Things to do in Riga

Cover image of history of Riga

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Here are the Things To Do In Riga that we did in Riga.  We spent two days exploring the city.

Free Walking Tour

A great way to orientate yourself to Riga and find out some interesting history is to do a free walking tour of the city.  These tours are based on tips, meaning that you don’t pay anything upfront.  At the end of the tour you give the guide a tip, based on both how much you think the tour was worth and how much you can afford.

Traveller Tours offer a free tour every day that starts at 12pm in front of St Peters Church. The tour goes for around 2 and a half hours.

The Old Town

Riga Old Town. @Wikimedia Commons

If you do a free walking tour you’ll spend quite a bit of time here, but it’s worth wandering for a few hours yourself to see what you can find.

Top sights to see in the old town include:

The Three Brothers: This is a group of three buildings, side by side, that are apparently the oldest dwelling houses in all of Europe. They date back to the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries respectively. Find them on Maza Pils Street.

The Three Brothers. @Wikimedia Commons

Rozena St:  This is the narrowest street in the old town, with some pretty interesting buildings and architecture.

St Peter’s Church:  This old Lutheran Church is the biggest church in Riga. The tower of the church has a viewing platform that you can head up to for around €9 to get a view of the city. If you want a view of Riga from above, this is probably the best option in the city.

St Peter’s Church

Find the black cats:  When you’re looking at the mustard yellow building at Meistaru 10/12, cast your eyes to the roof and you can find two small statues of black cats. The story goes that a rich merchant who used to live here had them installed.  He pointed their asses towards the guild that was located in the same square, as a bit of a fuck you because they wouldn’t let him join. Kind of strange but kind of cool at the same time.  Check out this interesting post on Wandertooth for more info on the cats.

Art Nouveau District

Riga has one of the largest collections of art nouveau architecture in Europe.  Over a third of all the buildings in Riga are art nouveau in style, thanks to a financial boom when the style was in fashion throughout the 19th century.

To check it out, head to Alberta iela, which is just outside of the old town, and Elizabetes iela, also just outside the old town.  In particular have a look at numbers 10a and 10b Elizabetes, we thought they were the most impressive.

Central Market

Central Market it Riga. @Wikimedia Commons

The central market in Riga has a heap of local produce and sweets, and also other market stalls with clothes and accessories. The Riga Free Walking Tour takes you briefly through the market, but if you like markets then it’s worth going back yourself to have a good look. It’s located just outside the old town, by the river.

Museum of Occupation

Museum of Occupation. @Wikimedia Commons

Along with Estonia and Lithuania, Latvia also has a museum of occupation. The museum is dedicated to the stories of Latvia’s occupation over the last century, by both the Soviets and the Nazis. If you like history, you’ll probably enjoy it here.  If you’re travelling through all of the Baltics, we’d recommend visiting at least one of the museums of occupation.

It’s open from 11 until 5 every day, and entry is by donation. It’s close to St Peter’s Church, in the old town.

Bastejkalna park

Bastejkalna Park. @Wikimedia Commons

Bastejkalna park is in the centre of Riga, just on the outskirts of the old town. It’s named after Bastion Hill, which you can find inside the park. There is a small canal that runs through the park. Its a great place to relax and unwind for a couple of hours to get you out of the old town.

Riga’s nightlife

A random, stock image of some nightlife.

Riga is well known for its nightlife.  There are plenty of bars and clubs to choose from if you’re going to venture out. Most weekends of the year, you’ll find groups of guys and girls on stag do’s and hen’s nights, thanks to cheap flights from the UK and the cheap drinks.

If you’re really looking for a big night out, Naughty Squirrel Backpackers seems to be the number one party hostel in Riga. They also have a list of the top bars and clubs,  so check that out for ideas too.

Some of the better places that we went while we were here were:

Aussie backpacker pub:   It’s owned by Riga Old Town Hostel, so that means there’s always going to be a fuckload of backpackers.  . But the atmosphere is friendly and laid back, and backpackers are generally up for a chat and a good night.
Location: Vaļņu iela 43, Centra rajons, Rīga

Cuba Cafe:  A small, Latin american themed cocktail bar in the old town. Apparently there is usually a DJ here, and the atmosphere is really good.
Location: Jauniela 15, Riga 1050, Latvia

Cafe Leningrad:  A cafe during the day and a bar at night.  Cafe Leningrad is a soviet themed cafe where you’ll find a variety of live music on most nights of the week. The inside is decked out with soviet style memorabilia.  We’re history buffs so we loved it.
Location:  Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela 4,

Peter’s Brewhouse:  Peter’s Brewhouse is more of a German theme pub than anything.  It’s really touristy and apparently the food is pretty shit.  But on a Friday or Saturday night the atmosphere is great and there is good live music.  Worth checking out for a beer or two.
Location:  Skārņu iela 9, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

Riga Pub Crawl run pub and club tours every night.  We didn’t do one, as they seemed more tailored towards British Stag nights than anything else.  But if it’s something you’re interested in, visit their website where you can email them for more details.

Jurmala beach

We didn’t have time to go here, but talked to lots of people that did.  It’s a popular day trip from Riga. Jurmala is a seaside resort town that can apparently get really busy throughout the summer.  Trains run regularly from Riga’s main train station, and the trip takes around 30 minutes. A ticket should cost you no more than a couple of Euros.

 

 

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