Bicycling in Latvia / Fahrradfahren (Velofahren) in Lettland
|LV1 / Western Latvia, Kurzeme region (Couronia), Klaipeda-Riga
LV2 / North Eastern Latvia, Vidzeme region with the Gauja National park
LV3 / South Eastern Latvia, Latgale region
LV4 / South Latvia, Zemgale region
|LV1 / Westlettland,, Region Kurzeme (Kurland)
LV2 / Nordostlettland, Region Vidzeme mit dem Gauja Nationalpark
LV3 / Südostlettland, Region Latgale
LV4 / Südlettland, Zemgale region
I remember that only some years ago cycling was classified in Latvia as “extreme tourism”.
But meanwhile many things changed and in 2013/14 in the framework of the international project “Central Baltic Cycling” different bicycle maps and guide for 3 of the 4 Latvian regions were published:
- Vidzeme (Livland) in the North East;
- Kurzeme (Curonia, Courland) in the West;
- Zemgale () in the South;
- Only for the South East – the region Latgale – an according map is missing.
All the maps are available in the Balticcycle shop for free as download (we already ran out of as paper versions).
Only the capital region Riga which hosts roughly the half of all inhabitants of Latvia, has an special position, but since several years the main bicycles tracks – axises – are under construction.
In Vidzeme and Kurzeme there is a raising number of signs. But by noew there is no country wide bicycle signage system as Estonia.
And here are the bad news for cycling in Latvia:
Gravel roads. There are still to many of them, making many roads impossible to cycle with heavy luggage but make the country an “El dorado” for Mountainbikers.
In Latvia despite of the west (Curonia) also the Gauja National Park (North East of the capital) offers you good possibilities mainly for mountainbike cycling.
What’s so special about Latvia?
Everybody’s asking, so let’s try to find an answer:
First of all, here we have the biggest city in the Baltic States – Riga – which compared to the cosy Vilnius and Tallinn old town really feels like a big city;
Secondly, the capital is quite central in the country, so the four main historical regions group itself around it: Vidzeme to the North East, Latgale to the South East, Zemgale to the South and Kurzeme to the West;
- To the West (Kurzeme or Curonia or Courland) we find most of the 600 km of sandy beaches but also a hilly country with some lakes and rivers (that sounds pretty!) – so let’s name it region Nr. 1, or [LV1]; close to Riga we find with Jurmala the biggest sea spa in the Baltic States: it is connected by a real bicycle path from the centre of Riga!
- To the North East we find the Gauja National Park and the region Vidzeme (here the translation for Tolkien’s friends: Middle Earth). The Gauja is a river in a very nice valley. Unlikely the best is to discover the river by canoe, not by bicycle.There are two directions to get connected to Estonia, in the BaltiCCycle classification this is region [LV2];
- The South of Latvia (Zemgale or “Lowlands”) is pretty flat an agricultural. A bit boring for cycling, thus there are some famous castles, but cyclists either pass the South as long distance cyclist looking for a direct, fast way to Vilnius or Poland or they are racing cyclist and don’t care much for sights, just for the amount of km;
- The South East – Latgale – belongs to the Euro-Region “Baltic Lakeland” (together with Lithuania and Belarus) and is very pretty. Thus, it’s quite far away from Riga and by now few cyclists go to this “far away region”. [LV3] in the Balticcycle classification.
So, I distinguish Latvia in three parts, starting from Riga:
- the West (direction Lithuania / Curonian Spit) – LV1= Region Curonia (Kurzeme)
- the North East (direction Estonia) – LV2 = Region Vidzeme
- the South East (direction Lithuania/Vilnius) – LV3 = Region Latgale
For discovering Latvia by bicycle BaltiCCycle created the following specialised publications:
BaltiCCycle “Latvia by bicycle” (German and English), 2nd edition 2007
Route description for the Cycle routes from Riga to West and Nordeast, LV1 and LV2
You may also get an information package with good regional maps and Riga city info BaltiCCycle “Riga-Vilnius” (English only).
Invites you to descover the less touristic East (Latgale in Latvija and Aukštaitija in Lithuania), the “Baltic Lakeland”. LV3
You may also get an information package with good regional maps, the booklet “Cycling in the Country of lakes”, Aukstaitija National park, Riga & Vilnius city info
These publications and additional maps are available via our online shop
|More Background Info:
History of Latvia
Hints and Links
Introduction of the book “Latvia by bicycle” (in German)
Tipps und Links (nur auf Englisch)
Einleitung des Buches “Lettland per Rad” (nur Deutsch)
Maps and Route Descriptions about Latvia on shop.balticcycle.eu