(continued from part I)
From the Sigulda Tourist Information Poruka road runs westwards for 100m towards the only cable car in Latvia. A short ride across the Gauja river valley, offering excellent views on the National Park and the town, will cost around 2€. In summer, the cable car is even used a few times a week for bungee jumping! On the west bank are the interesting ruins of the 16th century Krimulda castle. From here roads and trails lead into the National Park and towards the beautiful brick Turaida Castle. You can also walk back to Sigulda town centre by the bridge that crosses the Gauja river.
Just south from the east bank cable car station is a summer-only Ferris wheel, offering a bird's eye view on the landscape. Nearby is a bicycle rental shop, an excellent option for exploring the Gauja National Park. A marked bicycle route starts near the Gauja bridge and will bring you to some interesting places in and around Sigulda, including Gutmana Cave and Krimulda castle. The Sigulda Campgound, excellently located on the river banks, offers kayaks for rent (around 40€ per boat per day) to explore the region in a different way. It is also possible to take a dip here in the always cold Gauja river or in the next-door swimming pool. In winter Sigulda offers some downhill skiing, but don't expect a second Aspen or Switzerland. Nevertheless, a bobsleigh track is available for both winter and summer fun only 500m south of the camping. For another great experience, a few km south of Sigulda, on the Riga highway lies the Baltic states only Vertical Wind Tunnel, the Aerodium Latvia.
A big tourist magnet like Sigulda does certainly have its share of accommodation. However, during summer (June-September) and winter (December-January) seasons everything is heavily booked so it's advisable to arrange your rooms at least a few days in advance. For a full listing you may look at Sigulda's official website. The Hotel Sigulda and next-door Melnais Kakis both offer excellent double rooms, including breakfast, for around 65 and 50€ and are located close to the tourist information. Livonija Guesthouse, south of the train station, offers good double rooms for below 30€. Food is widely available in Sigulda and always cheap: the upmarket hotels still offer main courses below 10€, while the many "Kafejnica's" have hearty pub-like meals for much cheaper. Every sight mentioned above will always have at least some snacks available to appease your hunger.