What not to miss in Riga

The Latvian capital is perfect for a long weekend, whether you want to shop, look around, eat or just sit down and enjoy the atmosphere.

Soletraveller spent some time here recently. The city seems to be in the hotspot these days. ”All” the travel magazines seem to share some great articles from Riga and yes, the city is really nice! Through Riga you find a big green belt of cozy parks in between a building mass, ranging from old wooden houses to medieval buildings, art nouveau and architecture of recent times. It creaks in the old walls from the weight of history, combined with the noise from the espresso machines of the modern world. Riga is all this … and it feels good.

These are some of the oldest buildings in Riga.

Explore the Old City
Spend some time strolling around the cobbled streets of Riga’s old town. The beautiful houses are on UNESCO’s world heritage site, luring with narrow streets and beautiful squares. Climb to the top of the church tower at Saint Peter’s Church, read the story behind the Cat House and see where the Russian Sherlock Holmes lived. Sit down with a beer and watch the busy life. Tourists linger down here. Not strange as you can find plenty of places to eat and drink, shopping and sights to see.

Central Market
Kalnciema kvartāla tirdziņš

The markets
South of the old town, you will find some old zeppelin hangars from the 1920s, which today act as market halls. They provide an amazing selection of food and drinks. For example, one hall only houses seafood, an amazing selection too. The next halls have meat, cheese, jam, juice, spices – and of course a selection of clothes, crafts and nic-nacs.

If you find yourself in Riga on a Saturday, we recommend taking a taxi to the market in Kalnciema, across the river Daugava. Here you will find the traditional woolen mittens, scarves, belts, jams, pies, cheeses, juices etc. Still busy although a little more intimate.

Main street of Jurmala.

To the sea
Just a half an hour from Riga lies Jurmala. A faded star but slowly being refurbished these days. Luxurious apartment complexes is a sign that this is the place to hang on hot summer days. Here the sandy beach extends endlessly in both directions – plenty of space. There are several restaurants if you want to eat your lunch here and in the main street there are stalls and shops for those who want to bring some souvenirs home.

Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau (jugend) was very popular in Riga, and you will find plenty of it here. Many pictures from the city are taken from this area, especially the amazing blue building on the photo beneath. Check out Elizabets Iela 10b, this blue building truly is a must see. Spend some time in this area. If you’re particularly interested, there’s an Art Nouveau museum here.

Oh, the rye bread!

Kolonade focuses on locally produced ingredients.

In the autumn and winter, Riga can be extra damp and cold. Much because of the Daugauva River that flows through the city. Should you feel a little frozen, Emils Gustavs is the place. Sit down with a cup of hot chocolate while admiring the beautiful (!) plates of chocolate they sell in the counter. Buy a plate or two with whole dried strawberries on, with chili or pistachio nuts. Yummy!
Blaumaņa iela 38/40

Rye bread
Latvians are proud of their rye bread. A popular variation to eat it, is like a snack. Slices of bread fried in butter and garlic served with a creamy garlic dip. Delicious with a glass of dark beer.

Riga is full of cozy cafes, bars and restaurants. Thus you will find something for every wallet.
On our last visit, we had the pleasure of eating at the Kolonade. The restaurant is located in one corners of the Bastejkalna Park, and on a hot spring and summer day the windows are open and you can smell the syrins while enjoying your food. And the food? Tasty! The wine also.
Brīvības bulvāris 26

Walking along the beach … can take a while when in Jurmala.

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