Only here for a long lay over, we had done zero research on the city and had no prior expectations. In our minds, it was simply a stop over from one major city to another. But, Riga turned out to be one of our favorite days of our trip so far. The city has an old world feel mixed with a touch of romanticism. Cobblestone streets are lined with adorable old European buildings housing yummy cafes and neat retail shops. We couldn’t recommend this city more on your Northern European adventure. Here are a few of our favorite stops while exploring Riga!
COMFY TOURIST VIBES:
COFFEE START RIGA:
Riga has a blossoming coffee culture and there are a few great spots to stop in for a caffeine fix. We chose MiiT Coffee and really enjoyed the coffee, breakfast, and overall urban vibe. It was a nice little local stop before embarking to all of the tourist stops in the city.
This is a nice stop on your Riga tour, both for the architecture and for the history. Built under Tsar Alexander the cathedral had 12 bells that were the prime piece of the cathedral. Under Soviet rule the bells were melted down and the church was converted into a planetarium. Since the 1990s restoration work has continued to restore this cathedral back to its original splendor. The gold domes alone are quite beautiful to see. If however, you have seen loads of European churches, and you were looking to cut something from your day tour of Riga, then this might be it.
Of all of the stops in Riga, the monument itself was perhaps the least dynamic; but, there is a really beautiful park nearby so if you do decide to see this tourist spot. This is a great spot to plan to stop for a lunch picnic. The park has formal gardens and exotic trees along with seasonal cafes. It is really nice on a lovely afternoon.
OLD TOWN RIGA:
This was my favorite area of Riga by far. I love the old cobblestone paths and old world architecture. There is a lot to see here including the Powder Tower and the Swedish Gate. Both are nice to see, but really the thing to do in old town is just walk aimlessly through the streets stopping in shops and enjoying the old world feel of it all.
ST. PETER’S CHURCH RIGA:
Not only is this church beautiful from the exterior, but inside is an elevator taking you to the top (72 meters) to experience 360 degrees views of the city. There is a fee, but in my opinion it was well worth it. With only 24 hours in Riga, it was great to see the views from here and get a feel for the city. The church inside is also quite beautiful so even if you decide the views aren’t for you, I’d pop in to see this architecture either way.
HOUSE OF BLACKHEADS:
When I first head House of Blacheads, Ill admit that did not sound like a place I needed to visit. But, seeing the pictures we decided to add it to our route. All of all the things to see in Riga, this particular location seemed to pop up the most in other blogs as a must-see. While the architecture is unique and the town square is quite nice, we didn’t love it as much as we were expecting. But, I would still recommend it as a stop! it is beautiful.
This is a must in my opinion! the market is HUGE. It goes on for quite a while and there is lots to see, try, and buy in here. One of the buildings is home to the food court which is where we ate all of our meals. It was such a great way to try things in the city all in one spot. From pizza, to sushi, to steak, to fresh juices, it had everything you could need for a bite to eat. It is also why, I would recommend staying within walking distance of the market making it easy to pop over for something to eat.
One thing I did not know about Riga before going is that it is known for its spa houses. This is quite common in the countries in this region. After a long day of being a tourist and exploring the city, I highly recommend visiting one of the spas in the city for some rest and relaxation. We chose Wellington. You do not have to be staying at the hotel to visit. You simply pay for the afternoon and you can enjoy all the amenities from a Turkish bath to indoor pool. If you are like us and coming off a red eye flight, it is worth the visit!
RIGA, LATVIA TOP PLACES TO VISIT:
If you are looking to walk Riga, Latvia, here is a map of all of the major tourist stops to see! We found it a very walkable city and only took a taxi (there is no Uber) when going to and from the airport. Starting at the Nativity of Christ Cathedral, meandering through Old Town, and ending on the river’s edge to enjoy a late night dinner at Central Market, you will fall in love with this city! Enjoy!
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