It´s winter and therefore it´s time to practice winter sports, such as skiing and snowboarding. A lot of people head for the Alps or the Pyrenees to practice their sport but being high season, the prices are sky high. If you´re looking for a cheaper place and also with the added bonus of never having been there before so you can discover a completely different place, we have a great proposal for you: Latvia.
Those who know a bit more about geography will say “but there are no mountains in Latvia!”. True, there aren´t Alpine-sized mountains but they are high enough so that you can practice winter sports in a satisfactory manner. The durations of the descents are shorter than those in Central European mountains but there´s the added plus that each city and town in Latvia has its own ski and snowboard area. Also, you don´t have to worry about the facilities since all of them are modern and well-lit, so you can practice sport even after the sun goes down.
For those who are still a bit reluctant, it´s important to say that these facilities are even set up so that novices and young children can learn how to ski, with all sorts of slopes available. Also, it´s like a resort around most slopes, with restaurants, cafes, shops and hotels, since they are inside a city or town.
Without doubt, the best place to ski in Latvia is Sigulda Valley, located just 30 minutes northeast of Riga. Here you can find the best slopes in the whole country and definitely the most popular ones. Not only is ski popular here as a winter sport but also bobsleigh, in case you´re willing to try something new and extreme, which you can do at Kamaninu. Here you can find slopes such as Pilsētas trase, with a ramp of 90 metres difference in height from top to bottom, considered the best place to snowboard in Latvia. If not, Kordes trase is the most extreme place to ski, with an 84-metre ramp in a slope that´s just 247 metres long. In any case, the most popular is Kakiskalns, 320m long slope with an 80-metre ramp.
A bit further away from Sigulda is Gauja Valley and its national park. There you can find Žagarkalns, a favourite amongst Latvians to ski since winter sports are national sports here. This place has various slopes, some of up to 400 metres in length, and many places to do cross-country skiing. Nearby is Ozolkains, which has the longest slopes in the country of over 500 metres long to snowboard and ski. At Baiļi you can do all of this with the added plus that it has facilities that include saunas and spas.
Another great place to practice these sports is Vidzeme, the northeastern and eastern part of the country, one of the most important cultural and historical spots in Latvia. This place has the highest area in the whole country, so practicing winter sports here is ideal and for this reason it´s one of the most important winter sports areas in the whole of Latvia. It has to be said that the highest point in Latvia is 1020 ft above sea level. Vidzeme is especially good to snowboard on slopes such as Dāmu paradīze and Mazais muļķītis, although Laida kalns is the complete full monty, with ski slopes, snowboarding slopes and recreation areas for adults and children as well as bars, cafes and restaurants.
All of these places are less than an hour away by car from the capital, so it would be a good idea to rent apartments by days in Riga and discover this wonderful city so after that you can go an enjoy the nearby slopes. Without doubt, this is a great alternative plan to enjoy your favourite sport this winter.