Discover the beauty and wonders of Latvia’s capital city. Get insight on what makes Riga special and learn about its captivating culture, stunning architecture, delicious cuisine, and so much more!
If you’re thinking about Riga, Latvia, and wondering why you should visit, I’ve got you covered. There’s so much to love about Riga, Latvia, and I’m here to share my reasons why I fell in love with Riga.
There’s so much to love about living in the UK. Being so close to the rest of Europe, where round-trip flights can sometimes cost as little as $50, a weekend getaway can be just what you need for a reset and refresh. With Madison on a half-term break, I decided to visit two of the three Baltic countries, Latvia and Lithuania, with the intention of visiting Estonia at a later date. We had a week to spare and spent 4 days in Riga and 3 days in Vilnius. If you’re short on time, you can easily do the main things in each city in roughly two days.
With age comes pain, and I’ve found that I can no longer hit the ground running as I used to. Not only does jet lag hit me much harder, but I’ve found that taking my time to really take in each country instead of running from one activity to another is a lot better for me as well. Being on my feet for any significant time can cause my back to ache, so I like to take my time and relax. I try to do a few things (not too many), which is why I now need a bit more time in each country to explore to my heart’s content.
On my quest to visit 50 countries before I’m 50, I’ve also found that before, I was visiting just to mark countries off my list. Now I’m actually visiting countries because I really want to explore and learn a bit more about them. The Baltic countries, while not a top priority for me to visit, came on my radar because they’re still considered some of the cheapest countries to visit in Europe.
As you may know, I generally choose where I want to visit based on how much it will cost me to get there, not how badly I want to visit. It’s why I visit countries and places most people won’t think of visiting. And that’s how I ended up in Riga and fell in love with the beautiful Baltic city.
So what’s to love in Riga, Latvia? Here are my five takeaways and the five things I love about Riga.
1. The Food
The food was absolutely amazing, and we tried to sample as much as we could. Whenever we visit a country, we always ask for something traditional; after all, visiting a country means you want to interact with said country and learn a bit about its culture. One of the best ways to learn about the history and culture of a city is through food. That’s why there are so many food tours available in so many cities.
A highly recommended restaurant is Ala Pagrabs, located in Old Riga and based in a wine cellar. You’ll love the atmosphere and enjoy the beer, food, and music. If you want something a bit more casual (think Burger King), then try Hesburger, a Baltic chain restaurant whose burgers rival the king, and they’re much cheaper.
2. It’s a Walkable City
While we purchased the Riga City Pass, we later discovered we didn’t need to. Riga is a very walkable city with many activities, museums, etc. within 10 minutes of each other if you plan it correctly. I’ll also share an itinerary that you can use to help you plan your own trip. Unless you plan on going outside of Riga Old Town, there really is no need to get the pass. Google Maps is more than enough. Besides taking the hop-on, hop-off bus and a Bolt taxi from the airport and a museum, we never had a need for any other means of transportation.
3. The People
The people are very friendly; I’ve never met a more friendly group of people (besides the people of Portugal). They were always willing to give you directions and share their recommendations of where to eat, etc., and although I didn’t see any other people of color, we encountered no form of racism while visiting. In fact, they were sometimes a bit too friendly (as in the case of the gentleman waving at me from his car until I waved back so he could say “hi”).
4. It’s Very Green
I’ve been to many cities, and I don’t think I’ve encountered as much green space as I did in Riga. There were many parks within walking distance of each other. Sometimes I thought that it was a bit of overkill, but that also means that the air is a lot cleaner as well. The parks are a great place to relax after a period of walking or if you just want to sit and people-watch.
5. There’s Lots To Do
There’s no shortage of things you can do alone, with your family, or with friends. We didn’t have an itinerary planned for Riga, but we were still able to find quite a few things to do on our very limited stay. As with any of our trips to any country, we did a free walking tour (that’s completely tip-related), and from there, it was easy to figure out what we wanted to do. From its stunning architecture to its lively open-air markets, Riga has a lot of gems that make it one of the most interesting cities in Europe.
Riga is a beautiful city, and I highly recommend visiting it. While we visited in the spring, when the weather was still cool enough to need a light jacket, visiting in the summer would more than likely be a better option. Riga is still not as busy as most European cities, so I would recommend visiting while the tourists haven’t decided to take it over, as they have in most of the bigger European countries such as France, Italy, and even Croatia.
They use the Euro, but it’s not as expensive as you would think. It’s still considered one of the cheaper EU countries to visit, and I highly recommend paying them a visit. Consider spending at least two full days, but even more is recommended for a true Baltic experience.
I plan on revisiting at a later date, but for now, I’m all about not visiting a country twice. There are 195 countries in the world, and I’d love to visit them all, but I recommend you visit Riga, Latvia, as soon as you can.