With a lively and effortlessly cool atmosphere, Latvia’s capital, Riga is the largest city in the Baltics.
Founded in 1201, the city has a rich history, with the old town listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. Unlike Estonia’s medieval fairy-tale town of Tallinn, Riga is entwined with more modern architecture, and diverse local culture.
Here are 5 things you should do if you visit the Latvian capital
1. Stay in the Art Nouveau Area
Riga’s Art Nouveau district is full of beautiful, intricately detailed buildings and trendy restaurants, cafes and shops. Street names to look out for include Strelnieku iela, Dzirnavu iela and Alberta iela.
2. Explore the Old Town: Vecrīga
On the east side of the Daugava River, this UNESCO world heritage site is full of beautiful churches, colourful buildings and many pedestrian-only streets to wander down.
Some of the more famous buildings include St Peter’s Church, the Cat House and the Building of the Brotherhood of Blackheads, And then there’s the statue of the Bremen Town Musicians, based on a Brothers Grimm fairy tale and proclaimed to grant wishes if you touch the animals of the statue!
3. Walk Through the Beautiful Parks
There’s nothing quite like a morning walk or jog through a foreign land! Riga provides plenty of stunning parks, centered around a gentle winding river.
4. Enjoy Riga’s Markets
Just out of the city is the wonderful produce and handicraft market Kalnciema Street Market.
Full of a huge variety of delicious, cheap local food, this is a must for any foodie. The market is open 10am – 4pm on Saturdays and is a 40 minute walk across the river from Riga’s Old Town.
If you want a market a little closer to the Old Town then head to the Central Market. With over 3,000 stalls covering 72,000 square meters, this is Europe’s largest market! To top it off, the market is housed in old German Zeppelin hangers which are now World Heritage listed. The central market is open daily from 7am – 6pm.
5. Take in the View of the City From Above
There are several locations throughout Riga where you marvel at the layers of history below, whilst also getting your bearings of the somewhat chaotic city.
St. Peter’s Church offers views from near the top of it’s 123 meter tower for 9€. A little expensive compared to other touristic attracions in Latvia.
Vertigo Bar, at the top of a cinema complex in Forum offers discount cards for 2 for 1 cocktails. A cheap and wonderful way to watch the sunset over the spires of Riga!
Skyline bar on the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu hotel also has reasonable drink prices and an unparalleled views.
The Academy of Sciences Building was by far my favourite place to view Riga from above. It has a decidedly Accidentally Wes Anderson look about it, and the building itself is as spectacular as the view from the top of it’s 17th story.