Gauja National Park Offers Visitors Hiking Trails and Charming Towns

14 November 2022

Although people often imagine that Latvia is one of the flattest countries in the world, it takes only one day in the Gauja National Park to change this misconception. Hiking in the Gauja National Park involves climbing up and down countless hills and can feel as tremendous as hiking in the mountains. 

The Gauja National Park is suitable for almost all levels as it offers a wide range of different hiking opportunities. No matter whether you are looking for a challenging adventure, something appropriate for a family with kids, or joining a group of seniors, in the Gauja National Park you will find a hiking trail that suits your needs. 

Guaja National Park features short walks on wooden boardwalks, day-hike routes with trail marks, bushwalking or even camping trips that last for several days. If you feel ready to disconnect from the rest of the world, you can simply immerse yourself in the wilderness and discover the biological diversity of Latvia. If you want to explore the Gauja National Park to its fullest, you should combine natural and cultural sites according to your preferences, creating an unforgettable hiking experience.

Many places of the Gauja National Park have well-made infrastructure, offering wooden boardwalks, picnic tables and resting areas, fireplaces and even small wooden huts for camping. Nevertheless, it is always possible to go on a real expedition and discover wonderful natural treasures hidden deep in the woods far away from the most popular tourist routes.

Gauja National Park invites hikers and travelers not only to explore its natural wonders, but also spend some time enjoying charming towns such as Cesis, Sigulda and Ligatne.

Cesis is the third oldest town in Latvia and is known for its rich cultural life, lovely streets of the old town, architectural heritage and the Medieval Castle. Cesis is a perfect place for taking a break from hiking in order to enjoy local food with a cup of good coffee or a glass of wine and attend some music concerts or art exhibitions. Cesis is famous for the Medieval Festival, Cesis Art Festival, summer night concerts in the park and other cultural events that bring life and joy to this picturesque town. The most popular tourist attraction in Cesis is the Medieval Castle that has a mysterious medieval spirit and offers to travel back in time and explore the castle ruins in candlelight. In Cesis you can find the biggest sandstone outcrop in the Gauja Valley – Eagle Cliffs (Ērgļu klintis), as well as a lovely hiking trail for the whole family – Cirulisi Nature Trails (Cīrulīšu dabas takas).

Sigulda, often described as the Switzerland of Vidzeme, has attracted vacationers and hikers since the 19th century, becoming one of the most popular resorts. Sigulda offers endless routes and hiking trails for exploring the hills along the Gauja River.  Wonderful sandstone outcrops and the most beautiful sceneries in Latvia almost make you believe you have teleported to the Alps. Although Sigulda does not have an old town, it features romantic 19th century wooden villas and two castles – the New Castle and the Medieval Castle ruins. From Sigulda you can have a beautiful view of Krimulda Manor and Turaida Medieval Castle on the other side of the Gauja River, both easily reachable by following a hiking trail. Right between Krimulda and Turaida, the biggest cave in the Baltics – Gutman’s Cave (Gūtmaņala) – is waiting for you.

Ligatne is a unique town that has preserved its old spirit and a very specific 20th century wooden architecture. In the 19th century, a paper factory was built in Ligatne that produced such high-quality paper that was even used for printing money and military maps for the Russian Empire. In order to attract the best workers for the factory, a very practical and comfortable village was built around the factory. It was a self-sufficient village that had everything people needed – electricity, school, hospital, cultural center and other institutions. Going for a hilly walk around Ligatne is the best way to enjoy the unique charm of a former paper mill village. Ligatne is also famous for its cellars carved into rocks that people used and still use for keeping various products fresh throughout the year. In one of these cellars a local wine tasting can be arranged! The Ligatne River has a very pretty coastline, rich with sandstone outcrops and rock cellars – a perfect route for a wild hiking adventure.

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