Riga: An Overview and Tips

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A brief overview of Riga

Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia.  It’s situated on the northern coast of Latvia, where the Daugava River meets the Gulf of Riga. It’s UNESCO world heritage listed, mainly due to its historical centre and the art-nouveau district that’s right next to it. Riga was voted the European capital of culture in 2014.

By air, Riga is the most accessible of the three Baltic capitals. So it’s no surprise that most weekends you’ll find a fuckload of British guys on stag dos.  Don’t let that put you off too much though, just avoid them and check out the rest of the city.  It’s got a great history (which you can read more about here), and some great spots for food and drink.

As far as the Baltic capitals go, Riga is the one where you can do the most amount of things in the least amount of time. So we’d recommend spending two nights here. That’s what we did and it was a good amount of time to see the sights and get a good feel for the city.

Tips and things to know about Riga:

  • Do a free walking tour when you first arrive.  It’s a great way to orientate yourself to the city.
  • They have a drink here called Riga Black Balsam.  It’s a traditional Latvian liqueur that’s mixed with vodka.  Give it a try, either on its own or mix in it with a cocktail.
  • Riga’s nightlife is pretty hectic, so it’s worth heading out for some drinks at least one night that you’re here.  Just try and avoid those stag dos.
  • If you’re coming from either Tallinn or Vilnius, Traveller Tours run daily transfers that include a guided tour of the Estonian, Latvian or Lithuanian countryside.  These are a good option if you’re a little short on time but would like to see more of each country.
  • You can download an offline map of Riga on google maps before you go. Zoom to Riga, search ‘okmaps’, and then download the area you have selected.
  • Latvia uses the Euro as its currency.


Where to stay in Riga

The majority of hostels and hotels in Riga are in the old town. This seems to be the best place to stay.  It’s where we spent most of our time while we were there.  A lot of the hostels are rated highly, so there’s no shortage of places to choose from. There’s not much more to say here – as long as you book something in the old town you can’t really go wrong.

  • Tip:  If you’re after a party hostel or more social hostel to stay in, The Naughty Squirrel hostel seems to be the place to go.

Getting around Riga

Not much to say here.  The best way to get around Riga is walking.  They do have a public transport network, but we didn’t really need it at all when we were there.  If you do need it, you can find info on it here.


More reading on Riga