There are many excellent day trips from Riga.

The capital of Latvia is a really lovely city with plenty of places to visit and things to do to keep you entertained for days. The good news is that it is incredibly easy to get out of the city to explore the rest of the country. Indeed, Latvia is relatively small and easy to move around, so you can get to see quite a bit even if all you do is just day trips from Riga. 

From beaches to forests and bogs; from rural villages to beautiful palaces and ancient castles, if you do decide to get out of Riga you are bound to find something to suit your travel taste. 

In this post, I highlight the best day tours from Riga and share a few tips to help you make the most of your day out of the city.

Cesis Castle day trips from Riga

Cesis Castle is an easy day trip from the Latvian capital

15 Amazing Day Trips From Riga

Cesis

The lovely Cesis is one of the nicest places to visit in Latvia. Perfect for a weekend away from Riga, it’s also one of the best destinations for day trips from Riga.

Located inside Gauja National Park at around 90 km from Riga, this small traditional town boasts a lovely church, a stunning medieval castle that once was the headquarters of the Livonian order, and a more modern one with a museum and nice exhibits. There is a beautiful train station building, narrow alleys where it’s pleasant to walk, lovely shops and a few nice restaurants and cafés for a good meal and a drink. 

It takes about one and a half our by car to get from Riga to Cesis. The same trip by public transportation lasts a minimum of 3 hours – so your are better off renting a car to go there. Alternatively, you can opt for a guided day trip from Riga that also includes transportation. These are the best options:

Gauja National Park

Gauja National Park is a lovely place to enjoy Latvia’s nature

Gauja National Park

Gauja National Park is one of the loveliest places you can hope to visit while in Latvia. The largest national park in the country, this is a place of incredible biological diversity. You will be able to explore a pristine forest of virgin pines, admire rivers – the main one is Gauja River – and cliffs, and if you are lucky you’ll also be able to see various species of mammals and birds. 

Scattered around the park you will find monuments, gorgeous traditional homes, manors, castles and windmills, and small yet interesting museums such as the chair museum. It is a perfect place for a hike but also to bike, kayak along the river, or for a simple picnic. 

Located inside the park you will find the cities of Sigulda and Cesis. 

To make the most of the park, you are better off heading there by car and then bike around – it’s vast and there is a lot to see. You can get a quote for your car rental here.

Alternatively, you can opt to join a guided tour. These are the best options:

Sigulda

Easily one of the most beautiful towns in Latvia, and one of the most pleasant day trips from Riga, Sigulda is at just 53 km from the capital, inside Gauja National Park. 

Sigulda is a particularly interesting place to visit during the Midsummer celebrations, in June. You can go to the park a bit outside of town and join in the festivities. During the fall, it’s a great place to experience the foliage. And if you go in the winter, it’s a good place for skiing, with some steep-ish mountain (at least by Latvian standards!).

Throughout the year, you can explore the nice castle and Turaida Museum Reserve. 

You can easily get to Sigulda by car, or join a guided day trip departing from Riga. These are some good options:

Sigulda Latvia

Sigulda is best visited for the Midsummer celebrations

Ligatne

Ligatne is at around one hour drive from Riga. It really is just a tiny village, where there once was a paper mill (now no longer in use). The village was built in the 20th century and it is a classic examples of village built around a factory, with housing, a school and a clinic for the people working in the mill. 

Scattered around the village there are small caves and cellars carved in the rock, which were (and in some cases still are) used to store household goods or for industrial needs. 

Yet, the most interesting sight in Ligatne is the Soviet Bunker that was built in the 1960s (it was only completed in 1982) to protect Soviet elite in case of a nuclear attack. The bunker was hidden by the construction of a sanatorium right on top of it. When the Soviets left Latvia, the government took control of the bunker, which was opened to the public in 2003.

You can easily get to Ligatne by car. It takes a bit over two hours to get there by public transportation. Alternatively, you can go there on guided day trips from Riga. These are some good options:

Cena Moorland (Babite Bog)

Cena Moorland is home to the second largest bog in Latvia. The bog can be easily reached in less around 45 minutes drive from Riga, but you really need a guide to walk around, as it is easy to get lost and you need appropriate gear to walk around, or else you may literally drown in the bog. I recommend hiring Purvu Brideji, a small local company that organizes regular tours both in the summer months and in the winter, when the bog is covered in snow.

Babite Bog

Babite Bog is at a short distance from Riga

Slītere National Park

This national park is the perfect place to visit during the spring and summer, when days are a bit longer, as it is a bit of a trip from Riga. It’s the kind of place where you can go for a coastal hike, and where you will find lovely fishing villages where you will be able to taste local specialties.

It takes around two and a half hours to get to Slītere National Park from Riga by car. The best way to visit is actually on an organized day tour. These are two excellent options:

Kemeri National Park

Another gorgeous national park of Latvia that can be visited on day trips from Riga is Kemeri. At less than one hour drive from Riga, this is a great place for birdwatching, and you’ll also be able to enjoy a walk in the forest, across the bog (there are boardwalks or you can go in if you have the appropriate gear) and to admire the lakes. 

Within the park, you will find some local spas where you will be able to relax with some traditional treatments such as mud baths. 

You can get to Kemeri National Park by car, or opt for an easy day tour. These are some good options:

day trips from Riga Jurmala

Jurmala is one of the best places to visit on day trips from Riga

Jūrmala

One of the most pleasant day trips from Riga is to Jurmala, a popular resort town right on the Baltic sea. It truly is a lovely place, with pristine white sand beaches stretching for a whopping 33 km, pine forests and just a few hotels. During the summer, you can enjoy a walk along the promenade. During the winter, cross country skiing is a popular thing to do. Sunsets are gorgeous in any season.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Jurmala is located at just 25 km from Riga. You can easily get there by train from Riga – it takes around 30 minutes. Get off at Majori station.

You can visit Jurmala on guided day tours from Riga. These are some good options:

Jelgava

Jelgava suffered a lot of damage during WWII, yet it’s still an interesting place to visit and an easy day trip out of Riga. Among the places of interest there is the Holy Trinity Church – you can get impressive views of the city from the tower’s observation deck. Don’t miss Academia Petrina, home of the first university in Latvia and now hosting the Jelgava History and Art Museum. If you have time, you may also want to take a look at Jelgava Palace, currently home of the Latvian University of Agriculture. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can get to Jelgava from Riga by train. It takes around 50 minutes.

Tukums

Tukums is a nice place to visit, with a pretty market square and quaint center where you will find lovely art galleries, nice small cafés and a couple of pretty churches. There used to be a Livonian castle, but this now is just a tower which currently hosts a museum. Another place of interest is Durbes Pils, a 17th century manor house that in Soviet times was used as a sanatorium. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can get to Tukums by train from Riga, it takes around one and a half hour. Make sure to get off at Tukums 1 stop. Alternatively, you can opt for this guided tour.

Dobele

Dobele is a perfect place for day trips from Riga. The most popular attraction there is the castle, which is now crumbling but still a fascinating sight. In the town center, you will also find a beautiful Lutheran church. It’s a pleasant small town to walk around. 

Dobele is also home to the largest lilac garden in Europe, which was first established in the 1950s.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: You can get to Dobele from Riga by bus. It takes about one and a half hours.

Rundale Palace Latvia

Rundale Palace is a perfect place for day trips from Riga

Salaspils

Salaspils is one of the best places for day trips from Riga. You can start your day at the National Botanic Garden, which has the largest collection of plants and flowers in the Baltics. It’s a very large place, open throughout the year, and it is right by the train station.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Tickets for the National Botanic Garden cost €3. The ticket counter is right next to the train station and also act as tourist information desk. 

TIP: If the weather is nice, the best way to explore Salaspils is by bike. You can easily rent one once you get there.

Another place to visit in Salaspils is Salaspils Concentration Camp, built by the Nazis in 1941. Thousands of people, including children, worked as slaves and died in the camp – of starvation, disease, or executed. A mass grave was found with the remains of more than 600 children. 

The Rumbula Forest Massacre Memorial was created in 1967 to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: Salaspils can be easily reached by car or by train – it takes just around 30 minutes.

Talsi

Talsi is one of the nicest small towns in Latvia, and you can get there in around two hours from Riga. It’s the kind of place where you can enjoy walking the cobbled streets; you can marvel at the beautiful buildings; walk around the lake and – most importantly – enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. 

Make sure to visit the District Museum and Creative Yard – a place used by local artists to create and exhibit their art. 

Liepāja

Located on the west coast at around 200 km from Riga, Liepāja is the third largest city in Latvia. You can go for a walk on the beach, enjoy the lovely center, or visit the Karosta military prison, which was used during Soviet times.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: It takes around 3 hours to drive to Liepāja, and 4 hours to get there by train. If you intend to go there on day trips from Riga, make sure to leave nice and early!

Bauska and Rundale Palace

Bauska is a nice little town at about one hour from the capital of Latvia, so perfect for day trips from Riga. It has a nice History and Art Museum, and a Livonian castle which, though much in ruins, is a great place to get views of the town below and its surroundings. 

At about 16 west of Bauska you will find Rundale Palace. Known as the Versailles of Latvia, this was built in the 18th century as the summer residence of the Dukes of Courland. Located at around 16 km west of Bauska, this baroque style palace if famous for the gorgeous gardens and the intricate stuccos. You can go on a guided tour or explore on your own. 

PRACTICAL INFORMATION: It takes about one hour and 20 minutes to get to Rundale Palace by car. You can also get there by bus. You’ll first have to catch a bus to Bauska and then change there. The overall journey time varies depending on how long you have to wait for your connecting bus. If you prefer going on a guided tour, you can book it here.

Further readings about Latvia

Make sure to read my other posts about Latvia:

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Find out where to go for the best day trips from Riga - via @clautavani

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