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Top 10 Things to Do in Riga
As the largest city in the Baltics, Riga has attractions for every taste. Enjoy stunning architecture from Medieval to Art Noueau, visit museums that capture Latvia’s dramatic history, dine on sensational seasonal cuisine for a very pleasant price tag, or live it up with rip-roaring nightlife.
Riga’s historic centre is deservedly on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and a visit to the captivating Old Town is an unforgettable experience. Wander romantic cobblestoned lanes, admire soaring church steeples and marvel at architectural gems like the House of Blackheads.
Riga boomed in the early 20th centuries just as Art Nouveau architecture was flourishing. Today the city is one of the world’s greatest galleries of this style, boasting over 800 Art Nouveau gems.
You will be bowled over by the incredible ornamentation of this style, and don’t forget to look all the way to the top of the buildings...
Prefer to do your own food shopping? Then venture down to Riga Central Market, an enormous complex of five zeppelin hangars offering smoked fish, black bread, pīrāgi, honey, birch sap juice, pickled cabbage and much more in a rollicking, friendly atmosphere.
Latvians know how to celebrate the good times with gusto, and Riga’s nightlife is a heady mixture of bars, clubs and beer gardens. Don’t miss a trip to Folk Club Ala, a medieval cellar offering folk bands, hearty Latvian cuisine and dozens of local beers and vodkas. See Top 10 Bars
With a rich array of inexpensive eateries to fancy restaurants, Riga’s dining scene will please your taste buds. Grab a traditional Latvian meal at one of the Lido chain’s bistros or explore New Latvian Cuisine at Biblioteka Nr. 1. See Top 10 Restaurants
Latvia’s turbulent and often tragic history during the 20th century is encapsulated in Riga’s KGB Headquarters, where many people were imprisoned during the Soviet occupation. A guided tour of the cells is a chilling experience you will remember for a long time.
In Old Town, make sure you visit inspiring St. Peter’s Church. The church has a wonderful ambiance and contains fascinating relics from Riga’s history, while the landmark steeple offers breath taking views from its viewing platform 72 metres up.
Riga is the birthplace of many stars of opera and ballet, and an evening at the Latvian National Opera and Ballet is an experience to treasure for a remarkably affordable price. The white neo-classical building and its surrounding gardens are masterpieces to be savoured during the day.
For a hipper flavour, head over the river to the Saturday market at Kalnciema kvartāls. Buy artisanal gifts, snack on gourmet street food and enjoy free concerts in this complex of lovingly restored wooden buildings.
Riga is a city on the water, and it boasts some lovely beaches on its doorstep. The seaside resort of Jurmala with miles of pine-fringed shore and unique timber architecture is just 30 minutes’ away by train.