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Europe > Baltic states > Latvia > Kurzeme > Kuldīga

Kuldīga

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Kuldiga (Kuldīga) is a town on the Venta River in the Kurzeme region (formerly Courland) of western Latvia.

Understand[edit]

Ventspils Street on a foggy morning

With the smaller Alekšupīte River running through its old town centre, it is known as "The Latvian Venice". Indeed the river flows alongside the walls of many of the town’s houses. Like Ventspils, Kuldīga's streets are all made of various kinds of cobblestone.

Local authorities aim to make the old town of Kuldiga an important international tourism destination, to attract domestic and foreign tourists and contribute to the sustainable development of the town. The tourism resources of the town are based on its historical and cultural heritage and the Venta River which is one of the largest and most picturesque rivers of Latvia.

The historic and architectural heritage of Kuldiga is well preserved. In the park near the Kuldiga district museum fragments of the stone wall and the cellar of the first Kuldiga castle, built in 1242 by German knights, have been preserved. Later Duke Jacob’s castle (ruined in 1701) was situated there as well. Today it is a sculpture park. The old brick bridge across the Venta, built in 1874, is one of the longest of its type in Europe.

The Old Town Hall was built in the 17th century. The cellar of the building was the first prison in Kuldiga. The oldest wooden building in Courland was built in 1670 near the Town square on the banks of the River Alekšupīte.

The town square was an old assembly place for people. Traditional cultural heritage is part of everyday life in Kuldiga with textile workshops and celebrations of national festivals. There are also more contemporary events such as the annual running competition on the Alekšupīte (River of Aleksis) and the ‘naked people run’ over the historical bridge on the Venta River at Midsummer night.

Get in[edit]

There are frequent bus connections from Ventspils and Talsi. Coming from Riga, you might have to connect in Tukums or Talsi. Check 1188.lv for details.

Get around[edit]

Most of Kuldīga's attractions are within walking distance.

Only the sand caves are 4-5 km north of the Ventas River bridge. You might want to try hitch-hiking there, but people can be hesitant to take you along the way, because it is mostly families and couple going there.

See[edit]

Kuldiga town hall (centre), tourist information centre (left)
Alekšupīte River.

Most of the main attractions are close to each other and easily reached by foot, except for the sand caves.

  • Historical Centre of Kuldīga. Kuldīga is a small and attractive town that has always been admired and praised by poets and painters. The city centre, which developed in the 17th–18th centuries, has still preserved the old wooden buildings which form small and narrow streets.
  • 1 The oldest wooden house in Kurzeme, Kuldīga, +371 63322259, . Wooden architecture, second part of 1630s, red-tile roof, splendid weather-vane, bridge of Venice of Kuldiga, lodging.
  • 2 Kuldiga District Museum (Kuldīgas Novada muzejs), Pils iela 5 (in the castle park besides the rapids), +371 63350179, . W–Su 10:00–18:00, Tu 12:00–18:00, M closed,. On the site of the old castle. Only fragments of the castle remain. There is a sculpture park around the ruins. €1/1.50. (Q11010866) on Wikidata
  • 3 Brick bridge across the Venta (Kuldīgas ķieģeļu tilts), Baznīcas iela (near the museum). At 164 m, this is the longest road bridge of this kind in Europe. It was built in 1874 according to 19th century standards – 500 feet long and 26 feet wide, allowing two carriages to pass each other. It consisted of seven spans of brick vaults. Two of the spans were blown up during World War I, and rebuilt in concrete, rather than brick, in 1926. (Q12323093) on Wikidata
  • 4 Venta Rapid (Ventas rumba), +371 63322259, . This 240-m-wide waterfall is the widest in Europe. It is easily viewed from the brick bridge, 200 m downstream. Its 2 m height is not impressive when viewed from the bridge – you need to get down on the river bank to appreciate its height. The naturally formed waterfall is associated with a number of legends and historic events. In ancient times, due to Duke Jacob’s invented devices for catching fish on the waterfall, Kuldiga was considered the place "where salmon were caught in the air". Flying fish shows (salmon jumping up over the waterfall) attract visitors to the town in springtime. Venta Rapid (Q1939427) on Wikidata Venta Rapid on Wikipedia
  • 5 Alekšupīte River. This small tributary of the Venta runs through the old town, right alongside the walls of many buildings, which is why Kuldīga has been called the Venice of Latvia. The buildings of the town centre were constructed as a suburb to Kuldīga Castle. In 1701, during the Great Northern War, the Swedish army invaded Kuldīga Castle and in 1709 it became uninhabitable, but in the 19th-century the castle ruins were relocated. (Q15218524) on Wikidata
  • 6 Aleksupite Waterfall (Alekšupītes ūdenskritums), Kuldīga, Baznīcas iela (The dam and waterfall is located next to the unused mill building.), +371 63322259, . Highest waterfall in Latvia, 4.5 m high, the first paper mill in Kurzeme, dam, view over the River Venta. A dam was built here in the 17th century to use the stream to operate the first paper mill in Kurzeme. The waterfall is artificial.
  • 7 St Catherine’s Church, Baznīcas iela 31, +371 22328283, +371 63324394, . W 15:00–17:30, Th 10;00–12:30. A Lutheran church that was built in 1252 and later rebuilt with baroque style wood carvings on the altar. The church was given the name of St Catherine, the patroness of the town. Duke Jacob's baptism and his wedding to Princess Louisa Charlotte of Brandenburg took place here.
  • 8 Kuldīga Synagoge, 1905. gada iela 6. This is one of the largest buildings in town with gorgeous interior of gilded marble. (Q9349762) on Wikidata
  • 9 Liepājas street, Liepājas iela. An pedestrian street with several 17th-20th buildings, interesting doors and special windows.
  • Sculptress Livija Rezevska’s sculpture museum, Mucenieku iela 19. Founded in 2003. Visitors may see more than 15 sculptures characterizing Latvia, its strength, unity and love.
  • 10 Riežupe Sand Caves (Riežupes smilšu alas), Rumbas pagasts (5 km from town. There is a road sign close to Venta's brick bridge), +371 29555042, +371 29896646, +371 28636831, . The longest underground cave labyrinth in the Baltics (about 2 km – 460 m can be toured). In the beginning, the sand was sold as washing sand and for cemetery purposes. During Duke Jacob’s reign the white quartz sand from the caves was taken by ships to Riga and abroad for glass production. The quartz sand is very clean and pure. The caves are protected by a clay layer above from rain water and such. Also, the cave structure is stable due to the dolmen layers atop. The site is in good order, there is a parking and some attractions for kids. Tourists walk with guides (the older lady is spiritual and entertaining). A tour into the 16 m underground lying caves, takes about 15-30 min, depending on the number of people, through the narrow cave passages, sometimes in cowering position. Unfortunately, the funny lady the cave is advertised with does not work anymore. €6 per person. Riežupe Sand Caves (Q4992559) on Wikidata

Do[edit]

Town park.
  • Get a free massage from Venta Rapid. You can sit under the waterfall and the water will fall down onto your back providing a free massage. Just find a flat stone (i.e. close to the river bank) that is suitable to sit and give it a try.
  • Walk the town park. The park is very nice, with hills, winding paths, flowers, sculptures and water.

Buy[edit]

Eat[edit]

  • 1 Restaurant Staburadze (Kafejnīca Staburadze), Liepājas iela 8, +371 63324021. Nov–March M–Sa 11:00–18:00, Apr–Oct M–Sa 11:00–22:00. Pelmeni €3.50.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

  • 1 Pilskalnu Hostelis, Kaļķu iela 1, +371 29146515. From €19.
  • 2 Hotel Metropole Kuldīga, Baznīcas iela 11, +371 63350588, . Offers 14 furnished rooms. Each room is equipped with cable TV, bathroom with shower or bath and a phone. From the windows, a sight to the busiest pedestrian street of Kuldiga, Liepaja Street, opens, but in case you want more quiet view, hotel has rooms with view to the river Aleksu that cranks though the very heart of Kuldiga.
  • Guesthouse/camping "Ventas Rumba" (Go down from the car parking towards the waterfall and you'll find the place), +371 263 77 683. Good place to stay if one wants the sound of the river or to go for a free waterfall massage in the morning. €12-22/person.

Go next[edit]

  • Check out the nearby attractions of the Kurzeme region.
  • Liepāja – Named "the city of wind", and the southwestern most city of Latvia. Famous for its sandy beach, numerous music events, and the largest organ in the world. It features modern architecture and a long history along with the formerly secret Soviet military neighbourhood of Karosta (literally: War Port).
  • Ventspils – A modern and artistic sea resort city in the north-west part of Latvia, has many things to see, and is one of the tidiest places in the region. A long-stretching beach and recreational park provide everything for a relaxing holiday week or weekend. It gets its prosperity from the huge ice-free port, which is the busiest port in the Baltic states, and the oil transit business.
  • Saldus – An important cultural, educational, business and trade centre that boasts a very active cultural life, with local musicians, poets, painters and artists. It is home to a music school (1946) and an art school (1984).
  • Tukums – A town some 70 km west of Riga. Not that exciting, but known for its affinity with roses and the Rose Festival, as well as the nearby Cinevilla, a dummy city and now theme park.


This city travel guide to Kuldīga is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.