yes, no, maybe: Riga edition
When I took mini trip to the capital cities of the Baltic States I loved all three of them, but Riga was my favourite. It’s cheap to fly to and you can get around for a low cost too. So if you are looking for a budget destination city trip Riga is the place to be.
Yes – These Are The Best Things To Do in Riga
Riga Central Market is a must see for the buildings itself: the market consists of pavilions constructed by reusing old Zeppelin hangars and holds over 3000 stalls. You will find there everything from meat to prepared food and ….
There is this story that Riga is the birthplace of the world’s very first decorated Christmas tree. Apparently, in 1510 merchants were the first to decorate a Christmas tree in honour of the birth of Jesus Christ. This tradition evidentially spread and we’ve now forgotten why we do it. But Latvians have even set it in stone, just so we remember it and you get to take a cool Instagram photos
Definitely take a walking or bike tour to see the best of the town and to learn about the history. And look up and around from your camera you while walking around. Riga holds the largest concentration of German Art Nouveau (or Jugendstill) architecture in the world and wandering around really doesn’t get boring.
Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is an interesting place and worth a visit. Latvians had a tough/harsh time under the Soviet regime and this museum gives you an informative look into that part of Latvian history. The museum is free of charge so you don’t have an excuse not to go in.
Go to the top of St. Peter’s Church tower. You can enjoy a wonderful view of the city from the tower and one of the best place to see an all-encompassing view of the Latvian capital and surrounding areas.
Foodwise the city is all about potatoes and cabbage, but this is not the overcooked and plain style that you might be used to (they are actually nicely cooked and well spiced) Try Lido (they have different locations) where they offer Latvian buffet. It might not be a high-end culinary experience but it’s a place where the Lativans eat themselves. Or try Del Popolo if you feel like Italian.
The McDonald’s in the centre has a … McWalk/McExpress where you can place your order outside and take it away. Even if its just for a water you should try it so you can brag about doing a drive-through on foot – take that, cars!
The Riga Black Balsam is a traditional herbal drink (don’t worry … it’s mixed with 45% vodka) that serves as a medicine and cough syrup for the locals and a must try for the tourists. You can’t leave the city without trying a shot.
The British stag do drunks all over town, so be prepared for a lot of (to put it politely) inebriated guys.
Don’t hail a taxi on the street. It’s common to call (or have your hotel/hostel) a recommended taxi company and let them send a taxi to you.
Be at bit more alert when you are outside the touristy bits (Old Town) and just don’t behave too much like a tourist during night time. That being said – it’s not like you are robbed the minute you set your foot outside the tourist areas.
The Blacks Market where you can find stuff from the Soviet era (and pretty much everything else) it is at your own risk though. Not sure what customs think of it when you head back to the airport!
Ever wanted to try shooting with real guns? Then the many AK-47 Tours might be for you (I’m not sure it was for me).
Ahh this post took me back to when I visited Riga last year. The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Central Market and Lido were some of my favourites! I visited the Black Market too and it was interesting to see, but not sure I’d want to risk actually buying anything…
I really want to go to Riga and this post so useful for planning without following the tourist trail.
I think I have decided where my next winter city break will be… thanks 🙂
Lucy | Lucy–Loves
I’ve heard so many good things about Riga, and this was a nice overview. It seems like a nice city to visit just for a few days.
My Sister keeps talking about Riga, I can now see why, I’m not sure about the black market though! Great post
We just came back from a long weekend in Riga, and we loved the city. The people were super-friendly. Good post.
It’s a pity you weren’t more adventurous foodwise. Riga can offer more than potatoes & cabbage. Next time you visit – http://www.liveriga.com/en/81-restaurants 😉
I’m originally from Lithuania from a city which is less than 2 hours car journey away from Riga. I’ve flown from there but never really seen the city, you have just inspired me to go back and explore it properly!
I loved Riga! Although I actually preferred the ‘new’ (not actually that new) town to the old town. Way, way less touristy but still beautiful architecture and lots to see. Also, we went in June when it was nice and warm so we headed out to the beach at Jurmala for the day. It was beautiful!
-Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad
I’ve lived in riga for six months and have never heard of this Soviet black market. Details, please!
Haha, I love the “yes, no, maybe” idea!
I had no idea that the first decorated Christmas tree is from RIga! How fun to find out this time of year 🙂