One of the best things about living in London is that with a few pounds and a spare weekend, you can explore a new city. So with our tiny carry-on bags, Lisa and I jumped on a Ryanair flight and a few hours later, were wandering the (very cold) streets of Riga.
Below is mostly a spree of photos of the eclectic and beautiful buildings that fill Riga, with a few brief travel tips sprinkled throughout.
The best bits of Riga – quick tips:
The free walking tour: We met Toms, our tour guide, at St Peter’s Church in Old Town and he was the warmest guide, despite the sub-zero temperatures. We saw lots of beautiful things, learned a bit about the history of Latvia and Riga, and got some great tips for what to do and see for the rest of our trip. Lisa immediately turned in to Wimpy Weesa and complained about the cold for 100% of the tour (and then tried to redeem her Canadian-ness by talking about hockey).
Best historical story: There was a merchants guild and craftsman guild (in these neighbouring buildings (these castle-like buildings). Historically, only Germans were allowed to be members of the guild.
One wealthy Latvian business man was not impressed to be excluded from the cool kids club, so he bought the a plot of land across the road, built an impressive building, and installed cats on the top, positioned with its bottom pointing at the offending guilds. Following a lawsuit, he was forced to turn the cat around. Such a sassy move.
The most photographed buildings in Riga: The three brothers located at 17, 19 and 21 Maza Pils Street, which are iconic examples of life of 15th – 17th century life. The door of number 17.Number 19And number 21
Lunch at Lido: After a few hours of learning and walking, it is time for lunch. Lido is a cafeteria style establishment with a DELICIOUS selection.
A glimpse of the national library, across the river, behind the tandem bike.
Art Nouveau buildings: And a mandatory wander through the Art Nouveau district.
Accommodations: We stayed at the Wicked Weasel hostel. It was the best hostel I have stayed in – perfect location, lovely facilities (complete with rainshowers and skylights in the bathroom and a KING SIZED bed in the private room) and truly the most helpful and friendly staff. The neighbouring hostel was pretty great too: Enjoying our welcome beers.
The best food: In a real “treat yo self” moment, we decided to head to Vincents‘, one of the Michelin-starred restaurant in Riga and was one of the most delicious meals of my life.
The best coffee shop: The best cup you can find in town is at Rocket Bean Roaster. It is perfectly located for a pit stop on your way to or from the Art Nouveau district. Highly recommend!
Central market: We stopped by the central market to see elaborate stands of fruit, the most beautiful bread, and massive fish.
For next time:
With a few more days in Riga and area, there is a list of things I would love to check out.
1. The World of Hat Museum.
Literally a museum of hats. Hats, bonnets, and headdresses. There are a few shoes as well. It sounds pretty amazing/silly/wonderful.
In a town a short train journey from Riga, you can speed down a 1200m bobsled track at over 100km/hour. This is one of the few places an amateur can give the icy track a try.
One of our priorities in Latvia was to sauna and spa. We went for a short visit to Unimarine spa in Riga where I got a massage and Lisa enjoyed the series of pools and saunas. However, if we had a bit more time, we might have head to the Baltic Beach Hotel & Spa. There are some great packages for an overnight stay, scrub, massage, and steam and more.
Before you go, here are a few more building because ❤