This year, airBaltic became the world’s first airline to issue limited collector non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The first artwork showcased an individual Airbus aircraft with its registration as well as one of the most beloved Latvian cities – Kuldīga. The second featured the picturesque Medieval town of Cēsis, the third – the most beautiful lake town in Latvia – Alūksne and the fourth – authentic seaside getaway – Liepāja and the fifth – small and charming town in the Zemgale region – Bauska.
Now, the sixth NFT from the collection has been released, featuring one of the most picturesque towns in autumn – Sigulda.
These digital art pieces serve as a tourism campaign for Latvian cities, certainly still an undiscovered destination for many.
All airBaltic NFTs have been issued on the OpenSea marketplace, available here.
Sigulda, one of the most picturesque towns in the Vidzeme region of northern Latvia, lies only 50 kilometres from Riga.
The town sits on higher ground overlooking the Gauja River and Gauja National Park. Locals call it the Switzerland of Latvia just waiting to be discovered, especially in autumn, when the crisp air sets in and the foliage turns a golden colour.
Autumn is the time when locals and visitors alike head to this gem of a town to admire the colourful leaves on the trees, walk the wonderful nature trails, ride the cable car above the treetops, or even to do some bungee jumping over the ancient Gauja River valley.
Photo Kristaps Ungurs
But Sigulda appeals to those who prefer exploring culture and history as much as it does to avid hikers and adventure seekers. Sigulda is your perfect destination this autumn – come and explore it in all its glory!
Where to find history
The New Sigulda Castle was built as a residence for Duke Kropotkin and his family. At the end of the 19th century, Sigulda became a summer leisure destination because of the newly built railway line. After the First World War, the New Castle was renamed the Writers’ Castle and became the most luxurious and modern leisure castle in the Baltics, with a unique Romanticism-style interior. Nowadays, the Sigulda Castle quarter is home to the offices of Sigulda Municipality and a creative centre for craftsmen and artists.
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Krimulda manor
Another place worth visiting is Krimulda Manor, located just outside Sigulda. In the mid-19th century, Krimulda was a well-known vacation spot for high-ranking officials. In addition to the impressive Classicism-style manor, the property also includes a stable built in 1893, a steward’s house, and the so-called Swiss House, which provided accommodation for aristocrats and wealthy bourgeois. Nowadays, Krimulda Manor is a certified rehabilitation centre that is ideal for enjoying nature and tranquillity as well as a panoramic view of the Gauja River valley.
Did you know?
It is believed that Sigulda has the greatest concentration of castles not only in Latvia but in all of eastern Europe. Dozens of stone castles and hill forts were built in the ancient Gauja valley, including Turaida Castle on the outskirts of Sigulda.
Photo Kristaps Ungurs and Reinis Hofmanis
Around the 11th century CE, the Livonian people settled on the shores of the Gauja in Turaida. The name Turaida originated from the Livonian language and translates to ‘God’s Garden’. For centuries, the majestic valley and Turaida Castle played an important role in wars and battles. In addition, it was home to many lords and nobles, including the Livonian ruler Kaupo and Bishop Albert of Riga.
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Turaida Museum Reserve
Today, Turaida Castle is one of the most-visited cultural landmarks in Latvia. Here visitors can climb the central tower to see the picturesque Gauja valley and the castle complex from above. Many also visit the memorial site of the Rose of Turaida next to the castle. It’s devoted to a young woman named Maija, known as the Rose of Turaida, who lived in Sigulda in the early 17th century. Her tragic story has become a romantic legend about courage and love.
What to do
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Cable Car over Gauja River
The Sigulda cable car provides an exciting ride over the Gauja old valley and overlooking charming Sigulda, Turaida castle, and Krimulda Manor. For those who love adrenaline, head to Bungee Sigulda for a unique bungee jump from a cable car. It’s believed that more than 100,000 people have bungee jumped in Sigulda since 1992.
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Walking-stick Workshop
Visitors who prefer calmer activities may want to check out the walking stick workshop located in the Sigulda castle quarter.
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Walking-stick Workshop
The tradition of making walking sticks in the Sigulda area goes back more than 200 years. In the 20th century, when Sigulda evolved into a prime location for summer homes and hiking trails, the production of walking sticks became an important source of income for local farmers.
Where to hear legends
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Castle of Livonian order
Sigulda’s Livonian Order Castle was built in 1207 by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, known for the red sword and cross depicted on their white capes. Surrounded by three steep slopes, the castle was built to control the waterways of the Gauja River and defend the nearby bishop’s castle in Turaida from attack. Nowadays, the castle ruins have been reconstructed, and history enthusiasts can climb the northern tower and central gate tower. In addition, there is an open-air stage in the centre of the castle that regularly hosts concerts and festivals, including the annual Sigulda Opera Music Festival.
Where to find the best views
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Emperor’s chair and Emperor’s view
Sigulda offers numerous nature trails with some of the best viewpoints. The panoramic views overlooking the valley of the Gauja River and ancient forests are exquisite, especially from places such as Paradise Hill and Ķeizarskats (Emperors View). From Paradise Hill, for example, you can see for up to 12 kilometres. Across the valley one sees the tower of Turaida Castle, but the most impressive landscape is the Gauja valley itself and the Gauja River, which flows 80 metres below. The Ķeizarskats viewpoint was established in 1862, when Tsar Alexander II of Russia visited Sigulda.
Where to find adrenaline
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Aerodium
Aerodium is the first vertical wind tunnel in eastern Europe. The wind here blows so strongly that people can spread their ‘wings’ and actually fly. Adventure seekers are accompanied for their whole flight time by an instructor, who ensures that the guest flies at a safe height. Anyone age four and up may fly, and no previous experience is needed. However, reservations are recommended.
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Adventure Park “Tarzāns”
Another must-visit place for thrill seekers is Tarzāns, the largest open-air adventure park in the Baltics. With more than 11 tracks and 140 different obstacles situated up in the trees 20 metres above ground, the park offers a great view of the Gauja River and plenty of activity for those looking for an extreme adventure. Adventure tracks are tailored for different difficulty levels and age groups – children as well as adults.
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Zipline Zērglis
Zērglis, for its part, is the first and currently only attraction of its kind in the world. Here, one can ride a zipline on the cable car cableway and enjoy breathtaking views of Sigulda. The zipline starts on a platform 55 metres above the Gauja River and reaches speeds of up to 60 km/hour.
Places to please winter sports enthusiasts
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Driving with winter bobsleigh
Every year, the bobsleigh and luge track in Sigulda hosts international competitions, but it’s also one of the few bobsleigh tracks in the world that’s open to the public. Race down the bobsleigh track in the Vučko padded bob or Varde skeleton sled, which can reach speeds of 70 km/hour.
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Fischer Cross-Country Ski Centre
The Fischer Cross-Country Ski Centre features an illuminated 1.25-kilometre-long cross-country ski track. It’s the only artificially frozen ski track in eastern Europe and allows visitors to engage in their passion for skiing even in relatively warm winters and snowless conditions. The cross-country ski centre also offers equipment rental and instructor services.
Where to experience nature
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. ReWild nature adventures
ReWild lets families with children or groups of friends to spend quality time together in nature and at the same time enjoy an adventure in Sigulda. The adventures are named after local birds, such as the sparrow, wagtail, falcon, and eagle, and every experience includes checkpoints and captivating tasks to solve along the trail.
Photo Kristaps Ungurs
But visitors are also welcome to discover nature on their own. Gauja National Park is known for its biological diversity, natural springs, sandstone outcrops, and unique natural and historical sites. It’s the largest and oldest national park in Latvia. When the leaves change colour in autumn, people from all over Latvia come to Sigulda to hike the famous walking trails and enjoy the golden season.
One of the best-known nature attractions in Gauja National Park is Gūtmaņala, the most spacious cave in the Baltics.
Where to go with children
More Safari Park is a private deer garden on the outskirts of Sigulda. More than 300 fallow deer, European red deer, mouflons, and wild boar graze on the park’s 170 hectares. To make a trip to the deer garden even more memorable, visitors can buy snacks to feed the animals or join an hour-long guided walking tour to learn about the fascinating world of wild animals.
Photo from Vienkoči Park Facebook page
Vienkoči Park is also an exciting discovery for the whole family. It’s full of captivating wooden sculptures and unique miniature copies of manor houses that are no longer standing but are recreated here to the tiniest detail. These masterpieces provide tangible evidence of the great deal of work that carpenters performed on the manor houses of the past. The woodworking museum at Vienkoči Park features an old workshop where one can explore the craft of woodworking.
A Latvian proverb says that autumn is a rich man. Don’t be surprised to find locals wandering through the forests in autumn to pick penny buns, chanterelles, russulas, and boletus mushrooms. Back home in the kitchen, they sauté the mushrooms in butter and eat them with new potatoes, beef, or pork.
Where to dine
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. Aparjods
Looking to discover Latvian-style dishes? For more than 25 years, the Aparjods restaurant has delighted guests with Latvian and European cuisine. The rustic exterior, interior, and atmosphere of this countryside restaurant form the perfect backdrop to simple yet refined Latvian dishes. Aparjods takes particular pride is its wine cellar and BBQ menu.
Photo from Sigulda Tourism Information center home page. ESI
After a walk around Atslēgu Skvērs (Key Square) in Sigulda, drop by the family-run Esi café. It’s one of the town’s best-kept secrets and is known for its Instagram-worthy atmosphere and decor. Here one can enjoy breakfast or brunch coupled with a good cup of coffee or refreshing cocktails. From time to time, Esi also organises small, intimate performances of music by local artists.
Where to stay
Spa Hotel Ezeri is located on the shores of a picturesque lake and draws energy from its waters. Legends tell that the lake used to float in the air. After a walk along the lake or the Love Trail that winds through the hotel garden, visitors can explore the spa complex and enjoy a wide range of classic and exotic spa rituals.
Photo Alvis Rozenbergs
Ziedlejas, for its part, is a spa and wellness resort for a slow, immersive break away from the crowds. Inspired by the tiny-house movement and Japanese culture, its cabins are designed to convey the joys of minimalist design and living in nature.
Photo Alvis Rozenbergs
But the best thing about Ziedlejas is its nature spa master practitioners. The resort features traditional nature spa and sauna rituals, also called pirts in Latvian, to cleanse your body and spirit.
Read more about Sigulda at tourism.sigulda.lv