on Mondays & Tuesdays
Author’s Bio: Ingrid left software engineering at age 43 to devote herself to language learning and travel. Her goal is to speak seven languages fluently. Currently, she speaks English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, and is learning Russian.
by Bradley and Cazzy from Dream Big, Travel Far
A recommended day-trip from Latvia’s capital is the Salaspils Memorial. It has been erected on the grounds of the former Nazi concentration camp, which existed from 1941 to 1944. It was a police prison and labour camp, where over 20 000 Latvians, Lithuanians, and Estonians were imprisoned.
While it was never built to be a death camp, around 2 000 to 3 000 prisoners had drawn their last breath there. As you stroll through the memorial, you can learn a lot about the camp and the people who died there.
Surrounded by verdant forests, you will face a massive concrete crossbeam measuring 12 metres into the sky. This barrier stands where the camp entrance once did. Meanwhile, there are other installations and monuments aimed to represent the feelings of the camp and offer remembrance.
For instance, “The Unbreakable” is a nod to the spirit of the camp’s prisoners. “The Humiliated” is a large statue crouching behind a tree, a meek attempt at escaping unimaginable horrors. Walking the clearing in The Salaspils Memorial is for sure a harrowing experience and one which any visitor will remember.
How to get from Riga to Salaspils Memorial
The Memorial is located only 18 km from Riga. Just hop on a train to Dārziņi Station and follow the trail into the woods, where a path will lead you to the memorial. While it’s quite a straightforward route, it may be worthwhile to have your GPS in hand. You can watch the sunrise or set behind the monuments, but note that the indoor area has opening hours.
Address: Salaspils novads, Salaspils pilsēta, LV-2117, Latvia
Admission fee: free of charge
Opening times: Exhibition (indoors): April to October, daily, from 10 am till 5 pm; November to March, daily from 10 am till 3 pm; outdoors: 24/7
Author’s Bio: We are Bradley and Cazzy, the travel fanatics behind Dream Big, Travel Far. We’re on a mission to see every country around the world and along the way share our adventures with you!
Kemeri National Park
by Clare from Ilive4travel
Kemeri National Park is a great day trip from Riga and is located only 46 km west of Riga. In total it covers an area of 381 sq km. If you have a car it will take you about 45 minutes to travel to, if not then you can get the train from Riga which will take about 1 hour.
Once you arrive in Kemeri, it is a 3 km walk from the train station to Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk, the most popular hike in Kemeri National Park and my favourite area of the park. Just check the map at the train station for directions. During high season there is bike rental available at the train station or you can bring a bike from Riga.
Great Kemeri Bog Boardwalk is a 3,5-km walk along a wooden boardwalk through the peat bog and wetlands, where you are able to see many different flora and fauna. There is also an observation tower that you can climb to look out and see amazing views of the area. The bog is famous for its mineral water and therapeutic muds.
If you did decide to rent a bike and are feeling fit there is an 80-km cycle route that goes through a lot of the park and where you can cycle through sand dunes, visit Lake Kaņieris, see the sulphur spring pavilion, a lighthouse, and the Kemeri water tower. If you want to cycle a little less then there are options of shorter routes and shorter walks too.
Also make sure you bring lunch and snacks if you are going outside of high season as there are very few restaurants and shops in the area.
How to get from Riga to Kemeri National Park
Get the train from Riga Train Station to Tukumus 1 or Tukumus 2 and get off at Kemeri. The train is every 2 hours, so make sure you plan your trip and how long you will spend in the park before you go. Alternatively, you can book a half-day tour from Riga.
Author’s Bio: My name is Clare, I am from the UK and left my life there to travel the world 9 years ago. I now spend most of time in Peru, the country that captured my heart, though I am usually back travelling around Europe in summer.
by Nicholas from Rambling Feet
A trip to Latvia wouldn’t be complete without a day trip from Riga to visit Sigulda, especially if one enjoys being in nature. If you time your arrival nicely, you can take a shuttle bus to Turaida castle to start your exploration of the area.
The Turaida Castle ruins offer a commanding view of the surrounding area. You can find landmarks associated with the legend of Rose of Turaida, such as the tree she was buried under and the nearby Gutmanis Cave where she was slain. It is no longer permitted but many couples have carved their names into the walls of the cave over the years, with the oldest graffiti dating back to the 1600s.
The sculptures of the Folk Song Hill have a cool backstory: while they represented scenes from Latvian folklore, Soviet authorities did not ban them, having being told instead that they represented the virtues of work.
While the shuttle bus can take you back to Sigulda, if you can keep walking, there is a cable car at Krimulda that takes you across the Gauja valley, over the forest and the river. When you get to the other side, there are two more castle ruins to see, but don’t miss the colourful walking cane sculptures. The canes themselves are a popular souvenir.
If you plan to stay longer or overnight, taking a long walk into the valley is something you can try. The Gauja river also offers rafting opportunities, from leisurely rides to heart-pumping white water action. Sigulda is by no means a summer-only destination; when the snow falls, it becomes a hot spot for alpine and cross-country skiing.
How to get from Riga to Sigulda
From Riga Central Station, there are multiple options to get to Sigulda. The train journey takes about one hour; while buses are more frequent, the ride lasts about 30 minutes longer.
If you don’t feel like organising everything yourself, you can always join one of the day tours from Riga:
Practical info for Turaida Castle
Address: Turaidas muzejrezervāts, Turaidas iela 10, Siguldas novads, Sigulda LV-2150
Admission fee: May to October: adults – 6 EUR, students – 3 EUR, schoolchildren – 1,15 EUR; parking (per vehicle) – 1,50 EUR; November to April: adults – 3,50 EUR, students – 1,50 EUR, schoolchildren – 0,70 EUR; parking – free of charge
Opening times: May to October, Monday-Thursday, from 10 am till 7 pm, Friday-Sunday, from 10 am till 8 pm; November to April, daily, from 10 am till 5 pm
Author’s Bio: Rambling Feet is where Nicholas, a city slicker from Singapore, blogs about his travels to 40 countries (and counting), sharing his love for long walks, motor racing and craft beers.
by Kathryn from Travel with Kat
Kuldiga is a picturesque, historic town in Western Latvia which dates to at least 1242 but may well be much older. A visit here is like stepping back in time.
The best way to discover Kuldiga is on foot wandering aimlessly along its charming, cobbled streets lined with colourful houses, interspersed with pretty parks and gardens. Make your way to the river and see Europe’s widest waterfall Ventas rumba. It may be wide, but it isn’t very high and it’s perfect for a cooling dip in the summer. Don’t miss the traditional textiles being made in handlooms next to the Tourist Information Centre in the town’s main square. You’ll also find the town hall here – an impressive building.
For such a small town, Kuldiga, has some wonderful little restaurants. Both Goldingen Room in the town square and Bangert’s Restaurant, right by the river, are particularly good.
How to get from Riga to Kuldiga
Kuldiga is about a 2-hour drive from Riga (150 km) and although it is possible to get there by public transport it’s a long journey, so hiring a car to is recommended. Take the A10 to Lidums, followed by the P121 to Kuldiga.
Along the way, you can stop off at the Kabile Manor Winery, by prior arrangement, for some wine tasting in a unique and rather quirky setting with a fascinating history. It’s conveniently just off the P121 about half an hour (32 km) before you reach Kuldiga.
Author’s Bio: Kathryn Burrington is a writer, photographer and artist living in the south coast of England. Through her blog she shares her passion for discovering new countries, cultures and cuisines and of course exploring closer to home around England.