Wondering what there is to do and see in Riga, Latvia? Riga has become one of the hottest destinations in Eastern Europe with an influx of budget flights heading that way, but, besides cheap flights, there are plenty of attractions to intrigue all types of travelers. If you’re looking for the best way to see all that this historic Baltic city has to offer, then this list will help you round out your visit.
Riga Old Town
The Old Town center of Riga is well-preserved with cobbled streets that line the narrow passageways. You can’t drive there, so if you are in a vehicle, the furthest you can go is to the boom gate that blocks the way. However, that’s not an issue since walking the streets to view the colorful buildings, old churches and other architectural beauties is by far the best option, even on the most chilly days.
It’s no secret that Riga has a wild nightlife; it does draw in the occasional stag party and bucks night or two. Bars around these parts will stay open to the early morning, and if you hit the right one, like Orange Bar, you can get up and dance on the tables.
St. Peter’s Church
St. Peter’s Church is not only an architectural beauty, but it also offers visitors the chance to take an elevator to the top of the tower for a spectacular view of the city. Even though St. Peter’s Church dates back to the Dark Ages, it has seen a fair share of refurbishments over the years thanks to a number of fires. You can learn more about the history of the church and the city after you explore the tower.
Museum of Occupation
To get a full sense of where the Latvian people have come from, a trip to the Museum of Occupation is in order. The museum displays what life was like for the Latvian people during Soviet rule, a life for many that involved living in gulags under harsh conditions. It’s a sobering experience that will make you appreciate your visit even more.
Riga TV Tower
The Riga TV Tower is the third largest tower in Europe, and there’s an observation deck at the 97 meter mark where you can get a different view of Riga from across the river. The tower is a true Soviet icon, produced in the 80s with the dÃ©cor to prove it.
Adventure seekers can get a big thrill by handling some Soviet style artillery, such as AK-47s, on gun tours. These tours typically cost under 50 Euro per person, and they can create once in a lifetime memories for those willing.
Riga Central Market
The market is located just near the bus station and can provide hours of fun whether you are out shopping for souvenirs or dinner. The old buildings fill up with stalls of meat vendors, pastry bakers, clothing suppliers and home goods, while the outdoor stalls do the same. Markets are a piece of the Eastern European culture, and this one will not disappoint.
Art Nouveau District
An art movement called Art Nouveau hit Riga in the 19th century bringing a lot of flair and creativity to the design of Riga’s buildings. The main area for viewing Art Nouveau houses would be Elizabetes Street, and in all, there are said to be 800 buildings in this style in the city. The design of this style is typically more artistic and fun, letting architects have the freedom to create as they please.
What visit to Riga would be complete without stopping off at the beautiful little Esplanade Park? It is here that both locals and tourists gather to relax, enjoy beer gardens or have picnics. On either side are the National Art Museum and the Russian Orthodox Cathedral.
Written by GYE contributor Brooke Schoenman.