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Riga, Latvia

Riga is the capital of Latvia.

The 700,000 inhabitants of Riga make up one-third of the population of Latvia and make it the largest city in the Baltic States.

Riga is famous for its Old Town (Vecrīga) and city center (Centrs), in which over 800 buildings are of the Art Nouveau (aka Jugendstil) style of architecture. The old town of Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Art Nouveau style involves intricate building facades, with carvings of flowers and mythological creatures, and ornate doorways and windows. Much of the old town was either destroyed by fire or destroyed by the Germans in World War II and remained in ruins until it was rebuilt in the late 1990s, mainly to make Riga attractive as a tourist destination.

Riga is also popular due to its nightlife and discount airlines that offer cheap flights to/from much of Europe.

Riga is bisected by the river Daugava. The... Read more

Riga, Latvia

Destination:

Riga is the capital of Latvia.

The 700,000 inhabitants of Riga make up one-third of the population of Latvia and make it the largest city in the Baltic States.

Riga is famous for its Old Town (Vecrīga) and city center (Centrs), in which over 800 buildings are of the Art Nouveau (aka Jugendstil) style of architecture. The old town of Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Art Nouveau style involves intricate building facades, with carvings of flowers and mythological creatures, and ornate doorways and windows. Much of the old town was either destroyed by fire or destroyed by the Germans in World War II and remained in ruins until it was rebuilt in the late 1990s, mainly to make Riga attractive as a tourist destination.

Riga is also popular due to its nightlife and discount airlines that offer cheap flights to/from much of Europe.

Riga is bisected by the river Daugava. The old (medieval) town is in the center of the city on the east side of the river. It is surrounded by a ring of 19th-early 20th-century architecture, followed by a mix of private 2-floor house districts (many also pre-WW2) and Soviet-era 5-18 floor apartment districts, with an occasional factory (especially near railroad lines). The term "center" loosely refers to quite a large area around Old town limited by the river to the west, the railroad lines to the east and south, and without a definite boundary to the north.

History

Riga was founded in 1201 by Albert of Bremen as a port city and a base to conquer and convert the native Livonians to Christianity, a goal that was achieved in 1206 after a battle in Turaida during the Northern Crusades. Riga developed as the major trade hub of the area during the peak of the Hanseatic League in the 13th to the 15th centuries and was ruled by the Archbishop of Riga. The Reformation reached Riga in 1522, which ended the Archbishops' power. In 1621, Riga became part of the Kingdom of Sweden, although it maintained a great deal of autonomy. In 1710, an invasion by Peter the Great of Russia ended Swedish rule and cemented Russian influence on the city.

Latvia declared its independence on November 18, 1918, although it was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. Riga became the capital of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic until Latvian independence in 1991.

Germans have inhabited the city since its establishment by Albert, and throughout most of its history Germans were the elite while Latvians remained a lower class. Their position as the elite continued through the Imperial period of Riga. As such, much of the architecture in Riga has been heavily influenced by Germany. The Germans were forcibly evicted after the Nazi occupation of 1941-44.

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Riga, Latvia: Port Information


Cruise ships dock close to the city's Old Town. It will take you just 10 minutes to get there on foot. Some cruise lines offer shuttle service, however, there's no need in it.

Get around Riga, Latvia


Cars are not allowed in Old Town (although enforcement is somewhat lax at night), but vehicles making "deliveries" are. Therefore, you can take a taxi to the Old Town, but you cannot park a rental car there.

By foot

Old Town is comprised mainly of rounded cobblestone streets that may be hard to walk on if you are not wearing proper shoes. Outside of Old Town, most streets are paved with asphalt, although some smaller streets may be unpaved. Sidewalks are predominantly concrete everywhere. Old Town is best explored on foot. Due to the neglected drainage system, the streets may be flooded during heavy downpours.

By public transport

The city-owned Rigas Satiksme operates the trams (street-cars), buses, minibuses, and trolleybuses. They all use the same e-ticket system called e-talons. A single fare covers a ride on any one route independent of the distance - i.e. a transfer requires payment of 2 fares. However, if you enter a vehicle with the same route and in the same direction within one hour, your ticket is still valid and will not be charged again. The Rigas Satiksme website provides a great interface for planning a trip within Riga.

Tram lines are numbered 1-11; bus lines are numbered 1-55; trolley bus lines are numbered 1-27. Minibus lines have numbers 200-280. Night buses are numbered N1-N10. While the numbers are similar, the routes are completely different - i.e. bus #2 is totally different than trolleybus #2. Tram numbers on stops are identified by "Tr", buses (not trolleybuses) by "A". Stops are marked by a blue rectangular sign with a stylized white image of the vehicle and lists the numbers that stop there. Timetables and stops of the route are also usually posted at stops and are fairly accurate. Note that bus routes are marked "A", but tram and trolley bus routes are both marked "T" on timetables, except tram timetables should have red background for the "T" letter and trolley bus—yellow. With the exception of minibuses, the vehicles include an LCD screen with next stop information.

Trams are generally the fastest public transportation apart from trains. Although they are on street level and the rails are not physically separated from the rest of the traffic, in all but the busiest rush hours they have the right of way. Minibuses are smaller and thus more maneuverable than buses and trolley buses, making them the second-fastest mode of transport.

By bicycle

SIXT Latvia operates self-service bicycle rentals at numerous bicycle stands across the city. The service is available to both residents and guests of Riga. You must have a mobile phone to register, but registration is free. The bikes have 3 speeds and lights, but no helmets.

By taxi

The way to hire a taxi is to use the online phone apps such as ClickTaxi, Taxify, which allows you to see the rates being charged, time to pickup and pay with the credit card. These apps use data roaming, beware of extra charges.

If you hail a random taxi on the street, be aware that the taxi may not follow the most direct route and may use a meter rate that will significantly overcharge you.

This can be avoided by taking "Red Cab" Taxis (the fleet of Red Ford S-max and White + Red roof S-max). You can find these at the airport or outside the Hotels Radisson Latvija, Radisson Daugava, Radisson Elizabete, Radisson Rīdzene, Monika Centrum, Albert Hotel or Hotel Roma and Central Train station. You can also call one to come and collect you +371 8383. For groups up to 8 people minivans available. Wheelchair accessible minivans (must be pre-ordered). Accept credit cards.

By car

There are several car rental offices in Riga airport as well as in other parts of the town. You can even rent a cheap soviet style car. However, traffic can be extremely slow, especially on the bridges.

Drunk driving

Driving drunk is considered a serious law violation. Besides high fines and seized driving license one may easily end up serving 10-15 days in an administrative arrest. Maximum alcohol contents in the blood must not exceed 0.5. There are plenty of police patrols and it is very common to be stopped for an alcohol test.

By boat

Boat service is available during the months of May to September from/to Jurmala. The boats stop in Riga stop near the Stone Bridge (Akmens Tilts), which is right next to the House of Blackheads/Riga Tourist Information Centre, in the old town. The trip takes 2.5 hours, which is obviously much slower and more expensive than train service.

What to see in Riga, Latvia


The Riga Card has discounts for museums and some tourist attractions.

The areas usually most interesting to tourists are the Old Town and the area around the nearby

Freedom Monument

. However, Old town is not the only place worth visiting. Very old and well-preserved city districts unvisited by tourists are Agenskalns and Tornakalns, just over the Stone bridge. The residential areas outside Riga center are largely made up of gray apartment blocks built in the typically Soviet style. These areas are nearly identical to those all over Eastern Europe. However, they do give an idea of how the vast majority of the people in Riga live and of the history of the area.

Organized tours

The tourist office, located inside the

House of Blackheads

, offers both guided tours and free pamphlets, complete with detailed descriptions of many buildings, for independent walks. These walks cover the old town and the nearby city center sights as well as the Art Nouveau district. It's all pretty small scale so it's easy to do each of these in around an hour, or linger and read every detail in the booklet - in the absence of any signs or plaques around the city, the booklet gives you an insight to what you are seeing.

Many private companies offer organized tours of Riga. Options include bike tours, Segway tours, pub crawls, hop-on-hop-off bus tours, walking tours, and tours focused on a certain aspect of Riga - away from the touristy old town. Riga Free Tour operates a free city walking tour that departs every day from St Peters Church at 12:00. Look for a yellow suitcase.

Historical buildings and monuments

  • Statue of Roland, (In the center of the Town Square). 
  • House of Blackheads, 1 kalku iela, ☎ +371 67044300, 1. The House of Blackheads is where the merchants-to-be had their guild. Part of this building is the tourist information office, the rest is a fascinating museum. The upper levels house grand ballrooms while the basement has a wine cellar and several exhibits relating to trading in Riga.
  • Town Hall. Pretty to look at, but not open for visitors.  
  • The Big Guild, 6 Amatu iela. Housed the guild of the tradesmen, who would join after being a member of the Blackheads (see House of Blackheads). Home to the Latvian Philharmonic, but you can't just walk inside. It's the exterior that's worth seeing though.  
  • The Little Guild, 5 Amatu iela. Another pretty building just behind the Big Guild, this one housed the craftsmen's guild. Like the Big Guild, you can't go inside except for performance.  
  • The House of the Black Cat, Next to the Big Guild. This building (also housing a pub of no particular note) is most famous for the two statues of black cats on the roofs. The legend has it that a disgruntled tradesman who was not accepted into the Big Guild, built this house and put the cats on it with their tails pointing towards the Big Guild, thus expressing his scorn. 
  • Wagner Concert Hall, 4 Vāgnera iela, 2. Wagner once lived in Riga, on the street now named after him. This hall where he performed occasionally holds concerts.  
  • The Three Brothers, 17, 19, and 21 Mazā Pils iela. 9 AM - 5 PM TUE-THUR, 9 AM - 4 PM Fri. The Three Brothers are the oldest dwelling houses in Riga. One of them has a small architecture museum inside, along with changing exhibits about Latvia.  
  • Swedish Gate, Btw Torna and Aldaru iela. The last remaining gate from the old city walls.  
  • Latvian Parliament (Saeima), 11 Jekaba iela. A rather plain building housing the Saeima, Latvia's parliament. It has had a number of uses--including as a Soviet-era museum. Currently not open to visitors  
  • Art Noveau Buildings. *Alberta and Elizabetes streets (iela) are the best place to see the creations of Art Nouveau architect Eisenstein, famous for his splendid style. Other Art Nouveau buildings can be seen in the area around the Freedom Monument, including the embassies on Raina Bulvaris and on Strelnieku iela.  
  • St. Jacob's Barracks, Torna iela. The primary attraction here is the last remaining stretch of city wall directly opposite the barracks.  
  • Freedom Monument, 1 Brivibas iela. Freedom Monument is one of Latvia's national symbols. It was erected during the first independence and surprisingly never taken down by the Soviets (although laying flowers at its feet was forbidden). The statue of a woman holding three stars at the top of the monument represents Freedom embracing Latvia's regions.
  • Laima Clock, (Just south of the Freedom Monument). Laima is a Latvian chocolate manufacturer and means good luck in Latvian.  
  • Andrejsala. An artists' island is starting to emerge behind the passengers port a short distance north from the Old town.  
  • Āgenskalns, (Take Tram 2, 4, or 5; bus 21, 38, 39, 7, 25, 8, trolley bus 5 or 9). A very picturesque historical part of Pārdaugava, in 19th century it was a district for mansions and manors, some of which still remain (although bereft of any grounds), and some were replaced by slightly newer early 20th-century residential architecture of wealthy middle and upper class. Many embassies were located there pre-WWII.
    • Āgenskalns Market, (Take tram 2 or Bus 4., 4z., 7., 8., 21., 25., 38., 39). A good example of Jugendstil, the Agenskalns market building was first started in 1911. It still operates as an authentic farmers market, you can buy fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers. This is also a good starting point for a walking tour of Agenskalns city district.

Viewpoints

  • Triangula Bastion, 11 Novembra Krastmala iela #17, ☎ +371 67321206 (info@speks.lv). 9 AM-10 PM. A modern building with an excavated fragment of the historical Riga fortification wall system along the river. The building has the best view terraces in Riga. Free.  
  • Riga TV Tower

    , 1 Zaķusalas krastmala, ☎ 67108643. A 368 meter-high tower built of concrete and standing on three legs. It has an observation deck at a height of 97 meters.  
  • Latvian Academy of Sciences, 1 Akademijas laukums, ☎ 67225361. Balcony: May-Sept: 9 AM-8 PM daily. Built in 1953, this building is often called Stalin's Birthday Cake because of it's austere and ornamented design.

Museums

  • Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, 1 Strelnieku laukums, ☎ +371 67212715 (omf@latnet.lv). This noticeable and austere black building is clearly out-of-place. In the Soviet days, this housed a museum to the Red Riflemen, a group of Latvians who volunteered for the service to Russia during the Russian revolution of 1917. Now it houses a museum of Latvia's time under both the Nazi and Soviet occupations. Very long, but very moving--essential for anyone interested in the history of the USSR or Nazi Germany. Outside the building away from the town square stands the Soviet-era Monument to the Riflemen. Free.
  • Porcelain Museum, Kalēju iela 9/11, (apvienība@riga.lv). Tu-Su: 11 AM-6 PM; Closed on Mondays. Covers the history of porcelain in Riga through the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • Sun Museum, 30 Vaļņu iela, ☎ +371 67225587 (info@saulesmuzejs.lv). 9 AM-6 PM daily. One of Riga's weirdest museums, it covers the history of sun mythology and its role in Latvian culture. 
  • Riga Castle - Rigas Pils, (Near the Northern boundary of the Old Town). The castle itself is fairly uninteresting, but it houses the following 2 museums:  
    • National History Museum of Latvia, 3 Pils Laukums, ☎ 67223004 (museum@history-museum.lv, fax: 67220586). Tu-Su: 10 AM-5 PM, Closed on Mondays. The History Museum is interesting, however, there is little English (Every room has its exhibits summarized on a single plaque). However, the museum does give a very good idea of Latvian history and will give you a good understanding of the area.   
    • Museum of Foreign Art, 3 Pils Laukums, ☎ 67226467. 11 AM - 5 PM TUE-SUN. The less interesting of the two museums: this is just a standard art museum. 
  • Museum of the Barricades of 1991, 3 Krāmu iela, ☎ +371 67213525. 10 AM - 5 PM MON-FRI, 11 AM - 5 PM SAT. Covers the dramatic events that occurred in the tumultuous final year of the USSR, when Soviet authorities sent troops into Riga to overthrow the elected Latvian government. Free.  
  • Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, 4 Palasta iela. May - Sept: 11 AM - 5 PM daily, Oct - May: 11 AM - 5 PM WED-SUN. Actually, 2 museums plus a number of special exhibits, though you pay one price. Like the National Museum, English translations are limited to plaques summarizing rooms, but here you can also pick up pieces of paper describing some of the exhibits. Both of the main museums are quite interesting, and they provide a good idea of what Riga was like in the past.
  • Arsenal Museum of Art, 1 Torna iela, ☎ 67357527. April - Sept: 11 AM - 7 PM Tue-Sun, Oct - Mar: 11 AM - 5 PM Tue-Sun. Riga's premier museum for modern art.  
  • Museum of War, 20 Smilsu iela, ☎ 67228147. May - Sept: 10 AM - 6 PM Wed-Sun, Oct - April: 10 AM - 5 PM Wed-Sun.  
  • Museum 'Jews in Latvia' and Jewish Community, 6 Skolas, 3rd Floor, ☎ 67283484 (info@jewishmuseum.lv). Su-Th: 11-5 PM, Closed F-Sa. Small museum dedicated to Jewish life in Latvia since the 16th century. Includes information on destruction of the synagogues by the Nazis, and the Latvians that saved Jews during the Holocaust. Exhibits are in English and Latvian. Free, donations welcomed.  
  • Mentzendorff House, Grecienieku 18. Wed-Sun: 11:00 am-5:00 pm. Former residence of a wealthy merchant built in 1720, now a museum dedicated to life in Riga in the 17th & 18th centuries. 
  • Riga Motor Museum, Piepilsētas, Krustkalni, Ķekava district (a few km outside Riga; take bus No 12 till bus stop Sarmas or bus No 23 till bus stop Rāmava), ☎ +371 67025888, 18. 9 am-5 pm on working days. The Riga Motor Museum’s building is undergoing a major reconstruction. The whole collection of antique vehicles has been stored and can be visited in temporary premises, located in Krustkalni, Ķekava district. The collection contains more than 230 exhibits, including former vehicles of Stalin, Kruschev, and Brezhnev.
  • Riga Ethnographic Open Air Museum (Brīvdabas muzejs), 440 Brivibas (Take the A2(E77) to the East out of Riga or take bus N.1 or Tram 1, 3, 6 (but from the tram there is a 2 km walking distance).), ☎ 67994106 (info@brivdabas-muzejs.lv, fax: 67994178). The Riga Ethnographic Museum is in Jugla, near a lake of the same name. There are many traditional Latvian countryside houses collected in a forest/park and exhibitions inside them about the traditional things. The employees are often dressed in the traditional Latvian costumes, creating a nice atmosphere.  
  • Naive Art Museum of Latvia, Floating Arts Gallery BETANOVUSS (Next to the Stone bridge), ☎ +37126611590. 12:00-18:00; Closed from October to May. Mission of the museum is to make an insight about naive art’s cultural processes for inhabitants of Latvia and guests, to show its importance and originality for promoting Latvians self – confidence and pride about the inheritance of naive art. And also with the help of original works introduce society with the unique basic values and essential style features of naive art. free.  
  • Victory Monument (Uzvaras piemineklis), (Get off the tram at the second stop after the bridge over the Daugava). A splendid example of high Soviet art and the biggest occupation-era monument in Latvia. If you've never seen a Soviet monument before, you should really check this out.  
  • Latvian Photographic Museum, Marstalu iela 8. Contains photos of Latvia since 1839, which focuses on the World Wars and 1905 Revolution.
  • Railway Museum, 2 - 4 Uzvaras bulvaris, ☎ 67232849. 10 AM - 5 PM TUE-SUN. The railway museum exhibits several collections of Soviet rolling stock.  
  • Theatre Museum (Eduard Smilgis Museum of Theatre), Eduarda Smiļģa iela 37/39 (tram #2, stop Eduarda Smiļģa iela), ☎ 67611893. 11 AM-6 PM WED-SUN. Theatre museum is located in the eccentrically designed and furnished the pre-war house of a former director of Riga Daile Theatre and one of the key figures in Latvian theatre of the 20th century.
  • Riga Aviation Museum, (At Riga International Airport). 10 - 4. Bored at the airport? Check out the Riga Aviation museum, which contains several rare aircraft.

Religious buildings

  • St. Peter's Church, 19 Skarnu iela, ☎ +371 67229426 (fax: 67211375). St. Peters Church, dating to 1209, is Riga's oldest church. Besides its ensemble of architecture, the church has an elevator to the tower from where you can see all of Riga (service not available on Mondays).
  • St. John's Church, 7 Jana iela. 10 AM - 5 PM TUE-SAT. A smaller, less spectacular church near St. Peter's. There is a nice altar inside, and unlike most Riga churches, this one is free. The altar is from the Renaissance period and depicts the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. The ceiling is from the Gothic period and has 5 separate vaulted compartments. There is also a huge pipe organ and many stained glass windows. This church dates back to the mid-1200s.  
  • St. Saviour's Anglican Church, 2a Anglikanu iela, ☎ 67222259. Riga's only Anglican church has English language services every Sunday @11 AM, and free concerts every Wednesday.  
  • St. Jacob's Catholic Church (Jekaba Katedrale), Jēkaba iela 9, (Jekaba.katedrale@tvnet.lv). Dating to 1226, this is one of the few Catholic churches left in Riga. At one point, it housed one of Riga's first schools. Free.  
  • Riga Cathedral (Doma cathedral), 1 Doma Laukums, ☎ 67227573. Dating to 1207, it is one of Riga's symbols. The 6768-pipe organ inside is particularly spectacular. Besides the organ, however, the interior is rather spartan, and may not be worth the entrance fee.
  • Riga Orthodox Cathedral. The Orthodox Cathedral was erected during Russian rule of Russian residents. In contrast to its relatively plain exterior, it is spectacular on the inside, but be aware that shorts are not allowed. free.  
  • Clock, (Western corner of the park). Donated by Riga's sister city, Kobe.  
  • Choral Great Synagogue, At Gogola and Dzirnavu iela. Mostly in ruins, since the Germans burned it down on July 4, 1941 with 600 people locked inside. There is a memorial to 400 Latvians who saved Jews during the Holocaust.  
  • Jesus Church, 18 Elijas iela. An unusually-designed Lutheran church.  

What to do in Riga, Latvia


Theatre

  • Latvian National Opera, 3 Aspazijas bulvaris, (boxoffice@opera.lv). A pretty building in its own right, this is also a nice place to see an opera or ballet.
  • Latvian National Symphonic Orchestra @ Big Guild, Amatu 6, ☎ +371 67224850 (lnso@lnso.lv, fax: +371 67224997).

Adrenaline Sports

Riga and its surroundings are popular destinations for adrenaline sports, which can be booked online, from most hostels and hotels, or from any local travel agent. The activities generally include transfers to/from your accommodation and all necessary supplies. Popular activities include bobsledding, AK-47 shooting, bungee jumping from a cable car, scenic flights, canoeing, kayaking, go-karting, golfing, paintball, husky dog sledding, indoor skydiving, and driving a 4x4 off-road.

Kipsala Beach

There is a popular beach on Kipsala Island, just across the Shroud Bridge from the city center.

Parks and gardens

  • Esplanade Park, (a block from the Freedom Monument). Designed by Georg Kuphaldt, who was expelled by Germany in 1915 as a spy because he had a telescope in his garden.  
  • Bastejkalns, Between Raina Bulvaris and Basteja Bulvaris. A small, pleasant park surrounding Brivibas Bulvaris. Sites in the Bastejkalns include a Chinese and a Japanese building, and the Bridge of Love over the Pilsetas Canal. The Bridge of Love has several locks on the railings put up by recently married couples. There is also a memorial to the two people killed here in the tumultuous events of 1991.  
  • Mežaparks, (Take Tram 11). Mežaparks (English: Forest Park) is a pleasant park area on the outskirts of Riga. There are large, gorgeous residential houses once inhabited by Riga's pre-war elite during the summers. They were largely let go during Soviet times but many are now being refurbished, repainted, and brought back to their original glory.  
    • Riga Zoo, 1 Meza Prospekts. The Riga Zoo is small but fairly popular.

What to eat and drink in Riga, Latvia


Eat

Riga, as the most vibrant and cosmopolitan city of the Baltics, offers countless opportunities to sample both local cuisine and international favorites. Latvian food can be hearty, using a lot of potato, cabbage, beef, pork, and fish. A diversity of foreign cuisines is also available -- sushi restaurants, in particular, are in vogue.

Budget

  • Čili Pica, Several locations (One near the Freedom Monument, another on the ground floor of the Stockman mall near central station). Cheap but good pizza.
  • Fontaine Delisnack, 3 locations including Teātra iela in the Old Town, ☎ +371 67 250 250 (info@fontaineriga.lv). A 24-hour diner with an extensive menu, this restaurant chain is popular at all hours of the day and night. Try the large CB Burger.
  • Ķīpsala Island Student Cafeteria, (Ķīpsala Island). Several sets of home-like food are offered in a cozy atmosphere.  
  • Lido. A network of 8 restaurants offering decent hearty Latvian food, including desserts, at good prices. The restaurants are either cafeteria-style or feature English menus. The following resturants are in the Lido network:  edit
    • Lido Entertainment Center, 76 Krasta iela (Take Tram 3, 7, or 9 to Krasta masīvs), ☎ +371 67504420 (fax: 67241168). Main Restaurant: 11 AM - 11 PM daily, Express Restaurant: 1 PM - 11 PM daily, Beer Cellar: 6 PM - 12 PM MON-FRI, 12 AM - 12 PM Holidays, Playroom: 5 PM - 10 PM MON-FRI, 12 PM - 10 PM Holidays. The wooden building features three floors of dining, a built-in wooden windmill, and a small amusement park outside. The ground floor and basement operate cafeteria-style. There is a huge choice available, including a variety of soups including borscht and the Latvian cold beetroot soup, as well as kebabs, breasts, chicken sausages, fish, red meats. Blinis are another specialty here.
    • Alus Seta, Old Town. Literally Beer Yard. Serves huge portions of excellent meat and two vegs from a grill at the front of the tavern, as well as an excellent choice of Beer. Probably the best value place in town.
    • Staburags. á là carte based and not cafeteria-style. Rustic interior, low prices and large portions of traditional Latvian food. Plays pseudo-traditional Latvian music with synthesized backing. 
    • Vermanitis, 65 Elizabetes St. A fantastic range of Latvian food in "authentic" environment.
  • Pelmeni XL, 7 Kalku (Old town). Russian-style dumplings filled with whatever is available. Cafeteria style.
  • Šefpavārs Vilhelms, Šķūņu 6, ☎ +371 67 228 214. Delicious stuffed pancakes/crepes at great prices.  
  • Smilšu Pulkstenis, Kalku iela #7. Cheap & tasty Latvian food.  
  • Varzob, 1 Ratslaukuma iela (J-2), ☎ 67211332. Uzbek food. The plov is an excellent choice, as is the Shashlik and Lagman.  
  • Walk to Wok, Aspazijas bulvaris 30. 10 AM-Midnight. The Latvian location of the international chain of stir-fry restaurants. Choose your ingredients and watch them being cooked in a giant wok.

Mid-range

  • 13 Kresli (13 Chairs), Dome Sq. Still going from Soviet times - 13 Kresli (13 chairs) has grown a bit, but is excellent, especially for tea and snacks.  
  • Aleks @ Hotel Justus, Jauniela 24, ☎ +371 67212416. 12 AM-12 PM. One of the best fish restaurants in town.
  • Alus Ordenis, 15 Raina bulvaris, ☎ +371 67 814 190. Serves rural Latvian food for an eminently reasonable price. Try pork shanks or bull testicles!  
  • Fat Pumpkin, Grecinieku Iela 30/25, ☎ +371 67 304 069. Delicious vegan food.  
  • Gardenia @ Hotel Garden Palace, Grecinieku street 28 (City center, Old Riga), ☎ +371 67224650 (restaurant@hotelgardenpalace.lv, fax: 67359749). Noon-11 PM. Mediterranean and European cuisine. Cozy and elegantly casual restaurant.
  • Juffin's 12, 10 Aldaru Street, ☎ +371 67224271 (juffins12@inbox.lv, fax: 67224272). 11 AM-11 PM. Serves European and Oriental international food and has an extensive wine list.  
  • La Kanna, Terbatas Iela 5, ☎ +371 67 286 867. Modern and cozy atmosphere.  
  • Milda, Dzirnavu 113a-103, ☎ +371 25 713 287. Eastern European cuisine. Only 20 seats. 
  • Café Osiris, 31 Krisjanis Barona iela. An artsy cafe with a cool interior, fireplace, and pancakes worth killing for. While there, drop by Gallerija Istaba for another cup of coffee or beer, and make sure to check out some of the artwork sold downstairs.  
  • Singh's, Gertrudes Iela 32, ☎ +371 66 22 00 00 (info@singhs.lv). Great Indian food.  
  • Stargorod, Republikas square 1 (In the front of Riga port, next to President Castle), ☎ +371 67 878 787 (m.grudule@stargorod.net). Noon-Midnight. Traditional Czech and Latvian cuisine, brewery, beer, tours in a brewery, entertainment.  
  • Sweetday Cafe, Tirgoņu 9 (old town). Coffee house that serves freshly homemade cakes. It has a great cozy atmosphere and the best service in town. The owner is Inese, speaks Latvian, English, Spanish, Russian and a bit of Dutch. 
  • Traktir (Russian: Трактиръ), 8 Antonijas iela, ☎ +371 67 332 455. Noon-11 PM. A Russian restaurant. Huge servings, great food, loads of vodkas to try out, and a Russian troubadour for entertainment. Few tourists.  
  • Vecmeita ar kaķi, 1 Mazā Pils iela, ☎ +371 67 325 077. This restaurant and bar is a more upmarket option than Lido, serving very good Latvian food. 

Splurge

  • Bergs, Elizabetes 83/85, Hotel Bergs. The restaurant of the hotel Bergs may be just about the best that Latvia has to offer. The food can be described as a fusion of Latvian and Western European cuisine. Menus are seasonal, and the ingredients always fresh - meaning sometimes not everything on the menu is available. With impeccable food and service, it is a wonder this place has not yet received the first Michelin star of any restaurant in Latvia.  
  • Pinot, Grecinieku 26. The restaurant next to the Museum of Latvia occupation offers a continental take on Baltic food. Menus are seasonal; check the website for the latest. The wine list is extensive, and the staff speaks Latvian, Russian and English reasonably well. Menus are in all three languages.
  • Rozengrāls. An authentic medieval restaurant in a real medieval basement in the Old Town. Serves tasty medieval foods and beverages.
  • Vincents, Elizabetes 19, ☎ +371 67332634. M-F: Noon-11 PM, Sat: 6 PM-11 PM, Su: Closed. If you're splashing out try Vincents Restaurant which compares favorably to any up market western restaurant at half the price.

Drink

Cafes

In addition to the independent coffee shops listed below, several international coffee chains such as Double Coffee, Coffee Inn, and Costa Coffee, have locations in Riga.

  • Gallery Istaba, Krišjāņa Barona iela 31a, ☎ +371 67 281 141. M-Sa: 12:00-23:00. Literally, room. An art gallery with a small café with 5 tables. Popular for its cozy atmosphere. 
  • Get Smart Cafe, Lāčplēša iela 43/45. Mo-Th: 11:00-00:00; Fr: 11:00-03:00; Sa: 18:00-03:00. A colorful café with the best of 60's décor. Features parties in the evenings.  
  • Kafka, Vaļņu iela 26, ☎ +37122335131. M-Fr: 11:00-20:00; Sa: 12:00-18:00. A cozy café in a bookstore. 
  • Miit Coffee, Lāčplēša iela 10, ☎ +371 28 891 351. M: 07:00-21:00; Tu-We: 07:00-23:00 Th: 07:00-00:00; Fr: 07:00-03:00; Sa: 10:00-03:00; Su: 10:00-18:00. Great coffee and vegetarian food, with gluten-free options. Try the pancake brunch on Saturday and Sunday. 

Bars

Riga is a major nightlife destination for tourists and bars here are often open later than those in other European cities. A specialty liquor is Riga Balsam, which is an acquired taste.

  • Aussie Pub Riga, 43 Valnu Iela, ☎ +371 67223406. Th-Sa: 10 AM-3 AM; Su-W: 10 AM-2 AM. Riga’s first Aussie pub promises to provide plenty of authentic down under atmosphere, but thankfully without any stuffed koalas, Fosters beer posters or, God forbid, any portraits of Paul Hogan. Spread out across three floors, the pub offers 12 local beers on draught for affordable prices served from a bar that’s actually an old VW combi van. Live bands play frequently in the basement.
  • Cuba Cafe, 15 Jauniela, ☎ +371 67 22 43 62. Cozy bar with DJs in the evenings. Salsa dancing on Tuesdays starting at 9 PM. 2 for 1 drinks during happy hour (5 PM-7 PM).  
  • FolkKlubs Ala Pagrabs, Peldu 19 (Old Town). Huge beer selection with 28 beers on tap, folk dancing, live music performances, and great authentic food.  
  • French Bar, Mazā Monētu iela 8 (Old Town), ☎ +371 67 220 353 (frenchbar@inbox.lv). Su-W: 5 PM-6 AM; Th-Sa: 4 PM-7 AM. One of the cheapest, smallest, and oldest bars in Riga. It is popular among foreigners and local students. TV shows international sports matches. From 4 PM-6 PM.
  • Karakums, Lāčplēša iela 18. Fun bar with TV and dance room. Pizzas for sale.
  • Kiwi Bar, Skarņu iela 7 (Old Town). Sports bar with karaoke nights. 
  • Leningrad, Krisjana Valdemara iela 4, ☎ +37126161335 (box@leningrad.lv). 12:00 - 03:00. Serves Latvian beers and food.drink> * Monkey's Bar, Grēcinieku iela 11a-2, ☎ +371 27 072 568,. A popular bar that brings in top DJs.  
  • Paddy Whelans Irish Pub & Sports Bar, Grecinieku iela 4, ☎ +371 67 210 150. F-Sa: 11 AM-3:30 AM; Su-Th: 11 AM-1 AM. A popular Irish bar. 
  • Skyline Bar, 55 Elizabetes iela (On the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel). Just perfect view at sunset. Finding a table next to the windows might be difficult after 11 PM. 

Shopping in Riga, Latvia


Don't go to the souvenir shops, instead, buy items like amber and wool mittens and socks in the central market or throughout Old Riga in little stands. You might haggle and get good prices for souvenirs.

During Christmas season there is a small Christmas market in the main square of the old town which offers lots of festive fares and hot wine.

  • Riga Central Market (Centrāltirgus), (Right next to international bus terminal, 2 min walk from Central station or Old town). different for different parts, see website for info. Riga Central market is noticeable for its huge hangars, built from parts of actual zeppelin hangars bought for the market in 1920. The market has also a large open-air area. It deals mostly in fresh food and is a good place especially during summer for fresh local fruit and vegetables. There are also stalls that sell cheap clothing and accessories. It is beloved by especially Scandinavian tourists coming via ferry for its cheap cigarettes, most of which are speculated to be contraband.  
  • Central Market (Centrāltirgus), 1 Centrāltirgus. 8 AM - 5 PM daily. This striking building near the central train station began life as an airship hangar in the 1930s but is now an excellent place to buy fresh produce, meat, dairy, and the occasional counterfeit goods, though these have been mostly eradicated. The market is actually quite non-touristy but very good for souvenirs. There are lots of small cafes scattered around the markets that serve up cheap local eats.  
  • Taste Latvia, shopping center 'Galerija Centrs', 4th floor, ☎ +371 67104540 (info@tastelatvia.lv). Open from 10.00 to 21.00 all week. Despite the slightly misleading name, Taste Latvia is a "Latvian fashion concept store", selling mostly clothes, but also accessories and items for the home, such as wooden kitchen and cooking utensils, hand-made ecological candles, and other items. The items are all from contemporary Latvian designers. If you want to take home some contemporary Latvian design, Taste Latvia is one of the best places to look.  
  • Konventa Seta, Behind St. John's Church. A former convent courtyard that now contains several touristy shops.  
  • Galerija Istaba, 31 Krišjāņa Barona iela. Nice local artwork can be found here. There is also a small cafe/bar on the second floor with a nice, laid-back atmosphere.  
  • Stockmann, 13 Janvara iela (Near the train station), ☎ +371 67071222 (fax: 67071254). 1st Floor: Mo-Sa 9-22, Su 10-22, 2nd Floor: 10-21 daily. The Latvian branch of the Finnish department store chain.  

Safety in Riga, Latvia


Riga is a quiet city for its size and crime is very low if compared to other EU capitals. The Old Town area becomes flooded with tourists during weekends so can become a bit rowdy during the evenings, however, the rest of Riga remains quiet and calm as most tourists stick to the Old Town area bars.

There is heavy police presence all over the city and if you are ever in need of an officer just head to the Freedom Monument which has a 24/7 police presence.

Maskavas forštate (Moscow district)
Maskavas is the area along the Daugava River east of the train station. Maskavas has a bad reputation due to its high crime rate, buildings in disrepair, and homeless vagrants. It is not recommended to hang out in parks in Maskavas after dark.

Language spoken in Riga, Latvia


The official language of Latvia is Latvian; however, in Riga, the majority of the population speaks both Latvian and Russian. English is widely spoken by younger people and by people in the tourism industry. German is also commonly spoken by tour guides.

LOCAL TIME

12:01 pm
November 14, 2019
Europe/Riga

CURRENT WEATHER

9.69 °C / 49.442 °F
light rain
Fri

7.61 °C/46 °F
light rain
Sat

6.93 °C/44 °F
scattered clouds
Sun

6.23 °C/43 °F
broken clouds
Mon

7.82 °C/46 °F
overcast clouds

LOCAL CURRENCY

EUR

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Travelers recommend visiting the following places of interests



http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 House of the Blackheads, Riga, Latvia
Average: 10 (10 votes)

House of the Blackheads (Latvian: Melngalvju nams, German: Schwarzhäupterhaus) is a building situated in the old town of Riga, Latvia. The original...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Riga Central Market, Latvia
Average: 9.1 (10 votes)

Riga Central Market (Latvian: Rīgas Centrāltirgus) is Europe's largest market and bazaar in Riga, Latvia. It is one of the most notable structures...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Riga Cathedral, Latvia
Average: 9.6 (10 votes)

Riga Cathedral (Latvian: Rīgas Doms; German: Dom zu Riga) is the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral in Riga, Latvia. It is the seat of the Archbishop of...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Swedish Gate, Riga, Latvia
Average: 9.1 (11 votes)

The Swedish Gate (Latvian: Zviedru vārti) is situated in Riga, Latvia, and was erected 1698 as a part of the Riga Wall to provide access to barracks...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 St. Peter's Church, Riga, Latvia
Average: 9.6 (10 votes)

St. Peter's Church (Latvian: Svētā Pētera Evaņģēliski luteriskā baznīca) is a Lutheran church in Riga, the capital of Latvia, dedicated to Saint...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum, Riga
Average: 9 (10 votes)

The "Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum" is an open air museum. It is situated near a forested area beside Juglas Lake just outside the capital,...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 de Three Brothers, Riga, Latvia
Average: 9.5 (10 votes)

The Three Brothers (Latvian: Trīs brāļi) is a building complex consisting of three houses, situated in Riga, Latvia. The houses together form the...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 Nativity Cathedral, Riga, Latvia
Average: 9 (10 votes)

The Nativity of Christ Cathedral (Latvian: Kristus Piedzimšanas pareizticīgo katedrāle, Russian: Христорождественский кафедральный собор), Riga,...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en ||| Public domain Vermanes Garden, Riga, Latvia
Average: 9.4 (10 votes)

Vērmanes Garden (Latvian: Vērmanes dārzs, German: Wöhrmanns Garten) is the oldest public garden in the city of Riga, Latvia, and currently comprises...
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0 ||| Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Riga Aviation Museum, Latvia
Average: 9 (10 votes)

Riga Aviation Museum is an aviation museum in Riga, Latvia.   Location and history The museum is located in the grounds of Riga...

Latest travel blogs about Riga, Latvia




Batteries of Mangalsala or Abandoned Forts Near Riga. P.2


Let's continue our tour of batteries of Mangalsala (Batteries of Mangalsala or Abandoned Forts Near Riga. P.1)! The doors has survived in this cellar. Exit from the cellars. Probably there was amenity space here. There's the battery of 152 mm guns on the hill. This is...

I continue the series of reviews of the wonderful country of Latvia. Taking into account the fact that Riga is a large port city, historically, there must be fortifications near it. Unfortunately, the guidebooks didn't tell us anything about this and we turned to Google for help. It told us...
Dear friends, today I will tell you about one of the iconic buildings of Riga, which, in fact, has become a hallmark of the city - about Riga Dome Cathedral. There are several Dome Cathedrals around the world, as the word takes after the Latin sayings "The House of God" and "to the ...
There is one park in Riga (if we can call it the park) which really impressed me. This is the place of memory of the Barricades Days of January 1991 victims. It is located near Bastion Hill in the heart of Riga. Now it is a regular beautiful park where young people celebrate weddings,...
I'd like to tell you about several museums in Riga! In general, there are a lot of them, but I particularly liked 2 of them. I'll tell you about these museums. I was impressed by "The Latvian War Museum" and "The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia". Let's talk...
If you are in Riga and you have an hour of free time, I recommend you to enjoy views of the city from a river. They are really beautiful. You can come on board in a port. However, the best offer is waiting for you in the City canal. There are several pleasure boats moored at a small pier...
Just think of that - I was walking through Riga, looking around, and then I came across this place. This is Vaļņu iela. Building itself houses a hostel for people, and its basement - a hostel for cats. Such a great sense of humor. This is the street called Pulkveža Brieža. This is...