There are a number of long-distance bike routes in Latvia. Three Eurovelo routes cross the country, Eurovelo 10, 11 and 13 and there are more routes that have been developed locally. However the most popular route to ride is the Eurovelo 10, which follows the Latvian coast from Lithuania to Estonia. Last year I rode the newly marked section from Riga through Limbaži to Salacgriva, and back along the newly created coastal path. Below are some pictures and some advice on riding in Latvia.
To save time I caught the train north to the final station, Skulte. It is possible, and quite pleasant to ride out of Riga via Carnikava and Saulkrasti, but I had ridden this before and decided to skip it this time. From Skulte I headed inland towards Limbaži. The road was initially asphalt, but halfway to Limbaži it switched to gravel. Riding was comfortable on both surfaces, until the final kilometre or so into Limbaži, where the surface became loose and corrugated.
After lunch in a nice local pub, I ride north from Limbaži following the Eurovelo 10 route. This was pleasant riding on very quiet asphalt roads, with little passing traffic. The asphalt disappeared again, around 5 km from Salacgiva, where the road turns west, and I encountered some heavy trucks kicking up dust on the final few km into Salacgriva. This was a little unpleasant, but the scenery was pretty and I was able to have a dip in the Baltic sea to wash off the dust.
There are hotels and guest houses in Salacgriva, but I chose to camp instead. Camping is free and allowed in the Forest Park just to the north of the city. Pitching your tent with a view of the sea and the possibility to go for a swim first thing in the morning is one of the benefits of riding along the Latvian coastal route.
The next day I decided to try the newly created coastal route, back south to Skulte, created as part of the Central Baltic Cycling initiative. The first part of the ride was quite pleasant, leaving Salacgriva on a forest road, eating some berries on the roadside, reaching the coast and following a paved path between the sea and the highway, and having the chance to have a few more quick dips to cool off.
However, the path is not as great in the second section heading into Tuja, from the pictures above you can see some problems I encountered; having to carry my bike across small creeks flowing into the sea, overgrown paths and in one place I rode through someone’s yard, only to find on reaching the other side a sign telling to go around, as this was private property. By the time I reached Tuja, I had had enough of the supposed ‘path’ and I rode to Skulte on the highway. Not pleasant, but at least with a solid surface under my wheels.
To sum up, the coastal route has some potential, but in places is just signs with no real though given to how a fully laden cyclist might navigate sand dunes and narrow paths. Far preferable is the inland route through Limbāzi, although swimming every hour is not possible. For those continuing on Eurovelo 10 into Estonia, this is not much of a problem, as the route follows the coast and the islands all the way to Tallinn. For someone with just two or three days in Latvia, this is a good route to try.
For more information about long-distance routes, touring and trekking bike rental, maps or questions about cycling in Latvia, feel free to contact us. High quality trekking bikes are available for long term rental as well as Ortleib bags and other equipment.