If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, castles, and some of the only hills in the Baltics, this is where you’ll find it: Sigulda and Gauja National Park. We spent our day here walking from the train station to Sigulda castle, then across the river to castle ruins, popular caves, and then yet another castle area up in Turaida.
Here’s that walk:
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Want to experience the hike for yourself? Here are some relevant details:
Hiking times and local transportation
From the train station in Segulda, check in with the info center (we didn’t and I regret it, as finding the hiking trail across the river wasn’t as easy as I thought). Once you have your bearings, make your way up to Sigulda Castle. From there, join the hiking trail that takes you to the bridge to cross the river and continue following signs for Krimulda Pils (Krimulda Castle) – a tumbledown ruin in the forest. When you reach the wellness complex, you’ll need to pass through it to get to the ruins (don’t be fooled into thinking the complex is the castle itself).
From the castle, more signs will point you toward Gūtmaņala, a cool sandstone cave full of inscriptions.
From there, we followed a staircase up into the forest toward Turaidas, where a museum complex boasts another castle.
Depending on how much you mosey and stop for photos and how often you get a little lost (we did several times), I’d expect the walk to take two to three hours one-way.
We were nervous about making it back in time to catch our train, so we caught a nice, direct bus from near the entrance to the Turaidas castle grounds to take us back down to Segulda in time. The ride is quick and direct (less than 15 minutes).
There are trail markers along the way, but occasionally you’ll come to a T without one, so having a map would be a good idea. (We did not and had trouble several times).
Dogs on trails
Dogs are welcome on the trail. Clean up after your pet and bring plenty of water on sunny days. Keep in mind that there are a lot of stairs on this route and the caps between stairs are fairly large. We (read: Chad) carried Luna (who is about 5kg) over many of them because the gaps were big enough for her to fall through.
What to bring
Wear comfortable hiking shoes (I like Salomon women’s speedcross) and carry rain gear if there’s a chance of rain. There were no water fill-up stations I noticed along the way, though there are several eateries near the cave area if you run out of water. (My suggestion is to always bring more water than you need.) I also carry a dog hiking backpack in case Luna needs a ride.
All photos taken with my Sony a6000.