LATVIA - Active Gourmet Tour in Gauja National Park (cycling and canoeing)
Duration: 7 days
Total length: cycling ~153 km, canoeing ~17 km
If you enjoy an active lifestyle, this tour is the perfect way to enjoy the culinary heritage hidden in Gauja National Park. The cycling route starts from Strenči and first passes two local breweries at Brenguļi and Valmiermuiža with nice cafés and good beer. On the way to Valmiera you will also stop at Trikāta Village to taste locally made chocolate. From Valmiera, the route goes through a beautiful forest to Cēsis with its charming medieval Old Town. In Cēsis you will visit the local bakery and distillery to taste their production. Also, you will see what a herb and species garden looked like in medieval times. You’ll experience a canoeing trip from Cēsis to Līgatne, one of the nicest parts on the River Gauja with its sandstone banks, remote farmsteads and old-fashioned water-powered ferry. The historic centre of Līgatne Town is linked with the development of its paper mill. Here you can also visit local wine and handicraft producers in one of the artificial caves typical of the area. Cycling the hilly, winding roads of Sigulda, you’ll see Turaida and Sigulda medieval castles, Gūtmaņala Cave and other picturesque views. In Sigulda you will enjoy Latvian traditional meals in the restaurants ”Bucefāls”, ”Aparjods”, and will taste 80 kinds of jam in the Mauriņi guest house.
Rīga - Strenči - Trikāta - Valmiera
Ride with train: Rīga - Strenči (2,5 h)
Ride with bike: Strenči - Trikāta - Valmiera (33 km)
In Trikāta, visit the chocolate factory “R Chocolate”. They use high-quality raw chocolate from Spain and offer chocolate making masterclasses to visitors. In the summertime they also produce ice-cream using milk and cream from local producers.
Brenguli Brewery and Beer Garden
They produce traditional beer from locally grown grain. In the beer garden visitors can enjoy the light and dark beers, and also savour traditional Latvian dishes.
You will learn about the traditions of beer brewing, as well as observe how “live” beer is made using natural ingredients. The tour ends with beer tasting. After the tour, visitors can enjoy local foods at the brewery pub.
Hanseatic Town Valmiera
Highlights: Castle ruins; St. Simon`s Lutheran church; the viewing tower offers panoramic views of Valmiera and the River Gauja; a 2 km barefoot trail with 15 different surfaces to be experienced in the “Sajūtu Parks” park.
Evening Meal and Overnight Stay in the Hotel “Wolmar” in Valmiera
Located in the centre of Valmiera, the hotel features a city theme - each room has its own address and the corridors bear street names. The hotel restaurant offers a culinary journey based on natural local foods.
Valmiera - Sietiņiezis - Cēsis
Ride with bike: Valmiera - Sietiņiezis - Cēsis (50 km, mostly gravel and forest roads)
Sietiņiezis, the largest white sandstone outcrop in the Baltics;
Ērgļu cliffs, the red sandstone outcrop is one of the most attractive nature sites in Gauja National Park.
Lunch in the Café “Priede”
The café is located in “Rožu laukums” (Rose Square), in the historic centre of Cēsis. Offers meals from local ingredients and coffee roasted in Latvia.
Medieval Town Cēsis
Highlights: the historic centre, St. John' s Lutheran Church, one of the oldest churches in Latvia.
Evening meal in the Restaurant “Jāņoga”
Meals made from local farmers’ produce and an extensive vegetarian menu.
Overnight stay in Hotel Cēsis
Hotel Cēsis is a family-friendly establishment in the very centre of Cēsis Town. There is a hotel restaurant with a park view offering traditional Latvian and modern cuisine.
A Day in Cēsis Town
“Cēsu maize” bakery
Excursion and bread tasting. They bake bread from organic grain using a natural dough starter. The grain is milled in a stone mill.
The Kitchen Garden of the Livonian Order Castle
The garden is a historical reconstruction of a herb and vegetable garden from the 16th century. It contains only vegetables, herbs and medicinal plants that were found in Livonia 500 years ago, such as onions, garlic, dill and thyme.
Lunch in the Café “Aroma” by the Central Town Square.
“Veselības Laboratorija” (Health Laboratory)
A local distillery producing strong alcoholic drinks and infusions using seasonal berries grown in Latvia. A tour of the production facility offers stories of how the business started and how drinks are produced; produce tasting.
Evening Meal in the Restaurant H.E.Vanadziņš.
Overnight in Cēsis.
A Day in Līgatne and Surroundings
River Gauja Canoeing Trip: Cēsis - Līgatne (17 km, ~ 4 h)
This is one of the most picturesque parts of the River Gauja with scenic sandstone outcrops along the banks.
Lunch in ZEIT Hotel and Café in Līgatne Village
This complex is located in former helmet factory, nowadays it is a modern hotel, café and children adventure park, where the industrial heritage is being preserved and used. The menu changes depending on the season and the imagination of the chefs.
A Walk or Cycling Around Līgatne Village
You will explore the historical centre of Līgatne paper mill village and will have a walk along Līgatne Nature trails where you can watch wild animals in open air enclosures and enjoy the River Gauja valley landscapes.
Excursion in Līgatne Winery and Spoon Factory
This family-run winery makes 20 sorts of sweet, semi-sweet and dry wines from berries, fruit, plants and even flowers foraged in Gauja National Park. They also produce some jam and gather herbs to produce herbal teas. The Spoon Factory demonstrates how they make spoons and other practical household items from wood.
Evening Meal at “Vilhelmīnes dzirnavas” Pub
This local pub is situated in the historic Līgatne paper mill building by a pond. Traditional Latvian dishes are on menu such as Vidzeme stroganoff, grilled Kolka herring, Amata river trout.
Overnight Stay in the Guest House “Vilhelmīne”
The guest house is located in Līgatne by the river and close to the Līgatne nature trails. Family rooms are available.
Līgatne - Numiži - Sigulda
Cycling: Līgatne - Nurmiži - Sigulda (30 km)
Lunch in the Pub “Bucefāls”
It is a log building with traditional style interior design. On the menu: lamb from the owner’s farm, smoked chicken.
Nature Sights En Route
Peter's Cave, Satezeles castle hill, Kraukļu cliff and Paradise hill with excellent views over the River Gauja valley.
Evening Meal and Overnight Stay in the Hotel “Aparjods” in Sigulda
The hotel is near the main road, 20 minutes’ drive from the town centre. The hotel restaurant combines Latvian cuisine traditions with modern food techniques.
Sigulda - Turaida - Krimulda - Sigulda - Guest House Mauriņi
Cycling: Sigulda - Turaida - Krimulda - Sigulda - Guest House Mauriņi (25 km)
En Route: Sigulda castle ruins, Gūtmaņala Cave, Turaida Museum Reserve and castle museum, observation tower, history museum, sculpture garden, Krimulda Palace and park.
Lunch in the Restaurant “Kungu Rija”
It is located on the Turaida-Ragana road, near to Turaida Museum Reserve. Traditional cuisine.
Bobsleigh Track in Sigulda
This is one of the few bobsleigh tracks in the world that is open for visiting and also offers bobsleigh rides for visitors. It is 1200+220 metres long and consists of 16 curves. Speeds of up to 125 km/h can be achieved on the track.
Pīlādži Fruit Farm and Winery
A family run business producing more than 10 sorts of wine from berries fruits and flowers, and a popular soft drink from rhubarb. Wine is available for tasting and for sale.
Dinner and Overnight Stay in Mauriņi Guest House near Sigulda - The two-storey building with comfortable guest rooms is located by a forest. Traditional meals from local products. 80 sorts of home-made jam are available from the hostess.
Sigulda - Rīga
Train: Sigulda - Rīga (1 h)