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How Latvia enthuses children

Family holidays are different because you have to keep both children and parents occupied. Latvia can do that with its combination of junior attractions set in fascinating natural and historic environments. A good sampling of Riga attractions, too.

 

We start in Bauska, where the medieval castle shows this was a Livonian Order stronghold. The castle is beautifully and strategically sited on the narrow strip between the Mūsa and Mēmele rivers, just up from their merging to form Lielupe. The newer 16th century part is the last remaining residence of the Kettlers, Dukes of Kurzeme (Courland) and Zemgale.

Down in the old town, the Bauska Historical and Art Museum is easily the region’s largest. As well as the usual displays, it features special exhibitions like ‘Bauska over the Years and its People in the 20th century’ and regularly updated specialist expositions.

Who doesn’t have a soft spot for rabbits? Head north on Via Baltica for Pilsmuižkungi near Code and Trušu pilsētiņa or Rabbit Town, a new, open-air attraction celebrating the cuddly long-eared creatures. With 65 rabbit breeds, this is one of the most extensive displays in Europe.

A little further north, turn off at Zorģi for the Labrinti Amusement park, a dazzling collection of mazes and other outdoor attractions covering 3.5ha. Pedal go-karts, boating, a chairlift, ball games - you name it, Labrinti has it. And if time runs out you can camp overnight.

North again to Dzimtmisa, where the Dobuļi Minizoo features an ever-growing collection of wildlife, domestic animals and birds from around the world. The waterfowl pond offers a particularly enjoyable stroll or picnic spot.

We are in Riga now where the Lido Amusement Park offers a wide array of energy-consuming and exhilarating activities, not to mention great meals in the massive log building, where the playroom will occupy younger visitors while their parents dine stylishly.

Step straight into the 21st century with the high-tech entertainment on offer at Go Planet. With the most advanced kart track in the Baltics, new-generation Formula1 simulators, the only 4D cinema in eastern Europe, laser games in a multilevel maze and lots more, everyone will find something to do.

The Riga Motor Museum is the largest antique vehicle museum in the Baltics and has a great reputation with enthusiasts for its special, often unique vehicles such as the Kremlin collection, Latvian-made cars, mopeds and bicycles and pre-war and Soviet models.

Easily reached by tram, Riga Zoo celebrated its centenary in 2012 and continues the modernisation of recent years. Perhaps the best example of that is the Giraffe house, the most visited in the whole zoo. The zoo’s many animals, among typical lakeside pine forest and alongside Ķīšezers lake, guarantee hours of pleasure.

Step into the past at the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia, established in 1924 to preserve buildings and artefacts relating to our disappearing agricultural heritage. Ideally sited on the shore of Lake Jugla, museum staff and volunteers present a never-ending show of traditions and festivities.

Take the tree-lined Vidzeme highway to reach Rāmkalni and its rodel track, the longest in the Baltics at 400m with seven unyielding curves into the Gauja valley. There are many other activities, more or less strenuous (anyone for Zorbing or bungee-jumping?), but in winter downhill skiing takes over.

If you like climbing trees, the Mežakaķis Adventure park is for you. ‘Walk’, clamber, slide or glide on and through the trees on this obstacle course which takes full advantage of the steep side of the Gauja valley. Hardly surprisingly, it’s a ski resort in the winter.

Still not had enough action? Then you will find something at the Sigulda Adventure Park to use up your excess energy. Choose from a rollercoaster of a toboggan ride, tree-top obstacle course, catapult, climbing wall, chair lift and more. With many other options for children and, naturally, skiing in winter.

Sigulda has been popular with walkers for more than 200 years and in earlier times a walking stick was obligatory. Later, canes came into vogue and the district developed its own colourful design. When Sigulda marked its 800th anniversary in 2007, the town devoted the whole of what is now Cane Park to a celebration of this unique souvenir.

The Sigulda medieval castle was originally built by the Sword Master of the Venn Order in 1207. The later, Livonian Order convent building with its Gothic apertures and the main gate tower survive and provide a wonderful backdrop for the open-air staging of concerts and festivals in the summer.

Take a seat, relax and enjoy awesome views of the deep, ancient Gauja valley as you ride Sigulda’s Ferris wheel and rise above the tree tops. Gaze at romantic Turaida castle and Krimulda palace/manor across the wide valley. Particularly beautiful when the golden autumn tints the valley.

Our next stops are across the deep Gauja valley and there is only one way to cross - by the 43m-high cable car. Opened in 1969, it is the only one in the Baltic States and provides spectacular views. Those of a hardier constitution may care to take up the offer of bungee jumping from the cable car.

At the base of a sandstone cliff sits Gūtmaņala, the longest internal erosion cave in the Baltics, formed 10 000 years ago by thawing Ice Age waters. Associated with many legends, it is a protected geological object. Its popularity with 19th century tourists is attested to by the signatures carved in the soft stone.

At the top of the valley, the Turaida Museum Park hosts a vast collection of historical artefacts and buildings. One of its iconic symbols is the Dainu kalns sculpture garden dedicated to Latvian folklore. Explore the medieval stone castle, climb its tall tower. The nature trails all over the park reveal rare plants, old water channels and unusual views of the castle.

Finish off your journey with another breath-taking journey through the tree tops at the Meža Reinis obstacle course. If you want to stay grounded, play a round of golf or join in a game of football or volley ball, hire bikes or canoes. Winter time is skiing time.

Included sights

  • Bauska Castle is a typical example of the 15th-17th century military architecture in Latvia. The castle is located in the Town of Bauska, amidst...
    Pilskalns "Bauskas pils muzejs", Bauska district, Bauska, LV-3901
  • Bauskas NM muzejs
    Bauskas novadpētniecības un mākslas muzejs atrodas pilsētas senākās daļas centrā – Rātslaukumā pie dzīvākās satiksmes maģistrāles –...
    Kalna iela 6, Bauska district, Bauska, LV-3901
  • An open-air sightseeing object for both children and grown-ups, with more than 65 rabbit breeds on display. O. Narvils is a professional carpenter...
    Bauska district, Code parish , "Pilsmuižkungi", LV-3910
  • The Labirinti (Labyrinths) Campsite is located 48 km south of Riga in Iecava District, by the A7. The campsite offers all the conditions for...
    Iecava district, Bērziņi, LV-3911
  • Nilsona jaunais voljērs
    A mini-zoo on a farm only 34 km from Riga. A wonderful opportunity to see and cuddle all sorts of small animals - dwarf pigs, rabbits, goats, sheep...
    Iecava district, Ilzene parish, Dzimtmisa, LV-3913
  • Rīga Motor Museum was established on 22 April 1989 on initiative of the Latvian Antique Automobile Club. The Museum collects, preserves, explores,...
    S. Eizenšteina iela 6 (rekonstrukcijas laikā pagaidu adrese Piepilsētas, Ķekavas pag., Ķekavas nov., līdz augustam), Rīga, LV-1079
  • Zoodārza Lauku sētā var samīļot mājdzīvniekus
    The Riga National Zoo was established on 14 October 1912. Since then it has experienced a vareity of ups and downs, but most importantly the zoo...
    Meža prospekts 1, Rīga, LV-1014
  • Craftswoman sewing Latvian ornaments.
    Leisurely walks, skiing in winter, putting yourself in the lives of ancient Latvian farmers and fishermen, discovering the bathhouses used by...
    Brīvības gatve 440, Rīga, LV-1024
  • Rāmkalni has the longest Rodel track in the Baltic’s - 400 m long with 7 curves.
    Inčukalns district, Inčukalns parish, "Vītiņkalni", LV-2141
  • Almost every activity in Sigulda Adventure Park is unique for Latvia and the visitors. They bring such emotions, adventures, surprises and joy you...
    Peldu iela 1, Sigulda district, Sigulda, LV-2150
  • Sigulda castle ruins are a cultural and historical landmark. The construction of the castle began in 1207. It was rebuilt and destroyed in the...
    Pils iela 16, Sigulda district, Sigulda, LV-2150
  • Siguldas Vagoniņš
    Opened in 1969, this aerial cableway is the only one of its kind in the Baltic states. It was built in cooperation between Sigulda and Chiatura, a...
    Poruka iela 14, Sigulda district, Sigulda, LV-2150
  • The Gūtmaņala (Goodman's Cave) grotto is the most popular and vast cave in Latvia. It was formed in the course of 10,000 years by water...
    Turaidas iela 2a, Sigulda district, Sigulda, LV-2150
  • Turaida Museum Reserve is a cultural landmark with special protection status. The Museum Reserve contains a medieval castle, a church, a manor, the...
    Turaidas iela 10, Sigulda district, Sigulda, LV-2150
Last updated: 22.05.2013