I bet you have seen photos of Riga’s Old Town on Pinterest.
I had, and that’s why I wanted to go, explore, and now share with you my little guide to Riga. It was on the bucket list! Riga is the capital of Latvia.
Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia make up the 3 Baltic countries.
My Little Guide to Riga
As I’ve shared before, my little guides don’t include everything as can’t see it all, but are what I would share with my friends if they were to visit Riga! Here is a map of the places I will mention in this article. You can zoom in and out with the plus and minus buttons on it (bottom left).
Things to know about Riga, Latvia:
It’s part of the EU so you draw out Euros here from the ATM
50% of the people speak Russian, and the other half for the most part speak Latvian
It’s SUPER affordable compared to other hotspot European destinations
For WiFI I used my SkyRoam dongle as I was going between 4 different countries in a small time, and it was better than getting SIM cards in each one.
Public transport are trams and buses but you can walk almost anywhere.
For taxis, try Red Cab, they were really reliable and I used them to and from the airport.
Trains in Latvia are older and slow but are very cheap and reliable.
Air Baltic flies routes from many destinations so check their site to compare prices.
On a budget? I came from London, so would search London – Riga on this site. If you’re interesting in traveling by rail or bus from an international destination, you can compare those prices on Omio to see what the best/cheapest route is from your destination. It will compare will flights as well since sometime with budget airlines you find a deal that’s cheaper than train travel. EasyJet is in their system but not Ryanair so you can search that separately to compare. This search engine also compares the time it will take so you can look at that along with the amount it will cost.
Latvia was once Sweden, German, and Russia. It’s a relatively new country.
What to do in Riga
Touring the Art Noutveau district is an absolute must. I had a guide who told me a little about it which is kind of necessary or you might as well not bother seeing the buildings. One fun fact is that they taxed windows. One house you can see made fake windows. Another, because they were taxed by size, made really tiny ones except the bottom floor.
fake window – to save money from taxes!
This is one of the best places in the world to see this type of architecture. The foreign embassy workers get to live in these houses. The update is expensive though as they have rules to follow because of their historical value. Find these houses on Elizabetes iela and Alberta iea (roads).
Wandering through Old Town Riga is another must do when you are here. You don’t need a guide for this. I went when it was raining so my photos weren’t epic like I’d hoped they would be. Try some Balsam liquor which is Latvia’s drink of choice. It’s kind of like a bitter Jager.
another example of windows, getting smaller to save tax money!
Riga Central Market is the largest and they say, best, market in Europe. It’s a UNESCO site as well.
Other popular places include House of Blackheads which is where the president works, St. Peter’s church, the National Opera House, and Doma square for cafe’s and bars. There are also more museums, a zoo, and other things but I’m narrowing it down for you.
See that little face in the top right? It represents these men who wanted to sacrifice for God so they put themselves in concrete and died!
It’s a very green city and there are parks everywhere. There’s a lover’s bridge in the park near the Old City.
Where to eat in Riga
I’ll share some of my favorite meals with you. I had a healthy steamed flounder at the Latvian National Museum of Art restaurant only to then go back to my room to find giant marshmallows lol, so much for my diet! The Sunday brunch at Biblioteka no 1 was perfect and I highly recommend it. Garage near Hotel Berg had great food and is in a really cool area.
But by far, the best meal was at 3 Chef restaurant where they make it an experience and make the food in front of you. They put it on fire, add smoke, and let you eat food art off your placemat. Very very cool place!
What I found with food in Latvia is that is seasonal and they like to serve up healthy fresh food. It’s very natural. I ate a lot of berries, pumpkin, and mushrooms (they love to mushroom hunt). You’ll find lots of fish on the menu, including catfish. I also saw venison, beaver, and oxtail. The one thing I didn’t try was the ostrich tartare. Everywhere serves Rye bread to go with your meal and a lot of places served dill butter. In fact, there was dill in a lot of my dishes, from soup to even inside my bread roll. Love dill, so that’s awesome for me!
Where to stay in Riga
I stayed at Gallery Park Hotel. You can read a full review.
Where to shop in Riga
While I was in Old Town, I walked to Pienene and it’s a “Made in Latvia” shops with cute things rather than just souvenirs. I loved it. It’s also a cafe.
These next three you can go to all at once as they are near each other: Riija, 8 Rooms, and Amoralle. This area has even more shops to go in as well. 8 Rooms is in side the mall. The mall didn’t have a lot to offer other than this shop. Riija was very cute and had awesome homewares.
Amorelle is famous here and makes nightgowns and house robes. It’s so luxurious looking and the shop was packed. It isn’t really my style, but it’s worth checking out to see what the fashion vibes are like here.
A few I wanted to see but didn’t have time are: Zofa, Modernists, and Paviljons.
Another thing I wanted to do but just didn’t have time was check out the views from Radisson Blu. It’s the tallest building in Riga as they don’t usually allow places to build higher than 6 floors here. Supposedly it offers the best views. I hope you’ve enjoyed my little guide to Riga. There is much more to see but here is a good start. If you want more: check out this luxury guide to Riga.
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