Riga is the capital of Latvia, that with Lithuania, and Estonia make up the 3 Baltic countries.
Riga is a city with a rich and troubled history, with impressive art nouveau architecture, and a charming Old Town.
I’ve spent time both in the UNESCO-recognized Old Town and in the other parts of the city as well. There are plenty of things to see and do in the city.
What to do in Riga
Art Nouveau District
Did you know that Riga has a large Art Nouveau District? I didn’t… Apparently, you will not find a better collection of art nouveau buildings than here. Rigas has over 800 art nouveau buildings.
The Art Nouveau District sits just on the Edge of the Old Town and is an absolute must. The buildings are really impressive and definitely worth seeing. Around Elzabetes and Alberta streets you will find a few blocks of the most astonishing architecture.
Riga’s Old Town is a great place to wander around. The UNESCO listed Old Town is incredibly picturesque, with its colourful facades, narrow cobblestone streets, medieval churches, nice museums and galleries, cafes and markets.
Most iconic buildings are:
The Three Brothers – are the oldest Medieval dwelling houses in Riga. One of the three buildings is the Latvian Museum of Architecture.
House of the Blackheads – are two building built-in 1334 as a venue for meetings and banquets, located close to the River. Nowadays is where the president works.
The famous Cat House is an iconic yellow art nouveau mansion.
Riga Central Market
The Central Market is a huge indoor market where locals buy and sell their fresh produce. One of the largest and oldest markets in Europe. The market is well organised and a great place to go for lunch.
Viewpoints in Riga
Riga has 4 great Panoramic Viewpoints: St Peters Church, Latvian Academy of Sciences Panorama Observation Deck, Riga Skyline Bar and National Library of Latvia.
St. Peter’s Church is located in the middle of Riga’s Old Town (€9.00). Latvian Academy of Sciences has a Panorama Observation Deck (€5.00). The Riga Skyline Bar is located on the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel. (€5.00 entry charge + cocktails start from €6.50)
For a free view, you can visit the National Library of Latvia, located on the other side of the river to the Old Town. This one probably offers the least spectacular views but its free.
Other parts of Riga
Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral – This is just outside of the Old Town but it is such an incredible Church both inside and out and it feels like you could well be in Russia.
Freedom Monument is located in a nice area of Riga. On the edge of the Old Town and the Art Nouveau District with a beautiful green park and the river running under the bridge nearby.
I must say, that in Riga the parks are carefully maintained, they are a great place to take a break of the city’s hustle and bustle.
The Daugava Promenade is a calm and less crowded area perfect for a stroll along the river on a warm day. The view over the Daugava River and the bridges are quite good.
Getting Around Riga and the Baltic States
Riga is a very walkable city and most major attractions can be reached on foot.
From the airport, there is public transport available (trams, buses and trolleybuses), the best option is to take the bus 22 from the airport to the city centre,
If you want to visit Estonia or Lithuania, you have great regular connections by bus.
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha