Wondering why you should visit Latvia in autumn? Well, there are plenty of reasons to plan an autumn trip to Latvia and we will cover all of them in this article.
Latvia, situated in the Baltic region of Northern Europe, is a country with a rich cultural heritage and diverse natural landscapes. Its capital, Riga, is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, particularly in the Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Autumn in Latvia is a compelling season and the picturesque landscapes adorned with a myriad of colors make it an ideal time to explore this Baltic gem. While most tourists shy away from visiting Latvia in autumn considering the lower temperatures, there is a lot of charm in this season.
Growing up in Riga a yearly visit to Sigulda in the autumn was a must. But as I was getting older, I gained a new appreciation for autumn in Latvia and I will share all my local insights with you.
This travel guide will help you discover it all. Everything from the best autumn foliage locations to unexpected wine harvesting and mushroom picking. Let’s uncover why you should visit Latvia in autumn!
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Autumn colors in Latvia
As the summer warmth gives way to cooler temperatures, the foliage undergoes a spectacular change. The vibrant hues of red, orange, and gold paint the forests and countryside, creating an amazing panorama. The countryside becomes a canvas of nature’s artistry!
With more than 50% of its land blanketed by lush forests, Latvia emerges as an ideal destination for nature enthusiasts seeking the vibrant spectacle of autumn foliage. The country boasts numerous popular autumn destinations, drawing tourists from across the globe.
Having personally explored autumn landscapes throughout Europe, I find Latvia, along with its Baltic counterparts, to be particularly striking in terms of the array of colors that grace its surroundings during this season.
So if you are on a hunt for autumn foliage in Europe, Latvia should be at the top of your bucket list this year! And here are some of the best locations to see the best of autumn in Latvia.
Cesis is one of the best autumn destinations in Latvia. Apart from multiple parks and the main castle, Cesis has an old town filled with restaurants and other activities. If you appreciate history, charming old towns, and a peaceful atmosphere, this is the place to be.
How to go from Riga to Cesis?
Cesis is situated about 90 kilometers northeast of Riga, making it an easily accessible day trip destination. It takes around 2 hours by public transport or 1 hour by car.
Trains depart regularly from Riga’s central station and you will need to look for a train heading to Valga or Valmiera. A single one-way train ticket will cost you 3.70 euros and you can buy the ticket at the Central Station.
Some of the best things to do in Cesis
The main attraction of the town is the Cesis Castle, a medieval fortress with a rich history. The castle dates back to the Livonian Order times and grounds provide a glimpse into the past. And the views from the tower are spectacular.
The charming streets of Cesis Old Town are the perfect place for a stroll. Here you’ll find picturesque buildings, cobblestone streets, and cozy cafes. It’s a great place to immerse yourself in Latvian culture.
Visit St. John’s Church, a beautiful Gothic-style church that is a prominent landmark in Cesis. And if you’re interested in learning more about the town’s history and culture, don’t miss the Cesis History and Art Museum.
Enjoy Latvian cuisine at one of the local restaurants in Cesis. Try traditional dishes like gray peas with bacon or Latvian rye bread. For an unforgettable meal, I recommend H.E. Vanadziņš. Ziemeļu restorāns, while if you just looking for a quick bite or drink you can visit Melnais Gulbis.
Sigulda and Turaida
Sigulda is undoubtedly worth a visit, earning its reputation as the “Switzerland of Latvia.” This picturesque town is a haven for nature lovers and history enthusiasts. It is one of the best day trips from Riga, especially during autumn.
Turaida is located near Sigulda, 10 minutes drive away, so can be easily combined with Sigulda. Make sure you visit Turaida Castle and climb up the tower – the views are unforgettable.
Both of these places are extremely popular among locals, so it can get crowded. I highly recommend visiting this area during weekdays, so you can peacefully explore the area without too many people.
How to go from Riga to Sigulda?
You can easily get to Sigulda by using the public transport.
Regular trains serve the town and they are the convenient ways to reach Sigulda. Trains depart regularly from Riga’s central station and it takes around one hour to reach Sigulda. The ticket costs 2.10 euros and you can buy it directly at the station.
Buses also provide access to Sigulda, with a travel time of about 1 hour. Check the schedule at Riga Central Bus Station.
What to do in Sigulda?
The medieval Sigulda Castle dates back to the Livonian Order. It is a significant historical site in the region. The ruins provide a glimpse into Latvia’s rich past. And don’t miss the Sigulda New Castle, it was built in the Neo-Gothic style in 1878.
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Gauja National Park. It offers numerous hiking trails and opportunities for outdoor adventures, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts. And don’t forget to visit Gutman’s Cave as it is the widest and highest cave in the Baltic countries.
When visiting Sigulda, a cable car ride over the Gauja River is an absolute must. From there, you can admire beautiful landscapes over Latvian nature from a privileged birds-eye view. Some of the best viewpoints include Ķeizarskats and Gleznotājkalns.
For an adrenaline rush, try the bobsleigh track in Sigulda, which is open to visitors. As an alternative, you can visit Tarzans, or even try bungee jumping from the cable car of Sigulda.
Turaida Castle is an impressive fortress just a stone’s throw from Sigulda. This is one of the most beautiful castles in Latvia. The scenic walk to Turaida Castle is an experience in itself, and the panoramic views from the tower are breathtaking.
If you have limited time in Latvia, you can still spot some autumn foliage in Riga as the city’s parks come alive with the vibrant colors of autumn, providing a serene escape within an urban setting.
Bastejkalna Park, nestled in the heart of Riga, transforms into a kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and yellows, offering a tranquil retreat for those seeking a leisurely stroll.
Kronvalda Park, with its meandering paths and striking sculptures, becomes a haven for nature lovers and a testament to the city’s commitment to green spaces.
You should also visit Esplanade and Victory Park.
Other popular autumn destinations in Latvia
Discover some lesser-known but charming autumn destinations in Latvia that are certainly worth exploring. These places include Gauja National Park, Tērvete, Jūrmala, Kemeri National Park, Bauska, and Ogre.
Gauja National Park, located in the northeast, is a vast area filled with natural beauty. The Gauja River flows through, creating valleys, cliffs, and forests. In autumn, the park turns into a colorful landscape, perfect for peaceful walks and enjoying nature.
Tērvete, a small town, is special for its Tērvete Nature Park, a place straight out of fairy tales. Ancient oak trees, some more than 300 years old, give the park a magical feel. In autumn, the leaves cover the ground, inviting you to explore the enchanted woodlands and learn about Latvian folklore.
Jūrmala, known for its coastal charm, is usually a summer destination. However, in autumn, the beaches become quieter, offering a different kind of beauty. A stroll along the seafront lets you breathe in the fresh sea air and enjoy the autumn colors reflected in the Baltic waves.
Kemeri National Park, famous for its mud baths and unique wetlands, transforms into a picturesque landscape in autumn. The Kemeri Bog becomes a mix of reds and gold, creating a surreal atmosphere. Walking along the park’s boardwalks allows you to experience Latvia’s natural wonders in a calm setting.
Bauska, a town at the meeting point of the Musa and Memele rivers, is historically rich. Bauska Castle, with its medieval charm, becomes even more enchanting surrounded by autumn foliage. Exploring the castle grounds and nearby Mezotne Palace offers a journey through Latvia’s history amid seasonal beauty.
Ogre, a lesser-known town along the Daugava River, may not be familiar to many, but its autumn charm is captivating. The parks, riverbanks, and streets turn into a canvas of autumn colors, making it a delightful place to explore.
In summary, these less popular autumn destinations in Latvia offer a chance to experience the country’s natural and cultural heritage in a more intimate setting. Each place has its unique colors, history, and tranquility, making them delightful additions to your autumn journey in Latvia.
Latvia, situated in the northern part of Europe, doesn’t fit the mold of a typical summer destination. Winters, on the contrary, tend to be too cold for many, often bringing along a blanket of snow.
However, the autumn season in Latvia emerges as a pleasant compromise, offering favorable weather conditions for those who find both summer and winter extremes less appealing.
The Latvian autumn is characterized by temperatures that strike a balance, making it a comfortable time to explore the outdoors. With an extra layer or two, you should find the weather conducive to enjoying the seasonal changes without discomfort.
Rain is a possibility during autumn, but it’s not as daunting as you think. Embracing the sporadic rain showers becomes part of the experience, and with the right attire, it’s a minor inconvenience easily overcome.
One of the remarkable aspects of autumn in Latvia is the ideal temperature for various outdoor activities. Renting a bike, going for a hike or run, and having a picnic all become enjoyable without the discomfort of heat.
For those who might feel a chill in the autumn breeze, Latvia has a delightful solution—hot drinks. The country offers an excellent selection of teas, perfect for warming up while taking in the autumn scenery.
Additionally, for those who enjoy alcoholic beverages, mulled wine is a must. Sipping on a cup of steaming mulled wine becomes a comforting and festive way to embrace the cooler temperatures.
Latvia’s autumn weather has a harmonious balance, making it an attractive time to visit for those who appreciate milder climates. And if you are someone who gets cold easily, bring the right clothes or warm up with local drinks. Or both!
Taste of autumn in Latvia
Autumn in Latvia brings a delightful transformation to the culinary scene, with restaurants creating seasonal menus that showcase the bounty of the harvest.
A must-try on the autumn menu is the combination of potatoes straight from the garden paired with freshly picked mushrooms. This classic pairing captures the essence of the season and is a flavorful starting point for those looking to embrace autumn flavors.
Another culinary delight not to be overlooked is the hearty pumpkin soup, alongside dishes featuring cabbage, carrot, beetroot, and delectable potato pancakes served with sour cream or salmon.
Apples take center stage in autumn, with orchards brimming with ripe fruits. Latvians incorporate apples into both sweet and savory dishes. Apple pies, crisps, and strudles become popular desserts, while roasted pork with apple glaze showcases the versatile use of apples in savory cooking.
Latvian bread, a staple in every season, takes on a special significance in autumn. Freshly baked bread, with its hearty texture and rich flavor, becomes a perfect accompaniment to soups and stews.
As the days grow colder, Latvians indulge in warm beverages like herbal teas and spiced infusions. Mulled wine is a very popular choice and you can even find alcohol-free versions.
Tourist-free cities and main attractions
Truth be told, Latvia is not a popular destination or an extremely well-known country. In fact, a lot of people wouldn’t be able to locate it on the map. However, during summer you will find Latvia filled with tourists. Mostly concentrated in the capital – Riga.
If you don’t like crowded and messy places, this is another good reason why you should visit Latvia during autumn. People just assume that Latvia is too cold during autumn, which is not the case. You won’t see snow and the temperature goes from +10°C to +20°C on a sunny day, so don’t let the cold scare you.
Mushroom picking in the woods
Latvia is home to Europe’s most active mushroom pickers. In case you see people in the woods with a knife in their hands, don’t get scared. They are simply there to hunt for some delicious dinner ingredients.
It is estimated that mushroom picking is the favorite form of active recreation for about half of Latvia’s population, so try it for yourself and see what’s so special about mushroom picking. Bring some hot tea and snacks, and enjoy a picnic afterward. I guarantee you will sleep like a baby after a day in the woods.
In case you don’t know anything about mushrooms, make sure you download an app called Mushroom Identification 4+ and it will help you sort edible mushrooms from poison. You can experiment with recipes later and cook a delicious meal.
Different kind of wine harvesting
Latvian wine may not be the usual choice for many, and it’s not widely available worldwide. However, that uniqueness could be a good reason to step out of the ordinary and give it a try. In the spirit of autumn, a season synonymous with harvest, some Latvian wineries offer intriguing experiences for wine enthusiasts.
If you’re curious, you can explore a list of popular wineries, with two standing out: the Ligatne wine cellar and Abavas winery. These establishments provide a taste of Latvian winemaking, allowing visitors to delve into the local wine culture.
Autumn in Latvia sees a pronounced fondness for mulled wine among the locals. It’s a tradition worth experiencing, as the warm, spiced aroma fills the air.
Another unique option to explore is Latvian apple wine. It’s a beverage that might not have crossed your palate before, making it an intriguing choice for those seeking novel flavors.
So, if you’re up for something different, Latvian wineries are waiting for you, offering a sip of the country’s unique vinicultural delights.
Further reading for autumn in Latvia
Heading to Estonia next?
- Photography Guide: 15 Best Photo Spots in Tallinn, Estonia
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- Complete Tallinn Itinerary: How to Spend 2 days in Tallinn
- How to Plan a Day Trip to Helsinki from Tallinn via Ferry
- 40 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Tallinn, Estonia
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and found some cool ideas for your trip to Latvia in autumn. Bring some extra layers and come to discover real autumn in my beautiful country. I can guarantee it will be an unforgettable experience.
Also, you can combine your trip to Latvia with Tallinn or Trakai Castle in Lithuania which is particularly charming in autumn.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.