Here you will find the ultimate guide to your stay in Riga and you’ll find useful information about where to eat, what to see, and what to do in Riga. Check it out!
Riga – the capital of Latvia – is located on the Gulf of Riga, and it’s a city with more than 630’000 inhabitants. Founded in 1201, the city has gone through the times of Livonian Order, Swedish Empire, Russian Empire, German Empire, Soviet Union, and Nazi Germany. Now it stands independently as the heart of the Republic of Latvia. The Telegraph had recently agreed on Graham Green’s view of Riga as “the Paris of the North”, and for some very good reasons.
Time zone: GMT+3
Official language: Latvian
- Art galleries
- Things to do outside of Riga
- Useful apps & links
The Old Town
The Old Town is the oldest section of Riga as well as the center of the city. It is the city’s most popular area with tourists. In 1997, Riga’s historic center was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The most impressive buildings in the Old Town are the Riga Cathedral and St. Peter’s Church, offering a wonderful panoramic view on the city of Riga from a 72 meter observational tower.
The central location for Art Nouveau style buildings in the downtown quarter known as the “quiet centre” – just a 10-minute stroll from Old Town. It is a vibrant feature in Riga’s history, with Albert Street truly the main gem. Each edifice there is a unique masterpiece of design and construction. The style’s active period was relatively short – from 1901 to 1908. Eight of the Albert Street buildings have been officially designated architectural landmarks.
Riga Central Market @ Negu iela 7
In all periods of Latvia’s history, the Central Market has symbolized well-being and prosperity. Never has it been left wanting; here we have the widest array of fresh catch from Latvian waters, baked goods, fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices, honey, peanuts, almonds and more. The Market satisfies with a huge variety of household goods, cut flowers, potted plants, and homemade handicrafts.
Zanis Lipke memorial @ Mazais Balasta dambis 9
Žanis Lipke Memorial is dedicated to a brave man who saved more than 50 Jews from Nazis during the Second World War by hiding them in a bunker under a shed. The memorial building shows the living conditions of the saved ones as close as possible; here you will find an exciting exhibition and a very interesting architecture.
Museum of Occupation @ Raina Bulvaris 7
The Museum reveals Latvia’s history from 1940 until 1991, when occupations by both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany were experienced.
THE MUSEUM HAS LEFT its permanent premises in the Square of Latvian Riflemen (Latviešu strēlnieku laukums 1) to temporary premises at 7 Raiņa Boulevard, where the temporary exposition may be viewed in four exposition halls.
Art Nouveau museum @ Alberta iela 12
Rīga is one of the few European cities where Art Nouveau architecture, art and design objects have survived in great numbers. It is even called “the metropolis of Art Nouveau”. There are 800 Art Nouveau buildings in Rīga, mostly located in the city’s centre – particularly on Alberta Street. Riga Art Nouveau Centre can also be found on this street, in the former apartment of the renowned Latvian architect Konstantīns Pēkšēns, who lived and worked here till 1907 and designed this beautiful building.
Latvian National Museum of Art @ Jana Rozentala laukums 1
Do you feel like exploring some classical art, as well as visiting the most-instagrammed room in Riga? Then head to Latvian National Museum of Art – it is the most significant depository in the nation for works of art.
The National Art Museum’s exposition is a comprehensive expose on Latvian art in both the 19th and 20th centuries, with emphasis on the various stylistic periods and the artists who were instrumental. Complete information is presented that clearly shows the development of Latvian art, focusing on the various periods, those who made it all happen, the highlights of the time.
Riga Motor Museum @ S. Eizensteina iela 8
If art isn’t your biggest passion, maybe you’re more willing to see the largest and the most modern antique vehicle collection in the Baltics?
The Riga Motor Museum exhibition is organized in a form of an exciting interactive story about unique vehicles, notable persons and the most significant events in the history of the automotive industry, complemented by modern multimedia technologies.
The museum’s collection is located on three floors and covers more than 4000 square meters, and currently it exhibits the largest and most diverse antique vehicle collection in the Baltics including more than 100 unique cars, motorcycles and bicycles. The exhibition tells a story about unique vehicles, notable persons and the most significant events in the history of the automotive industry.
Visitors shall explore the story using modern and diverse multimedia and design features, as well as participating in several interactivities. Historical vehicles displayed in a modern way make a visit to Riga Motor Museum an exciting way to spend a day exploring these truly unique vehicles.
Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum @ Brivibas iela 21
Feeling tired of the bustling city of Riga? Then feel free to head to the outskirts of Riga to explore The Latvian Ethnographic Open-air Museum – one of the oldest open-air museums in Europe. Now its territory covers 87.66 hectares of forest on the banks of Lake Jugla. The museum displays 118 historic buildings from all Latvian regions – Kurzeme, Vidzeme, Zemgale and Latgale dating from the 17th century to the beginning of 1930s.
The museum features the homes of Latvian farmers, craftsmen and fishermen, with permanent exhibitions of household and work equipment that are characterised by the specific time period, region and the owners’ occupation. Visitors can also learn more about Kurzeme Liv fishermen and Latgale old-believers’ houses here.
Pauls Stradins Museum for History of Medicine @ Antonijas iela 1
You don’t have to be a doctor in order for this museum to captivate you. The Pauls Stradins Museum for history of medicine is one of the three biggest museums for history of medicine in the world. The story begins in the basement of the museum building, where the placed exhibits and dioramas show the first steps of the evolution of medicine. Dealing with trauma wounds, bandaging wounds, the healing methods of traditional medicine – all this was already known to man in the ancient times. A crucial part at that time was mythical medicine – amulets, lucky charms and witchcraft, which was performed by a hex, shaman and mages.
The visitors can see the development of medical history from the times of ethno medicine till the mid 20th century in thematic or overview excursions, as well as enjoy a unique exhibition concerning outer biology and medicine.
The journey continues in the medieval floor of the museum showing the reconstructed medieval cloister hospital and pharmacy. Walk through the medieval town designed by Pauls Stradins and learn of the illnesses of that time as well as treatment methods.
Latvian Railway History Museum @ Uzvaras bulvaris 2A
Yes, we know it’s the 21st century, but the railroads are still here, as well as The Latvian Railway History Museum. It was established on August 30, 1994 and contains more than a thousand items, documents and photographs related to railway communications and signalling equipment, tools and instruments, uniforms and badges.
Railway is the forerunner of civilisation and a life artery, as well as a friend to adventurers, offering people a way to attain their dreams. The importance of railway is inestimable, and the smell of railway is unmistakable. The Latvian Railway history Museum invites you to explore the world of railways. An interesting feature of the museum is that it is situated near a functioning railway line.
Kim? @ Sporta iela 2, k-1
kim? Contemporary Art Centre was founded in 2009. The name of kim? is an abbreviation of an insistent question “what is art?” (“kas ir māksla?” in Latvian). The organization is offering a certain range of activities such as exhibitions, lectures, discussions and other events related to recent art, theory and social issues.
The Museum of Decorative and Design Art @ Skarnu iela 10
The Museum of Decorative and Design Art is located in the former St. George’s Church building (1204), which is the oldest stone building in Riga. It features seven collections of decorative and design art work. Alongside the permanent exhibitions, the museum presents a wide range of temporary shows and annual exhibitions of Latvian and international decorative art and design.
If you’re looking for a nice place to hang out and have a drink in the evening, check these out:
If you’re looking for a place to eat that is nice with friendly prices, check these out:
- Mazā terapija
- Stock Pot (spicy food)
- miit (vegan, vegetarian, speciality coffee)
- Food Box (best kebab in Riga)
- Rocket Bean Roastery
- Andalūzijas suns
If you’re looking for a fancier place, then check these out:
..in the Old Town:
..outside of the Old Town:
Things to do outside of Riga
Coming to Latvia for a longer vacation and feel the urge to explore even beyond the capital city? Then consider visiting these places:
- Great Ķemeri bog trail
- Ethnographic Open-Air Museum
- Sigulda (a city with bobsleigh track, bungee jump, cable car)
- Aerodium (wind tunnel)
- Tarzāns (obstacle trail with ziplines)
- Jūrmala (beach side)
- Cēsis (medieval castle)
Useful apps & links
- Bolt (best app for getting a taxi)
- Mobilly (get train and intercity bus tickets here)
- Trafi (public transportation schedules)
- Live Riga (upcoming events and more information about Riga)
- Latvia Travel (more information about travelling in Latvia)
We’ve also looked up some recommendations by others, and we hope that these will be useful to you as well. For example, this itinerary will provide you with some tips & tricks on how to get around Riga. It also has some of the most picturesque sights on its plans, such as Bastion Hill Park, Riga Old Town, Līvu Square, Dome Square, Art Nouveau Buildings, and more. If you’re looking for a good spot where to view Riga from above, then the Latvian Academy of Sciences Observation Deck is the place to be. https://www.roadaffair.com/2-days-in-riga-itinerary/
This 2-day itinerary has some cozy local pubs and cafes on its list while you walk through the center of Riga. Here you can also find some places to visit that are a bit away from the centre of Riga, like Latvian Ethnographic Museum which is a great choice if you’d like to see farmsteads, windmills, fishing villages, churches and other historic structures that have been moved here from their original locations throughout the Latvian countryside and preserved for posterity. https://www.inyourpocket.com/riga/Riga-in-48-hours_73407f
Lonely Planet has you covered if you’re staying in Riga for longer than 2 days. This itinerary provides you with some places that are worth the visit and that are located outside of Riga. For example, check out Jūrmala – Latvia’s uber-resort town, or go to other breathtaking cities, like Sigulda, Turaida, Līgatne, and Cēsis. https://www.lonelyplanet.com/latvia/riga/planning/itineraries/a/nar/5e48961d-ec7c-4fb8-b5f1-07bdbf083b2d/360099
Create your own itinerary by choosing some of the things to do in Riga! This link will provide you with 30 ideas things to do here, whether you’d like to learn more about the history of Latvia, visit the Old Town, spend some time in the parks of Riga, or go to the beach! https://maketimetoseetheworld.com/things-to-do-in-riga-day-trips/
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