Riga isn’t just the largest city in the Baltics, it’s also at the very heart of the Baltics. A place to enjoy all four seasons, it has famous architecture, friendly residents and a pleasant vibe. Many say that Riga is small enough to be exclusive, but large enough to surprise with its opportunities.
No matter how much Riga develops, the main reason why lovers of art and architecture come here remains its Art Nouveau heritage. When you walk around the centre, make sure to look up and enjoy the century-old buildings which are the reason Riga has been called the metropolis of this art style. In particular, you should visit the so-called quiet centre – Elizabetes Street, Alberta Street – where tourists often spend hours taking in the details and snapping dozens of photos to share the incredible beauty with those back home.
Art Museum – a fresh breath of art
After the extensive renovation the Latvian National Museum of Art is a splendid home for the art heritage of the country. Modern and exciting – a great place to explore art, get lost in thought, or take great Instagram shots. Non-permanent exhibitions change often, but whenever you visit, you can be sure you’ll leave this place pleasantly surprised.
The biggest market in Latvia? Nope, the biggest market in Europe! And you’re in luck, because it has seen some nice changes this year. While the locals peddle their fresh fruit, fish, meat and other local products in the enormous market, savvy visitors sit casually in the recently-built Gastro pavilion. It’s a place to taste anything from khachapuri, the pride of Georgian cuisine, to real Italian pizza and Asian soup. Relaxed vacationers can sit back with one of the local beers and soak in the atmosphere of a true Riga market.
Slightly outside the city centre, on the other side of the river Daugava, sits the pretty Kalnciema Quarter. Respectfully renovated wooden architecture and a pleasant vibe makes this spot the crown jewel of Pārdaugava, the part of the city literally called the other side of the river. On weekday evenings check their regular schedule of concerts and street food nights to see why it has been the most popular leisure spot in the city for several years now. On weekends, it hosts regular farmers’ markets where you can buy unique souvenirs and useful things too.
A view from above
You can enjoy the best of city life in the Old Town, but the best view is still from above. One of the best spots is definitely the upper floors of the Academy of Sciences. If you prefer a bird’s eye view of the Old Town, we recommend the tower of St. Peter’s church, reaching 130 metres into the sky. If you’d rather sip a cocktail while enjoying the view, head to Radisson Blu Latvia; although the main function of this high-rise is a hotel, many use it for business meetings or drinks with friends. On the top floor, you’ll find the Skyline bar, a high-class establishment with 360° views of the whole city.
Whether you’re a whole family, a couple, or travelling alone, you’ll definitely find something to do in Mežaparks (Forest Park). This is the perfect place to ride roller-skates, bikes, scooters and anything else you can imagine. And best of all – it’s all in the fresh air next to a forest and lake. If you want, visit the Riga Zoo and then enjoy a refreshing drink in one of the cafes on the shores of the Ķīšezers lake!
Kaņepes Culture Centre
Riga has plenty of bars for all tastes – Vest, Bāka, Herbārijs, the charming Tallinas Pagalms are all perfect for enjoying the laid-back Riga atmosphere. Frequented by young people and artists, Kaņepes Culture Centre is one of the most popular places in the city. More than 100 years ago this was where Russian and Baltic German aristocrats threw their social gatherings, later Art Academy students added to its bohemian and cultural credentials, as did a music school in Soviet times. Nowadays it’s a veritable stronghold of creative, arty spirit – concerts and all sorts of art performances are held here throughout the year, and dizzying parties rock the nights.
One of the comparatively newer parts of the city, on a constant path of development. Here you can find elegant restaurants to enjoy your food practically on the water, as well as romantic spots for walks and picnics. This place is particularly beloved by young locals, and in the evening you can find dozens of cyclists enjoying being just a stone’s throw from the city and watching the ships leave the harbour. At weekends, the hottest parties often take place here, so be ready to experience the full spectrum of emotion!
Want to see Riga from yet another angle? Hop on board one of the boats moored by the Daugava embankment! There is nothing better on a sunny day than enjoying drinks on the top deck between both halves of the city!
Jūrmala – resort town next to Riga
Just a 20 minute drive from Riga, you can enjoy the sea, the beach and relaxation to the fullest. This is a place of unhurried peace and a chill atmosphere for dozens of kilometres of sandy seashore. There’s a good reason Jūrmala is so loved by tourists from neighbouring countries – convenient connections to Riga and Riga airport make it easy to access for many people. If lounging on the beach isn’t enough for you, enjoy the wide range of spa procedures on offer. And many of Latvia’s best restaurants and beach bars are in Jūrmala.