Complete Guide To Cesis, Latvia

Cesis is a small, picturesque medieval town located in the North East of Latvia, in the region of Gauja, 90 km North-East of Riga. Famous for its medieval castle and history. Cesis it’s the third oldest place in the whole of Latvia and a stunning little town.

Cesis makes an easy day trip from Riga, but if you have time you can actually spend a couple of days in the area, so you can explore the beautiful Gauja National park.

The Castle of Cesis and the Castle Manor House

The Castle is one of the most impressive places to visit in Cesis and is actually a 2 in 1. Also known as the new and the old castle.  The entrance fee is €5

The first is the dark stone tower of the old Wendencastle castle (1214). The other is the more castle-like 18th-century manor house, which is now a museum.

Make sure you visit the castle prison and climb the Western Tower for a nice view over Cesis. Also, go for a walk through the beautiful castle park.

Wander around the narrow streets of the Old Town

One of the nicest things to do here is wandering around through the narrow cobbled alleys of the Old Town. There are beautiful buildings in traditional style to have a look at, like the City Hall, the Merchant House, and the Princess House.

Cesis town square and St John’s Church

The town square is called the Rose (Rozu) Square. It’s a lovely place with a fountain, restaurants, and cafes.

Located right in the middle of Town Square is St John’s Church. One of the oldest medieval monuments in Latvia.

The Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Church

Cesis’s Transfiguration of Christ Orthodox Church was built in Byzantine style and is blue all over.

How to get to Cesis

Bus line 7730 leaves regularly from the centre of Riga and takes about 2 hours. The ticket costs €4.15. There also are regular trains that connect Riga to Cesis, both duration and cost are similar.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

A guide to Sigulda, Latvia

Sigulda is a town in the Vidzeme Region of Latvia, less than an hour drive from Riga (53KM).

Sigulda makes an easy day trip from the capital but is definitely worthy of a longer stay. Perfect for nature and adventure lovers.

The town sits in an elevated position, overlooking the Gauja River, located in the Gauja National Park surrounded by beautiful forests. Locals call Sigulda the “Switzerland of Latvia“.

I’ve found Sigulda an exceptionally beautiful part of Latvia because of the landscape.

What to do in Sigulda
Turaida Museum Reserve

The Turaida Museum Reserve is home to an impressive red-brick Castle that nowadays houses a museum inside. The Turaida Castle is located across the river valley about 15 minutes drive from Turaida.

The reserve is home to 42 hectares and a variety of buildings that have exhibitions about life in the castle and Latvian history and culture in general.

Sigulda’s Medieval Castle (and New Castle)

Sigulda Medieval Castle

The Medieval Castle, also known as Castle of the Livonian Order is the oldest of the three castles you can find in Sigulda.

The castle was built in the 13th century and suffered damaging during the Polish–Swedish war, so nowadays we have left the ruins.

If you climb to the Castle’s southern and northern towers, the views over the river valley and Turaida Castle are quite nice.

Sigulda views of Gauja

Near the Medieval Castle, you have the New Castle, built in the 18th century. You can’t visit the new castle but you can wander through the grounds.

Peter and Gutmanis Cave

The Gauja River valley is rich in red sandstone and because of erosion, the valley presents several caves and rock formations.

The Gutmanis Cave (Gūtmaņa ala), is the most popular and the largest cave in the Baltic countries. The cave walls are covered in inscriptions dating from the 19th and early 20th century.

Peter’s Cave (Petera ala) is about15 minutes hike from Paradise Hill through the forest.

Paradise Hill, great views and hiking departure point

Paradise Hill also known as Painter’s Hill is located about 30 minutes walk from Sigulda’s historic centre and offers stunning views.

From Paradise Hill, there are many hiking trails crossing the Gauja River Valley to be explored.

Sigulda Cable Car

The cable car connects Sigulda with Krimulda, on the other side of the river valley. From up there you can see the three castles in the area (Sigulda, Turaida and Krimulda).

There’s only one cable car travelling back and forth across the valley, every 20 minutes.

Sigulda Bobsleigh Track

If you like adrenaline visiting the bobsleigh and luge track is a must. A six-storey complex where Olympians also train. Tourists are welcome to have a go (€10).

From Riga to Sigulda

It’s possible to go by train and bus. Both take around 1 hour and 20 minutes and the ticket price is also similar.

Train and bus stations are very close to each other. Personally, I find trains more comfortable, but there is no better solution here, is just a question of personal preference.

By car, it takes about one hour to drive to Sigulda. Finding your way is really easy – just follow the A2.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha