If you have the energy and the nerve, you can do what the famous Australian traveller Graham Anderson did — in July 2008 he traversed the whole of Latvia on foot, from the Lithuanian to the Estonian border, covering 385 kilometres in 11 days, following roads and wooded nooks alike.
Anyone can embark on similar journeys after studying the map. Guides published by the Latvian countryside tourism association Lauku ceļotājs can be helpful. Lauku ceļotājs offers week-long hiking routes: along the Baltic coast or in the Gauja National Park. For instance, a week-long journey would take off from Liepāja (transportation from Riga is provided for tourists) and end up all the way in Jūrmala. The birdwatcher’s paradise at Lake Pape, the blue cows of Jūrkalne, Slītere National Park, the sandstone caves at Riežupe, fishing villages and many other sights are available on this hike.
Being a coastal country, Latvia offers wonderful hiking options along the seashore. Lauku ceļotājs recommends a number of routes along the Livonian shore: within two or three days, you can hike through fishing villages at Kolka, Mazirbe, Sīkrags and Melnsils.
Near Liepāja it is possible to see the steep Baltic shore bluff that begins a few kilometres north of Pāvilosta and ends shortly before Ošvalki, extending some 20 kilometres in total. The shore bluff is especially impressive following powerful spring storms.
An eight-day hike through the Gauja National Park also includes a bicycle ride and a boat trip, letting you enjoy the picturesque landscape of the banks of the Gauja. On this tour you can also visit the nature park in Līgatne, featuring wild Latvian animals and Sigulda, dubbed the Switzerland of Latvia.
When going on an extended hike in Latvia, it is useful to know that nearly every corner will have a nature trail. Slītere is a true paradise for nature lovers: the largest national park in Latvia, located in the extreme north-west of the country. Lauku ceļotājs has developed nine enjoyable routes. Animal watching platforms can be accessed here and guided excursions are available by previous appointment (e-mail Lauku ceļotājs at firstname.lastname@example.org). The hiking route totals 40 kilometres, but it is possible to make a longer trip, covering 90 kilometres. Admittedly, it has been designed for motorists, but a true wanderer should not require more than a week to complete it.
Two- or three-day hikes can be undertaken around Lake Lubāns, Latvia’s largest lake; the route totals 50 kilometres. This is a location popular with bird watchers, rich in wetlands and fish ponds (at Nagļi and Īdeņa). This is a course for experienced hikers, since long distances have to be covered and no public transportation is available – unless you are able to negotiate the transportation of your belongings with owners of overnight accommodations. This stretch can also be covered by bicycle. A unique two-day hike (46 kilometres) is along the bends of the Daugava near Krāslava, where the main river of Latvia makes eight loops, and the route takes you through the ancient river valley of the Daugava. Especially noteworthy along this route is the Slutiški Old Believer village featuring intricate wooden architecture with carved ornaments.