Located in Latvia's northeast, the vast Gauja National Park is home to winding rivers, sandstone cliffs, and dense unspoiled forests. On this active week-long itinerary, you'll explore the enchanting capital of Riga before heading into the wilds of the park for a series of unforgettable hikes. In between, you'll explore the medieval gem of Cesis, visit the perfectly preserved 19th-century village of Ligatne, and finish your adventure on the windswept shores of the Baltic Sea.

Highlights

  • Discover Riga's Art Nouveau & medieval architecture
  • Explore Gauja National Park, the largest & oldest national park in Latvia
  • Take daily hikes through unspoiled nature & Baltic forests
  • Step back in time at the Araisi Archaeological Park
  • Take a candlelit tour of the atmospheric Cesis Castle
  • Trek along the shores of the Garezeri Lakes to reach the Baltic Sea

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Riga Riga
Day 2 Art Nouveau Pearls & Medieval History in Riga Riga
Day 3 Hiking in Gauja National Park, Transfer to Līgatne Līgatne
Day 4 Hike the Līgatne River & Nature Trails, Transfer to Cēsis Cēsis
Day 5 Tour Medieval Cēsis, Hike the Cirulisi Nature Trails Cēsis
Day 6 Hike Along the Garezeri Lakes & Baltic Sea, Transfer to Riga Riga
Day 7 Depart Riga  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Latvia

Riga Old Town
Riga's charming Old Town

Welcome to Latvia! Upon arrival at the airport, transfer to your hotel and get settled in before heading out to explore. The Baltic Region's largest city, Riga was founded more than 800 years ago, and its atmospheric Old Town is home to many medieval buildings, Art Nouveau homes, and Gothic churches.

Day 2: Art Nouveau Pearls & Medieval History in Riga

Explore Riga's atmospheric Old Town with a guided tour

Explore the many charms of Riga this morning with a guided walking tour. Admire the pearls of Art Nouveau architecture found on Alberta and Elizabeth Streets, then enter the Old Town to see medieval landmarks like the 14th century Riga Castle; the Lutheran Dome Cathedral, which was built in 1211; the Swedish Gate, a fortification built in 1698 as part of defensive city walls, and the Three Brothers, a trio of homes dating to the 15th-17th centuries.

Continue to the Central Market to explore this spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Site. Opened in 1930, it takes up 778,000 square feet (72,300 m) and remains the largest municipal market in Europe. Here you can wander through the former Zeppelin airship hangars and browse for smoked meats, pickled vegetables, sweets, and trinkets. End your tour at one of the market's many sit-down eateries for a relaxed lunch, then spend the afternoon exploring on your own.      

Day 3: Hiking in Gauja National Park, Transfer to Līgatne

Sandstone cliffs along the Gauja River

After a morning transfer, you'll lace up your walking boots for a day of hiking in Gauja National Park. Your guided trek will take you on a 10-mile (17 km) journey amid stunning landscapes, past the biggest cave in the Baltics and the historic castles of Krimulda and Sigulda. Along the way, you'll experience some of the most spectacular views in all of Latvia, with the Gauja River curving between hills as far as the eye can see. 

Get back on the road in the afternoon and continue to the forested village of Līgatne. During a walking tour around this lovely village, you will learn about the paper industry and life amongst its charming, 19th-century streets. As night falls,  you can enjoy an optional Līgatne wine tasting that takes place in the candlelit Anfabrika cliff cellar before settling into your hotel for the evening.    

Day 4: Hike the Līgatne River & Nature Trails, Transfer to Cēsis

Wooden boardwalks through the forests of Līgatne

Set out this morning for a 9-mile (15 km) hike along the Līgatne River. This area is rich with sandstone rocks, cliffs, and outcroppings, adding colorful beauty to the landscape. Turning in from the river, you'll continue through the Līgatne Nature Trails, where you'll have the chance to spot some of Latvia's diverse wildlife (the park is home to lynx, wild boars, owls, moose, and brown bears).

In the afternoon you'll pay a visit to the Araisi Archaeological Park, a recreated ancient settlement from the 9th-10th centuries located on an island in the middle of a lake. Learn about Latvia's ancient history and pagan roots before getting back on the road and continuing to Cēsis, where you'll get checked into your hotel and rest up for tomorrow's adventure.

Day 5: Tour Medieval Cēsis, Hike the Cirulisi Nature Trails

Take a candlelit tour of Cēsis Castle

Spend this morning exploring more of Cēsis, a medieval gem and the third-oldest town in the country. During a guided walking tour, you'll experience the 800-year-old history visible in its streets and ancient castle complex. Start with a visit to the charming ruins of its historic castle, learn about the area's rich history, and feel the medieval atmosphere by candlelight. Continue to the evocative Old Town to see highlights such as Roze Square, Princess House, and St. John’s Church.

Later on, join your guide for a scenic 9-mile (15 km) hike along the Cirulisi Nature Trails. Skirting the ancient Gauja River Valley, the route will also take you by the Rucamavots Spring, where water bubbles through the red sandstone cliffs and makes a special "growling" sound.

Day 6: Hike Along the Garezeri Lakes & Baltic Sea, Transfer to Riga

Follow secluded, sandy beaches along the Baltic coast

Transfer west today to embark on a 9-mile (14 km) hike along the shores of the Garezeri Lakes and the Baltic Sea. Meaning "Long Lakes" in Latvian, Garezeri consists of a series of interconnected waterways surrounded by dense pine forests and unspoiled nature. The hike then follows a stretch of fine, sandy beach along the sea coast, making for a beautiful final excursion to end your trip.

At the end of the day, you'll transfer back to Riga, where you can opt for a memorable farewell dinner at a local restaurant known for its seasonal specialties and contemporary Latvian cuisine.  

Day 7: Depart Riga

Goodbye, Riga!

Today you'll say a bittersweet farewell to Latvia. If there's time in the schedule, enjoy one last stroll around Riga's Old Town. Then you'll transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. Until next time!   

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