Why do we travel? Whether you choose to see the country you live in or go on further explorations, one of the reasons for travelling is active recreation. Meaning, various relaxing, challenging, favourite and new experiences. Latvia is a great destination for those who want to relax in nature and truly enjoy its majesty. Moreover, Latvia can boast beautiful nature parks and trails, diverse landscapes, pristine beaches and modern active recreation opportunities.
Various options for hikers
There are numerous nature trails for enthusiastic hikers in Latvia, starting with well-maintained, short trails that can be conquered even by the youngest hikers to wilder trails that are suitable for extreme adventure seekers. Jūrtaka can be singled out as one of the most challenging hiking routes. It is part of the long-distance hiking route E9 along the Baltic Sea coast, which starts at the Lithuanian-Latvian border in the village of Nida in Latvia and ends at the port of Tallinn in Estonia. The total stretch of the trail is 1200 km, of which 580 km are in Latvia, and 620 km in Estonia; the route can be done in both directions, and Tallinn can also be chosen as the starting point. The route is divided into days and levels of difficulty – this allows everyone to choose the distance most suitable for them.
Then again, you can choose a more unique hiking experience by hiking in the marsh. Special trails have been built in several marshes in Latvia; it is possible to be accompanied by instructors, and you can rent special shoes for bog walking. By preparing accordingly for each season, it is possible to go hiking in Latvia all year round. Each season, the nature brings different kinds of magic and challenges.
If you are a cyclist, use a bicycle route map and go on longer or shorter rides around Latvia. You can comfortably get to know Latvia by riding a bicycle, pedal where you want, stop whenever and wherever you want. Moreover, when riding a bicycle, natural landscapes and sights can be seen better than when speeding along by car. There are several routes available in Latvia that are suitable for cyclists. In addition, several international cycle routes pass through Latvia, such as the Baltic Sea Cycle Route, the East Europe Route and the Iron Curtain Trail. Also, there are several bicycle rental services available in Latvia, which rent bikes for both shorter and longer trips. A unique experience can be felt in Sigulda, where you can ride through Gauja National Park with special wide-tyre electric bicycles. Regardless of whether you have chosen to go on a short tour of Riga along the promenades or you are an experienced bicycle tourist who wants to test his/her strength, Latvia gives you all the possibilities.
Water pleasures and active recreation opportunities on the water
Experience the diverse active recreation opportunities in Latvia! To have the joy of swimming, go to a spa or water park, for example Līvu Akvaparks in Jurmala, which is one of the largest water parks in Northern Europe. Or to the Ventspils Water Amusement Park, where you will find the eternal summer and everyone can enjoy water fun to their liking. Summers in Latvia are a great time to enjoy the Baltic Sea coast and swim in the sea. Both in the Gulf of Riga and on the coast of Kurzeme, there are public beaches with cafes, restaurants and other recreational facilities, as well as campsites, which are located a little further away from cities and allow you to enjoy nature.
In the spring, enjoy a boat trip along the River Gauja, which is popular with water tourists. It is known for its beautiful banks rich in sandstone outcrops. There are plenty of rivers in Latvia that are suitable for boaters of different levels of skill, and it is possible to boat at any time of the year, as long as the river you have chosen is not frozen. Latvia also has more than 100 lakes located in its national parks and are great places for canoeing, kayaking and getting on SUPs. In summer, you can fish on the shores of the sea, lakes or ponds, while in winter, in certain lakes, while minding safety measures, it is possible to enjoy a unique activity on water – ice skating.
Relaxation and recuperation are also an integral part of active rest. Latvia has long traditions of well-being and rehabilitation, for example, Jurmala is the largest Baltic resort, which combines medicine and the best of Latvian nature in its services. Various types of procedures are also available in the capital Riga and elsewhere in Latvia. People have always drawn strength from nature, and the modern spa experience is no exception. Spa procedures in Latvia use local natural products: honey, flowers, fresh berries, mint, amber and others.
Latvia is rich in healing mud and sulphur, bromine salt and sodium mineral waters. They are used both for medicinal purposes and in beauty treatments in pools, showers and baths. The healing climate, which allows you to combine treatments with walks on the seashore and in the woods, also helps to regain strength. A big advantage is that lovers of wellness procedures can choose different types of accommodation – you can enjoy being away from the mundane in a beautiful hotel or manor, and try spa treatments in one place.
You can test your endurance and have an amazing time in Latvian adventure parks, where various obstacles are placed in the trees. There are tracks of various degrees of complexity for adventure seekers. Overcoming the limits of one’s abilities, getting to know nature in an interactive way, speed and height – these are just some of the options offered by the adventure parks in Latvia. Adventure Park Tarzans in Sigulda is the largest open-air adventure park in the Baltics, and it has more than 100 obstacles of various degrees of complexity, the highest of which are 20 metres above the ground. Perhaps the most unique attraction offered by the park is a ride on a BMX on a rope in the trees. However, “Valguma Pasaule” offers you a walk through the Barefoot Trail – it’s a treat for your feet. “Valguma Pasaule” is a place for the whole family to get closer to nature, to listen to it and enjoy it through the senses, which we do not pay so much attention to in everyday life. The range of adventure parks in Latvia really vary, you just need to find the one that suits you the best.
Extreme types of recreation
If you want to experiment with new yet undiscovered experiences, you can find them in Latvia in every season. In the warm season, try bungee jumping individually or in tandem from a height of 47 metres in Slokas Papīrfabrika, offered by Ropejumping.lv. Discover the landscape of Latvia from a different angle – go paragliding! Sports association “Ultra” in Daugavpils invites you to go tandem flying. The flight will take place at an altitude of 500-700 metres and will last an average of 7-10 minutes depending on the weather. Don’t forget to dress warmly when going there (it’s always a little cooler up high than on the ground) and wear comfortable shoes. Flights take place in all seasons except winter.
A completely unique experience is skijoring, or riding on skis behind a horse. Close to Ādaži, there is a tourism place “Adventure ride”, which offers to get to know Latvia on horseback. In winters, the place offers a unique experience – skijoring behind a horse! The skier is pulled along the snow or ice with a rope, getting thrills and adrenaline. Special equipment and professional supervision are provided to make the trip safe and have pleasant emotions. Take note that skijoring rides behind a horse take place when the air temperature is between 0 and -11 °C, so you must contact the stable before the ride. Although Latvia is not considered a surfing metropolis, you still can catch waves here! In Pāvilosta, on the coast of the Baltic Sea, is the surf club “Spinout”, which brings together both experienced water sports lovers and beginners. Here you can choose among surfing, SUPing and windsurfing equipment rental and training under the guidance of experienced instructors. These are just a couple of the extreme recreation options.
Thanks to its diverse outdoor activities, Latvia is an excellent destination for those who want to enjoy active tourism. Regardless of whether you are an experienced fan of active recreation or simply want a peaceful walk in nature and relaxation, Latvia has something for everyone. Go into nature and discover everything Latvia can give you!