Day Trips from Riga

The ruins of Latvia's first church, built in 1184, rest on St Meinard Island, named for the man who built it.

Travel Guide to Ikšķile and Ogre from Riga

Published: February 1, 2024

There are many reasons why a student studying in Riga should go see Ikšķile and Ogre. Located only about a half hour from Riga, each of these cities is over 800 years old and have played important roles in the history of Latvia. Ikšķile, for instance, has the ruins of Latvia’s oldest church while Ogre, on the other hand, played a significant role during World War II and has various sites related to the war such as a Monument to the Latvian Riflemen and a Jewish Memorial to the many Jews killed when the Nazis arrived.

Ikšķile and Ogre are also small towns, with just a few thousand people each. They can thus give you a look at what small town life is like in Latvia, while providing enough history to make a day trip to see them more than worth your while. For students studying abroad in Riga, experiencing these towns and understanding their place and Latvian history will provide you with an enhanced experience in Latvia overall.

Ikšķile

How to Get there

Ikšķile is only about 30 minutes from Riga by train, and tickets cost just €1.43 (~$1.50). Use the Vilciens travel app to get slightly lower train ticket prices and convenient e-tickets. Alternatively, you can also buy tickets at Riga Central Station. If you choose to buy train tickets in-person, as you enter the train station, you will see a large board that lists departure times and destinations. This is seen from either the new or old side entrances to the station. Beneath that board will be booths where you can buy your ticket. The platform that your train leaves from will be printed on the ticket, or you can see it on the large boards. Be sure to arrive for the train early!

Places to Sleep

Ikšķile is a small town of only about 7,000. Despite the town’s small size, there are still plenty of really nice places to stay the night if you choose to do so. Ikšķile has more than enough to see to fill up an entire day, but that being said, Ogre is only a 10-15 minute train ride away, so you could explore up until the last train and feasibly stay in Ogre, which is bit bigger, if you choose to continue your trip there. If you do choose to stay in Ikšķile for the night, here are the top 3 best options.

Cozy Studio Apartment with Swimming Pool & Jacuzzi Access is one of the highest rated place to stay with a 9.0 overall on Booking.com, and is actually rated 10.0 by recent guests as of the writing of this travel guide. It is located only a block away from Ikšķile’s only train station. Located in the center of town, this apartment would be a great starting point for any activities that you plan to do during the day.

Spadrops is also a nice place to stay, and is a hotel rather than an apartment. It is located directly on the bank of the Daugava River with a beautiful view of the river. The hotel includes pool and sauna access, and is surrounded by many places to eat all along Rigas Street. Spadrops is also located very close to St. Meinard Church, the oldest church in Latvia, which will be explained further later in the travel guide.

Food

If you are looking for a high quality sit-down place, Dārzā is a great option. With a wide variety of delicious food like sushi, burgers, wraps, and new takes on traditional Latvian food, Dārzā is a local favorite. This is also the place to go if you are looking for vegan or vegetarian options.

If you are looking for a quick snack, try a hidden gem café at Konditoreja Rūberts. It is right by the train platform, so it is very convenient. There is a nice outdoor patio to sit at while you drink coffee and eat baked goods.

For a taste of home, try Uguns American Kitchen. They have loaded fries, burgers, and wings. Located conveniently in the middle of town, Uguns has outdoor and indoor seating. It will be an interesting cultural experience to see what the Latvian take on American food is.

What to See

The ruins of St. Meinard Church is main site to see in Ikšķile. Built in 1185, the church is the oldest church in Latvia, and is an incredibly important part of Latvian culture. Walls were built up around the soon after, making it the first castle in Latvia as well, although today only the church ruins remain. You should ask a local before you depart what the best way to get the church will be. The church sits on an island in the middle of the Daugava River, and is thus usually accessible only by boat which departs from Ikšķiles pludmale on the river front. During summer months, however, the water level will often sink, allowing visitors to use a gravel road to get there. Also, each 14th of August, a public celebration is held on the island in honor of St. Meinard.

A statue to St. Meinard himself was erected at a local catholic church called Ikšķiles Katoļu Baznīca. This statue is a monument to Ikšķile’s long history and Catholic origin.

On the bank of the Daugava River near the church, the Ikšķile Memorial Stone sits as a monument to the long history of the town. The town name is carved onto it in its German, Latvian, and Livonian forms, reflecting its linguistic history as well. It is located in Eight Centuries Park, which was constructed in 1985 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the founding of Ikšķile. It is a beautiful green space in the center of town. It is a wonderful space to stroll and has a deep meaning for the people of Ikšķile.

The house museum of the artist Jānis Kuga is also in Ikšķile. Jānis Kuga is one of Latvia’s most prominent national painters.  He designed his home in Ikšķile himself, so it is yet another example of his artistic talents, and yet another reason why it is now preserved as a public museum.

Ogre

How to Get there

If you are going to Ogre from Ikšķile, then you will get on the same stop where you originally got off to head further down the line. You can buy tickets from the ticket office by the tracks, or from the Vilciens travel app. The train ride is only about 10-15 minutes. Keep track of time and make sure that you get off at Ogre station. Jaunogre is too early, and Pārogre is too late.

Places to Sleep

In Ogre, like in Ikšķile, you will find that most of your options are airbnb-style accommodations. You have several options open to you:

Studio tipa dzīvoklis Ogrē is a nice place to stay and is rated 9.6 on booking.com. Previous guests describe the apartment as cozy, and it is only approximately a 10-15 minute walk from the center of the city

Owl House Lodge Ogre is a very cozy cabin for rent. However, it is not near the center of the city. Instead, the Owl House Lodge is near the Špakovska Park, which is worth seeing will be mentioned again later in the What to See section. The Owl House Lodge includes a sauna and air-conditioning.

Outside of that, you might just browse airbnb for Ogre to see what is available.

Food

Try the WogaCafe for some good food and comfortable seating. They have snacks, coffee, deserts, and full entrees at great prices. WogaCafe is conveniently located right by the Ogre Station.

Another great café is the Police Academy Café on the other side of the tracks from WogaCafe. Here you will find a comfortable and contemporary setting with delicious examples of traditional food. Try cutlets,  potatoes, bread, and salads.

For breakfast, try Niko. You can get pastries, pancakes, crepes, and coffee. Or you could try something heartier, which is common for breakfast in this part of the world, like cutlets, potatoes, and soup.

What to See

If you are in Ogre in the winter, then you are in luck. Ogre is famous for its annual winter decorations. A beautiful star of Bethlehem and a massive, decorated Christmas tree in the middle of town are the best attractions. Other winter decorations include light strings on the trees in the center of the city and statues made of lights.

The Ogre History and Art Museum is a must see in Ogre at any time of year. There are many exhibits in the museum that help teach visitors about the history of the city of Ogre and about the museum building itself. The museum, as the name implies, is also home to many pieces of beautiful art in many forms that are significant to Ogre.

Špakovska Park is a very large open green space in Ogre. There are paths, a wide variety of trees, streams, pavilions, statues, rock gardens, stone viewing platforms, fresh air, and gorgeous views. Špakovska Park is a great example of the forested beauty of Latvia.

Getting home

Getting back to Riga is as simple as retracing your steps. You will go back to Ogre Station (or Pārogre station if you are leaving from Špakovska Park). You will buy tickets from the station or on the app, and ride the 45 minutes into Riga Central Station.

Conclusion and Note from the Author

Several years ago, I had to opportunity to live in Latvia for a month during a longer exchange year. I stayed in Ikšķile and was encouraged to visit Ogre by my host family. In the spring of 2023, during a full semester abroad in Latvia, I made sure to take the time to visit Ikšķile once again. These two cities are memorable and definitely worth a second visit, even if you’ve seen them before.

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About the author

Carter McKim

Carter McKim, at the time he wrote for this site, was an undergraduate double majoring in History and Joint Global Studies and Modern Languages and Literatures at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. He was also minoring in Russian and had recently studied abroad for a semester in Daugavpils, Latvia. The material that appears on this site was written as part of an SRAS Online Research Internship.

View all posts by: Carter McKim