Cēsis is a town in Gauja National Park, in the Vidzeme region of Latvia. Having only around 18,000 inhabitants, it is a fairly quiet historic town, containing two beautiful castles and parks, houses built in various different time periods and small cobbled streets in the Old Town.
Cēsis is located roughly 100 km to the east of the capital Riga.
Many bus routes exist in the region. Direct connections between Cēsis and other nearby large cities such as Riga and Valmiera exist and departures are fairly frequent - usually once an hour. Connections with smaller towns exist, but may be less frequent, depending on the time of day. The Latvian inquiries service 1188.lv provides up-to-date timetables with information such as pricing.
Many buses in the region provide free WiFi access, especially on longer distance routes.
Getting into Cēsis by car is fairly simple. The A2/E77 heads out of Riga in a north-eastern direction and can be followed until the P20 which can then be followed north until turning off west into the town. If following the A2/E77 from a town further east, the P30 (turnoff from A2/E77) can take you straight into Cēsis. From northern towns such as Valmiera, simply following the P20 south until turning off to Cēsis in a similar fashion as when driving from Riga. Following the P14 south-east will also take you straight into Cēsis.
Various turnoffs can be taken from the P20 depending on what the end destination in Cēsis is exactly and should probably be evaluated beforehand.
The town center is fairly small and can be traversed by foot. Practically all sidewalks are asphalted or have flat brick tiling.
Local taxi companies exist and are reasonably priced making them a viable method of getting around. Regardless, you should always keep an eye out for possible scams related with overpricing such as bumping the meter price up with a touch of a button on the meter.
Local public transport exists, but the count of bus departures throughout the day is fairly low making walking to the destination often a much more viable opinion.
- Old Town (Vecpilsēta). 24/7. Various wooden buildings from the 18th and 19th centuries still standing.
- 1 Cēsis Castle Complex, Pils laukums 9. May-Sep: M-Su 10:00-18:00; Oct-Apr: Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 10:00-16:00. Complex with the Medieval Castle, the New Castle and the Cesis History and Art Museum. €4.
- 2 St. John's Church (Svētā Jāņa baznīca), Lielā Skolas iela 8. Sa Su 11:00-17:00. Built in the 13th century with the spire built in 1853. Currently a Lutheran church. Climbing up in the tower provides a nice view over the Old Town and surroundings, including an exhibition. But the view at the top is partly blocked by a fence, which is OK for a smartphone but not a regular camera. It provides a view of the nearby castle complex. €2 for the tower.
- 3 Square of Roses (Rožu laukums) (in front of St. John's Church). 24/7. Do not expect any roses though.
- 4 Unity Square (Vienības laukums), Vienības laukums. 24/7. Contains the Victory Monument.
- 5 Līvu Square (Līvu laukums), Rīgas iela 47 (south of Castle Park). 24/7. Has a fountain that is illuminated at night.
- 6 May Park (Maija parks) (on the opposite side of Lenču Str from Castle Park). 24/7.
- 7 Svētavots Nature Park and Holy Spring, Atpūtas iela 12 (in the western outskirts).
- Ski Centre Žagarkalns, ☎ . During season: Tu-F 15:00-23:00, Sa 10:00-23:00, Su 10:00-21:00. During the last hour each day, cleanup starts to take place on slopes one by one.. €15-18 for a 1-day adult ski pass.
- Parachute jumping at Vidzeme Aero-club.
Rīgas iela is the central walking street in the Old Town with a couple of shops and restaurants.
- 1 Kafetērija Cēsis. Mo-Sa 7:30-19:00, Su 09-17:00. Authentic local style inexpensive bite. Salads, meat, fish, cake – all self made. Salads from €0.25/100g, coffee €0.90.
- 2 Cafe Popular, Vienības laukums 1 (on the side of Hotel Cēsis), ☎ . M 11:00-20:00, Tu-Th 11:00-21:00, F Sa 11:00-23:00, Su 12:00-20:00. Pizzas. Daily bistro. Summer terrace. $$.
- 1 Hotel Cēsis, Vienības laukums 1 (next to the Victory Monument), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. From €35.
- Ligatne – A village fairly well known for its nature trails, with a great natural park with wildlife animals and "fairy tale" forests with characters from famous Latvian fairy tales. Nearby, also an old Soviet bunker complex can be visited, which was built in case of a nuclear war.
- Smiltene – Features a manor, some castle ruins, and a sight tower over the surrounding area.
- Valmiera – Features the only professional theatre in the region.
- Jaunpiebalga – With a museum of the Latvian composer Emils Darzins (1875-1910) at "Jāņaskola" (phone: +371 641 62 354)