It’s the Real Deal.
When people talk about Riga, they don’t describe it as a capital city, they call it ‘the jewel in the crown’. Everything here is elevated: the architecture, the culture, the hospitality, the welcome! This is an old city with a young soul, so it’s lively and outgoing too, pulsating with nightlife and on-trend eateries. Plus, it’s small and compact which makes it easy to explore on foot. AND it’s one of the most affordable destinations in Europe. So, all in all, Riga has a lot going for it.
Riga is a hotbed of culture and you only have to look at the architecture to see that. There are many museums, churches and concert halls and a medieval Old Town: known locally as Vecrīga, it’s pedestrianised and has a relaxed charm. On the UNESCO World Heritage list and with a European Heritage Label, the diversity of styles will enthral architecture buffs.
It’s fun to visit Rozena Street, the narrowest in Riga, and touch opposite walls just by stretching out your arms. Or climb St. Peter’s Church tower to get an amazing view of the city. In winter, there’s a skating rink. In summer, Livu Square is vibrant with shops, art galleries, bars and nightspots. If you’re stopping for a coffee, you must order the Vecrīga - a choux pastry dessert named for the Old Town.
Historical and international influences can be seen around every street corner: Latvia has lived through turbulent times, but this is a city that has found itself. To the east of Vecrīga and perched in the city’s beautiful Bastejkalna Parks, the Freedom Monument stands 42 metres high and is crested by a copper sculpture of Liberty. It’s a testament to the spirit of independence and was funded by donations from Latvians around the world.
You can’t travel to Riga without visiting the Central Market. Its pavilions were built in the 1920s as hangars for German zeppelins. Today, they welcome up to 100,000 shoppers every day, making it one of the largest and most visited markets in Eastern Europe. The range of produce on offer is practically infinite and you can wander the former warehouses to explore the arts and entertainment on offer. Or, if you’re really in the market for value for money and want to cut out the middleman, there’s a night market in Gaizina Street where you can buy direct from the farmer.
You’ll also find the best of Latvian cuisine in Riga, on a menu that is shaped by seasonal, native produce and influenced by its European neighbours. You’ve got to try the hearty dumplings, smoked fish and bowls of borscht. Pickles and Sauerkraut are local staples, while grey peas are much tastier than they sound: they’re served as a side dish or a bar snack. Another Riga speciality is Latvia’s national spirit: Black Balsam is a vodka-based, herb-laden liqueur that is said to have health-giving properties. We’ll try anything once…
It’s the Real Deal.
When people talk about Riga, they don’t describe it as a capital city, they call it ‘the jewel in the crown’. Everything here is elevated: the architecture, the culture, the hospitality, the welcome! This is...