The heart of Riga is definitely its old town - the 800 years old Old Riga or Old Town.Its narrow winding and cobblestone covered streets are interesting for walking as they reveal the architectural heritage of several centuries. The pride of the Old Town is the churches and their towers shaping the panorama of the old town.St.Peter’s Church can boast the highest church tower in Riga, which by the way is also accessible by an elevator and has a viewing platform to see Riga from a bird’s-eye view.The Dome Cathedral in its turn has one of the oldest organs in the world, the impressive pipe sounds of which can be enjoyed during concerts of organ music. Right next to the Dome Cathedral there is the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation with one of the oldest expositions in Europe.The Dome Square next to the Dome Cathedral offers refreshments in the nearby cafes.In the Town Hall Square you can see the Riga City Council and the Blackhead’s House, which was once built by wealthy travellers and tradesmen for entertainment and social evenings.Every evening at sunset (at 17.30; 18.30; 19.30; 20.30; 21.30; 22.30) you can see a musical light performance on the façade of the Blackhead’s House.Right next to it you will find the Museum of Occupation presenting evidence of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th centuries in Latvia.One of the most central entertainment places in the Old Town is Livu Square, housing many restaurants and pubs.Surely you will find many and various art galleries and souvenir shops, as well as good restaurants and cafes in the Old Town.
Centre of Riga
The centre of Riga next to the Old Town attracts with its spacious parks. In spring, when the leaves open, they have a unique bouquet of scents.In summer the parks are a good place to hide from the heat. In autumn the parks turn into an incredible mixture of colours, while the heaps of snow in winter will please children. Latvian National Opera is situated in the Opera park and will surprise ballet and opera lovers with world class performances.The nearby Riga Central Market has spacious pavilions once built for military purposes and is a great place to have a taste of the delicious products from Latvian countryside. A short walking distance further you will find Spikeri with a chamber music hall, several exhibition halls, as well as restaurants and bars.
The so called embassy district in its turn is filled with the spectacular Art Noveau architecture of Riga. There are so many examples of this kind of architecture in the city that Riga is called the capital of Art Noveau. The essence of Art Noveau can be enjoyed on Alberta Street and the nearby streets. Alberta Street also houses the Riga Art Noveau Museum.
If you have more time for walking in Riga, we suggest going to Mezaparks, where also the Riga Zoo is situated. It is easily accessible by bike in summer (~30 min from the centre of Riga) or tram (~20 min from the centre of Riga). If you are interested in the heritage of Latvian folk culture, the Ethnographic Open Air Museum will be an excellent place for visiting and walking around. It has one of the largest expositions in Europe. You can reach the Open Air Museum by both the public transportation (~50 min) or bike (~1 hour).
If you cross the Daugava, however, an outstanding panorama of Riga can be seen from Kipsala, which also has the historical wooden architecture.The wooden architecture characteristic to Pardaugava can be seen in the Kalnciema Street Quarter.It also has tasteful restaurants and regular green markets and various art events.
Of course, if you would rather be in the nature, you will only need an hour's drive to get, for example, to Kemeri National Park, the facilitated pathways of which will offer an opportunity to learn about the vegetation of a bog.If you enjoy walks on the seashore, go to Jurmala (~45 min by train).If you are interested in active recreation Sigulda is only 40 km away and offers a wide range of services for active recreation.