Riga Old Town
Old Town, Riga (Photo credit: Janitors)

Riga Travel Guide

QUICK FACTS

  • The capital and largest city of Latvia, with a population of nearly 700,000.
  • The city is an important industrial, economic, commercial and financial centre in the Baltics.
  • Nicknames: Milde, Paris of the North

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

  • Currency: Latvian Lat (LVL).
  • Spoken Languages: primarily Latvian and Russian.
  • Best time to visit: from May to September for temperate weather and the best cultural events. Expect chilly nights even in summer and always pack an umbrella.
  • Arriving via airport: Riga International Airport (RIX) is served by bus line #22 for single tickets at Ls0.70 or the Airport Express minibus for Ls3.00. Taxis charge Ls8-10 for the city centre and take about 15 minutes.

WHERE TO STAY

The historic, cultural and convenient City Centre has it all, from the highlights of any trip to Riga to the comforts of a transitional capital city. Old Town on the right bank of the river Daugava is a compact neighbourhood packed with the right mix of attractions and leisure options while over at the Quiet Centre visitors are captivated by the Art Nouveau atmosphere.

GETTING AROUND

  • Rīgas Satiksme runs the public transportation system which consists of buses, trams and trolley-buses. Tickets can be bought for trip-limits or time-limits of up to one month, with a 24 hour pass costing Ls1.90 or Ls5.70 for 3 days.
  • Riga Card offers free public transportation and entrance to major attractions in the city, plus discounted entry at participating outlets, including hotels and restaurants. The tourist card can be availed for 24-hours at Ls10.00, 48-hours at Ls14.00 or 72-hours at Ls18.00.
  • Taxis charge by the meter, although fixed prices are also available upon request, to be negotiated prior to boarding. Starting fare is Ls1.50 and each kilometre thereafter adds Ls0.40. Call 800 900 or 705 550 to pre-book.

RIGA NIGHTLIFE

  • Drinking age is 18, and last call is at 4 AM.
  • Miera Street is a lively, round-the-clock hang out for the arty and bohemian.
  • Audēju is popular for its massive clubs, retro music, and mixed crowds.
  • Old Town offers plenty of wine bars and upscale hotspots to entertain until the wee hours.

UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT

  • Latvian National Museum of Art houses more than 52 thousand artworks dating back to the 18th century, collected from the Baltic States and Russia.
  • Nativity Cathedral was built under the Russian empire and is the largest Orthodox cathedral in the Baltic provinces.
  • Latvian War Museum started out as the Riflemen Museum in 1916 and has a deep relationship with the country’s struggle for freedom since World War I.
  • Freedom Monument is a landmark to commemorate the soldiers who fought in the Latvian War of Independence in 1918-1920.
  • St. Peter’s Church was first mentioned in official documents in 1209, and is one of the oldest and most important medieval monuments in the Baltic States.

INTERESTING WALKS

  • Walk along the Pilsetas Kanals and follow its curving path through the city, where you’ll come across quiet, wide parkland and unrivalled tranquillity.
  • Kalnciema Quarter combines classic wood-finished architecture with cobble stone streets and airy terraces. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit.
  • Stroll along the Daugava River on Kipsala Island, connected to Riga via cable bridge. Medieval architecture and panoramic views are guaranteed.
  • Relax in Mežaparks on the outskirts of the city, one of the world’s first garden cities and home to Riga Zoo, the oldest in North Europe.

LOCAL WISDOM

  • Black Balsam is one of Riga’s prides, a tar-coloured liqueur that counts ginger, valerian root, pepper and linden in its ingredients. It stings the throat and fires up the belly but is a trademark to be sampled at restaurants and bars.
  • Jāņi Festival celebrates the summer solstice, the shortest night and longest day of the year, and is the country’s most anticipated event. Riga’s streets are transformed into a giant party and traditional caraway cheese is consumed by the tray.
  • Where to find good cheap eatsCentral Market and its environs are perfect for fresh, quick food while Miera is known for its take-away cafés.
  • Dangerous areas: the city is generally safe, even for women travelling alone. In any case, it is a major city – exercise caution, especially when walking alone at night.

RECOMMENDED RIGA GUIDE BOOKS

Recommended trip duration: 3-4 days


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Riga Travel Guide was last modified: September 28th, 2016 by Nick
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