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Northern Latvia (Vidzeme)
The natural diversity of Vidzeme provides ample opportunities for leisurely walks along the rocky sea shore, as well as wild boat rides and skiing. Here one can admire the grandeur and splendour of nature’s scenery and feel the ancient power that still flows through the mighty castles and old city streets.
Vidzeme’s seashore is the only beach in Latvia dotted with boulders. The highest peak in Latvia – Gaiziņš – is also found in Vidzeme.
Gauja National Park is entwined by Latvia’s longest river, the Gauja, on whose shores can be found Latvia’s largest cave – Gūtmaņala cave, as well as mythical pine forests and beach cliffs, including the impressive Sietiņiezis.
North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve holds the picturesque coasts of the Salaca and the surrounding area, from Lake Burtnieks and as far as the Vidzeme seashore.
Towns in Vidzeme
Located along the coast of Vidzeme are Saulkrasti, Ainaži and Salacgrīva. The quiet peace of the towns allows for uninterrupted relaxation, to enjoy the rocky shores and cliffs. At the beginning of July, during the Fishermen’s Festival, the coast comes alive with the smells of smoked fish, markets and concerts.
The towns of Gauja National Park are rich with medieval architecture, fascinating natural sights and hills, characteristic of the Gauja River Valley.
Sigulda, one of the most beautiful cities in Latvia, is only 40 km from Riga. Unforgettable views of the Gauja valley open up from the cable car, which connects the two river banks.
Cēsis, with ancient medieval castles, together with the park, lends an urban romantic ambience. The cobbled streets of old town Cēsis have kept their layout from the Middle Ages, preserving the old buildings with red tile roofs, closed courtyards and renovated façades.
Points of interest
Vidzeme is the area in Latvia with the most ancient Latvian castle mounds, medieval castles and manor houses. These have been preserved from various periods in history – the spectacular ruins of the Livonian Order castle in Cēsis, the baroque Dikļi castle near Valmiera, and the Āraiši Lake dwelling - a unique archaeological monument depicting the ancient ways of the Latgalians from the 9th to the 10th centuries.
A number of interesting sights can be found in Līgatne – home to a wooden ferry across the River Gauja, and nature trails where you can visit some of Latvia’s wild animals. At Līgatne Rehabilitation centre, the secret Soviet bunker holds Soviet-era memorabilia and provides for a chilling experience.
An interesting Vidzeme attraction is the only public narrow gauge railway in Latvia still used to transport passenges on the Gulbene – Alūksne route.
Vidzeme is the perfect destination for active recreation seekers. The meandering River Gauja and the rapids of the Amata invite boaters, on the shores of which you can see impressive cliffs and natural wonders. Hiking trails along the rivers are a wonderful place to stroll, relax, and contemplate nature.
Cyclists can travel along the routes in Gauja National Park, the towns, or rocky seashore from Salacgrīva to Tūja.
At Sigulda’s Aerodium wind tunnel you can enjoy a breathtaking flight and, nearby, extreme adventure seekers can test their bravery by bungee jumping from Sigulda’s cable car, which stops right above the River Gauja. For winter fun, many ski runs have been set up around Sigulda, Cēsis and Valmiera.
A mix of history, natural wonders and exciting contemporary entertainment opportunities in Vidzeme make it a desirable destination for families, couples, and seniors.