Just outside Riga there are stunning stretches of coast, incredible natural landscapes, and epic castles waiting to be explored. The grand castles and palaces that surround the city once protected the land and were the homes of princes, lords, and the bourgeoisie.
Another fascinating thing about the towns and cities around Riga, and about the capital itself, is the mix of Soviet-era buildings and landmarks with medieval buildings. The contrast is startling.
There’s so much to explore around Riga that the hardest part will be deciding where to go, or figuring out how you can fit it all into your itinerary!
Fun and Easy Day Trips from Riga, Latvia
Come and walk the calm and quaint cobbled streets of Cesis and admire the mix of old and new architecture. Many of the houses are made from wooden panels that have been standing for longer than you have!
This little town has a long history; it’s been around for more than 800 years! It’s no wonder then that it’s home to the oldest brewery in Latvia. Explore the 13th century, mediaeval castle that by now is half tumbled, half standing. After, take a walk to St John’s Church.
If you’re in Riga for the summer, come to the Cesis Town Festival! You can get a train to Cesis in under two hours, or drive in just under an hour and a half.
This beautiful beach resort town is an easy day trip from Riga. The main attraction is the sandy beach that runs the length of the town, but there are plenty of things to explore in Jurmala too.
Things you can’t miss in town are the House of Aspazija and the Dubulti Lutheran Church in the Dubulti neighbourhood, and the striking and intriguing art nouveau villas in the Majori neighbourhood. After you’ve wandered around the town, hit the beach and spend the day relaxing!
If the beach hasn’t relaxed you enough, go to one of the many glorious spas in Jurmala and enjoy some much-needed downtime. You can get to Jurmala by train or bus from the city in just half an hour, and they run frequently.
Rundāle Palace belonged to the Dukes of Courland. They had two major baroque palaces built for them as temporary homes, Rundale Palace and Jelgava Palace.
Designed by Italian baroque architect Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the palace is grand, elegant, and enormous. It was built in two different periods, between 1736 to 1740 and then later on between 1764 to 1768. You can visit 40 of the castle’s 138 rooms, stroll around the lush gardens, and learn more through the exhibits on the display that tell you about the palace and its intriguing history.
Did you know the castle underwent many restorations after it was damaged in both the Franco-Russian War and the Latvian War of Independence? It’ll take you three hours to get here from Riga, so a tour might be the easiest option.
This enchanting town is found right where the Musa and Memele rivers converge into the Lielupe River. When you arrive, explore the Bauska Castle that is a mix of a 16th century castle and mediaeval ruins.
The views from the castle are stunning, and it’s a geographically interesting place too, as the two rivers run either side of the castle and join up at the end of the almost island-like land the castle was built on. Other things worth seeing in Bauska are the Old Town Hall.
You can get a bus to Bauska from Riga in less than two hours. There are lots of route options too making it one of the easy day trips from Riga.
This little city southeast of Riga was built around the Daugava River, which is the longest river that passes through Latvia. The city was once two towns, Jekabpils and Krustpils – one on each side of the river.
The most popular attractions in town are the Krustpils Castle and the Orthodox Church of The Holy Spirit. The castle is thought to have been built in 1237. You can explore the mediaeval castle’s interior and get a sense of what life was like centuries ago thanks to the period decor.
Don’t leave Jekabpils without visiting the Orthodox Church of The Holy Spirit, a colourful and unique little church. It was built during the 19th century following a Byzantine design. You might even bump into one of the monks that live in the monastery next door! You can get a bus there from Riga and be there in less than two and a half hours.
Nature Park Piejura
This Latvian nature park is famous for allowing you to explore four diverse ecosystems in less than half a day! One clue of what to expect is in the park’s name, Piejura means “at the sea”.
Walk barefoot across the golden stretches of sandy shoreline, run up sand dunes, then put your hiking shoes on and venture into the green pine forests by the coast. Soak up the scenery, enjoy the peace and quiet, and head back to the city at the end of the day feeling renewed.
You can get there by car in just half an hour from Riga, take a guided tour, or get there by bus or train.
Kemeri National Park
Latvia has lots of mesmerising little towns and cities, but it also has stunning nature. The Kemeri National Park is the country’s third-largest national park, and it’s home to a unique wetland landscape. Walk the narrow boardwalk through the park that takes you winding through swamps, murky boglands, and beautiful green forests. Explore more of the park and you’ll come across sand dunes and rolling meadows too! There’s a bit of everything at Kemeri.
If you want the best views, go to Kanieris Lake and up into a bird-watching tower, or climb the hill that leads you to the Kanieris Hill Fort. Keep a lookout for wildlife, there are more than 190 bird species in the park.
You can get to the town of Kemeri in under an hour by train from Riga, then walk into the park from there. It’s a quick and easy day trip from Riga. Another option is to take a guided tour from the city.
A day trip to Valmiera offers a nice balance between town attractions and nature. This small town has a gorgeous historical city centre, where you can stop to admire buildings like St. Simon’s Church which was built as far back as 1285!
Don’t miss some of the town’s best-preserved 18th and 19th century buildings, like the Little House of Valters and the Postal Service Horse Station. Once you’ve explored the architecture, take a leisurely stroll along the Gauja River and soak in the scenic nature spots.
You won’t have too much trouble getting to Valmiera, as it’s just two to two and a half hours by train from Riga. This destination is great for couples looking for a tranquil day together.
If you’re looking to add a little adrenaline and adventure to your holiday, Sigulda is where you need to be. Whether you’re travelling alone, with friends, or as a family – you’re going to have a blast in Sigulda.
The town is in the Gauja National Park, whose rivers, lakes, and dense forests are the perfect backdrop for adventures like bungee jumping, racing down speedy bobsled tracks, and obstacle courses set high up amongst the trees.
You’ll likely get carried away enjoying the outdoor adventures in Sigulda, but don’t forget to visit the gorgeous New Castle and the ruins of the old Sigulda Castle before you head back to Riga. The best part? Sigulda is just over an hour away by train from Riga.
This stunning cape in Latvia is the meeting point of the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Riga. The waves crash into each other and can create quite a swell, with waves reaching up to seven metres.
If you fancy a walk, take the Kilka Pine Trail. There’s an observation tower along the route with some of the best views. You’ll end at the sandy beaches that line the edges of the cape. If you squint your eyes hard enough you might even spot the little lighthouse on an island in the distance.
You can get to Cape Kolka by bus in just over three hours, but a quicker and easier option is to either take a tour from the city or rent a car and drive there independently.
This is a great destination for families looking for an easy day trip from Riga. Ventspils is a port city with one of the Baltic Sea’s largest ports. The interesting thing is how the city has managed to integrate the port so well. As you walk through the downtown neighbourhood of the city, you’ll catch glimpses of ships docking by historical buildings.
As you walk around and explore the city and port, keep a lookout for the decorated cow sculptures that are dotted around Ventspils, how many can you tally by the end of the day? Visit the sandy beach, walk around the Soviet districts of the city, and explore Seaside Ventspils which is full of fancy 19th century villas.
Ventspils is a little further than some of the other day trip destinations, but it’s still not too far. You can get there by car in about two and a half hours, or by bus in three hours. Bear in mind it gets cold there in winter, so summer is the best time to go!
There you have it, 11 fun and easy day trips from Riga. Which place will you visit first?
Plan Your Latvia Itinerary
Looking for more things to do in Latvia and Riga or Eastern Europe in general? These might help!
- Things to do in Riga
- Spa Day in Riga
- European Bucket List
- Castles in Poland
- UNESCO Sites in Poland
- Things to do in Lodz
- Why You Should Visit Lublin
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