To enjoy Riga, whether you’re studying in Riga at Liden & Denz, or just enjoying a weekend break, there are plenty of things to do in the city! Here’s our round up of the top ten things to do and see in this wonderful capital city.
1. Take the free city walking tour.
Even if you live in Riga, a city tour will open your eyes to places you may not yet have visited or even known about, and will give you plenty of history and interesting information about each place. Called Riga Free Tour, the walking tour is a great way to really discover the city, as enthusiastic young locals who truly know their hometown will show you around. The tour takes in the usual tourist spots as well as the local haunts and operates on tips only, which means the tour guides will work as hard as possible to be as engaging and interesting as they can! The tour starts everyday at 12pm in front of St Peter’s Church.
2. Visit Riga’s Central Market.
This bustling and lively place is located by the central bus station and is the place to try the local delicacies and get yourself some tasty and cheap souvenirs to take home. Enjoy Riga’s food and Latvian rye bread and Latvian eel, and if you’re there in March and April, try birch tree juice!
3. Wander the Old Town.
On your way back from the Central Market, take a stroll through the Old Town and just let yourself get lost among the narrow streets and charming buildings, dating back to the 16th century! There are plenty of beautiful squares and stunning architecture to see. Find a local bar and try the local beer and enjoy the bar snacks like the garlic bread sticks! Enjoy Riga’s streets and take a walk down Rozena Street, the narrowest street in Riga, where if your arms are long enough, you can take the walls on both sides!
4. Try Riga Black Balsam.
While you’re in the bars in the Old Town, make sure you try a shot of Riga Black Balsam, the local liquor. The best place to try this slightly bitter but delicious alcoholic drink is in the Riga Black Balsam Bar (of course!) in the Old Town. If you love the taste, you can get bottles both large and small in any of the tourist shops around the city.
5. Visit the Bastejkalns park.
Situated in the heart of Riga, Bastejkalns or Bastion Hill, is the huge beautiful park, formed in the 19th century after the city’s ramparts had been pulled down. It’s split into two parts, with the Liberty Monument in the middle and is a favourite spot among the locals and tourists alike for quiet romantic walks and also as a relaxing place to enjoy some time with family and friends. You can also take a tour of the city canals and the river Daugava on the tourist boats that leave from the park or hire a pedal boat to do the cruise on your own!
6. Visit the Museum of Occupations.
If you like museums and/or history, one of the most important museums in the Baltics is not to be missed. The Museum of Occupations gives an honest account of Latvia’s occupations by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, during and after World War II. With a huge collection of pictures, posters, newspapers, weapons and more, this is the place to go to learn more about the recent history of Latvia.
7. See Gutmanis Cave
If you’re feeling exhausted from all the wandering around and sightseeing or have sore muscles from taking a pedal boat tour of the canals, head over the Gutmanis Cave, with graffiti dating back to the 16th century! Legend states that the water has healing properties, so give it a try to soothe your aching bones!
8. Get a Panoramic View
To enjoy Riga’s most spectacular view of the entire city, there are a couple of places you can visit. St. Peter’s Church Tower in the Old Town offers a view from a very central place, and is particularly amazing on a bright sunny day, where you can see for miles around. Skyline Bar on the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Latvia hotel or Terrace Riga in the shopping mall Galleria Riga, are both great places to enjoy a cocktail while you take in the view at sunset.
9. See the Russian Orthodox Cathedral
One of the largest and most decorated religious structures in Riga, the Russian Orthodox Cathedral is a must-see whether you’re religious or not. If you’re coming from Russia for a weekend, you may think that after seeing St Basil’s or the Church of the Spilt Blood that this is just another cathedral, but with its turbulent history and spectacular design, this cathedral will not disappoint! It was built in the 1860s and during Soviet times was converted from a church to a planetarium, cinema and cafe! Since then, it’s been renovated and is now open all the time for worshippers and visitors.
10. Take a Wander at Night.
If you’re looking for a new way to see the city, strolling through the Old Town and New Town alike under cover of darkness will offer totally new perspectives. Many of the bridges are beautifully lit up at night, as well as famous buildings like House of the Blackheads and St Peter’s Church. Whether you’ve got a fancy camera or not, the way the city looks at night is not to be missed. Grab a shot of Riga Black Balsam in one of the bars in the Old Town to keep you warm and then head out into the darkness and enjoy Riga’s nightlife.
In your opinion, what is the best way to enjoy Riga? Is there something you would like to add to this to-do list? Leave your comment below!
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