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Skiing and snowboarding
Although Latvia is not a land of mountains, its steep slopes and snow-rich winters are just perfect for rapid runs with skis or on snowboard. And while it may seem quite unusual, alpine skiing is one of the most favourite of all winter-time activities in Latvia, ski tracks are located in almost every municipality in addition to well-appointed and illuminated tracks where one can engage in cross-country skiing.
The majority of the ski tracks in Latvia are well-appointed and equipped with modern ski lifts, as well as provide skiing opportunities for children and beginners. Hiring of equipment and the availability of experienced instructors complements the availability of dressing rooms, cafés and even hotels and cottages. The Latvian Skiing Tracks’ Association ensures that skiing tracks are in order and that these comply with all quality and safety requirements. And now we will introduce you to the best skiing possibilities in Latvia.
Tracks in Sigulda
Without doubt Sigulda may well be considered as Latvia’s meccafor alpine skiing. The steep hillsides of the Gauja Valley in the Gauja National Park are just perfect for the winter time activities and for this very reason the only bobsleigh and luge track in the Baltics have been built there – hosting such international competitions as the World Cup Series and the FIBT World and European Championships.
The several alpine skiing tracks in Sigulda and in its surroundings ensure excellent service. For instance, the best alpine skiing and slalom track is the Pilsētas trase (The City Track). It hosts two tracks - one of these is more than 350 metres long, but the difference in height is 90 metres. The tracks are illuminated, and it is considered that this place has the best snowboard park in Latvia.
But Kordes trase (The Korde Track) is considered to be one of the most extreme alpine skiing and snowboard tracks in Latvia. This track (length 275 metres, with a difference in height of 84 metres) is a real challenge and an enormous pleasure for the most experienced of skiers.
Kaķīškalns (The Kitten Hill) is one of most active alpine skiing courses. The longest track there is 320 metres, but the difference in height is 80 metres. The adventure park Mežkaķis (The Wildcat) is also a part of the complex.
Reiņa trase (The Reinis Course) is located not far from Sigulda, near Turaida, and is proud to host one of the most varied possibilities for active recreation not only in winter but also in summer. There are three alpine skiing tracks, an outstanding cross-country skiing track, and a snow amusement park for children; snow tubing is available, and during the summertime one can play golf there as the Reiņa trase hosts a modern nine-hole golf-course.
Tracks in the Gauja Valley
Sigulda is not the only place that boasts the steep hillsides of the Gauja Valley which are perfect for winter sports. One of the tacks in the territory of the Gauja National Park is Rāmkalni near Murjāņi. Rāmkalni offers a wide variety of recreational activities not only in winter but also in the summer.
In Cēsis near the river Gauja, one can find Žagarkalns (Brushwood Hill) which is one of the most popular skiing places in Latvia. Several alpine skiing tracks have been built there, of which the longest is "Green Do" hill, where the track is 400 meters long. A superb snowboard park, a border-cross track and a Big Air springboard, as well as cross-country skiing tracks are all located there.
Close to Žagarkalns is Ozolkalns (Oak Hill) which boosts the longest skiing tracks in Latvia – three tracks that are 500 meters long and both skiers and snowboarders can use them. But in Valmiera the most popular skiing place is the recreation centre Baiļi which offers several tracks for skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and provides sauna and accommodation possibilities.
Tracks in Vidzeme
The most elevated highland in Latvia is Vidzeme highland with its steep hillsides that are also ideal for alpine skiing and fast runs. Ērgļi is the location with the greatest number of skiing tracks and thus it is considered as one of the winter sport centres of Latvia. One can ski on Pārsteigumkalns (Surprise Hill), on Briežu kalns (Deer Hill), and not so far from Ērgļi there is– Gaiziņkalns – Latvia’s highest point at 311 metres above sea level. Several well-established snowboard tracks such as Dāmu paradīze (Ladies Heaven), Ošu grava (The Ash Glen) and Mazais muļķītis (Little Dopey), as well as Golgāts (Calvary), Mazais Golgāts and Rampas trase (Small Calvary and The Track of Rampa) have all been built there. Not far from Gaiziņkalns is the Lido kalns with a number of illuminated skiing tracks, a snowboard park, recreational entertainment for children and grown-ups, and a superb hotel and a restaurant all of which are located there. Bākūžkalns and Rēķu kalns offer three exciting tracks, as well as other tracks near Madona and Ērģļi.
Well appointed skiing tracks are also located in Vidzeme near the river Daugava, for instance, on Cigoriņkalns near Pļaviņas, and at Mežezers.
It is possible to ski at locations on the other side of river Daugava as well. For instance, at Egļukalns (Fir Hill), Sāra kalns at Sventes municipality or in the municipality of Anīkste, or on the slopes by Latgale’s many lakes, for example, on the tracks at Saulskalns (Sun Hill), or on the tracks at Kombuļi municipality and elsewhere.
Madona and its surroundings is one of the most popular Latvian winter recreation
areas, we even call Madona the Latvian winter capital. More winter recreation centres please find here.
Tracks in Kurzeme
Great skiing opportunities are to be found on the highlands of Kurzeme. For instance, near Tukums it is possible to ski at the Jēkaba grava (Jacob’s Glen) which boasts several tracks for skiers, snowboarders, children, and beginners. Milzkalns (The Giant’s Hill) is one of the most popular skiing resorts in Latvia. There are eight various slalom tracks to be found at Milzkalns that offer variety in length and level of difficulty, and a Snowboard Park is also located there.
Skiers and snowboarders have become fond of Kamparkalns (Kampars Hill) near Talsi where cross-country skiing tracks are to be found. Zviedru cepure (The Swedish Hat), which is located in the picturesque Abava Valley not far from the fascinating provincial town of Sabile, hosts great skiing tracks and provides various entertainments.
A most unusual skiing track, Lemberga hūte (Lembergs’ Trilby), is located in Ventspils. It is an artificially created hill almost 50 metres high and is named after Ventspils’ long-serving major Aivars Lembergs’ favourite head gear – the trilby. The Lemberga hūte location also offers tracks for snowboarders and cross-country skiers.
Tracks near Riga
Exciting alpine skiing possibilities are available in Baldone which is located just 40 km from the centre of Rīga. Not so far away are the Mežkalni (The Woodhills) and Riekstu kalns (The Nut Hill) tracks. Mežkalni hosts several tracks with different levels of difficulty, but one of the most splendid track locations near Rīga is to be found at Riekstu kalns. It offers a 350 metre long and very steep and active track, as well as a border-cross track and a track for beginners.
Tracks for cross-country skiers
Winter cross-country skiing tracks and equipment rental is also available in Rīga in the picturesque Mežaparks. One can also enjoy cross-country skiing every winter in the centre of Rīga on the well-appointed track at Uzvaras (Victory) Park in Pārdaugava.
Just near Rīga the golf course Viesturi in Jaunmārupe provides an opportunity to enjoy nature and the magic of snow-capped forests. Every winter several cross-country skiing tracks are built there and the rental of equipment, as well as café and sauna facilities are also available.