info zu Nordostlitauen (“Aukštaitija”)here
info zu Südostlettland (“Latgale”)here
| Well, I know, the most cyclists try the direct connection from Vilnius to Riga.|
But that’s a route we do not recommend: it is quite boring, flat, “nothing special” leading you through industrial and agricultural areas.
So, what we recommend is to turn a bit more to the East and visit the reach nature areas of the Aukštaitija – literally “highlands” – in Lithuania, with the oldest national park of Lithuania and the East of Latvia called “Latgale”. Together they build what is called “The Baltic Lakeland”
| Ja, die meisten schauen wohl auf die direkte Verbindung von Vilnius nach Riga.|
Aber Zentral-Litauen und -Lettand ist eher flach, industriell und landwirtschaftlich geprägt und somit nicht besonders anziehend (eben eher für die Durchfahrt geeignet).
Deswegen empfehlen wir einen Schlenker nach Osten: Durch das “Baltische Seenland” der Aukštaitija in Litauen und Latgale in Lettland. Hier befinden sich in einer leicht hügeligen Seenlandschaft z.B. der älteste litauische Nationalpark
East Lithuania / East Latvia:
more information on the North East of Lithuania (“Aukštaitija”) here
more information on the South East of Latvia (“Latgale”) here
|Route LV3 in the SHOP (English)|
Route LT3 in the SHOP (English)
|Route LV3 im online-SHOP (Deutsch)|
Route LT3 im online-SHOP (Deutsch)
BaltiCCycle.eu Route Riga-Vilnius? on the Openstreetmap / Opencyclemap
(LT3) Lithuanian part
(LV3) Latvian part
“Baltic Lakeland” / Baltischen Seenland
local cycle routes – in English
in Latvia (Region Latgale)http://www.balticlakes.com/en/marsruti/Latgale_Latvija
in Lithuania (Aukštaitija)http://www.balticlakes.com/en/marsruti/Aukstaitija_Lietuva
Furthermore you may find routes in Belarus and a border crossing round route – which you probably won’t use due to the VISA-requirements to Belarus
Radrouten vor Ort – auf Deutsch
in Lettland (Region Latgale)http://www.balticlakes.com/de/marsruti/Latgale_Latvija
in Litauen (Aukštaitija)http://www.balticlakes.com/de/marsruti/Aukstaitija_Lietuva
darüber hinaus gibt Routen in Weißrussland (Republik Belarus) und eine Grenz überschreitene Rundroute. Die faktische Benutzung wird allerdings zur Zeit an den VISA-Bestimmungen scheitern …
I have good news:
Last weekend I met on the local tourism fair the representatives of the EuroRegion? “Baltic Lakeland” (Latvia-Belarus-Lithuania)
Now the bad news: Their web page www.balticlakes.comis NOT ready, yet.
BUT I got some guides:
- “Existing cycling in the Baltic country of lakes” – local routes, unfortunately I took only ONE copy.
- Travelling in the BaltiC country of Lakes small booklet
I would sent the last one together with the maps you order:
1. There is a map of Central Latvia (around Riga)
2. There is a map of Eastern Latvia (Riga is missing)
each map 6 Euro + packaging
SOME MORE COMMENTS:
1. Is might be problem to go WITH BICYCLE from Daugavpils to Vilnius.
The trains CROSSING the border are INTERNATIONAL Trains coming from RUSSIA.
They have NO SPACE for bicycles.
You should take a train starting in LITHUANIA (Turmantas). There it is NO PROBLEM!
2. As I mentioned: A beautiful region is the GAUJA NATIONAL PARK close to Riga, you may go there by train
3. I still recommend to “skip” part between Riga and Rezekne. It is very long and not very much interesting
4. One of the nicest regions is AUKSTAITIJA National park in LITHUANIA, West of Ignalina town.
This is the introduction of the BaltiCCycle-Guide “Riga-Vilnius” (2005)
(order the booklet in the SHOP shop.balticcycle.eu)
”We avoid the main, crowded roads and therefor of cause cycle on few parts on gravel and forest roads, especially because they are on very nice routes.
We recommend you to leave you more time. Go on small roads and feel the spirit and the nature!”
Untill now there are only very few local signed cycle routes
Europe is changing. Countries which seemed far away behind an Â„iron curtainÂ“ soon will join the European Union. And there is a lot of nature and unknown history to discover.
So here are some hard facts good to know:
The national currency of Lithuania is called Litas (Lt). 1 Lt = 100 ct. (cent). In February 2002, litas has been set to the Euro at 1 EUR = 3,45 Lt.
LATVIA: 1 Euro = about 0.7 Latvian Lat (1 Lat = 100 Santimi)
Each town has a Bank with an ATM (Visa, Mastercard), Minumum working hours: min. Mo-Fr? 10-16
Latvian telephone code +371, mobile phone numbers start with 9,
Lithuanian telphone code is +370, Dialing inside the country: 8 + Town code + Number, Mobile phone numbers start with 8-6..-….. (or +370 6.. ….. by mobile phone), Dialing abroad is either 8+country code, meanwhile also 00+country code works
And of cause there are different mobile phone operators, usually connected with international networks.
in Lithuania Fire brigade 01 Police 02 Ambulance 03
In Latvia and Lithuania Mobile emergency call number 112
Best Cycle time:
May to September. Climate at the coast differs.
Bicycle shops: available in bigger towns (Seelist).
We are in the Eastern European Time Zone and changing summer to winter time:
Central Europe + 1 hours
Greenwhich + 2 hours
In each bigger village you may find a food shop, usually opened until 8 p.m., in the cities super markets, huge Shopping Malls and Alcohol stores (with some food), working to 10 or 12 p.m. or 24 hours a day. Besides of restaurants, coffee shops or bars you may find at daytime very cheap cantines (Lithuania: valgykla, Latvia: Ednica). Traditionell cuisine is flour and potatoes. The Baltics are famous for their beer.
in LT: TIC (Turizmo Informatijos Centras), in LV: Turizma Informacija;
In bigger localities and in all regional or nature Introduction => see list and within the route description
In cities no problem. Each town has a small hotel. There are tourist Regions (in summer at the coast).
Real Campings are rare. In nature reserves you may find simple camp sites with fireplace and dry toilet. For security reasons do not camp in wilderness but try to ask a farmer, in nature reserves wild camping is strictly forbidden.
There are associations for Â„Country holidaysÂ“. Here you may not only find a good sleeping place with personal contacts, but often also find a place to put up you tent safely.
HINT: The local Tourism-Information? helps you finding a sleeping place.
Â„BaltiCCycleÂ“ helps you – We may offer you accommodation after you personal needs and spendings.
more on :
TABLE OF CONTENT Page
General presentation of the route 1-2
Overview Route Latvia I 3-4
Overview Route Lithuania 5
Leaving Riga 7-8
Route 1 (Northern Route)
Esit sveicynoti Latgole! Welcome to Latgale! 14
Madona – Rezekne 15-20
a) Rezekne – Dagda – Aglona,
b) Vilani-Preili-Aglona? 21-24
Aglona – Kraslava – Daugavpils 25-27
Info: Daugavpils 29-34
Background: Roads in the Baltic States 46
Background: You need to know … 64
Bicycle vocabulary and Service 65
Mini – Dictionary English-Latvian-Lithuanian? 66-67
Tourism Information in Latvia and Lithuania 68-69
The BaltiCCycle Help form! 70
Overview: Cycle Routes in the Baltic States 71
Frank Wurft. M.A.: Riga-Vilnius? by bicycle.
(c) 2005 VÃ°. Ã. Â“Du rataiÂ” / International Bicycle Project Â“BaltiCCycleÂ”
Maps by Jana Seta, Riga, license of Lithuanian CyclistsÂ’ Community, (c) 2001
Description based on information of the Tourism Information Centres and own research in 2005
Pictures from the BaltiCCycle Archive
How to use this booklet?
The format is quite comfortable to put it to a bicycle frontbag
1 – The route description + map
Distances are measured in km between to places, e.g. 2 km after or from the start place of the part, e.g On km 12 from Riga
2 – Information on sights to visit
3. Information on infrastructure: Cafes (Food) and accommodation.
Shops are in most of the small villages, but do not believe to find much more then mentioned in this booklet!
Who are we:
BaltiCCycle is the project to the support of the Cycle!Culture in the Baltic States. We are cylists in the Baltic States who simply want to make cycling more popular and make the – indeed very simple – conditions better.
One of our actions is to show our guests the most beautiful ways by bicycles through the Baltic States. Assemblying these small books we are guided by the following principles:
Our way links the most interesting places and most beautiful landscapes and therefor is not the most direct but the most insteresting;
2. Density of traffic:
We choose ways on low traffic secondary roads. Unfortunately it is – specially close to cities – not possible to avoid the main road totally, though there are few cycle paths;
3. Road surface:
Our ways are to 80 % on asphalt cover. Unfortunately it is not possible to avoid gravel and forest roads totally, specially if they should agree with the 1st and 2nd point. We show some alternatives for those who are not afraid of roads with even worse surface;
Our guides contain information for orientation, sightseeing and up-to-date service information. There are published in a simple quality and in few copies, therefore they can be updated soon. For financial reasons (copyright) they can not contain detailed maps. We recommend and distribute additionally the excellent regional maps made in the Baltic States. Furthermore many nature reserves and towns made different local cycling, hiking or canoeing routes from simple descriptions, maps up to different kinds of signing or even bicycle paths. Unfortunately you may get the detailed information on them usually only locally. We mention them and show you where to get the information if you want to stay longer and take a local ride without luggage.
Riga-Vilnius – A General Presentation
And here are some words on the route Riga-Vilnius?. This routes connects the two very different capitals:
Riga is an old town big town with deep ties to the West: Founded itself by German knights and missioneers more that 800 years ago it was member of the “Hanse” league of merchants, is famous for it’s Old town and Art Nouveaz/Jugendstil- architecture and of cause its nightlife.
Vilnius on the other hand is only 35 km away from the byelorussian border, a city at the crossroads of cultures. Still there are dozens of different curches and and houses of prayers in the Old town which is the biggest in Eastern Europe.
Both cities have in common that they are booming, with new skyscrapers growing. If you want to know more about these cities we recommend some free city guides like “Exploring Vilnius” or “Riga This Week”.
Our task is now to bring you in the region inbetween.
First all, it is still a quite “unknown” region to foreign tourists (Local residents do know it). We lead you to the lakelands of Eastern Latvia and Lithuania.
Second, we face the problem how to leave Riga (see below) and allways find bigger parts of gravel roads. There is only one way to skip it – by train.
Third. the nice road (North of the river Daugava) becomes very long (over 400 km), therefor we describe a shorter one, south of the Daugava (250 km). But be aware! This southern route is no real alternative: The road is worse, there is very few infrastructure (few to see) and more traffic. We always recommend the Northern route – just if you do not have the time …
On the routes between Riga and Vilnius you may find:
- The Middle Ages:
many castle mounds (latvian: Pilskalns, Lithuanian: Piliakalnis), which served as stronghold of the Lithuanians and Latvians in their fight against the German knights of the Teutonic order. The Lithuanians have in mind they won their fight and were later ruled by Polish and Russian noble men, Latvia was ruled by the Germans. In Latvia there are impressive castles or castle ruines left, in Lithuania not, because the Lithuanians used to build wooden castles…
- The 19th. century:
There are hunderds of manor houses or parts of them left in Latvia and Lithuania, often you even can see it by the name of the place (ending with “muizxa” in Latvian and “-dvaris” or “dvaras” if two words in Lithuanian). You can get a feeling how life was before the first World War.
Many small towns also are in a shape of 200 years ago and also had a strong Jewish influence. Specially in Lithuania these were the places where the small Jewish traders and craftmen lived. In some places there are also old Jewish cemeteries left.
In the second biggest city of Latvia, Daugavpils, you may find a typical fortress of the 19th century build under Tsarist rule and a good symbol of Russian militarisation before World War 2.
And the big monastary in Aglona shows you how the Eastern border was a battle field of faith.
- First independence 1918:
The Eastern part of Latvia, the region of Latgale, is different because for aa ling time it has a Russian minority and Latvians here tend to be catholic (though most Latvians are lutheran protestant).
Some eastern part of Lithuania belonged before the Second World War to Poland. Therefor you find few monuments of the First Lithuanian Republic.
- The Soviet Union & Second world war
Of cause the Baltic States were a battlefield of war, a lot changed due to the war, most of these things didn’t changed during centuries. E.g. most over the Lithuanian Jews did not survive it, they eather were exterminated or emigrated. In Latvia the former German “masters” – in Lithuania the Polish – were forced to leave the states. On the background of these facts it is a big discussion on how history can be a “national” one. The large forests in the East of the countries were also place of the partisan movement against the Soviet rule. Of them you also may find conmemorative places (“hideouts” or places of battle).
The Soviet Union itself left the ruins of the former collective farms (“Kolkhos”) and industrial complexes. ugly living blocks in most of the townships. A special monument in Lithuania I would name the city of Visaginas (formly named after the leader of the Lithuanian Communist Party Snietchkus) which was artficially build for the workers of Ignalina Nuclear Powerplant (same type as Chernobyl).
In Latvia it led to a huge immigration of Slavs. As consequence the Second biggest city of Latvia, Daugavpils (in German: Dünaburg) is mainly Russian speaking.
- Independence 1988-
Signs of the New Independent states are new shopping facilities in the towns, new chaotic settlements and some new plants. Piece by piece soviet relicts disapear, but the differents of relatively rich towns and poor villages are deepening.
This route will lead you to through a hilly land to the lakelands in the East. In Latvian the most interest sights are the “Teichi reservate” one of the biggests swamps in Europe, the lake triangel between Daugavpils, Rezekne and Kraslava, the nature park “loops of Daugava river” between Kraslava and Daugavpils. In Lithuania the Regional (nature) Park of Zarasai (a town surrounded by lakes), the National Park of Aukshtaitija (a famous lakeland), the Regional Park Labanoras (the biggest forest in Lithuania), the Regional Parks of Grazute, Asveja, Verkai
WE BEG YOUR PARDON THAT SPECIAL LITHUANIAN AND LATVIAN LETTERS DO NOT ALWAYS APPEAR!
More background information at the end of the booklet!
Some Basic Bike Words
|Brake lever||bremzes suira||stabÃ¾iÃ¸ rankena|
|Derailleur||PÃ¢rnesums||pavarÃ¸ perjungÃ«jas (simpleksas)|
|Cassette sprocket, crankset||Zobrats||Ã¾vaigÃ¾dutÃ«|
|Saddle tube||sÃ§dkla stienis||balnelio kotas|
Each Baltic country has its own language. Lithuanian and Latvian are somehow familiar and belong to the Baltic language group, Estonian is similar to Finnish. There are big Russian speaking minorities – most people speak Russian, many do not like it. English is spread in bigger cities and Estonia, in Latvia and at the Lithuanian Coast many speak German.
Some words on the languages…
Well, Latvian and Lithuanian (even more) are some of the most ancient and difficult languages in Europe. There are only very few similarities to Russian. Though everybody knows at least some Russian, it is not very popular despite in regions where many Russians live (so in Eastern Latvia).
Many local residents are very friendly to foreigners (as a friend said: In Soviet times there was a bigger possibility to meet somebody from Mars then from abroad) others remain sceptical (maybe due to the experience of ocupation)
You mainly need the language to read signs. Grammar is complicated and words change much. Therefor try to recognise the root of the word. E.g. In Lithuanian Â„dviratisÂ“ means bicycle, Â„dviraÃ¨iaisÂ“ by bicycle and Â„dviraÃ¨io (oder dviraÃ¨iÃ¸) parduotuvÃ«Â“ bike shop (by word Â„Place where bicycle(s) soldÂ“). The endings are changing and sometimes also letters within the word. And to be honest – there are different ways…
At a last problem is the right prononciation – if your word and the form is right, it does not mean that somebody understands you. Simply, the people are not used to foreigners speaking their language.
DonÂ‘t get mad about it, donÂ‘t expect a Â„service societyÂ“ and stay open for many nice small experiences…
Use the Mini Dictionary list for some essential words.
|Good day||Labdien||Laba diena|
|How are you?||Ka tev iet?||Kaip Jums sekasi?|
|Where is…?||Kur atrodas…?||Kur yra Â…?|
|Goodbye||Uz redzesanos||Iki (pasimatymo)|
|WhatÂ’s your name?||Ka tevi sauc?||Kuo JÃ»s vardu?|
|Pleased to meet you||Prieks iepazities||Labai malonu!|
|My name is..||Mani sauc..||Mano vardas|
|How much does it cost?||Cik tas maksa?||Kiek kainuoja?|
|Sorry / Excuse me!||Atvainojiet||AtsipraÂšau|
|May I have the bill please?||Atnesiet ludzu rekinu?||PraÂšau sÃ skaitÃ|
|Right||Pa labi||Ã deÃ°inÃ¦|
|Left||Pa kreisi||Ã¡ kairÃ¦|
|Workings hours||Darba laiks||darbo laikas|
Days of the week
Monday Pirmdiena Pirmadienis I
Tuesday Otrdiena Antradienis II
Wednesday Tresdiena TreÃ¨iadienis III
Thursday Ceturtdiena Ketvirtadienis IV
Friday Piektdiena Penktadienis V
Saturday Sestdiena ÂŠeÂštadienis VI
Sunday Svetdiena (Sv)Sekmadienis VII
touristic words TÃ»risma termini Â
Nature Darba Gamta
Path Taka Takas
Monument Piemineklis Paminklas
Museum Muzejs Muziejus
History VÃ§sture Istorija
NAKÃÃ’OÃANA, naktsmÃ®tne NakvynÃ«
Hotel viesnÃ®ca VieÃ°bÃ»tis
Guesthouse Viesu mÃ¢ja NakvynÃ«s Namai
Country Holidays Lauku mÃ¢ja Atostogos Kaime, Kaimo AtostogÃ¸ Sodyba
Tent Tents PalapinÃ«
Campsite TelÂšu vieta StovyklavietÃ«
Admistrative Unities and Places
County – Apskritis (Aps.)
district rajons (raj., r.)Rajonas (raj.), SavivaldybÃ« (sav.)
parish novads (nov.) senunija (sen.) Country community lauku teritorija l.t.
farmstead seta sodyba
ciems kaimas (k., km) small: kaimelis
Town pilseta miestas (m.), small: miestÃ«lis (mstl.)
Old town vecpilsÃ§ta senamiestis
Road ÃˆelÂš Kelias
Street Iela gatvÃ« (g.)
main street Prospekts prospektas (pr.)
Place, square Laukums (l.) aikÃ°tÃ« (a)
Manor house muiÃ¾a dvaras (in names: -dvaris)
Tower tornis bokÂštas
church baznÃ®ca baÃ¾nyÃ¨ia
Mill dzirnavas malÃ»nas
Bridge Tilts tiltas
Castle Pils Pilis
Rampart pilskalns Piliakalnis
Castle ruins pilsdrupas Pilies griÃ»vÃ«siai, pilies liekanos
Hill Kalns (pakalns) Kalnas
Beach Pludmale Papludimys
Graveyard Kapi KapinÃ«s
grave kaps Kapas
Swamp purvs pelkÃ«
Forest MeÃ¾s MiÂškas
River Upe upÃ«
Waterfall Ã»denskritums krioklys
Big stone (diÃ¾)akmens -Â
Tree (oak, linden)koks (ozols, liepa) medis (Ã Ã¾uolas, liepa)
Holy place svÃ§tavots Ã°ventykla, Ã°ventovÃ«Â Â Â
Railways DzelzceÃ¯Ã° (Dz.) GeleÃ¾inkeliai
Railway station DzelzceÃ¯a stacija GeleÃ¾inkeliÃ¸ stotis (gel. st.)
workshop (Repair service)
Factory RÃ»pnÃ®ca, fabrika gamykla, fabrikas
School Skola (Sk.) Mokykla
Food EdiÂšana Maitinimas Some Basic Food …
Milk Piens Pienas
Bread Maize Duona
Water Udens vanduo
Meat Gala mÃ«sa
Fruits Augli vaisai
Vegetables Darzeni darÃ¾ovÃ«s
Coffee Kafija Kava
Beer Alus Alus
The Food Places …
Marketplace tirgus Turgus
Shop veikals parduotuvÃ«
Supermarket DiÃ¾veikals Prekybos centras
Food PÃ¢rtika maisto prekÃ«s
Cafe KafejnÃ®ca KavinÃ«
Cantine Ã§dnÃ®ca valgykla
Inn KrodzinÂš Baras, smuklÃ«
Esit sveicynoti Latgole! Welcome to Latgale!
What is Latgale? ItÂ’s an ancient part of Latvia, almost a quarter of the whole country, where one third of Latvian population lives. Historically, Latgale was the whole region of Latvia from the River Daugava in the East to the Livian tribeÂ’s border and the SlavsÂ’ borders. Ancient Latgale (nowadays Vidzeme and Latgale) was under Polish rule in 16th century, and was called Â“Pardaugavas hercogisteÂ”. One hundred and fifty castle mounds of Latgale still show where the regionÂ’s fortified castles were, where land-lords and local rulers held sway,and where separate regions were prosperous and wealthy.
Nowadays Latgale comprises districts of Balvi, Daugavpils, Kraslavas, Ludzas, Preili and Rezeknes, and land on the right bank of the Daugava in Jekabpils district, and two cities Â– Daugavpils and Rezekne.
The Latgalian dialect, called the Latgalian language, is an Upper LatvianÂ’s dialect. The colloquial Latgalian dialect is very varied, even within one District, and is rich in specific words. Latgale is rightly called the Land of Blue lakes or Lakeland. There are the largest lake in Latvia – Lubans (82,1 km2), the second largest lake Â– the Raznas lake (located near Rezekne), the deepest lake Dridzis (maximum depth – 63 m), which is the deepest in the Baltics. A unique protected natural area is Ezezers with thirty-six island and Velnezers (the DevilÂ’s lake) is famous for its mysterious colour and legends.
Latgale greets tourists with its picturesque views, varied mosaic landscapes with many lakes, forests and hills, and geological curiosities Â– great stones (the biggest Latvian great stone is situated in Nicgale (130 m3)), glens and slopes. Latgale is characterized by crucifixes at the road sides, steeples of white churches over coniferous forests, manor-houses and castles. The world famous Catholic religious centre – Aglona Basilica – each year on August 15 attracts thousands of people from different countries to celebrate the Ascension of the Virgin Mary. Ceramics made by potters Â– jugs, pots, vases, plates and candlesticks, glittering glaze of warm colours Â– it is a traditional part of Latgalian crafts. Each Latgalian potter has his own specific style, leaving his personal mark on Latgalian craft. Patchwork, different kinds of knitting, crochet, carvings in wood, wattle work are very popular handicrafts in Latgale and they present peculiarities of folk applied art in the region.