Castles of Gauja National Park, Latvia

On a pretty day the castles of Gauja National Park – Sigulda, Krimulda and Turaida – offer a destination for organizing a trip through this wooded region an hour outside of Riga. On their own the castle ruins are only mildly interesting, although they have built infrastructure and added exhibits at Turaida. If you’ve seen great castles in your travels you won’t be impressed here. That said, it is a lovely area to explore, the grounds are well tended and on a pretty day it’s a delightful way to spend an afternoon.

Lonely Planet Walking Tour

Lonely Planet suggests you explore the Sigulda, Krimulda and Turaida castles outside of Sigulda on foot (6.6kn 51/2 hours). This is an ambitious undertaking, especially given the amount of walking and climbing up and down stairs that is required at each of the sites.

We spent 4 hours exploring the area by car, driving first to Sigulda Castle, then Gutmana Cave and Turaida. Because of logistics and time we skipped the cable car to Krimulda, though it looks like a fun ride over the river.

Sigulda Castle

The new castle was under renovation in Sept 2019. The old castle ruin has been recently renovated and is worth a spin, especially for the views over the forest towards the other two castles.

Gutmana Cave

Despite being the largest erosion cave in the Baltics, it’s not much of cave, and only worth a visit if you are interested in the graffiti that has collected there through the centuries.

Turaida Castle

Aside from the castle ruins that include displays, artifacts and fabulous views from the main tower, the well-tended grounds have a number of out-buildings that feature demonstrations of crafts and old techniques. Our favorite was the fish cellar where live fish were kept during the winter.

September 24, 2019

For links to all the posts in this series see the Baltics Road Trip page.