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Cesis


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See why so many armies have fought over Cesis.
Cute Cesis' most obvious feature is its eponymous castle, constructed by the Livonian Brothers of the Sword, crusaders wanting to build a castle in their new homeland, in the early 13th century. The castle attained its new half-ruined appearance more than 350 years later, when the poor garrison blew themselves up rather than surrender to Ivan the Terrible. A year later, Ivan himself lost a battle for the town, which had been retaken by a desperate alliance of all of his enemies, and which became a turning point against him. Indeed, until recently, the city was mostly known for the battles that have swirled around it. Latvians and Estonians both know the town for the battle fought over it in 1919 during the Latvian War of Independence, when an allied German army changed its mind and tried to seize Latvia for itself (Estonians say they won the battle with Latvian help, and Latvians insist they won with Estonian help). In recent years, the town has transformed into a hip treasure, drawing artists and environmentalists, who are working to turn the town into an example of what Latvia can be.
Quiet Cesis makes a good stopping point between Riga and Estonia. The castle complex (which includes a charming county's country castle) is the main draw, but the small center makes for a pleasant stroll. The main draw for day trips is the Gauja National Park, which covers the "Latvian Switzerland." Within the park you'll find the town of Sigulda, which is perhaps the most popular day trip from Riga, thanks to its forested valley and castles, one of which has a tragic romantic legend, making it popular for weddings.

Popular Tour Itineraries Featuring Cesis

Spend some time in Cesis on a tour that takes in other cities in Latvia and neighboring countries. Our vacation packages including Cesis and other destinations throughout Latvia and Europe hassle-free. We take care of getting you from place to place, accommodation, excursions and activities.

Where to stay in Cesis

From a cozy 3-star B&B in Cesis' very heart, to beautifully restored historic 4-star villas on the forested edge of town, we've chosen places with a style, location, and ambience to suit everyone. Once we start preparing your customized itinerary we will present our recommended options for you to select from.
Classic Central Hotel in Cesis
Classic Central Hotel
Classic hotel with decent, modern rooms at the heart of Cesis next to a beautiful park.
Small Boutique B&B in Cesis
Small Boutique B&B
A cozy mixture of old and new. Modern, renovated rooms with a touch of Scandinavian look and feel built in the interior. The rooms are cozy, but lovely.
Historical Boutique Hotel in Cesis
Historical Boutique Hotel
Beautiful historic villas with modern interiors in a riverside forest.

Things to do in Cesis

From the castle ruins that mark Latvia's own Masada, to the Old Town's charming and hip, sustainable cafes and boutiques, and the neighboring Gauja National Park that draws hikers, kayakers, artists, and history buffs alike, we're happy to offer tours with guides we've vetted, and suggestions for places to visit on your own.
Gauja River Private Canoe Tour
Gauja River Private Canoe Tour
Taste of Cesis Private Tour
Taste of Cesis Private Tour

Frequently Asked Questions about travel to Cesis

How can I take out local currency in Cesis?
We recommend taking euros out at Cesis' bank ATMs, such as the Swedbank ATM at Uzvaras bulvaris 12 or the DNB Nord Bank machine at Vienibas laukums 2.
How expensive are meals in Cesis?
A quick lunch tends to cost around $7, while a dinner for two in a mid-range restaurant is closer to $27.
How can I get around Cesis?
Cesis' center is small and easily explored by foot. The hourly local buses cost about $0.75, and a taxi costs about $4.30 for every 2 miles, plus $1.75 for boarding.
What are typical opening hours in Cesis?
Most places are open from 10 AM to 5 PM, but some museums, like the Cēsis History and Art Museum, are closed Mondays. Malls and larger stores are open daily from 8-10 AM to 10-12 PM.
Is Cesis safe?
Cesis is a very safe, family-friendly destination.
Does Cesis have options for those with dietary restrictions?
Most cafes and restaurants in hip Cesis offer at least a few vegetarian/vegan options. Even if traditional Latvian cuisine features plenty of pork, fish, and dairy, most restaurants are happy to change their recipes to fit your dietary needs.
How long should I stay in Cesis?
We recommend spending a night in Cesis, or making it a day trip from Riga.
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