While there are a lot of options for hop-on-hop-off bus tours and boat rides, suggest you explore the city on foot…For first timers, I would suggest starting with the old town and then based on time, explore nearby attractions and then head over to Art Nuevo district.
- Start with a typical free walking tour of Old Riga. There are multiple tour options available in the morning. Walking along the cobblestone paths, gaze upon the colorful buildings and small roadside cafes. In this little Unesco Heritage site, explore famous buildings include House of Blackheads, Riga Cathedral, Powder Tower and Three Brothers. Its a small area and you can cover it in around 2 hours…
- The town square is a beautiful with House of Blackheads dominating one side and Latvian Riflemen monument standing tall on one side. The triangle shape buildings are distinct and hard to miss! The original 14th century structure was destroyed in Second World War and these structure were rebuilt around 1999.
- Riga Cathedral is one of the oldest sacred buildings in Latvia. The large brown structure is hard to miss! If you love heights, climb the tower at St Peter’s Church to look around old town.
- Three Brothers are 3 similar looking buildings standing next to each other – what makes them unique is that each of these was built in a different century!
- Next, head over to Central Market – Europe’s largest and oldest bazaar. The 700,000+ sq ft market is organized across 5 pavilions with separate sections for dairy, groceries, vegetables, meat and fish. For the faint hearted, skip the meat section! Strongly recommend visiting this market and buying some fresh souvenirs…
Other attractions near Old Town
- We then headed to Riga ghetto and Holocaust Museum. This is a sombre experience and the small museum focuses on Jews during World War
- Riga’s first skyscraper was apparently built as a gift for Stalin and similar structures were constructed across Russia. This building now houses Academy of Sciences. This building also houses a observation deck which offers panoramic views of town (Ticket: EUR 5).
- Walk along next towards the Bastion Hill Park. Take a break in the quiet oasis. A canal runs through the picturesque gardens. Its a 20 mins walk from Academy of Sciences – so you can consider taking a break at central station.
- The 40m+ tall Freedom Monument situated in the gardens is dedicated to Latvians who lost their lives during the World War. Two Latvian guards stand at the base of this statue. SS Tip: you can alternatively head from old town to Freedom Monument, skipping the above few attractions
- Another remarkable building which stands out in is these gardens is Nativity Cathedral. With a very distinct façade, this orthodox church makes for some great pictures.
- If you are interested in architecture, head over to Art Nuevo district to look at 20th century attractive building facades. Its just a 15 mins walk from the Freedom Monument through the gardens.
- While there are 800+ buildings, majority of these are around Albert Street. These colorful structures are inspired by mythology.
Museums, Gardens and Beaches…
- If you have more time, there are various museums (Motor Museum, KGB House, History Museum, Art Museum) around the city which you can consider. Another cool attraction which we skipped due to shortage of time was Latvian Ethnographic Museum – it’s an open air museum where you can step back in time and see how life in a Latvian village used to be.
- There are various garden and parks in Riga and the largest is Mezaparks .This park is however located around 10km away from old town… The park also houses Riga zoo …
- You can also take a short 30 minutes train ride from central station to resort town of Jurmala to enjoy the beaches!
While its difficult to cover everything in a day… the above were the highlights which we were able to cover in a day…