First of all, I would like you to know, that Riga is the city of my residence. So this guide is really special for me, as I want to show you the very best of Riga. I would like you to see Riga, as the locals see it, while still being able to enjoy the city as tourists. Get ready to try the food, entertainments and see places that are not in the usual tourist guidebooks. But thanks to which you will feel the atmosphere of the city. For me, Riga is a kind of home slippers that are so nice to wear after crazy trips. Welcome to my home!
How to get to Riga city center from the airport?
There are 3 ways: bus, minibus, and taxi.
- If you want to get from the airport to Riga city center than it’s better to download a Taxify or Yandex taxi app. The one-way drive will cost you 7-10 euros and will be 10-15 minutes long.
- The bus stop locates on the lower level 100 meters away from the airport entrance (arrivals hall). You need Bus N22. You can either buy a bus ticket at the Narvessen kiosk for 1.15 euro (departures hall) or from the driver for 2 euro. The trip will be 30 minutes long.
- Minibus stops at the same bus stop as a public bus. And you can use it with the same kind of tickets. But it will be a bit faster, than the big bus.
What to do in Riga?
This is not just a list of activities if you do them one by one, then you get the complete 1 or 2 days guys. The one day version means skipping the museums.
1.Walk around the Old Town
Of course, this is the very first thing you will do in Riga. Riga’s old center is very charming. In the walk, you have to pass these places: The Dome Cathedral, the city wall, the powder tower, three brothers (3 houses, built one next to each other), House of blackheads, Jauniela street, Milda (the statue of liberty, the statue of Bremen Town Musicians). And don’t miss the open-air market.
Go inside the Dome cathedral and the House of Blackheads. You won’t regret.
2. House of Blackheads
It is the main tourist place in Riga. From the inside House of Blackheads is very beautiful. And is especially interesting as it is not a palace or royal residence but a merchants guild.
3. Have a coffee break in the Parunasim cafe
The translation from Latvian is “Let’s talk”. This is a very cozy cafe located in the very heart of the old town. Here is the best coffee in town and delicious homemade cakes.
4. Try Riga Black Balzams
This is the traditional alcoholic Latvian herbal liqueur with a specific medicinal flavor. People drink it as a separate liqueur and can add it to the tea. But the most authentical place to try it is a Black Magic Bar at Kaļķu iela 10. Here they serve the liqueur in a very stylish way with chocolate, ice-cream, blackcurrant juice and so on. It is a totally tourist place. But still good.
Also, Riga Black Bazam is one of the best souvenirs you can bring from Riga.
5. Try the Latvian cuisine in the authentical restaurant
Latvian cuisine is very unique and extremely tasty. The best is to try it in a good restaurant, where the high Latvian cuisine is prepared. Follow the link to know the 3 Best places to try Latvian food in Riga.
6. Enjoy the view from the Skyline Bar
And forget about other Riga top viewpoints, as the best view is here. On the way from the Old town to the hotel Radisson, you will pass the Latvian statue of liberty – Milda and the Riga Opera theatre. It is also a good place to meet the sunset.
7. Stay in a SPA hotel
There are many very good and cheap SPA hotels around the city. Latvian SPA is a very recommendable one, as they use the local herbs, oils, and creams in the massage. Also relaxing in a jacuzzi is one of the best ways to finish the day.
Most of my friends always book a hotel in Old Town. I don’t really understand, why? In my opinion, is way cooler to live in the “new center” as I call it. But, in both new and Old towns, there are good SPA hotels. I just wanted to focus, that it’s not necessary to book a hotel exactly in the Old Town.
8. Be amazed by the beauty of the Alberta street
The period of modern architecture was quite an epoch in the whole of Europe, however, it especially reflected in the architecture of Riga, where it is called Art Nouveau style. Riga is even inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its Art Nouveau architecture, in which the biggest part of the city is built. But the most famous is, of course, Alberta street with the most beautiful buildings and the most expensive flats.
This is one of the most interesting museums in Riga. It is located in one of the buildings in Alberta street. You can see what the Art Nouveau mansion looks like from the inside. The exposition is very interactive and contains antique furniture, clothes, attributes, and multimedia exposition.
10. Have a coffee break at Arbooz
It is another bakery on my favorite list located very close to the museum. They cook delicious cupcakes and macaroni. If you are not hungry, buy some for the future or as souvenirs.
By the way, just
11. Learn how to drift on the first Wolftrike track in the world in a special drift hall.
Totally made in Latvia experience
12. Learn how to play Novus.
Novus is a Latvian billiards that was invented in Latvia at the beginning of XX century. Now the game is quite popular among the locals, especially kids. By the way in drift hall, there is a Novus table!
13. Keep on trying the local food
Latvian souvenirs: what to bring from Riga?
In my opinion, 3 items will be enough.
- The gloves with Latvian ornament
- Rigas Balzams
What else to do in Riga?
Well, if you have some extra time I am going to recommend you to spend it in the countryside.
1.The first option is to go to Jurmala and enjoy the beach. Jurmala is the most famous Latvian resort and is located only 30 minutes drive from Riga. If you choose this option, that you will need my guide Top-10 places to visit in Jurmala.
2. And another option is to explore one of the most interesting castles in Latvia.
Latvian nature is another sight. As the Latvian land is full of beautiful nature reserves with incredible nature, forest, and even bog trails. Among all of it are built beautiful palaces, manors, medieval castles, and ancient ruins. In some of the palaces, you can even book a room and spend a night, having this incredible experience of living like a royal.
Read my article: 13 most interesting castles you have to visit in Latvia