Riga is the capital of Latvia. With its 700,000 inhabitants, it's the largest city in the Baltic States and home to one in three Latvians. Part of many empires throughout history, each of which has left its mark on the city, today Riga is a city with many faces.
Riga is famous for its Old Town (Vecrīga) and city center (Centrs), in which over 800 buildings are of the Art Nouveau (aka Jugendstil) style of architecture. The old town of Riga is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Art Nouveau style involves intricate building facades, with carvings of flowers and mythological creatures, and ornate doorways and windows. Much of the old town was either destroyed by fire or destroyed by the Germans in World War II and remained in ruins until it was rebuilt in the late 1990s, mainly to make Riga attractive as a tourist destination. Another thing that attracts visitors, especially young adults, is the lively nightlife and discount airlines that offer cheap flights to/from much of Europe.
Riga is bisected by the river Daugava. Old (medieval) town is in the center of the city on the east side of the river. It is surrounded by a ring of ~19th–early 20th century architecture, followed by a mix of private 2-floor house districts (many also pre-WW2) and Soviet-era 5-18 floor apartment districts, with an occasional factory (especially near railroad lines). The term "centre" loosely refers to quite a large area around Old town limited by the river to the west, the railroad lines to the east and south, and without a definite boundary to the north.
Riga was founded in 1201 by Albert of Bremen as a port city and a base to conquer and convert the native Livonians to Christianity, a goal that was achieved in 1206 after a battle in Turaida during the Northern Crusades. Riga developed as the major trade hub of the area during the peak of the Hanseatic League in the 13th to the 15th centuries and was ruled by the Archbishop of Riga. The Reformation reached Riga in 1522, which ended the Archbishops' power. In 1621, Riga became part of the Kingdom of Sweden, although it maintained a great deal of autonomy. In 1710, an invasion by Peter the Great of Russia ended Swedish rule and cemented Russian influence on the city.
Latvia declared its independence on November 18, 1918, although it was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. Riga became the capital of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic until Latvian independence in 1991.
Germans have inhabited the city since its establishment by Albert, and throughout most of its history Germans were the elite while Latvians remained a lower class. Their position as the elite continued through the Imperial period of Riga. As such, much of the architecture in Riga has been heavily influenced by Germany. The Germans were forcibly evicted after the Nazi occupation of 1941-44.
The official language of Latvia is Latvian; however, in Riga, the majority of the population speaks both Latvian and Russian and speaks predominantly Russian at home. English is widely spoken by younger people and by people in the tourism industry. German is also commonly spoken by tour guides.
There are many administrative districts in Riga; however, almost all tourist attractions, historic buildings and hotels are contained within the borders of Centra rajons, which is relatively small and walkable. The outer districts do have their own draws, but they may require significant travel time and would not be of interest to a sporadic visitor.
There are designated areas in the airport where smoking is allowed.
To travel between the airport to the city:
- Bus 22 and Minibus #222 run between the airport and the old town, with a stop near the central bus and railway stations and Minibus #241 runs between the airport and Esplanāde, at the north end of the old town. These buses operate as any other public transport in Riga; see Riga#Get_around for more information on riding the buses. The journey to the old town takes 30-40 minutes. The last buses leave the airport at 0:05, or 23:40 on Saturday, Sunday, and holiday. The bus stop is located opposite the entrance of the terminal. There is a ticket machine at the bus stop or tickets can be bought at the Narvessen shop near the TGI Friday's at the departure level in the airport. Note that day and multi-day passes are not valid on the minibuses.
- Airport Express operates minibuses to the city center costing €5 per person. These run every 30 minutes but only take 20 minutes to get to the old town. This bus makes fixed stops at several hotels near the airport and in the old town so it may be more convenient than Bus 22.
- Baltic Taxi runs taxi service from the airport to the centre for a fixed price of €15 if booked online or via metered rates if paid to the driver. Service to the old town takes 15 minutes.
- "Red Cab" Taxi offers metered taxi services from the airport. A journey to the city center costs approximately €12 and the ride takes 15 minutes, depending on the traffic. Wheelchair accessible mini vans are available but must be pre-ordered.
- Personal Minibus offers airport transfer for groups. The price of €8 per person (6 person minimum) also includes guide to meet group with a greeting sign.
- Regular Taxis can be expensive if a meter is used and a fixed price is not negotiated. Charges are as follows: €2.10 for embarkation plus €0.70/km; waiting costs €8.50/h. The ride to the centre takes 15 minutes.
- Ecolines - operates service between Riga and most major cities in Europe.
- Eurolines Simple Express - operates service between Riga and most major cities in the Baltics, as well as a few other European capitals. Buses to Tallinn cost €13 and buses to Vilnius cost €11.
- Eurolines Lux Express - More legroom than Simple Express service & free coffee. Buses to Tallinn or Vilnius cost €15-28.
- Flybus - Service between Riga and the airports of Kaunas and Vilnius. More expensive than Simple Express so only useful if you want a direct connection to the airport.
- PolskiBus - Operates daily buses to/from Warsaw, Tallinn, and Vilnius.
Tallink Silja Line operates a ferry service every two days between Stockholm and Riga, with a landing at Rīgas Pasažieru termināls near the old town. The journey with M/S Isabelle takes 17 hours. Tickets for a day in Riga cruise for one person (6½ hours on shore in Riga) begin at €37. Regular round trips begin at €117.
Latvian Railways operates service to many cities in Latvia, including the suburbs of Riga, as well as a few cities in Russia, Belarus, and Estonia. You can book tickets online via the Latvian Railways site up to 45 days in advance, but tickets must be collected from a station in Latvia, with the exception of tickets to Moscow and Saint Petersburg which can be issued as e-tickets in both directions.
Trains depart for the 16-hour overnight journey to Moscow daily (except New Year's Eve) at 16:45 with an additional train departing at 18:10 from May to September. The overnight trip costs €36-205 depending on service level.
Trains depart for the 15-hour overnight journey to St. Petersburg daily (except New Year's Eve) at 18:35. The overnight trip costs €30-175 depending on service level.
Riga has good road connections with Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, and Belarus. Riga is on the Via Baltica and ~300km from both Tallinn and Vilnius. Note that in the city center, you have to pay a fee for public parking which varies depending from distance to center. Parking in the garage of the Olimpia shopping center (Āzenes iela 5, Kipsala) is free.
Old Town is comprised mainly of rounded cobblestone streets that may be hard to walk on if you are not wearing proper shoes. Outside of Old Town, most streets are paved with asphalt, although some smaller streets may be unpaved. Sidewalks are predominantly concrete everywhere. Old Town is best explored on foot. Due to the neglected drainage system, the streets may be flooded during heavy downpours.
By public transport
The city-owned Rigas Satiksme operates the trams (street-cars), buses, minibuses, and trolleybuses. They all use the same e-ticket system called e-talons. A single fare covers a ride on any one route independent of the distance - i.e. a transfer requires payment of 2 fares. However, if you enter a vehicle with the same route and in the same direction within one hour, your ticket is still valid and will not be charged again. The Rigas Satiksme website provides a great interface for planning a trip within Riga.
Single fares are €2.00 during at all times if paid onboard to the driver (cash only, exact change preferred) or €1.15 for bus/tram/trolleybus/minibus trips if a reloadable e-talon card is purchased in advance from a ticket office, vending machine, press kiosk, Narvesen shop, or other location listed on the Rigas Satiksme website. A 5 ride ticket costs €5.75, 10 rides are €10.90, and 20 rides are €20.70. Also available are tickets for 2 trips for 2 people costing €4.60 and 2 trips for 3 people costing €6.90. Unlimited ride 24-hour cards cost €5.00, 3-calendar-day cards cost €10, and 5-calendar-day cards cost €15. The cards all are activated by using the yellow device in the vehicles. Note that you must activate all cards every time that you enter a vehicle. The Riga Card allows the holder to travel free on public transportation.
Tram lines are numbered 1–11; bus lines are numbered 1-55; trolley bus lines are numbered 1–27. Minibus lines have numbers 200-280. Night buses are numbered N1-N10. While the numbers are similar, the routes are completely different - i.e. bus #2 is totally different than trolleybus #2. Tram numbers on stops are identified by "Tr", buses (not trolleybuses) by "A". Stops are marked by a blue rectangular sign with a stylized white image of the vehicle and lists the numbers that stop there. Timetables and stops of the route are also usually posted at stops and are fairly accurate. Note that bus routes are marked "A", but tram and trolley bus routes are both marked "T" on timetables, except tram timetables should have red background for the "T" letter and trolley bus—yellow. With the exception of minibuses, the vehicles include an LCD screen with next stop information.
Trams are generally the fastest public transportation apart from trains. Although they are on street level and the rails are not physically separated from the rest of the traffic, in all but the busiest rush hours they have the right of way. Minibuses are smaller and thus more maneuverable than buses and trolley buses, making them the second-fastest mode of transport.
SIXT Latvia operates self-service bicycle rentals at numerous bicycle stands across the city. The service is available to both residents and guests of Riga. You must have a mobile phone to register, but registration is free. The bikes have 3 speeds and lights, but no helmets. The cost is €0.90 per 30 minutes, with a maximum of €9 per day. Alternatively, ask your hotel if they provide bicycle rental.
The best way to hire a taxi is to use the online phone app Taxify, which allows you to see the rates being charged, time to pickup, enter the destination, and pay with the credit card that is linked to your account.
If you hail a random taxi on the street, be aware that the taxi may not follow the most direct route and may use a meter rate that will significantly overcharge you.
There are several car rental offices in Riga airport as well as in other parts of the town. You can even rent a cheap Soviet-style car. However, traffic can be extremely slow, especially on the bridges, and parking in old town can cost up to €10/hour.
Driving drunk is considered a serious law violation. Besides high fines and a seized driving license one may easily end up serving 10-15 days in an administrative arrest. Maximum alcohol contents in the blood must not exceed 0.05 g/dL. There are plenty of police patrols and it is very common to be stopped for an alcohol test.
Boat service is available during the months of May to September from/to Jurmala. The boats stop in Riga stop near the Stone Bridge (Akmens Tilts), which is right next to the House of Blackheads/Riga Tourist Information Centre, in the old town. The trip costs €15-20 and takes 2.5 hours, which is obviously much slower and more expensive than train service.
The Riga Card, which costs €16-€26, has discounts for museums and some tourist attractions.
The areas usually most interesting to tourists are the Old Town and the area around the nearby Freedom Monument. However, Old town is not the only place worth visiting. Very old and well preserved city districts unvisited by tourists are Agenskalns and Tornakalns, just over the Stone bridge. The residential areas outside Riga center are largely made up of gray apartment blocks built in the typically Soviet style. These areas are nearly identical to those all over Eastern Europe. However, they do give an idea of how the vast majority of the people in Riga live and of the history of the area.
The tourist office, located inside the House of Blackheads, offers both guided tours and free pamphlets, complete with detailed descriptions of many buildings, for independent walks. These walks cover the old town and the nearby city center sights as well as the Art Nouveau district. It's all pretty small scale so it's easy to do each of these in around an hour, or linger and read every detail in the booklet - in the absence of any signs or plaques around the city, the booklet gives you an insight to what you are seeing.
Many private companies offer organized tours of Riga. Options include bike tours, Segway tours, pub crawls, hop-on-hop-off bus tours, walking tours, and tours focused on a certain aspect of Riga - away from the touristy old town. Riga Free Tour operates a free city walking tour that departs everyday from St Peters Church at 12:00. Look for a yellow suitcase.
Old Town Square & surroundings
The Old Town (Vecrīga) is both a place of historical tourism sites, as well as the centre of night-life for locals. The area around Old Town was mostly built between 1860 and 1914 and has many buildings that resemble Berlin, Paris, or Rome.
Viewpoints near Old Town Square & surroundings
- Triangula Bastion, 11 Novembra Krastmala iela #17, ☎ +371 67321206, e-mail: email@example.com. 9AM-10PM. A modern building with an excavated fragment of the historical Riga fortification wall system along the river. The building has the best view terraces in Riga. Free.
Monuments and historic buildings near Old Town Square & surroundings
- Statue of Roland (In the centre of the Town Square). Statue of St. Roland, the patron of Riga. The original statue erected in 1897 was destroyed in WWII, nowadays a replica stands there.
- House of Blackheads, Kalku iela 1, ☎ +371 670 44300. The House of Blackheads is where the merchants-to-be had their guild. Part of this building is the tourist information office, the rest is a fascinating museum. The upper levels house grand ballrooms while the basement has a wine cellar and several exhibits relating to trading in Riga. €3, €1.50 students.
- The Big Guild, Amatu iela 6. Housed the guild of the tradesmen, who would join after being a member of the Blackheads (see House of Blackheads). Home to the Latvian Philharmonic, but you can't just walk inside. It's the exterior that's worth seeing though.
- The Little Guild, Amatu iela 5. Another pretty building just behind the Big Guild, this one housed the craftsmen's guild. Like the Big Guild, you can't go inside except for a performance.
- The House of the Black Cat (Next to the Big Guild). This building (also housing a pub of no particular note) is most famous for the two statues of black cats on the roofs. The legend has it that a disgruntled tradesman who was not accepted into the Big Guild, built this house and put the cats on it with their tails pointing towards the Big Guild, thus expressing his scorn.
- Wagner Concert Hall, Vāgnera iela 4. Wagner once lived in Riga, on the street now named after him. This hall where he performed occasionally holds concerts.
Museums near Old Town Square & surroundings
- Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Strelnieku laukums 1, ☎ +371 67212715, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. This noticeable and austere black building is clearly out-of-place. In the Soviet days, this housed a museum to the Red Riflemen, a group of Latvians who volunteered for the service to Russia during the Russian revolution of 1917. Now it houses a museum of Latvia's time under both the Nazi and Soviet occupations. Very long, but very moving – essential for anyone interested in the history of the USSR or Nazi Germany. Outside the building away from the town square stands the Soviet-era Monument to the Riflemen. Free.
- Porcelain Museum, Kalēju iela 9/11, e-mail: apvienība@riga.lv. Tu-Su: 11AM-6PM; Closed on Mondays. Covers the history of porcelain in Riga through the 19th and 20th centuries. Adults: €2.50, Children: €1.00, free for preschoolers.
- Sun Museum, Kungu iela 1, ☎ +371 67225587, e-mail: email@example.com. 9AM-6PM daily. One of Riga's weirdest museums, it covers the history of sun mythology and its role in Latvian culture. Adults: €4.00, Students/Seniors: €3.50.
- Riga Castle (Rigas Pils) (Near the Northern boundary of the Old Town). The castle itself is fairly uninteresting, but it houses the following two museums:
- National History Museum of Latvia, Pils Laukums 3, ☎ +371 67223004, fax: +371 67220586, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tu-Su: 10AM-5PM, Closed on Mondays. The History Museum is interesting, however there is little English (Every room has its exhibits summarized on a single plaque). However, the museum does give a very good idea of Latvian history, and will give you a good understanding of the area. Adults: €3, Students: €1.50, Camera fee: €1.50.
- Museum of Foreign Art, Pils Laukums 3, ☎ +371 67226467. 11-17 Tu-Su. The less interesting of the two museums: this is just a standard art museum. Admission fee: €3.50, Camera fee: €0.75.
Religious buildings near Old Town Square & surroundings
- St. Peter's Church, Skarnu iela 19, ☎ +371 67 229426, fax: +371 67211375. St. Peters Church, dating to 1209, is Riga's oldest church. Besides its ensemble of architecture, the church has an elevator to the tower from where you can see all of Riga (service not available on Mondays). €3.
- St. John's Church, Jana iela 7. Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00. A smaller, less spectacular church near Saint Peter's. There is a nice altar inside, and unlike most Riga churches, this one is free. The altar is from the Renaissance period and depicts the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The ceiling is from the Gothic period, and has 5 separate vaulted compartments. There is also a huge pipe organ, and many stained glass windows. This church dates back to the mid 1200s.
- St. Saviour's Anglican Church, Anglikanu iela 2a, ☎ +371 67222259. Riga's only Anglican church has English language services every Sunday @11AM, and free concerts every Wednesday.
- St. Jacob's Catholic Church (Jekaba Katedrale), Jēkaba iela 9, e-mail: Jekaba.email@example.com. Dating to 1226, this is one of the few Catholic churches left in Riga. At one point, it housed one of Riga's first schools. Free.
Cathedral (Doma) Square & surroundings
Monuments and historic buildings near Cathedral (Doma) Square & surroundings
- The Three Brothers, Mazā Pils iela 17, 19, and 21. Tu-Th 09:00-17:00, F 09:00-16:00. The oldest dwelling houses in Riga. One of them has a small architecture museum inside, along with changing exhibits about Latvia.
- Latvian Parliament (Saeima), Jekaba iela 11. A rather plain building housing the Saeima, Latvia's parliament. It has had a number of uses--including as a Soviet-era museum. Currently not open to visitors
Museums near Cathedral (Doma) Square & surroundings
- Museum of the Barricades of 1991, Krāmu iela 3, ☎ +371 67 213525. M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 11:00-17:00. Covers the dramatic events that occurred in the tumultuous final year of the USSR, when Soviet authorities sent troops into Riga to overthrow the elected Latvian government. Free.
- , Palasta iela 4. May-Sep: 11-17 daily, Oct-May: 11-17 W-Su. Actually two museums plus a number of special exhibits, though you pay one price. Like the National Museum, English translations are limited to plaques summarizing rooms, but here you can also pick up pieces of paper describing some of the exhibits. Both of the main museums are quite interesting, and they provide a good idea of what Riga was like in the past. €5 plus more for photo permission.
- Arsenal Museum of Art, Torna iela 1, ☎ +371 67357527. Apr-Sep: 11-19 Tu-Su, Oct-Mar: 11-17 Tu-Su. Riga's premier museum for modern art.
Religious buildings near Cathedral (Doma) Square & surroundings
- Riga Cathedral (Doma cathedral), Doma Laukums 1, ☎ +371 67 227573. Dating to 1207, it is one of Riga's symbols. The 6768-pipe organ inside is particularly spectacular. Besides the organ, however, the interior is rather Spartan, and may not be worth the entrance fee. (Currently, even the organ is being restored, though).
Powder Tower & City Wall
Monuments and historic buildings near Powder Tower & City Wall
- St. Jacob's Barracks, Torna iela. The primary attraction here is the last remaining stretch of city wall directly opposite the barracks.
Museums near Powder Tower & City Wall
- Museum of War, Smilsu iela 20, ☎ +371 67228147. May-Sept: 10-18 W-Su, Oct-Apr: 10-17 W-Su. 22 individual collections of Latvian and Soviet military equipment starting from WWI until today. free admission.
- Latvian Museum of Pharmacy, Riharda Vagnera 13-15. Tu-Sa: 10-17. In a renovated 18th century house. The museum showcases pharmaceutical equipment, traditional medicine and herbs and what pharmacies looked like a century ago. €1.5.
- Latvian Photographic Museum, Marstalu iela 8. Contains photos of Latvia since 1839, with focuses on the World Wars and 1905 Revolution. €1.5.
- Mentzendorff House, Grecienieku 18. W-Su: 11-17. Former residence of a wealthy merchant built in 1720, now a museum dedicated to life in Riga in the 17th & 18th centuries. Adults: €1.50, Students: €0.75.
Near the Freedom Monument
Monuments and historic buildings near the Freedom Monument
- Freedom Monument, Brivibas iela 1. One of Latvia's national symbols. It was erected during the first independence and surprisingly never taken down by the Soviets (although laying flowers at its feet was forbidden). The statue of a woman holding three stars at the top of the monument represents Freedom embracing Latvia's regions.
- Laima Clock (just south of the Freedom Monument). Laima is a Latvian chocolate manufacturer and means good luck in Latvian. The Clock is a traditional meeting place for people in Riga.
- Art Nouveau Buildings. Alberta and Elizabetes streets (iela) are the best place to see the creations of Art Nouveau architect Eisenstein, famous of his splendid style. Other Art Nouveau buildings can be seen in the area around the Freedom Monument, including the embassies on Raina Bulvaris and on Strelnieku iela.
- Kobe Clock (Western corner of the park). Donated by Riga's sister city Kobe in celebration of anniversary of restoration of independence.
Museums near the Freedom Monument
- Museum 'Jews in Latvia' and Jewish Community, Skolas 6, 3rd floor, ☎ +371 67283484, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Th: 11-5PM, Closed F-Sa. Small museum dedicated to Jewish life in Latvia since the 16th century. Includes information on destruction of the synagogues by the Nazis, and the Latvians that saved Jews during the Holocaust. Exhibits are in English and Latvian. Free, donations welcomed.
- National Museum of Art. Houses many works by Latvian artists. Since 2013 closed for reconstruction.
- KGB Building, 61 Brivibas Iela, ☎ +371 202 588 81. 10AM-4PM, Wednesdays until 8PM, Tuesdays closed. The former KGB building is actually an attractive, ornate historic building at the corner of Brivibas and Stabu. It stood empty for years, but for the 2014 celebration of Riga becoming the European Capital of Culture it was revived with a number of artistic initiatives taking place there. €5 for exhibitions, separate €5 for a guided tour of the KGB cellar.
Religious buildings near the Freedom Monument
- Riga Orthodox Cathedral. The Orthodox Cathedral was erected during Russian rule for Russian residents. In contrast to its relatively plain exterior, it is spectacular on the inside, but be aware that shorts are not allowed. free.
- St. Gertrude Old Church (Vecā Svētās Ģertrūdes baznīca), Ģertrūdes 6. The brick neogothic church of St. Getrude, despite "old" in its name, is an entirely late 19th-century creation that replaced a series of stone and wooden churches that stood there (and were repeatedly destroyed due to being outside of the city walls) since the 15th century. The unusual veracity with which the 19th-century architects interpreted the principles of Gothic architecture may make the church pass for an authentic medieval creation, both inside and out.
St. Gertrude has long-standing links with Riga's German Lutheran community, and offers religious services in German. The Latvian Lutheran community which used to share the church with the German has moved to the "new" St. Getrude church further east down Brīvības Street.
Maskavas forštate (Moscow district)
Maskavas is the area along the Daugava River east of the train station. While Maskavas has a bad reputation due to its high crime rate, buildings in disrepair, and homeless vagrants, it has some of the oldest buildings in Riga. The area closest to the city center is being gentrified, although it is not recommended to hang out in parks in Maskavas after dark.
Religious buildings in Maskavas forštate
- Choral Great Synagogue, At Gogola and Dzirnavu iela. Mostly in ruins since the Germans burned it down on July 4, 1941 with 600 people locked inside. There is a memorial to 400 Latvians who saved Jews during the Holocaust.
Viewpoints in Maskavas forštate
- Latvian Academy of Sciences, Akademijas laukums 1, ☎ +371 67225361. Balcony: May-Sep: 9-20 daily. Built in 1953, this building is often called "Stalin's Birthday Cake" because of its austere yet ornamented design. The 17th-floor balcony is open to visitors. Entry to the 17th-floor terrace: €3.
Museums in Maskavas forštate
- Riga Ghetto Museum, Maskavas iela 14a (entrance from Krasta Iela), ☎ +371-67791784, e-mail: email@example.com. 10AM-6PM daily, except Saturdays and Jewish religious holidays. The Museum, which encompasses a relocated historic wooden house and cobblestones from the Jewish ghetto created by Nazi Germany in occupied Riga during the Second World War, documents both the history of the ghetto and the tragic fates of Riga's Jewish population who perished in the Holocaust. It also attempts to recall Jewish community life from before the war. Voluntary donations - €5 suggested.
Farther to the East
- Andrejsala. An artists' island is starting to emerge behind the passengers port a short distance north from the Old town.
Museums farther to the East
- Riga Motor Museum, Eizensteina 6 (8km from the old town; take trolleybus 14 or 18 to Gailezers Hospital, then walk 500m). 10-18 daily. Contains former vehicles of Stalin, Kruschev, and Brezhnev. €1.5.
- Riga Ethnographic Open Air Museum (Latvijas Etnogrāfiskais Brīvdabas Muzejs), Brivibas 440 (take the A2(E77) to the east out of Riga or take bus N.1), ☎ +371 67994106, fax: +371 67994178, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The Museum is in Jugla, near a lake of the same name. There are many traditional Latvian countryside houses collected in a forest/park and exhibitions inside them about the traditional things. The employees are often dressed in the traditional Latvian costumes, creating a nice atmosphere.
The left Bank of Riga is less frequently visited by tourists. The following attractions are there:
- Ķīpsala (Cross the Vanšu bridge over the Daugava). An island in the city centre with Nordic dwelling architecture and a beach that is very popular in the summer.
- Riga TV Tower, Zaķusalas krastmala (Zaķusala), ☎ +371 67108643. A 368 meter-high tower built of concrete and standing on three legs, this is the tallest tower in the European Union. It has an observation deck at a height of 97 metres. The inexpensive tours feature a tour guide but don't depend on the guide speaking much English! €3.70.
- Āgenskalns (Hagensberg) (Take Tram 2, 4, or 5; bus 21, trolley bus 9). A very picturesque historical part of Pārdaugava, in 19th century it was a district for mansions and manors, some of which still remain (although bereft of any grounds), and some were replaced by slightly newer early 20th century residential architecture of wealthy middle and upper class. Many embassies were located there pre-WWII.
- Wooden architechture of Āgenskalns. Very nice part of Pārdaugava with old wooden buildings, which date back to the 18th-19th centuries and are still preserved in between Nometņu, Slokas, Eduarda Smiļģa and Talsu streets. This unusual place is the pearl of Pārdaugava’s wooden architecture, a visit to it will bring an unforgettable aesthetic pleasure. You may start with getting off at the stop “Smiļģa iela” tram #2. There are also nice wooden buildings on Kalnciema iela (starting with crossing with Slokas iela till the crossing with Sabiles iela).
- Victory Monument (Uzvaras piemineklis) (Get off the tram at the second stop after the bridge over the Daugava). A splendid example of high Soviet art and the biggest occupation-era monument in Latvia. If you've never seen a Soviet monument before, you should really check this out.
- Railway Museum, Uzvaras bulvaris 2 - 4, ☎ +371 67232849. 10-17 Tu-Su. Exhibits several collections of Soviet rolling stock.
- Theatre Museum (Eduard Smilgis Museum of Theatre), Eduarda Smiļģa iela 37/39 (tram #2, stop Eduarda Smiļģa iela), ☎ +371 67611893. 11-18 W-Su. Located in the eccentrically designed and furnished pre-war house of a former director of Riga Daile Theatre and one of the key figures in Latvian theatre of the 20th century. €0.70-3.
- Riga Aviation Museum (At Riga-Spilve International Airport). 9:00 - 18:00. Bored at the airport? Check out the Riga Aviation museum, which contains several rare aircraft. €5.
- University of Latvia Botanical Garden (Botaniskais Darzs), Kandavas iela 2 (Tram 4 to Dzirciema iela, then walk east down Jurmalas Gatve towards the entrance), ☎ +371 67 450 852, e-mail: email@example.com. Apr-Sep 9AM-7AM, other months 10AM-4:30PM, Butterfly House has shorter opening hours (check website). The Botanical Garden is quite large and featuring an impressively broad and well-cultivated collection of plant species. The long history of the Garden is reflected in its rich built heritage. There is a Butterfly House within the garden's grounds, where you can experience free-flying tropical butterflies. Apart from botanical interests, the garden is simply beautiful and great for a stroll. €3, Butterfly House €4.50 extra.
- National Library (Nacionalā Bibliotēka), Mūkusalas iela 3. An important part of the West Bank's cityscape, the National Library was built in 2008-13. It is perhaps the most remarkable part of the "New Riga" giving a more gentle feel to skyscrapers and other high-tech buildings that were recently constructed on the West Bank of the Daugava. The building was nicknamed the "Castle of Light" (Gaismas Pils), and the architect intended to mimic the towers of Vecriga, although casual tourists may rather see it as a cruise ship that has just arrived from the Baltic Sea and is anchored across the river from the Old Town.
- Latvian National Opera, Aspazijas bulvaris 3, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A pretty building in its own right, this is also a nice place to see an opera or ballet. €5-65, depending on seat and show.
- Latvian National Symphonic Orchestra, Amatu 6, ☎ +371 67 224850, e-mail: email@example.com. €2-70, depending on seat and show.
- Koncertzāle Ave Sol (Ave Sol Concert Hall), Citadeles 7. Hosts the renowned choral ensemble Ave Sol. The hall also plays host to a range of other concert activities.
Riga and its surroundings are popular destinations for adrenaline sports, which can be booked online, from most hostels and hotels, or from any local travel agent. The activities generally include transfers to/from your accommodation and all necessary supplies. Popular activities include bobsledding, AK-47 shooting (€40), bungee jumping from a cable car, scenic flights, canoeing, kayaking, go-karting, golfing, paintball, husky dog sledding (€40), indoor skydiving (€60), and driving a 4x4 off-road.
There is a popular beach on Kipsala Island, just across the Shroud Bridge from the city centre.
Parks and gardens
- Bastejkalns, Between Raina Bulvaris and Basteja Bulvaris. A small, pleasant park surrounding Brivibas Bulvaris. Sites in the Bastejkalns include a Chinese and a Japanese building, and the Bridge of Love over the Pilsetas Canal. The Bridge of Love has several locks on the railings put up by recently married couples. There is also a memorial to the two people killed here in the tumultuous events of 1991.
- Esplanade Park (a block from the Freedom Monument). Designed by Georg Kuphaldt, who was expelled by Germany in 1915 as a spy because he had a telescope in his garden.
- Mežaparks (Take Tram 11). Forest Park is a pleasant park area on the outskirts of Riga. There are large, gorgeous residential houses once inhabited by Riga's prewar elite during the summers. They were largely let go during Soviet times but many are now being refurbished, repainted, and brought back to their original glory.
- Riga Zoo, Meza Prospekts 1. The Riga Zoo is small, but fairly popular. €4-6.
Festivals and events
- Easter (Lieldienas). Egg fights!
- Count of May (Maija Grāfs), Spīķeru laukums. Medieval festival. Takes place annually in mid-May.
- Latviabeerfest, Vērmanes garden, ☎ +371 27 726 200, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Takes place annually at the end of May. The largest international beer festival in the Baltics.
- Jāņi. On June 24, Latvians celebrate the summer solstice with the midsummer festival called Jāņi. Before the celebration, flea markets are held in many places.
- Latvian Song and Dance Festival (Latvian Vispārējie latviešu Dziesmu un Deju svētki), Vērmanes garden, ☎ +371 28611731, e-mail: email@example.com. An annual song and dance festival in July, with an even larger festival every 5 years. One of the key cultural events in Latvia, which started in 1873 as a singing festival.
- Rīga City Day (Rīgas svētki). Takes place on 14-16 Aug
Russian Language School of Baltic International Academy Scam
Don't go to the souvenir shops, instead buy items like amber and wool mittens and socks in the central market or throughout Old Riga in little stands. You might haggle and get good prices for souvenirs.
During the Christmas season there is a small Christmas market in the main square of old town which offers lots of festive fare and hot wine.
- Riga Central Market (Centrāltirgus) (right next to international bus terminal, 2 min walk from Central station or Old town). Different hours for different parts, see website for info. Noticeable for its huge hangars, built from parts of actual zeppelin hangars bought for the market in 1920. The market has also a large open-air area. It deals mostly in fresh food and is a good place for fresh local fruit and vegetables, especially during summer. There are stalls that sell cheap clothing and accessories. It is especially beloved by Scandinavian tourists coming via ferry for its cheap cigarettes.
- Taste Latvia, shopping center 'Galerija Centrs', 4th floor, ☎ +371 67104540, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open from 10.00 to 21.00 all week. Despite the slightly misleading name, Taste Latvia is a "Latvian fashion concept store", selling mostly clothes, but also accessories and items for the home, such as wooden kitchen and cooking utensils, hand-made ecological candles, and other items. The items are all from contemporary Latvian designers. If you want to take home some contemporary Latvian design, Taste Latvia is one of the best places to look.
- Konventa Seta, Behind St. John's Church. A former convent courtyard that now contains several touristy shops.
- Central Market (Centrāltirgus), Centrāltirgus 1. 8-17 daily. This striking building near the central train station began life as an airship hangar in the 1930s, but is now an excellent place to buy fresh produce, meat, dairy, and the occasional counterfeit goods, though these have been mostly eradicated. The market is actually quite non-touristy but very good for souvenirs. There are lots of small cafes scattered around the markets that serve up cheap local eats.
- Galerija Istaba, Krišjāņa Barona iela 31. Nice local artwork can be found here. There is also a small cafe/bar on the second floor with a nice, laid-back atmosphere.
- Stockmann, Janvara iela 13 (Near the train station), ☎ +371 67071222, fax: +371 67071254. 1st Floor: Mo-Sa 9-22, Su 10-22, 2nd Floor: 10-21 daily. The Latvian branch of the Finnish department store chain.
- Bergs Bazaar, Elizabetes ielā 83/85. The Bergs bazaar is a 19th-century courtyard passage with a number of fashion boutiques, restaurants and a farmer's and crafts market on the second and fourth Saturday of each month.
- Āgenskalns Market (Āgenskalna tirgus), Nometņu iela 64 (Tram 2 or trolleybus 5 - Āgenskalna tirgus stop), e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 7:30AM-6:00PM. This is a smaller counterpart to the Central Market, to e found the central square of Āgenskalns on the left bank of Daugava, which is a crossing of no less than 6 streets. An impressive building from 1911-23, remarkable as a red-brick manifestation of Jugendstil architecture in Riga. While the offerings are decisively not geared towards tourists, you may want to visit just to experience the historic low-rise neighbourhood.
Riga, as the most vibrant and cosmopolitan city of the Baltics, offers countless opportunities to sample both local cuisine and international favorites. Latvian food can be hearty, using a lot of potato, cabbage, beef, pork and fish. A diversity of foreign cuisines is also available -- sushi restaurants in particular are in vogue.
- Čili Pica, Several locations (One near the Freedom Monument, another on the ground floor of the Stockmann mall near central station). Cheap but good pizza.
- Fontaine Delisnack, 3 locations including Teātra iela in the Old Town, ☎ +371 67 250 250, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A 24-hour diner with an extensive menu, this restaurant chain is popular at all hours of the day and night. Try the large CB Burger for €5! Free delivery for orders over €25, otherwise there is a €3 delivery fee.
- Ķīpsala Island Student Cafeteria (Ķīpsala Island). Several sets of home-like food are offered in a cozy atmosphere.
- Lido. A network of 8 restaurants offering decent hearty Latvian food, including desserts, at good prices. The restaurants are either cafeteria-style or feature English menus. The following restaurants are in the Lido network:
- Lido Entertainment Center, Krasta iela 76 (Take Tram 3, 7, or 9 to Krasta masīvs), ☎ +371 67504420, fax: +371 67241168. Main Restaurant: 11-23 daily, Express Restaurant: 13-23 daily, Beer Cellar: 18-24 MON-FRI, 12-24 Holidays, Playroom: 17-22 MON-FRI, 12-22 Holidays. The wooden building features three floors of dining, a built-in wooden windmill, and a small amusement park outside. The ground floor and basement operate cafeteria-style. There is a huge choice available, including a variety of soups including borscht and the Latvian cold beetroot soup, as well as kebabs, breasts, chicken sausages, fish, red meats. Blinis are another specialty here. Cafeteria: €3.30 for a meat main course and €0.70 for a plateload of roast potatoes. Pancakes for €0.60. Top floor: Buffet for set price of €16.
- Alus Seta, Old Town. Literally Beer Yard. Serves huge portions of excellent meat and two veg from a grill at the front of the tavern, as well as an excellent choice of Beer. Probably the best value place in town, with two courses easily costing less than €7.
- Vermanitis, Elizabetes iela 65. A fantastic range of Latvian food in "authentic" environment. Fried fish: €3, Salmon steak: €5, Half chicken: €2.50, large side of mashed potatoes or pasta: €1, 500ml beer: €2.10.
- Pelmeni XL, Kalku iela 7. Russian-style dumplings filled with whatever is available. Cafeteria style. Pay by the weight. €5.
- Šefpavārs Vilhelms, Šķūņu 6, ☎ +371 67 228 214. Delicious stuffed pancakes/crepes at great prices.
- Varzob, Ratslaukuma iela 1 (J-2), ☎ +371 67211332. Uzbek food. The plov is an excellent choice, as is the Shashlik and Lagman.
- Wok to Walk, Aspazijas bulvaris 30, ☎ +371 67211332. 10AM-Midnight. The Latvian location of the international chain of stir-fry restaurants. Choose your ingredients and watch them being cooked in a giant wok. €6.
- Aleks @ Hotel Justus, Jauniela 24, ☎ +371 67212416. 12-24. One of the best fish restaurants in town. Champagne Glass: €7, Bottle of Philipe Brugnon 1er Cru Rose: €47.
- Alus Ordenis, Raina bulvaris 15, ☎ +371 67814190. Serves rural Latvian food for an eminently reasonable price. Try pork shanks or bull testicles!
- Gardenia @ Hotel Garden Palace, Grecinieku iela 28 (City centre, Old Riga), ☎ +371 67224650, fax: +371 67359749, e-mail: email@example.com. Noon-11PM. Mediterranean and European cuisine. Cozy and elegantly casual restaurant. €5 and up.
- Juffin's 12, Aldaru iela 10, ☎ +371 67224271, fax: +371 67224272, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 11-23. Serves European and Oriental international food and has an extensive wine list.
- Café Osiris, Krisjanis Barona iela 31. An artsy cafe with a cool interior, fireplace and pancakes worth killing for. While there, drop by Gallerija Istaba for another cup of coffee or beer, and make sure to check out some of the artwork sold downstairs.
- Stargorod, Republikas square 1 (In the front of Riga port, next to President Castle), ☎ +371 67 878 787, e-mail: email@example.com. Noon-Midnight. Traditional Czech and Latvian cousine, brewery, beer, tours in brewery, entertainment
- Sweetday Cafe, Tirgoņu 9 (old town). Coffee house that serves freshly homemade cakes. It has a great cozy atmosphere, and the best service in town. The owner is Inese, speaks Latvian, English, Spanish, Russian and a bit of Dutch.
- Traktir (Russian: Трактиръ), Antonijas iela 8, ☎ +371 67 332 455. Noon-11PM. A Russian restaurant. Huge servings, great food, loads of vodkas to try out, and a Russian troubadour for entertainment. Few tourists.
- Vecmeita ar kaķi, Mazā Pils iela 1, ☎ +371 67 325 077. This restaurant and bar is a more upmarket option than Lido, serving very good Latvian food.
- Bergs, Elizabetes iela 83/85 (Hotel Bergs). The restaurant of the hotel Bergs may be just about the best that Latvia has to offer. The food can be described as a fusion of Latvian and Western European cuisine. Menus are seasonal, and the ingredients always fresh - meaning sometimes not everything on the menu is available. With impeccable food and service, it is a wonder this place has not yet received the first Michelin star of any restaurant in Latvia.
- Pinot, Grecinieku iela 26. The restaurant next to the Museum of Latvia occupation offers a continental take on Baltic food. Menus are seasonal; check the website for the latest. The wine list is extensive, and the staff speak Latvian, Russian and English reasonably well. Menus are in all three languages. Prix fixe: €50 per person; a la carte: €14-30.
- Rozengrāls, Kramu iela. An authentic medieval restaurant in a real medieval basement in the Old Town. Serves tasty medieval foods and beverages.
- Vincents, Elizabetes iela 19, ☎ +371 67332634. Mo-Fr 12-23, Sat: 18-23, Su: Closed. If you're splashing out try Vincents Restaurant which compares favorably to any up market western restaurant at half the price. Mains: €30-35.
Bar scams in Latvia
Latvia is home to a number of fraud/extortion scams in bars, run by the local mobs. A common scam, which targets men, begins by having someone you meet randomly coax you into a bar. Upon buying a drink, you will be presented with a bill for as much as €100. If you can't pay with cash, the bar will take credit cards - or you might be forced to withdraw money from their handy ATM. If you ask, you will even be presented with a menu and the €100 price listed. If you refuse to pay, the exit door will most likely be blocked by a large bouncer. The trick to avoiding this scam is not to enter a bar recommended to you by someone on the street. Below is a list of bars/clubs in Riga known to conduct this scam. Many are strip bars or locations of prostitution rings. These shady establishments change their names often to escape lists like these and continue extorting unwitting travelers, so use your judgment when entering a bar, or check reviews of the establishment online before entering.
Black coffee in Latvia is traditionally served unfiltered and quite strong in small cups. If you are used to filtered coffee, you may want to have a "white coffee" (with either milk, whipped milk or cream), or you want to have a glass of water on the side. Coffee "to go" has become increasingly popular, and many of the coffee chains offer coffee served in paper cups with lids.
- Ciemakukulis, Nometņu ielā 9. A cozy café with a truly delicious selection of baked goods. Free wifi.
- Galerija Istaba, Krišjāņa Barona iela 31a, ☎ +371 67 281 141. M-Sa: 12:00-23:00. Literally, room. An art gallery with a small café with 5 tables. Popular for its cozy atmosphere.
- Get Smart Cafe, Lāčplēša iela 43/45. Mo-Th: 11:00-00:00; Fr: 11:00-03:00; Sa: 18:00-03:00. A colorful café with the best of 60's décor. Features parties in the evenings.
- Miit Coffee, Lāčplēša iela 10, ☎ +371 28 891 351. M: 07:00-21:00; Tu-We: 07:00-23:00; Th: 07:00-00:00; Fr: 07:00-03:00; Sa: 10:00-03:00; Su: 10:00-18:00. Great coffee and vegetarian food, with gluten-free options. Try the pancake brunch on Saturday and Sunday
- Mārtiņa Beķereja, Vaļņu iela 28, ☎ +371 67 213 314. M-Sa: 7:30-21:00, Su: 8:00-21:00. Traditional Latvian café, popular amongst locals. Always fresh pastry. Cash only sales. There are five Mārtiņa Beķereja cafés in Riga. Vaļņu iela 28 is located in Old Town Riga.
Riga is a major nightlife destination for tourists and bars here are often open later than those in other European cities. On average, bars in Old Town will charge €2.00-3.00 per beer and bars outside of Old Town will charge €1.50-2.00 per beer. A specialty liquor is Riga Balsam, which is an acquired taste.
- Aussie Backpackers Pub @ Riga Old Town Hostel, 43 Valnu Iela, ☎ +371 67223406. Th-Sa: 10AM-3AM; Su-W: 10AM-2AM. Riga’s first Aussie pub promises to provide plenty of authentic down under atmosphere, but thankfully without any stuffed koalas, Fosters beer posters or, God forbid, any portraits of Paul Hogan. Spread out across three floors, the pub offers 12 local beers on draught for affordable prices served from a bar that’s actually an old VW combi van. Live bands play frequently in the basement and if the cheap happy hour prices are too much for you to handle you can always crash at its hostel upstairs. Beer: €2.50-3.00; Cocktails: €4.50-7.00.
- Cuba Cafe, 15 Jauniela, ☎ +371 67 22 43 62. Cozy bar with DJs in the evenings. Salsa dancing on Tuesdays starting at 9PM. 2 for 1 drinks during happy hour (5PM-7PM).
- FolkKlubs Ala Pagrabs, Peldu 19 (Old Town). Huge beer selection with 28 beers on tap, folk dancing, live music performances, and great authentic food. Beer: €2.50-3.00.
- French Bar, Mazā Monētu iela 8 (Old Town), ☎ +371 67 220 353, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-W: 5PM-6AM; Th-Sa: 4PM-7AM. One of the cheapest, smallest, and oldest bars in Riga. It is popular among foreigners and local students. TV shows international sports matches. From 4PM-6PM: 0.5L Beer: €1.00; From 6PM-9PM: 0.5L Beer: €1.50.
- Karakums, Lāčplēša iela 18. Fun bar with TV and dance room. Pizzas for sale. Beer: €1.50.
- Kiwi Bar, Skarņu iela 7 (Old Town). Sports bar with karaoke nights.
- Leningrad, Krisjana Valdemara iela 4. Serves Latvian beers and food.
- Paddy Whelans Irish Pub & Sports Bar, Grecinieku iela 4, ☎ +371 67 210 150. F-Sa: 11AM-3:30AM; Su-Th: 11AM-1AM. A popular Irish bar.
- Skyline Bar, Elizabetes iela 55 (On the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel). Just perfect view at sunset. Finding a table next to the windows might be difficult after 23:00. Cover charge at popular times. Beer: €3-5; Wine: €5; Cocktails: €6.50-12.
- Neo Bars, Stacijas laukums 2, ☎ +371 67 073 073. Mo-Fr: 11:00-23:00, Sa: 12:00-23:00, Su: 11:00-23:00. Enjoy the view of Riga from the 10th floor of the Central Station clock tower. Drinks, cocktails, European and Japanese cuisine. You need to take the elevator from the Central Station ground floor to the 8th to 10th floor.
Riga is known for a sparkling nightlife. There is a difference in style between 'Russian' clubs and 'Latvian' clubs.
- Amber Night @ Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija, Elizabetes iela 55, ☎ +371 29 401 431, e-mail: email@example.com. Loaded with foreigners and women willing to meet them. 21+.
- Kalku Varti, Kaļķu iela 11a, ☎ +371 67224576. Ground-level restaurant with nightclub in the basement.
- Nabaklab, Z.A.Meierovica bulvaris 12.
- Push Club, Terbatas 2, ☎ +371 20 223 322, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mostly Russian, age: 20-30 years old, music - dance main-stream.
- Shot Café, Torņa iela 4 (Near the Powder Tower), ☎ +371 67224165, e-mail: email@example.com. Popular with young Latvians.
- Space Dog fka Pulkvedis, Peldu iela 26 (There is no sign on the door). 7PM-6AM. A trendy place popular with a younger crowd. The main floor has a dance floor with rock and pop music while the basement has a room with techno and/or alternative sounds. It is a very busy place on Thurs/Fri/Sat and is closed on Sun/Mon. Entrance: free + face control. Beer: €2-3, Long drinks: €4-6, Cocktails: €6-9.
All hotels and hostels offer free WiFi and many have computer terminals. Almost all accept credit cards.
- Riga City Camping, Rietumu iela 2 (On Kipsala Island, 2.5km from the city centre), ☎ +371 67065000, +371 67067519, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Open May 15 to September 15. Nice facilities. Per person €3; per tent site: €6; per camper site €7-10; car parking: €3..
- Central Hostel, E. Birznieka-Upisa iela 20, ☎ +371 22 322 663, e-mail: email@example.com. Dorm bed: €5.25-13; Single: €17-24.
- Cheapy Hostel, Kaleju 48, 5th floor. Large shared rooms. Dorm bed: €6-9.
- Cinnamon Sally Backpackers Hostel, Merkela 1, 3rd floor. Dorm bed: €12-20.
- Doma Hostel, Skunu iela 16, ☎ +371 67213101. Clean, safe, cheap, and in a great location. Friendly and helpful staff. Free coffee and tea. Dorm bed: €8-13.50.
- Dome Pearl Hostel, Tirgonu iela 4 (Old Town), ☎ +371 67212161, fax: +371 67212161, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Friendly, English-speaking staff. Dorm bed: €9-11; Single: €20-25; Double: €28-30.
- Elizabeth's Youth Hostel, Elizabetes iela 103-2, ☎ +371 67217890, e-mail: email@example.com. HI Hostel. Dorm bed: €10 (Low Season), €12 (High Season); Single: €20 (Low Season), €28 (High Season).
- Friendly Fun Franks Hostel, 11 Novembra Krastmala 29 (on the banks of the river Daugava), ☎ +371 2599 0612, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The biggest party hostel in Riga. Australian/British/Latvian owned. Popular with Brits in Riga for stag parties, so expect a lot of guys who want to party. Dorm bed: €8.90-€12.50.
- Funky Hostel, Krisjana Barona Iela 25, ☎ +371 2910 5939, fax: +371 6728 8287, e-mail: email@example.com. Australian & Latvian owned. 24 hour reception. Dorm bed: €10-13; Single: €20-22.
- Naughty Squirrel Backpackers Hostel, Kaleju Iela 50, ☎ +371 67220073, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Comfortable beds with curtains for privacy and darkness. Offers adrenalin tours, pub crawls, hockey game excursions, and other communal activities. 24-hour reception. Reception sells beer. Free shot of Riga Balsams upon check-in. Friendly staff. Dorm bed: €12-18.
- Posh Backpackers Hostel, Pupolu Iela 5 (Opposite the police station), ☎ +371 67210917, e-mail: email@example.com. Despite the name, the hostel is not posh at all. Privates, doubles as well as 6, 8, and 12 room dorms. Dorm bed: €9-€10; Single: €20-30; Double: €26-35.
- Red Nose Hostel, 14 Jana Iela. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. Dorm bed: €8.50-16; Single: €21-25; Double: €30-40.
- Riga Old Town Hostel & Backpackers Pub (Old Town Hostel Riga), Valnu Iela 43, ☎ +371 67223406. Ensuite rooms, very popular bar, sauna, and 24-hour reception. Dorm bed: €8-15.
- Riga Style Hostel, Alfreda Kalnina street 4 - 11. On a top floor of a 100 year old historic building. €8.50-14.
- Seagulls Garret Hostel, Valnu Iela 41. Dorm bed: €9-12.
- Teddy Bear Hostel, Vecpilsetas iela 3, ☎ +371 67229250. Small and quiet hostel in the Old Town. Dorm bed: €6-8.
- Tiger Hostel, Raiņa bulvāris 31 (Across from the train station), ☎ +371 22 846 042, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. The décor is extremely ugly - even for 1970s style. Free coffee and tea. Dorm bed: €7-9.
- Two Wheels, Baložu iela 12, ☎ +371 6746 8884, e-mail: email@example.com. Classy hotel/hostel across the river from the old town. Dorm bed: €14.
- Apartment Hotel Riga, Brivibas iela 196. Apartments on Riga's main street. Every apartment has either two separate beds or one double, as well as a washing machine, television, gas ring, air conditioner, refrigerator, and set of dishes. €25 and up.
- Days Hotel Riga VEF, Brivibas iela 199c (200m from the tram stop Rūpnīca VEF, then a 10 minute ride south to Old Town), ☎ +371 6 7166000, fax: +371 6 7166001. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: Noon. Part of the Wyndham/Days Inn chain. A great option if you don't need to be within walking distance of the center. €20.
- Dodo Hotel, Jersikas iela 1 (10 min from old town by tram.), e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Modern rooms with shower, WC, flat-screen TV, and hairdryer. French owned. Double: €32.
- Hanza Hotel, Elijas iela 7 (Close to Riga Old Town), ☎ +371 67796040, fax: +371 67796044, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. 3 star hotel in Riga center.
- Hotel Edvards, Dzirnavu iela 45/47, ☎ +371 67439960, fax: +371 67439959, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Opened in September 2008, cosy, family-run hotel in a renovated 19th-century building. €46-56 for single.
- Kolonna Hotel Riga, Tirgoņu iela 9, ☎ +371 67 358 254, fax: +371 67358255, e-mail: email@example.com. 41 rooms.
- Krisjanis and Gertrude Bed & Breakfast, Krisjana Barona iela 39 (in the wooden house diagonally opposite the Barona shopping center, entrance from Gertrudes iela), ☎ +371 67506604, fax: +371 67506603, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Homely, popular with artists and musicians, city centre, en-suite rooms. Single: €40; Double/Twin: €50; Triple: €60; breakfast included.
- Mercure Riga Centre, Elizabetes iela 101 (next to the railway station), e-mail: email@example.com. Interesting postmodern decor based on the neighbourhood's Art Nouveau heritage. Additional charge for parking. From €60.
- Metropole Hotel, Aspazijas bulvaris 36, ☎ +371 67225411, fax: +371 67216140, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Not quite as centrally located as some other hotels, but still quite near Old Town. All rooms have satellite TV and minibar. €93 and up.
- Old City Boutique Hotel, Teātra iela 10 (Tram to Nacionālā opera), ☎ +371 67 356 060, e-mail: email@example.com. €47-117.
- Old Riga Hotel Vecriga, Gleznotāju iela 12/14 (Tram to Nacionālā opera), ☎ +371 67 216 524, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. €42-85.
- Primo Hotel, Nometnu iela 62, ☎ +371 67454571, +371 25888777, fax: +371 67454572, e-mail: email@example.com. Modern 3 star hotel, free parking, cable TV, only en-suite rooms. Single: €35/€45 (Low Season/High Season); Double/Twin: €40/€50 (Low Season/High Season), Family Room: €70 (up to 4 persons), breakfast €5 extra.
- Rixwell Old Riga Palace Hotel, 8 / 10 Minsterejas Street.
- , Elizabetes iela 24, ☎ +371 67 099 760, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 256 rooms. Clean and modern.
- Wellton Centrum Hotel & Spa, 33 Kaleju Street.
- Westa, Negu iela 5, ☎ +371 67226232, fax: +371 67221841, e-mail: email@example.com. The rooms are clean, private, safe, spacious, and have private bathrooms. Next to a market for food and clothing. Double: €32.
- Grand Palace Hotel, Pils iela 12 (Tram 5, 7, 9 or Bus 5, 7, 25 to Nacionālais teātris), ☎ +371 67 044 000, fax: +371 6704 4004, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. €135-189.
- Hotel Bergs, Elizabetes iela 83, ☎ +371 67 77 0900, fax: +371 67 77 0940. Great service, modern rooms, fitness center, and a small sauna. €180 and up.
- Hotel Centra Riga, Audeju iela 1 (Tram to 13.Janvāra iela), ☎ +371 67 226 441. The service here is spectacular, and the management has a habit of upgrading people for no extra charge. Flat-screen TVs and minibar. In a historic building. €80 and up.
- Hotel de Rome, Kalku iela 28, ☎ +371 67087600, fax: +371 67 087 606, e-mail: email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. Mostly a business hotel, but this Kolonna hotel also has rooms for splurging tourists. Amenities include safe, minibar, and satellite television in every room. The hotel also has a guarded parking lot (which requires a surcharge) and a fancy restaurant at the top. Small pets are allowed. €142 and up.
- Hotel Garden Palace, Grecinieku iela 28 (City centre), ☎ +371 67 224 650, fax: +371 67 359 749, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 13:00, check-out: 12:00. Elegant boutique 4* hotel in the heart of historic centre with 65 comfortable guest rooms. €55 and up.
- Hotel Neiburgs, Jauniela 25 (Old Town), ☎ +371 67 67 115 522, fax: +371 67 359 749, e-mail: email@example.com. 55-suites. Large, clean, modern rooms. From €125, discounts with early bookings.
- Radisson Blu Elizabete Hotel, Elizabetes iela 73 (Tram 1, 6, 8, 10, 11 to Dzirnavu iela), ☎ +371 67 78 5555, fax: +371 67 78 5554, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Contemporary style. €89.
- Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija, Elizabetes iela 55, ☎ +371 677 72222, fax: +371 677 72221, e-mail: email@example.com. The largest business and conference hotel in the Baltics. With 27 floors, this hotel is noticeable on the Riga skyline. €81.
- Radisson Blu Daugava Hotel, Kuģu iela 24. On the left bank of the Daugava, with views of the Old Town. €76.
- Radisson Blu Ridzene Hotel, Reimersa iela 1. A sombre, and slightly dated, Radisson next to the Esplanade €84.
Alcohol consumption in Riga is high and bar fights are relatively common. It is wise not to be level-headed and not escalate a situation.
See the info box in the Riga#Drink section regarding common bar scams in Riga.
- Canada, 20/22 Baznicas St 6F, ☎ +371 67813945, fax: +371 67813960, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Finland, Kalpaka bulvaris 1, LV-1605 Riga, ☎ +371-6707 8800, fax: +371-6707 8814, e-mail: email@example.com. Mo-Fr 8:30AM-noon, 1PM-4:30PM.
- Greece, Elizabetes str. 11, Appt. 5, ☎ +371 6735-6345, +371 2009-3089 (Emergencies), fax: +371 6735-6351, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00 - 17:00.
- United Kingdom, J.Alunana iela 5, ☎ +371 6777 4700, fax: +371 6777 4707, e-mail: email@example.com. MO-TH 8:30am - 5:00pm, FR 8:30am - 1:30pm.
- United States, Raiņa Blvd 7, ☎ +371 6703 6200, fax: +371 6782 0047, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Baltic states are compact and virtually all of the region is within 300 km of Riga, at least as the crow flies. All of Latvia and a large part of what Estonia and Lithuania has to offer is doable as a daytrip if you have a car. However, larger cities listed below do have several days' worth of attractions.
- Sigulda - a resort town just over an hour from Riga by train, featuring a wooded river valley containing forest walks, cable car, bobsleigh track, and three castles, all of which is manageable as a day visitor on foot.
- Ligatne - a small picturesque town deep in the forest between Sigulda and Cesis, ideal base for a visit to both tourist centres. Just over an hour from Riga by car or train. Attractions are forest walks, tethered ferry, and disused Soviet bunker.
- Liepaja - city on the Western coast of Latvia, has many wooden and brick Art Nouveau buildings; includes the largest former secret military town Karosta, fortresses and a fantastic white soft sand beach.
- Jūrmala - seaside resort that was popular amongst citizens of the USSR (the word literally means seaside or beach in Latvian).
- Valka (Valga) - a town located on both sides of the Latvian-Estonian border.
- Salaspils - a former German concentration camp site 15 km southeast of Riga.
- Tartu - a student town accessible from Riga by direct bus.
- Tallinn - the capital of Estonia; a 5-hour bus trip from Riga.
- Pärnu - a beach town with old wooden houses, little more than halfway to Tallinn.
- Vilnius - the capital of Lithuania; a 5-hour bus trip from Riga.
- Kaunas - the second-largest city in Lithuania
- Klaipeda - a beach town near Nida and the Curonian Spit
- Šiauliai - famous for the Hill of Crosses.
- Stockholm - accessible via direct ferry from Riga; 17-hour journey
|Routes through Riga|
|Ventspils ←||W E||→ Rēzekne → Moscow|
|Kaunas ← Bauska ←||S N||→ Saulkrasti → Tallinn|
|Kaliningrad ← Jelgava ←||SW NE||→ Sigulda → Pskov|