Accessible tourism allows everyone to participate and enjoy an authentic experience, regardless of mobility challenges. A comfortable environment is not a luxury, but rather a necessity, and this is taken care of at various tourist attractions in Latvia, allowing everyone to enjoy what nature has to offer, as well as active recreation, workshops and visits to ancient castles and manor houses, including overnight stays.
Latvians are proud of their local nature and many places of interest are spacious enough and properly adapted to give everyone the chance to feel connected. There are walking trails, sightseeing places and nature parks all over Latvia. Kazdanga Park covering almost 200 hectares is the largest one in Latvia, and its trails will allow you to slowly enjoy nature and the historical park. There are also several resting spots along the way. Nature and a moment of peace and silence can be experienced, for example, by a young family with a baby in a pram snoozing in the fresh air on the restored wooden boardwalks in the meadows of the Svēte floodplain, which have been thoughtfully designed on an even single level.
Whereas those looking for variety in nature can visit one of the botanical gardens - the National Botanical Garden in Salaspils is located near Riga, and its asphalted paths will make visiting easy and safe, while the second floor of the Orangery can be reached by a elevator. Travelers who want to go further distances can visit the Kalsnava Arboretum, which is especially beautiful when rhododendrons and peonies are in bloom, and features one of Latvia's most beautiful collections of ornamental trees and shrubs.
A breath of history in castles and manor houses
Although castles and manor houses are most often cultural heritage buildings, in many cases during the restoration process ways have been to adapt their environment so that they are accessible and available to people with reduced mobility. For example, the historic Skrunda Manor, while regaining its splendour, has proved that its status as a cultural heritage site is no barrier to modern infrastructure and, after its restoration, it has received an award as the most accessible cultural heritage site.
Admirers of the Middle Ages must visit the medieval castle of Cēsis, where the castle garden is accessible in a wheelchair - there, you can find craft workshops and a medieval kitchen garden. In the Cēsis Museum of History and Art, the 4th floor attic hall can be reached by elevator, whereas, if you are heading to Tukums, we recommend a visit to Jaunmokas Palace, whose surrounding walking paths and park are paved with a sufficiently wide hard pavement. At the same time, the manor hotel offers easy access and an adequately equipped room.
Educational cultural sites
All the cultural sites renovated or newly built in recent years have been adapted to be accessible to people with reduced mobility, and most of the exhibitions have been designed accordingly. One of the largest museums in Riga, the Motor Museum, is accessible by people in wheelchairs or parents with an infant in a pram using an easy ramp to get from the car park to the museum entrance. The building itself has automatic entrance doors and an elevator that provides access to all museum floors and exhibitions. Jelgava Holy Trinity Church Tower is justifiably proud of its very interesting and interactive exhibitions for its visitors. After renovation, the tower also has an elevator, which allows people to move between floors and see the historical exhibitions, as well as to get to the top of the tower and visit the exhibition hall.
In turn, Alūksne Narrow-gauge Railway Station won the well-deserved Annual Architecture Award not only for the modern and creative design of the museum, but also for its environmental accessibility. There you can see the only regularly running narrow-gauge train in the Baltics twice a day and visit the exhibition.
But in Jūrmala, the Rainis and Aspazija Summer House which is open to visitors offers an audio tour for people with visual or mobility impairments for a more comprehensive museum experience. It allows not only to get to know the everyday life of the poets, but also, at the level of senses, to feel like walking up the narrow stairs to the top floor, opening the windows and letting the sounds of the wind and the sea into Rainis' veranda, touching Aspazija's silk robe and imagining other sensations provided by three-dimensional sound direction and the narration of actors.
Travel with active involvement
It is definitely worth checking out the workshops offered by various local businesses and home producers, most of which take place in spacious rooms close to the production facilities, giving you the opportunity to combine it with a tour. For example, candy lovers can visit the "Caramel Workshop" in Jelgava, where tours and caramel-making demonstrations take place in rooms suitable for people with reduced mobility. Furthermore, the tour involves the senses of taste, touch and smell, making it suitable for blind and visually impaired people. In Vidzeme, one of the destinations for hands-on work could be the Rauna Cheese Factory. It is the only company in Latvia that produces Green Cheese with Fenugreek as one of the ingredients. Guided tours and workshops will teach you about the creation process of different types of cheese, pasta, home-made noodles and other delicacies.
Photo: SIA "Kustības brīvība"
But if you want not only to discover, but also to experience Latvia actively, we invite you to take advantage of the opportunities offered in summer near various bodies of water, where there are also special support facilities. Not far from Riga, in Ogre Frog, you can rent a specialised SUP board designed for people with disabilities, and where specialised couches for wheelchair users have been installed, as well as a water ramp to safely get into the water.
Further information on the availability of various attractions can be found on the websites of the attractions themselves, as well as the information pages of the local municipalities. Besides, the association Apeirons compiles a list of cultural, dining, recreational and tourism sites that are friendly to people with reduced mobility and publishes it on the website mapeirons.lv. Whereas Difftravel organises trips throughout Latvia on various routes adapted for people with hearing, visual or mobility impairments, as well as people with reduced mobility on a regular basis.