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Water Tourism in Latvia

Boating on Latvia’s rivers provides a vista of lovely forests, rugged rock formations, and more, convincing every traveler that there is nothing better than recreation in the fresh air. Our rivers are well suited for vacationers with limited boating/rafting experience, with springtime waters or rapids offering the most extreme adventures.

Provincial rivers

Each province of Latvia has plenty of rivers that one can become familiar with first hand - in a canoe or raft. Rivers that will surprise you with something new each time you venture out.

The picturesque banks of the Gauja in Vidzeme

Boating fans prefer Vidzeme Province, where the heralded Gauja River flows along its typically tall sandstone banks. The favorite stretch from Cēsis to Sigulda takes 2-3 days.

It goes through the Gauja National Park, which provides modern overnight shelter in a number of locations.

Breathtaking scenery awaits vacationers not only from Cēsis to Sigulda. Forewarned here: swimming or wading in the Gauja is not advisable as shallow waters can suddenly turn deep and dark, and whirlpools are not uncommon.

Flowing swiftly - the Amata

In the springtime and following the autumn shower season, the choice of canoeists and rafters undoubtedly is the Gauja River tributary Amata, flowing at a brisk pace. The Amata is also certainly one of Latvia’s most scenic rivers, highlighted by the awe-inspiring Zvārte’s Rock.

Start your trip at Melturi, where the river crosses the Rīga-Pskov highway, but set as the finish - just before the Cēsis-Līgatne highway bridge, at the "Amata" retreat. This 15km stretch takes three hours, but here again travelers are warned of possible difficulties along the way. Alas, this enticing body of water can be treacherous, especially at Lustūzis, where the deep gashes in the ridge there tell the story.

Charming Kurzeme towns along the Abava

There is much to see as the Abava River curves through territory of cultural and historic significance; along the banks - cliffs, meadows and a number of geological "monuments". The recreation seeker chooses the river’s route from Kandava to Renda with such attractions as Devil’s Rock /Velnakmens/ and the ancient sacred ground known as the Swedish Hat /Zviedru cepure/. On the opposite bank of the Abava at Sabile is the popular Pedvāle Outdoor Art Museum - a lovely sculpture garden.

Also - make a stopover at the Abava waterfall, and the sandstone caverns known as Mara’s Chambers.

Daugava’s bends in Latgale

The noted wide bends of the Daugava River between Krāslava and Daugavpils in eastern Latvia are geologically significant and historically fascinating as its both banks are home to such attractions as an old church completely constructed of wood, the Old Believers’ village at Slutišķi and Makrova Castle Mound. From atop the ridges at Slutišķi and Ververi, don’t miss the spectacular view of the river gorge and the mound at Vecpils where Dinaburg Castle once proudly stood.

Boaters are forewarned that travel could be hampered by choppy waves caused by strong headwind.  

Southern border river in Zemgale

The Mēmele River, the dividing line between Latvia and Lithuania, starts its route in Lithuania at Rokiskis. Flowing calmly for the most part, downstream from Suseja, small rapids appear. Be sure to have your passports or IDs at hand, if you plan to step out on the banks of the neighboring country.

Canoe/raft rental

Rental options exist at the most popular rivers; check out these Internet sites:

Camping/boating centre at Žagarkalns, the raft rental outlet "Gaujas krasts" and others, offer a raft with a plywood deck meant for 10 people, where meals can be prepared.

Planning your trip

Which of the many routes to take on your water adventure can be examined at regional tourism information offices and boat rental outlets, in the guidebook for water tourism published by the Rural Tourism Association (Ceļvedis ūdens tūristam), and on the joint Latvian-Estonian portal for boaters at www.upesoga.lv

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