Riga is the financial, creative, and cultural center of Latvia. It is the capital and the largest city in Latvia, it is also the largest city in the Baltic States.
Being the biggest metropolis and the most popular tourist destination in the Baltics, Riga effortlessly combines medieval traditions with modern lifestyle.
Riga will charm you with marvelous Gothic architecture, narrow, cozy streets of the Old Town, and numerous city museums.
Tourist Information Center
Riga is a very tourist-friendly city, so if you don’t know, where to start, visit one of its Tourist Information centers, which are plentiful in the Old Town, as well as at the airport, railway and bus stations.
The staff there is very nice and helpful and speaks English fluently. They understand Russian too, although young Latvian people mostly don’t speak this language.
Fun Fact: Riga is also the European Wi-Fi capital, with over 1000 free Wi-Fi spots around the city.
Things To Do In Riga
The city surprises its visitors at every turn. During its 800-year-long history, Riga has seen German knights, Swedish kings, and Soviet commissars. Today, it stands at the crossroads between Eastern and Northern Europe and excites visitors with its contradictory character and intriguing beauty!
You can, of course, come to Riga for just one day. But you will just tease yourself. To really absorb the city’s atmosphere and get to know it, you need to come, at least, for a weekend.
Alberta Iela is a must-visit place for sure. Its architecture is like a huge painting, which you can spend hours staring at. It is a bright example of Art Nouveau style, also known as Jugendstil, invented by Mikhail Eisenstein. It is rather hard to describe. Probably, it is one of those things, which is better to see once, than to read about many times.
Riga National Zoo
Situated in a pine forest in Mežaparks, Riga National Zoo hosts a rich collection of animals, including tropical fauna. It would be the perfect destination for a day getaway, especially if you are traveling with kids.
Riga Central Market
And food enthusiasts will find their paradise at Riga Central Market, where you can not only buy all essentials for a picnic in one of the city’s parks, but also get a real travel experience, when watching the locals doing their Sunday shopping.
Riga Dome Cathedral
One of the most visited tourist sites in the capital of Latvia is the Riga Dome Cathedral, the marvelous example of Gothic architecture.
It is also the largest medieval church in the Baltics, founded in 1211. And not only the cathedral itself draws visitors inside, but also its 6768-pipe organ, built-in 1884.
It would be a really unique travel experience, so I really recommend you visit an organ concert! Short concerts are held on Sunday afternoons. But if you want to receive full music enjoyment, come on a Friday evening.
You can buy tickets in the cathedral, as well as in numerous Tourist Offices around the city.
When you walk around Riga, you will probably spot multiple black cats on your way (pictures, figures, sculptures, etc.in). The animal became a symbol of the city at the beginning of the 20th century. It was first mounted on the turrets of Cat House, an art nouveau influenced building. The legend says, the building’s owner, who was rejected from the Great Guild across the street, got his revenge by pointing the cats’ butts towards the hall. The members of the guild were shocked and, after some time and numerous courts, the merchant was admitted into the club on the condition that the cats will be turned around.
Also known as Milda, the Freedom Monument towers above the Old Town of Riga. It was erected in 1935 on the former place of a Russian ruler Peter the First, and paid by public donations. Words in the base of the monument say “For Fatherland and Freedom”.
And granite friezes show Latvians singing and fighting for their freedom. Among other figures, you will see Lāčplēsis, half-man, half-bear, who symbolizes Latvians’ struggle for independence.
Art Museum Riga Bourse
Formerly a stock exchange building, now the building is a showcase for the city’s art treasures. The collections of the museum are rich and various. For example, the Oriental section shows outstanding Chinese and Japanese ceramics collection and an Egyptian mummy.
At the same time, in the main halls, you will find rich Western art, including Monet paintings and Rodin sculptures.
Arsenals Exhibition Hall
Constructed in 1832 as the imperial arsenal for storing weapons for the Russian tzar’s army, now the building is the primary spot for international and local art exhibitions, which makes it a must-visit place every time you’re in Riga.
The massive wooden stairs at the back of the building are, with the combination of simple, but funky geometry, the great example of modern architecture. Also, you will see a row of spooky granite heads, which depict Latvia’s most prominent artists, right in front of the building.
Riga, in fact, has plenty of museums for every taste. Rīga Art Nouveau Museum, Rīga Motor Museum, Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Laima Chocolate Museum, Museum of Decorative Arts & Design, and Popular Front Museum are just a few examples.
In just half-hour ride from Riga, you will find a magnificent seaside town, most popular with politic leaders during the Soviet period, and not less popular nowadays with tourists from all over Baltics and Europe.
Jurmala is not like any other resort. Miles of sandy beaches, borderless pine tree forests, magnificent fresh air, eclectic architecture, plenty of entertainments and fun, this is all Jurmala!
Originally a fishing village, Jurmala has become a resort over 200 years ago. Over these years, the generations of people coming left the unique combination of architecture in the town, from ornate timber cottages to giant Soviet concrete sanatoria buildings.
The easygoing atmosphere of Jurmala, combined with fresh pine trees air, will definitely wind all your stress away. And if you need something more relaxing, take advantage of the numerous legendary Jurmala spas.
In addition to natural riches and fabulous spas, Jurmala also boasts a wide variety of cultural and entertaining events all year round.
Magnificent Dzintari Concert Hall hosts all kinds of musical events, such as the symphony, opera, pop, and jazz shows. And there is plenty of fun at the seaside as well. Football pitches, beach bars, volleyball fields – you’ll always find, what to do if lying still on the beach is not for you.
There are some places you definitely shouldn’t miss in Jurmala. Jomas street is a kilometer-long pedestrian boulevard, with a strip of bars, cafes, restaurants, and cute friendly shops.
Līvu akvaparks is an aqua park, where each member of your family will find something to his or her liking. No wonder! It is the biggest water park in the Baltics. Take a walk through a unique ecosystem of pines at the Open Air Museum near Ragakapa Nature Park.
In Kemeri National Park you will find a collection of abundant birds, animals, plants, as well as clear springs, quiet walking trails, and unique architecture.
Truly, Riga is the place, where you’ll always find something to do. Come and fall in love with this magnificent city and its remarkable 800-year old history!
July 9, 2019 4:55 pm
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