Riga in Latvia is a great place to for a city break. With lots of history and things to do, great restaurants and a cute Old Town it is a perfect place to visit for 24-48 hours. During my visit I spent two nights in the city, so I am going to tell you things you could see and do as well as places you could eat within the same amount of time.

Things to See and Do

During a short trip to Riga here are some of the things you could see and do around the city:

Trīs brāļi

Also known as the Three brothers, these three buildings built next to one another are some of the oldest houses in the city. The “Oldest Brother” seen on the right, was built around 1490. The second brother was built in 1646 and is seen in the middle, and the youngest in the 17th century and is seen on the left.

AddressMazā Pils iela Trīs brāļi, Rīga, LV-1050

Tris brali (Three Brothers)
Tris brali (Three Brothers)

Central Market

The Central Market is located towards the south of the city and is huge with different sections throughout the building with fish counters, spices, vegetables, meat and more. Unless you have cooking facilities during your stay you may not buy anything but it’s still nice to walk through and look around.

Address: Nēģu iela 7, Latgales priekšpilsēta

Riga Central Market
Riga Central Market

House of Blackheads

The House of the Blackheads is probably one of the most popular and beautiful buildings in the city. The building was originally built in 1334 for the Brotherhood of Blackheads, and during the 17th century it was a guild for Germany traders. After being destroyed by the soviets and germans in World War II it has since been rebuilt and finished in 1999.

Address: Rātslaukums 7, Central District

House of Blackheads, Riga
House of Blackheads

St. Peter’s Church

The best view of the city and the Old Town is from St Peter’s Church. This church which is the tallest church in the city was built in 1209 and the main hall is often used for exhibitions and concerts. The viewing platform is at 72 meters high and to get there you take a lift which looks extremely old (but adds to the experience) and from the top you’ll be greed with fantastic panoramic views in all directions. The fee for the viewpoint is €9. 

Address: Skārņu iela 19, Centra rajons

View from St. Peter's Church, Riga
View from St. Peter’s Church

Latvian Academy of Sciences

Another place to go for views of the city is the Latvian Academy of Sciences. It’s cheap to get in at €4 which will give you access to the large observation deck. On the deck are lots of plaques providing information about what you can see in various directions.

Address: Akademijas laukums 1

View from Latvian Academy of Sciences
View from Latvian Academy of Sciences

Nativity Cathedral

This beautiful Neo-Byzantine church opened in 1884 and is now an Orthodox Church – You can enter for free although you are not allowed to take pictures of the inside. 

Address: Brīvības bulvāris 23, Centra rajons

Nativity Cathedral, Riga
Nativity Cathedral

Bastejkalna (Bastion Hill)

For a nice walk head along the Bastejkalna Parks or Bastion Hill which stretches along the Pilsetas kanals (City Canal). During the winter this park is particularly nice when there’s fresh snow all around and it would make for a romantic walk, especially at night.

Bastejkalna Park, Riga
Bastejkalna Park

Freedom monument

Towering high near Bastion Park is the Freedom monument. This tower is 42.7 meters tall and was built in 1935. It acts as a a historical symbol representing Latvias fight for independence and to honour soldiers who lost their lives during the war of independence. 

Freedom monument, Riga
Freedom monument

Art Nouvoue architecture

To see some really stunning architecture, go for a walk along Elizabetes iela where you’ll find rows of buildings with stunning picturesque facades such as below.

Elizabetes iela, Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau Architecture along Elizabetes iela

Christmas Markets

I visited at the start of the New Year and the Christmas Markets were still up which made it feel like Christmas hadn’t finished.

Some of the locations for the Christmas Markets are near the Riga Dome along Donma Laukums and also at Livu Laukums which are public squares. One nice experience I had was listening to typical Christmas songs, such as Jingle Bells but sung in Latvian.

Christmas in Riga
Christmas and Riga Cathedral

More Things to See and Do

Within the city are lots of museums such as the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Latvian War museum, Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation and more, as well as zoo’s, walking tours, lots more parks and other things to do. Head to www.liveriga.com to discover all the things available in the city.

Places to Eat and Drink

I enjoyed all the food I had in Riga with my favourite being my meal at Folkklubs ALA pagrabs which was unbelievably good.

Big Bad Bagel, Riga
Big Bad Bagel, Riga

Pētergailis
The food and atmosphere was great and it’s located just round the corner from St Peters Church. During my visit I had the trout which was very tasty and well presented.
Websitepetergailis.com
Address: Skarnu street 25, Riga, LV-1050

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Folkklubs ALA pagrabs
Everyone raves about Folkklubs ALA pagrabs and to be honest I was very impressed. I had the Dundagas royal stroganoff which was probably one of the tastiest dishes I’ve had for a while. All the beer they serve is also locally produced. It may be hard to get a table so try and book in advance or go for a late lunch or early dinner.
Websitewww.folkklubs.lv
Address: Peldu iela 19, Basement, Old town, LV-1050

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Big Bad Bagel
A great place for breakfast. They have a good choice of options with interesting names. I choose the Bacon in Mexico option.
Websitebigbadbagels.lv
Address: Baznīcas street 8

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Skyline Bar
Head up to the Skyline bar for views of the city. I found the glass very reflective so it may be best to head up here for sunset and before it gets too dark. Although I only went to take some pictures of the view I did look at the menu at it wasn’t priced overly expensive.
Websitewww.skylinebar.lv
Address: Radisson Blu Latvija Hotel Elizabetes Str 55

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Double coffee
For coffee I went into Double Coffee which is more of a chain but I liked the ambiance and it was affordable and good.

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Other places to eat and drink – Have a look on www.tripadvisor.com.

Accommodation

Head to Booking.com to start your search. It’s a good idea to stay close to the Old Town so that you can easily get to places by foot.

On my trip to Riga I stayed at Central Hostel which was ok with a kitchen, games room and quite a cool style. I wasn’t a huge fan of the bathroom and matts though. They often looked a bit dirty. The hostel is also about 15-20 minutes walk from the Old Town.

Have a look on Booking.com for other options.


Booking.com

Destination Info Box

Destination type:History, Architecture, City
Currency:Euro
WiFi:Easy to find everywhere
Emergency numbers:Dial 112 for fire, police and medical
Arrive by air:Riga International – You can then easily get to the city by public bus or  Taxi
Arrive by train:Head to www.ldz.lv to search for international routes.
Arrive by bus:Riga International Coach Terminal located Prāgas iela 1, 1050. For bus companies I found luxexpress.eu cheap and fantastic.
Language:Latvian (English is good everywhere)
Power supply: 230v- Type F – European – A good plug adapter is the Skross PRO World Travel Adapter. Remember to also check the local voltage and frequency as you may need a converter. A site I use for this is www.power-plugs-sockets.com.
Tourism Websites:  www.latvia.travelwww.liveriga.com
 Other notes/tips: Be careful when walking near puddles on the road, these seemed to be everywhere and it would be easy to get soaked.

Visit my post with Europe tips: Top Tips for Travelling in Europe for the First Time

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City Breaks - Riga in 24-48 hours

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23 comments

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I definitely want to visit Riga and other destinations in the Baltics (sooner than later!) Great guide. I am pinning. And damn, that bagel pic made me so hungry!

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Haha. I hope it’s helpful! I hope you make it to the Baltics soon! 🙂

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Wooooowza! The architecture here is simply stunning. I was personally impressed with the House of Blackheads. Do you know if they reconstructed it to look exactly how it did prior to the destruction? Or did they make modifications?

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You know that’s an excellent question. I think it is based on some pictures from the early 20th century but I don’t know the correct answer. You may have to visit and ask that question to a tour guide? 😉

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I have always seen Riga in my mind as a kind of fairytale location. The snow in your photos helps with that picture. I can’t wait until I get there one day – but while the snow may look pretty, I think I would actually prefer summer. Thank you for your post.

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Thank you and you’re welcome! I imagine the summer will be a great time to visit too!

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This is a really pretty snowy city. I think all of the ornate architecture and churches just add to the charm. It really looks just like a place you would dream of when peering into a snow globe!

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That’s a cute way to put it! Thank you!

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You had a bit of luck to be in Riga when its cowered with snow. Fantastic pictures! I am glad that more and more people are visiting my old home town. When I grew up, it was such a grey city. In winter most of tourists stay in Riga but if you visit in summer, there is beaches within short train ride from Riga. In summer you can also go to the roof lounge at Alberta hotel and enjoy sunset.

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Thank you! Yes the snow was a welcome treat. I was hoping for that when I booked my trip as I know how magical it can make a place look! Ahh great to know what to do in the summer! I’d love to see the warmer side of Riga and also Latvia too! 🙂

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Ah that remind me my high school trip to Riga! It was my first trip abroad and it was so exciting! Such a beautiful city ! Your photos are amazing too!

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Thanks very much

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We love the way how the rustic and classic skyline is preserved in Riga. In most major cities, these culturally rich structures are destroyed to give way to glass-and-steel skyscrapers. This is the kind of city that we love to live in.

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Totally that’s a nice way to put it! There are some (but not too many) modern buildings but those are away from the Old Town

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I have never been to Riga, but the architecture looks stunning. Especially the Three Brothers buildings!

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Love the photos and the write up since I didn’t know anything about Riga. Is the Three Brothers a museum? Can you go inside? The architecture is beautiful.

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Hi Leiha, very beautiful architecture indeed. I believe you can go into one of the buildings. It’s forms the Latvian Museum of Architecture. I haven’t been in myself though. Here’s a link with some info. http://www.archmuseum.lv/en/actualities.htm

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The House of Blackheads is just spectacular. Even after being destroyed and rebuilt, it’s glory still stays the same. The snow covered park looks hauntingly beautiful. I never knew Latvia could be such a lovely place to be in.

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Loving the architecture and I have always heard so much positive words about see Riga. We are not far away at all from Vienna and could do a weekend there.

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I love any city that is easily walkable in a short time allowing you to see some major sites! The Three Brothers houses are quite stunning!

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Gorgeous photos. Don’t European cities look great with a layer of snow?
We’ve never been to the Baltics…one day.

Frank (bqboy)

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I love your photos, Mike! Latvia seems very attractive and magical!

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Thanks so much! Latvia is fantastic! I hope you visit! 🙂

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