Sigulda, the Switzerland of Latvia, is a small beautiful town around 53 kms East of Riga providing opportunities for indulging in culture & wild nature showcasing the Latvia’s true beauty and serving as a perfect destination for a day trip from Riga to escape the city’s hustle and bustle.
We took the bus at around 10:15 from Riga central station to get to Sigulda with a journey time of around 70 minutes. Other option to get to Sigulda is by train, which takes almost same time at the same cost.
Usually a trip to Sigulda is combined with a visit to Turaida Castle. And the most famous thing & loved souvenir is the Walking stick – made by locals since 19th century to help tourists walk up and down the Primeval valley of the Gauja River.
The town is lovely to walk with lot of trees and couple of small squares. Dedicated to town’s famous souvenir is a Walking Stick park, opened in 2007 right at the center of the town. The other attraction are:
Sigulda New Castle
Sigulda Medieval castle
Laima Clock at Central Station Square
There are multiple ways of getting to Turaida Castle from the town:
- take a city bus (15 or 20 mins journey), or
- cable car from just outside the town, or
- a 9 kms long trek starting from town center through Gauja National Park via Gutman’s Cave (Gütmana ala) – the most preferred way if the weather is nice.
We trek while going from town to the castle seeing all the sights in the town and took a public bus for getting back to the town.
The trek to Turaida Castle starts from the Central Station, through the town visiting all key-sites and via Gutman’s Cave, which lies halfway between Sigulda & Turaida.
The Gutman’s Cave is the largest cave in Latvia in terms of width, height & volume. Apart from being a geological site, it has also got heritage value and myth-enshrouded (the Rose of Turaida). On the walls & ceiling are lot of ancient inscriptions along with people names engraved over the the side and inside of the caves. As per one of the legend: the water in the creek emanates from Gutman’s tears, and drinking it is supposed to be healthy and boosting one’s lifespan.
The Turaida Castle is a medieval castle in Turaida, lies on the Dania Hills along with a garden of sculptures dedicated to Latvian folklore, on the opposite side of river Gauja from Sigulda. Turaida in the ancient Liv language (Livonians) means The garden of God. From the panoramic platform of Main Tower and other places in the castle, one is captivated by the charm of Gauja ancient valley and it’s river bank. A perfect 360º view of surroundings!
A short video from the trip:
Sigulda is definitely recommended to anyone visiting Latvia in order to experience something a bit different from capital city, Riga. BUT, make sure that you get to Tourist office in order to find the maps & route to Turaida Castle, without which it’s not easy to reach the castle!
Lastly, we like to listen folk songs from across the regions and while browsing the Latvian folk song I understood the real meaning of the Latvian word, Līgo (which I heard a lot of times while in Latvia) and it goes like this: