Tour de LatEst – cycling in Latvia and Estonia

Thinking of cycling round northern Latvia and southern Estonia this summer? No, I didn’t think you were, but maybe you should put it on the ‘to-do’ list for another time.

A new 1296km cycle route, the Tour de LatEst, has just opened, and it sounds very interesting. I can’t claim to have done it myself, but in the streets of Tallinn, Estonia I recognised two heavily-laden Dutch touring bikes and got talking to their owners. Brilliant trip, they said, on quiet roads with only one car every ten minutes or so.

The route connects old villages with plenty of cheap accommodation options and sights of historical interest.

I was travelling by bus myself, from Riga to Tallinn via Sigulda and Cesis, but I noticed that through both countries cycle paths, fully separated from the road, ran beside the motorways for most of their distance.

The LatEst route is part on asphalt, part on gravel, though my informants told me this was in fine condition in good weather. It would be a bad idea to tackle the route in winter – temperatures can drop to minus 30 in Estonia. Latvia and Estonia are mostly flat – the biggest mountain in the Baltic States is less than 300m high. Both countries are heavily forested, and sprinkled with attractive lakes and farmland.

Signposted routes and traffic lights for bikes.

Inspired by the Dutch riders’ example, I rented a bike in Tallinn and went out for a few hours myself, just so I could say I’d done it. Most impressed by the infrastructure, and this in a land which is supposed to be struggling economically. More ‘developed’ countries could learn something from them!

For more information and cycling routes in the area, see:
http://www.vidzeme.com/eng.php?v=&id=29

Or if that isn’t challenging enough – try the EV10 - 4300km round the Baltics via St Petersburg and Scandinavia.

http://www.routeyou.com/route/view/197209/cycle-route-hansa-circuit-or-baltic-sea-cycle-route-ev10.en

4 Comments

Filed under Baltic, Cycle touring

4 responses to “Tour de LatEst – cycling in Latvia and Estonia

  1. WEll..the odd thing is, I am thinking of doing something just like this(on a home-made tandem tricycle ;-))..and was looking for information about cycling from Gdansk to St Petersburg.. and your blog came up..and now I discover you are the Bananas in Pyjamas man! BRILLIANT! Jane ;-)

    • A home made tandem trike? That does sound intrepid, Jane!

      Yes, those Baltic states should be very good for cycling – quiet roads and mostly flat. I really liked the old towns too, Tallinn in particular. Good luck and don’t forget to send the photos!

  2. Thanks ;-) I read about the EV10 which goes from Gdansk to St Petersburg and we are planning to follow that. We want to stay with runners (we’ll have to put in a long run every week or so because we a doing a 100k race at the end of our pedal!) or cyclists along the way and go the full intrepid hog, so to speak – any tips on must-see places,friendly places to stay or advice about the EV10 would be very welcome! Jane

  3. Thanks, Jane. I’ve added the EV10 to the post above – and I hope to live long enough to fit it into my life’s schedule some time.

    So much to do, but only so much knee cartilage left…

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