For day 2 of our almost free holiday to Latvia, we go super budget and get out of the city and explore Latvia itself.
The best way to explore the Baltics is by bus. Latvia especially has a very extensive and cheap bus network that will take you throughout the country for less than €5 if booked properly.
For our second day we’d strongly recommend taking the bus from Riga to the town of Cesis in the Gauja National Park to the east of Riga. Whilst Cesis is very beautiful and picturesque (with its own fine castle) we’d also suggest getting the connecting bus to Turaida and paying €4.80 to entre and explore Turaida castle.
The Castle is located within a small Latvian park on the ridge of a valley. The park itself is a fascinating collection of Latvian heritage. The park features a number of small, Latvian style country buildings such as houses, barns and even a church that is available for weddings.
Further in you’ll come across the Folk Song Park on Dainu Hill. This is a sculpture park designed to celebrate Latvian heritage and folk songs through Sculptures. Here you’ll be able to walk among a collection of sculptures and statues carved out of rock.
The Folk Song Park is dedicated to Krisjanis Barons, a famous Latvian Folklorist who spent his life researching and publishing Latvian Folk songs. The park sits on the ridge of a valley and we’d recommend taking the Krisjanis Barons trail which is a wooden staircase going down the mountain through the Gauja National Forest and ends up at the Gauja River at the bottom.
The trail can be accessed at the bottom for free so if you would like to explore the park for free you can take the stairs up to the folk park and enjoy it for free. However, we would encourage you to spend the €4.80 and get to see the castle up close and from the tower.
The castle itself stands above and overlooking the river Gauja and its’ valley. It was built in the 13th century and various towers, walls and fortifications were added to it until it was abandoned in the late 18th century. The castle then fell into ruin until the late 20th century when it was slowly and gradually restored to its former glory.
There are four stages to seeing the castle. The outer wall, the courtyard, the tower and the museum. I would start by walking the outer wall which gives great views of the castle and surrounding countryside then exploring the courtyard and the beautiful ivy walls surrounding it.
The jewel in the castle’s crown is the tower. After 3 flights of narrow stairs you emerge into the top of the keep to spectacular views of the both the valley below and the museum behind.
Guided tours of the park and the castle are available and if you want to see more there are also castles in nearby Cesis and Sigulda. However, the castle and park are the two areas that we recommend experiencing, then wander and get lost in the area before finding your way back to the bus to Riga for sunset and dinner.
To wrap up, we’ve enjoyed a cultural and unforgettable weekend in Latvia, stayed in 4 star accommodation and eaten well for under £100 per person:
|Flights (2 people return)||£67.00|
|Hotel (4* for 2 nights)||£60.00|
|Museum of the Occupation||£0.00|
|Lido 3 course meal||£25.00|
|Bus to and from Turaida||£6.00|
|2nd night meal||£25.00|
Total: £189 for a Luxury Holiday for 2.
It would be rude not to…
Last modified: 21st March 2016
I’ve been wanting to see Latvia for a while now. I’ve heard Estonia is absolutely beautiful and by your pictures it looks like it was! Maybe one day I’ll make it there!
As a huge budget traveler, I absolutely adore this article!
Hoping to visit the Baltics real soon!
PS Very nice photos 😉