You don’t know where to go for your next vacation? How about Riga? The Latvian capital has a lot to offer. Indeed, it is not very touristy, so it is well preserved. One thing is certain, you will not be bothered by the crowd effect once you are there.
On the contrary, the city is very charming, very uncluttered. The people are all very nice, smiling and welcoming. The food is excellent, almost making you forget the sometimes chilly temperatures…
Would you like to discover more? In this specific guide, we propose you to discover all you need to know about Riga, Latvia!
> Why should you visit Riga?
> When should you go to Riga
> How to find a cheap plane ticket to Riga?
> Where to sleep in Riga?
> How to get around in Riga?
> How to prepare your stay in Riga: what are the essential activities?
> Where to eat in Riga?
> Budget your trip to Riga
> Practical information for your vacations in Latvia
> What else should you see in Latvia?
Why you should visit Riga ?
Located between Estonia and Lithuania, Riga is a small capital city of just over 600,000 inhabitants. It is a city that almost marks the entrance to the European Great North, as it can be quite cold in winter. But that doesn’t matter.
Indeed, Riga is a beautiful, young and above all, very lively city. There are many things to do in Riga, both indoor and outdoor activities. You will also find very good restaurants, lively bars where you can party and a very open-minded and welcoming local population.
In short, spending a few days here is the assurance to enjoy a trip in a European country, with a strong russian influence, where smiles, good mood and benevolence are the order of the day. It’s enough to make you want to go, isn’t it?
When should you go to Riga ?
Finally, no matter the season, Riga is a beautiful city. Of course, there are times when it is a little more pleasant to visit. In summer, Riga has a pleasant climate with average temperatures around 18 degrees. The days are long and sunny, which is ideal for exploring the city on foot or by bike.
In winter, however, it’s a different story. It is usually very cold… But it is a magical time to discover the city, as it is illuminated with 1,000 lights, especially when Christmas is approaching. Finally, we recommend avoiding the period from September to November, as it is quite rainy and grey.
Find a cheap plane ticket to Riga
Are you looking for a cheap air ticket to fly to the Latvian capital? There are several methods and techniques to find an affordable ticket. First of all, plan ahead! A month or even a month and a half before the departure date seems to be a reasonable time for short flights.
Then, don’t hesitate to play with connections. You can also play around with departure and arrival times. Depending on your flexibility, you can easily find a route that will suit you perfectly and that, moreover, is more affordable.
Generally speaking, a round trip from Paris, Barcelona or even Amsterdam costs about 150 euros. On the other hand, from Tallinn or Vilnius, a simple bus ride will be sufficient. 2 to 3 hours of driving for a few dozen euros.
Where to sleep in Riga ?
In Riga, as elsewhere in Europe, there is a wide range of accommodation available for travelers and visitors. The options include hotels, hostels and AirBnB accommodation.
We’ve written about it. In our article on the best hotels in Riga, you will find a selection of first-class establishments at the best prices. Hotels that are well located and offer all the necessary comforts. Some of them offer the formula with breakfast included.
Another option is to book an AirBnb in Riga. This offers several possibilities, including having a bathroom, a kitchen, in short an accommodation to be had during your stay. It is the perfect solution if you are going to stay with friends or family.
A youth hostel in Riga is the best way to enjoy a stay in Latvia for less. However, youth hostels do not offer any services or anything else (maybe breakfast from time to time). However, it is a good way to meet people and make strong connections with other travelers.
How to get around the city ?
Riga does not have a metro system. However, the city has a very efficient streetcar and bus network. The city is served by 11 streetcar lines and 55 bus lines. A 3-day ticket costs 7 euros and a 5-day ticket 8 euros. In addition, you can easily cover the whole city on foot, at least as far as the main points are concerned!
What are the main activities to do in Riga ?
There are many things to do in Riga! Whether in the city, indoors or outdoors, you will always find something to do.
Vecrīga is the old center of Riga. It is located on the right bank of the Daugava River, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the main place of the city, where many things happen. You will inevitably pass by it.
2. Town Hall Square
Next to Vecrīga is the town hall square. While these buildings look extremely old, you should know that they are only about 20 years old. When you stand in Riga’s City Hall Square and gaze at the City Hall and the House of Blackheads, it is amazing to think that these monuments are hardly more than 20 years old.
Nearby is the House of Blackheads, an old building that has its origins in the Soviet era. It was built during the 70s. On the central square you will also see the statue of Roland (typical signature of old German cities).
3. The Freedom Monument
To the east of Vecrīga is the Freedom Monument, a monument that celebrates those soldiers who died during the fighting against the Soviet forces. A 42 meter high monument, built from red granite and travertine.
It is also topped by a beautiful copper sculpture symbolizing Freedom. This one holds three golden stars. This monument remains the centerpiece of official commemorative ceremonies in the city.
Right next to the Freedom Monument is a park, the Bastejkalna. The latter is rather well surrounded, since we find next to it:
- the Latvian National Opera ;
- the University of Latvia, add to the ceremonial atmosphere.
- Watch the sun set from the hill and walk along the canal to see the ducks, swans and beavers.
5. Central Market
Riga’s covered market is also part of the UNESCO-listed historical site. Here you will be charmed by the products, the smells and the many flavors. Quality products, from local producers, to delight your eyes and taste buds. Sit down, enjoy a good coffee or a small dish to taste on the spot and let yourself be transported by the ambient energy!
Where should you eat in Riga?
You will find in our list of contents, an article specifically dedicated to the best restaurants in Riga. Very good restaurants located all over the city center, to fully enjoy the local culinary culture.
Among the main dishes you will find bacon weights as well as smoked pork chops or herrings with dill. As for the Eastern countries, Latvians eat a lot of potatoes, cabbage or beets. Rich dishes, heavy for some, which allow to pass the winter!
Budget your trip to Riga
Normally, Riga is far from being the most expensive city in the world. However, with the current economic crisis, the country is suffering from inflation. As a result, the budget for travel to Riga is now a little higher than it was a few months ago.
If you are traveling on a tight budget, there are some things you can do to save money:
- The first is to choose a hotel outside the city center, which can be cheaper ;
- Second, eat at local cafes and small restaurants rather than high-end restaurants ;
- Finally, walk or use public transportation rather than taking cabs or rental cars. With a little planning, you can enjoy Riga without spending a fortune.
For a “standard” stay, including hotel, restaurants and activities, you should expect to spend about 60 euros per day or less.
PRACTICAL INFORMATION FOR YOUR VACATION IN LATVIA
Are you planning to discover Riga? Here are some of the most important things you should know before you go.
IS RIGA A DANGEROUS CITY?
Riga is a city that is anything but dangerous. Of course, we recommend that you be as careful as you would be on any other trip. Don’t leave your belongings lying around, make sure you respect the locals and don’t interfere if something happens.
WHAT LANGUAGE IS SPOKEN IN RIGA?
In Riga, Latvian is the spoken language. The city is also Russian-speaking, as it was once a full member of the USSR. Finally, on the spot, people speak English very well. You will have no problem understanding it or making yourself heard!
WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF A PROBLEM ?
You have encountered a problem, something has happened to you or you have witnessed a scene? Here are the emergency numbers to call:
- 110 for the police ;
- 113 for the ambulance ;
- 114 for gas emergencies;
- Police number for tourists: 67181818.
If you are a French citizen, you can also be assisted by the national representation. The embassy is located at 9, Boulevard Raina.
WHAT ELSE TO SEE IN LATVIA?
But what else can you do besides visiting Riga? You can continue your way and discover other exceptional places, such as Turaida, Cesis or Liepaja. Rundale Castle is another place you should discover. You will love to visit it. Although small in size, Latvia is a beautiful country and there are many things to do!
Foire aux questions
What language is spoken in Riga?
In Latvia, Latvian is the first language. The locals also speak Russian (at least for a part of the population). English is also very widespread!
Why visit Riga?
Small European capital, Riga has a real cultural heritage. A part of the city is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site!
What is the typical Latvian cuisine made of?
The Latvian dishes are based on fish but also cabbage or potatoes, pork or weight. These are rich but delicious dishes!