Arrival, transfer to the hotel, relaxing time to recover
Full day in Riga
Riga is the largest city in Latvia and the Baltic states. No doubt- the most interesting area in Riga- the Old Town. You will see all major and most interesting sights including Great and Small Guild buildings, one of the most beautiful buildings – the Blackheads House, we pass dominating building of the Cathedral, you will be acquainted with St George’s and St John’s churches, dwelling houses of Three Brothers, The House of Black Cats, you will walk through Swedish Gate, you can admire probably the best view of the Old Town from the tower of St Peter Church, we walk by the Castle, Latvian parliament plus many other.
There are also sights outside the Old Town area. We will walk or drive in the city center viewing parks, the Freedom Monument, Art Nouveau buildings, elegant white building of National Opera, Latvian University.Drive across the River Daugava for the great view of the Old Town is recommended and of course we just must to get to the Central Market located within short walk from the Old Town.
Riga- Jurmala- Kuldiga
We leave Riga to arrive after short drive in Jurmala, largest resort in Latvia and Baltic states. Jurmala has been known as resort since the XIX Century. A short tour of Jurmala will be a combination of drive and short walks. We walk along Jomas iela, main pedestrian street in Jurmala, of course we must take a look at 33 km long white sand beach.
Exclusive private villas and luxury apartment houses can be found in Jurmala. Traditidional wooden houses decorated with wooden lacy carving, finely divided (often stained stained-glass) windows,verandas and rooftops are a Jurmala feature. Pine trees, sandy dunes and the sea create cozy atmosphere of the town.
Our tour continues towards Tukums, a small charming town in Kurzeme, cultural and historical region in the western part of the country. Several optional stops en route (Jaunmoku palace few hundred meters from main road, fortified Slokenbeka Estate (now museum of Latvian roads) and other. A short stop in Tukums to enjoy charm of that small provincial town. After this our route leads you through the most picturesque valley of Kurzeme, the primeval valley of Abava River formed by the melting glaciers thousands years ago. We will explore several small towns of Kurzeme - formerly vital centres of the Dutchy of Courland. First we will visit Kandava, probably most „mountainous“ town in Latvia, where you can observe small old town with winding streets, the hills where once stood castles of Curonian tribes and German knights, the oldest masonry bridge in the country. Then our tour takes you to Sabile, small village type town having unique sight- northernmost vineyard. A short walk to see that phenomena. And now it is time to drive Kuldiga, main destination during our visit to Kurzeme.
Kuldiga is a small town, but there is located one of the best preserved historic town areas in Latvia. Namely the Old Town of Kuldiga represents the only such (17th and 18th centuries) townscape in Latvia. . Latvian National Commission for UNESCO has described the town in the following manner:“Kuldīga is a rarity among the North-Eastern Europe provincial towns. The old town of Kuldīga keeps the best preserved and least transformed heritage of the 18th-19th century town environment with characteristic landscape of clay tile roofs, historical building ensemble, picturesque street perspectives,outstanding nature - the primeval valley of the river Venta, the widest waterfall (240 meters) in Europe, The impressive landscape is harmonically improved with the massive brick bridge across the river Venta. That old bridge is the longest brick bridge, except railway bridges, in Europe with vaulting construction“.
Your tour covers all most important sights of Kuldiga: New Town Square, Liepaja iela (main througfare in the historical part, now pedestrian street), Old Town Hall (17th cent), the hill Rumbaskalns where once stood castle of Livonian Order, the Aleksa stream flowing in some places right next to the walls of the houses, you can enjoy view of low ( up to 2 m), but widest waterfall in Europe, you can cross the old masonry bridge and you can discover other sights.We will spend relaxing evening in that charming small Latvian provincial town and surroundings.
Kuldiga- Saldus- Bauska
Kuldiga- Liepaja- Bauska
That we have a choice to pick up longer route via Liepaja or more relaxing journey through small villages and countryside of Kurzeme.
Liepāja is the third largest city in Latvia with population of 80,000 people. Liepāja and located on the western coast of the country approx. 90 km from Kuldiga and 230 km from Bauska.
We will do a walk in the city center starting with visit to the local market Petertirgus, afterwards viewing Peter `s house, Art Nouveau buildings (Baznicas iela), the Old Custom House. A small narrow street leads to the oldest port warehouses.We walk onto Skolas ieala to the Liepaja theater, the oldest public theater in Latvia. Soon we reach Holy Trinity church, which is famous for its organ (it was the largest in the wolrd till 1912). Unusual and unique Port of Alexander III, often referred as Karosta (War Port) is located north of the city center. It is largest military area in Latvia developed by the Russian Empire and was later used by Soviet Army, former military port and camp occupies one third of Liepāja.
After lunch drive to Bauska region to visit largest baroque palace in Latvia and the Baltic states- the Rundale palace. Our journey from Liepaja to the palace takes approx 3 hours. The palace ensemble was built over 250 years ago and was designed by same famous architect B.Rastrelli who designed also the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. We need at least 1,5 hours to see beauty of the palace rooms, including the Gilt Hall, the White Hall, and the Great Gallery among them and we need also time to have relaxing walk in 10 hectares large French style park.
If visit to Liepaja seems too long we can replace it with journey through the countryside of Kurzeme. We can include in the itinerary Edole castle , Jaunpils castle (medeival tavern), visit to the Saldus confectioanry (with tasting their sweet product in special shop), awarded rock garden in Dobele and also beautiful garden of Pēteris Upītis (you can enjoy largest collection of lilacs in Europe or you can picked fruits by yourseleves). Arrival in Bauska region to visit the Rundale palace.
Bauska- Salaspils-Koknese- Jekapils- Daugavpils. We leave Bauska region and to take you by Via Baltica to Salaspils, a small town not far from Riga. During WWII a large concentration can was builit in Salaspils by the Jewish labourers captured by the Nazis and used for 3 years. Optional vist to the Salaspils memorial, probably best wellknown memorial in Latvia to the victims of Nazims.
Afterwards our route goes along the right bank of the Daugava. Jekabpils is main city and cultural center of cultural regin Selonia, also konwn as Augšzeme. Jekabpils is an unusual small town in Latvia, because historical parts of the city - Kurstpils and Jekabpils are separated by the river Daugava, largest river in Latvia and Baltic states. Main sight- the Krustpils Castle with its Soviet Army room, mediaeval underground tunnels and exhibitions held in the castle tower is worth a visit. Other places of interest: historical center with 19th century one- story wooden houses and late 19th century and early 20th century red brick houses with the luxurious decorated facades of profiled details. Soviet time air base was located 3 kilometers northeast of Jekabpils
Optional trip to discover areas south of Daugava river. Viesite- narrow gauge museum, Garsene- mansion (Gārsenes muiža -19th century), Berbene esate, , Svente mansion (lovely mansion, accommodates guest house, nearby a war museum (incl. Some Soviet tanks), an interesting castle like mansion Kalkūnes muiža
And now will arrive in Daugavpils on the Daugava river, the second biggest city in Latvia with it’s 103 000 inhabitants, of which only 1/5 are ethnically Latvian. Situated in the south-east corner of Latvia, close to Russia (120 km), Belarus (33km) and Lithuania (25 km). The best well-known sight- well preserved castle from the 19th century (built in 1810-1887), occupying over 100 hectares, the best preserved such type of castle in the Eastern Europe. Historical center of Daugavapils: great local attraction after the castle. 19th century architecture is concentrated between the river and railway station. Riga iela (street) was one of the first pedestrian streets in Latvia. House of Unity, dominating structure in the city center was erected in 1937 as a symbol of nation’s unity and harmony. At that times it was the most sophisticated and one of the largest buildings erected in the Republic of Latvia. Daugava protective dam built over 170 years ago and still protecting city from flooding. The Church Hill -churches of four different confessions- including House of Worship owned by one of largest Russian oldbeliever`s communities in Latvia and the Saints Boris and Gleb Cathedral which can hold 5,000 people, being the biggest Orthodox church in Latvia.
Day 6 Daugavpils- Aglona- Rezekne- Ludza- Aluksne
Slutišķi – optional visit to the village of oldbelievers. Ethnographical museum, located between Daugavpils and Kraslava). Aglona, a small village 40 kilometers of Daugavpils is home to the country's most important site of Christian pilgrimage. The Basilica of Our Lady of Aglona from 18th century with miraculous icon.Pilgrims like come to Aglona throughout the year, but August 15 is special day in that area. It is the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary attracting tens of thousands of pilgrims. Rezekne, a town on seven hills, „capital“ of Latgale, the easternmost cultural region of Latvia. A short stop to walk to the castle hill and also to the famous monument „Latgale’s Māra“.Nearby picturesque countryside with lakes.
We continue drive for Ludza, oldest town in Latvia. Main sight- historical center of the town built and developed in the 19th century- low rise buildings, mostly wooden constructions.Visit to Ludza Craftsmen Centre. The center is network representing more than 100 craftsmen in the district and aims at providing crafts experiences to visitors. Latgale is famous for its patchwork, different kinds of knitting, crochet, carvings in wood, wattle work, ceramics, including black ceramics and other items.
Optional visit to Teici Reserve— Latvia's largest raised bog. Note: drive combined with hike in that area takes at least half day. We also consider visit to Gaizinkalns, highest hill of the country with watch tower. Drive to Madona region for accommodation.
Day 7 Madona region- Cesis- Sigulda- Riga
Last day begins with visit to Cesis, one of the most historic looking small towns in Latvia after Kuldiga. City center is full of cobbled streets, wooden houses and parks centered around Cēsis castle ruins. The medieval castle ruins are the symbol of Cesis and, together with its park, create the romantic atmosphere in the town. Once the castle in Cesis was most important castle of the Livonian Order (German knights), it was the residence for the masters of the order since and thus played important role in Latvia that period. Nowadays it is not only symbol of the town, it is one of the most impressive ruined castles in Latvia. You can enter the standing part to walk through narrow passages with a candle light accompanied by the castle guide.
The cobbled streets of Cesis Old Town have preserved the their layout from the Middle Ages, keeping also the old buildings with red tiled roofs, closed yards, and restored facades of the buildings. We will take a walk along narrow streets of the historical center to see medieval St. John church, largest church in the Northern Latvia. Our route leads you to the Rose Square (Rožu Laukums- former market square), Harmony House, old Town Hall, House of the Countesses, Unity Square, the new Castle, the Nut Hill, Rauna Gate, the Old Cesis Brewery, characteristic wooden buildings from the 18th to 19th centuries and other sights.
We recommend a short side trip to the Āraiši Archaeological Museum Park consisting of medieval castle ruins and Meitu Island in the Āraiši Lake with the reconstructed small (or even tiny) 9th-11th century Latgalians Stone and Bronze Age dwelling houses, more than 20 of them can be visited. Āraiši Lake Fortress is an only Stone or Bronze Age renovated settlement (more correctly: part of the settlement) in Latvia and the Baltic states.
Afterwards we head to Sigulda, small but picturesque towns in Latvia to walk between remaining walls of the medieval Sigulda castle, to enjoy beauty of Sigulda new Castle (Kropotkin Palace) and its lovely park, to admire romantic view from the keep of Turaida medieval castle, to have a relaxing walk in the sculpture garden, to discover path to the Gutman cave or other historical and natural objects.
Transfer to Riga, accommodation for one night,
Transfer to the harbor, airport, rail station or bus station for departure
Important comment ! The itineray above is an example only. We can add extra days or to the contrary we can make the tour shorter. We can include additional areas, sights, activities or it is possible to exlude less interesting sights, regions, events. Please contact us to discuss a customized program to fit your interests and needs.
Maximum cost is calculacated for a couple of people and it is price per person. The fee includes and English speaking driver/guide, local guides in certain area,a car or minibus, gasoline, driver`s accmmodation, your accmmodation
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