You can get to know Latvia in different ways! It can be crisscrossed by going on a hike, traveling by car or seen from a bird's-eye view, explored through history and culture, and in many other ways.
As one of them, it is worth highlighting water tourism and boating. It is a type of active tourism that offers different sensations to everyone - those who want to relax in calm waters and enjoy the scenery, those who are ready for more extreme sensations in rivers full of water during floods, and also those who are not afraid of strong waves on the sea coast. Each river has its characteristics that must be known before boarding the boat.
It is possible to boat in Latvia at any time of the year, as long as the river you have chosen has not frozen over. Spring is usually the season of floods, when the water level in rivers rises, and in winter there are often fallen trees in the river. Therefore, boaters must take into account the increased danger and it is recommended to go on the trip accompanied by professionals. Whereas summer is the time to enjoy a lazy holiday on the water: the water is warm, the rivers are mostly calm and the days are sunny. Although autumns in Latvia tend to be wet, boating is one of the ways to enjoy the colourful landscape, especially in the Gauja Valley. This is also the time when there is less “traffic” on the rivers. To make it easier to choose your next boating trip on one of the rivers, we have prepared descriptions of the most popular rivers for boating in Latvia, their characteristics, seasonal characteristics and other conditions that must be considered.
The Gauja is the most popular and also the longest boating river in Latvia. It makes an arc through Vidzeme, winding along a total of 440 meandering kilometres of flow. The Gauja Valley between Valmiera and Murjāņi is very interesting and attractive for tourists. The river offers a generous variety of natural sightseeing places: the largest outcrops are Sietiņiezis Rock, Ērgļu Cliffs, Red Cliffs and Ķūķu Cliffs. There are also resting places on the banks of the river at all stages and guest houses are available for those who stay on the river for longer. Routes along the Gauja are as varied as the river: from five hours to four days. The river is suitable for boating with all types of boats.
The Brasa is a stunning river for boating: it winds in bends, takes the rider through diverse forests, and from time to time, its banks are decorated with dolomite outcrops. A suitable route for enjoying the Brasa is from Plācis or Straupe to the A3 (Rīga–Valmiera) road bridge or the estuary to the Gauja. This river is relatively shallow, it tends to have a lot of fallen trees, and its bed is rocky, so experienced boaters recommend choosing the Brasa in spring or autumn, when the river is emptier but opens up an indescribably beautiful autumn landscape. The most suitable boats for this river are a kayak, sea kayak, inflatable boat, canoe or pontoon float.
The Salaca is a river that everyone likes. It has both long, calm and majestic rock-lined stretches and overfalls, and the place where it meets the sea is a very beautiful boating finish. Salaca Valley Nature Park is a nature reserve, and accommodation may only be set up in places designated for this purpose, so for the convenience of water tourists, several well-equipped recreation areas have been established on the banks of the Salaca, most of which can be accessed by car. This allows water tourists to plan routes freely from a couple of hours of travel to several days of enjoying the river. On the bank of the Salaca is the smoothest big rock in Latvia - a rock wall about 12 m high and 90 m wide, which is slightly concave and therefore provides a unique acoustic effect - an echo. The river is suitable for boating with all types of boats.
The Abava is a Latvian boating classic: it is wide enough, calm, without rapids, and in summer there are usually no obstacles in it. All this makes the river suitable for a lazy holiday, those who are beginners, or time away with the family. Of the 129 km of the river, 92 km are suitable for boating. The Amula and Imula that flow into it are small rivers, but are also suitable for boating. This river is also accessible because it is navigable by all types of boats and on routes from Kandava to Renda; getting to the start and finish points can be planned by public transport.
The Aiviekste is a relatively calm river; it does not have the rapids of the Ogre, and the nature is not like in the Gauja Valley. But it has its own appeal. Boaters often say that the Aiviekste is the right river for two types of boaters: those who want to train and set new records in their kayaks, and those who want to spend a calm, undisturbed trip in boats tied together and letting the current flow. For those who are interested in virgin land, it is recommended to take a boat from the beginning of the Aiviekste to Lubāna. It is there that the Aiviekste flows through swamps and wetlands, which cannot be enjoyed in most other Latvian rivers. The river is suitable for any type of boat.
For more experienced riders the Ogre is suitable, which is one of the most beautiful and wildest rivers in Latvia. By choosing a boating route on this river, it is possible to enjoy untamed nature, as the banks of the river are sparsely populated. In the valley of the river there are 15 specially protected biotopes in Latvia. Its banks are strongly orientated towards the north and south; therefore, each bank has its own microclimate. It is possible to go boating on the Ogre on at least eight different routes, preparing for an intense few hours down the Bražu rapids or dedicating several days to life on the water all the way to the place where the Ogre meets the Daugava. The most suitable boats for this river are a kayak, sea kayak, inflatable boat, canoe or pontoon float.
The Pededze is a popular river for frequent boaters. It is relatively narrow and tends to have various obstacles such as fallen trees and beaver dams. You should definitely go to the river after spring tides, because this is the time when the rapid flow and large pieces of ice clear the river of impassable obstacles. The route from the beginning of the Pededze near the Estonian border to the ruins of the Mālupe watermill and the bridge is the most sporty and challenging section of the river. Experienced boaters admit that from the point of view of a real adventure, the last section of the Pededze from the Gulbene-Rēzekne road bridge to the beginning of the Jaunpededze canal is considered the most interesting. Moreover, the section from Jaunannas to Litene is the most popular one-day Pededze boating route, where the river is much wider and does not bend as sharply as in the initial section, and no special skills are required to cross it. Boating on the Pededze requires skill and knowledge, so especially at the beginning of the river it is recommended to use easier-to-manage and more durable boats, such as kayaks, sea kayaks or canoes.
Get ready for your next adventure! Keep in mind that safety is the most important thing on the water, as well as appropriate clothing. The rivers noted here are not the only ones on which it is possible to boat in Latvia. 45 water tourism routes with maps that are navigable in 40 Latvian rivers are available here. Boat rental points are often located by rivers. It is recommended to be sure to contact the owners and agree on boat reservations. Boat rental options can also be found on the internet, for example: