About the Author
Riga, the capital of Latvia, a country in Northern Europe, is not only one of the most beautiful cities in the whole of Europe. It’s also way more affordable than most of the capitals in Northern and Western Europe. Riga, especially its historic center, is well known because of its stunning architecture yet there is much more to it than the city’s captivating old town.
When visiting Riga many tourists spend most of their time in or around the old town, missing out a lot. To help you to prepare for your trip to my hometown I have come up with this list of interesting places to visit in Riga.
– Eat, Drink, and Shop
1. Taste Authentic Latvian Beer in a Pub “Labietis”
Have an authentic beer experience in Labietis brewpub! They brew more than 40 beer varieties. All the beers have unforgettable names, probably the most unforgettable of them being the Tapeworm slayer!
Labietis has two branches: a pub and brewery at 9a-2 Aristida Briana Street, and a pub in the Central Market. In the Aristida Briana brewpub you can have a drink and watch the brewery through a glass wall! Amazing, isn’t it?
Check out their website: http://www.labietis.lv/en
• Aristida Briana iela 9a-2, near Riga City Center;
• Riga Central Market, in the north-west end of Vegetable Pavilion.
2. Visit “Burka” and “Zeroveikals” Stores
If you are staying in Riga for a longer time and need to do some grocery shopping head to “Burka” and “Zeroveikals” package free convenience stores for responsible shopping!
These stores sell flour, legumes, grains, rice, pasta, muesli, oats, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and cookies. “Zeroveikals” store sells also metal straws, shampoos, soaps and other body care products.
Don’t forget to bring your own jars and containers to fill them with goods!
• “Zeroveikals”: Riga City Center – Krišjāņa Barona iela 28a, Rīga;
• “Burka”: Riga City Center – Krišjāņa Barona iela 59/61, Rīga.
3. Shop at Riga Central Market
Riga Central Market, located in the heart of Riga, is one of the largest outdoor markets in Europe. It was built in 1930, and five old zeppelin hangars were used to build the pavilions of the market. Now, these five pavilions are five of nine World’s zeppelin hangars, which still exist.
You can buy pretty much anything in Riga Central Market: clothes, meat, vegetables, fruits, spices, cakes, and so on.
There are several separate pavilions for dairy products, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, confectionery and spices, as well as an open area where vegetables, fruits and clothes are sold.
What makes shopping at Riga Central Market special is that here you can find some unique Latvian products, such as hemp butter, salted and dried mushrooms, rye bread, sea buckthorn marmalade and syrup and many more.
Riga City Center – Centrāltirgus iela, Rīga.
4. Have Lunch at “Siļķītes un Dillītes”
Literally translated “Siļķītes un dillītes” means “Herring and dill”. However, dishes in this restaurant aren’t made only of these two ingredients. Here you’ll find all kinds of traditional Latvian dishes and snacks made with fish and sea food.
Combine it with a visit to Riga Central Market since the restaurant is located there.
Riga Central Market, between the Fish and Vegetable pavilions.
5. Try Delicious Pastries at “Konditoreja Briedīši” (“Briedisi” Bakery)
Now it’s time to explore another part of the city! Why not start with a tasty dessert at the bakery “Briedisi”?
There are two “Briedisi” bakeries in Riga, both of them on the other side of the Daugava river, in picturesque neighbourhoods of Riga – Āgenskalns & Torņakalns – where historical buildings are plentiful.
In “Briedisi” they sell both savoury and sweet pastries, as well as cakes, tea and coffee.
Where to next? After “Briedisi” head to Latvian University Botanical Garden and Kalnciems Street Quarter as these places are quite close to the “Briedisi” bakery (especially the one on Elviras Street).
• Elvīras iela 10, Rīga;
• Bauskas iela 8, Rīga.
– Have Fun
6. Visit Kalnciems Street Quarter
Head to Kalnciems Street Quarter to explore restored historic wooden buildings, taste delicious food and enjoy beautiful live music.
Throughout the year on Saturdays (10:00 – 16:00) farmer and artisan market takes place in Kalnciems Street Quarter. Whereas, from May to September on Wednesdays Street Food Festival takes place in Kalnciems Quarter. From May to September, every Thursday evening the courtyard
of Kalnciems Street Quarter hosts open-air concerts.
There’s also a small restaurant “Māja” in the courtyard of Kalnciems Street Quarter.
Learn more about Kalnciems Street Quarter on their website: http://www.kalnciemaiela.lv/en/
Kalnciema iela 35, Rīga.
7. Chill at Hāgenskalna Komūna
An alternative bar on the other side of the Daugava river, a part of Riga where you’ll see significantly fewer tourists than in the city center.
Hagenskalna komuna is a place where creative people meet up to enjoy a couple of drinks and tasty food. Occasionally Hagenskalna komuna hosts events with live music. Time after time they have themed dinners.
Check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/hagenskalnakomuna/
Nometņu iela 49, Rīga.
8. Have Fun at Adventure Park Mežakaķis in Riga
A place for nature lovers who seek some thrill and adventure. Hidden in a forest Mezakakis (literally translated “A forest cat”) is an adventure park with several different routes of zip lines and different obstacles (swings, ropes, nets, steps, etc.) that are set up on trees at different heights.
Go there on a weekday to avoid crowds.
Mežaparks, Ostas prospekts, opposite Mežaparka Lielā estrāde (Mezaparks Great Bandstand).
9. Visit the Historic Center of Riga
Vecriga is the historical center of Riga, as well as the most picturesque neighbourhood of the city. It’s a place where a lot of good restaurants, cafes and bars are located, as well as some of the best hotels and hostels. You can also find some cheap hostels and guesthouses there.
Of course, it’s not only the place to hang out with your newfound friends, have a drink, and try delicious food, but also it’s the perfect place to sightsee and enjoy beautiful architecture!
Vecriga is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Latvia.
10. Go for a Stroll in Arkādijas Parks (Arcadia Park) and Visit Nearby Māras Dīķis (Mara’s pond)
Two beautiful and tranquil places on the other side of the Daugava river, perfect for a relaxing stroll or a rejuvenating run! Both places boast a beautiful pond and lush greenery during late spring and summer.
Take some bird food (not bread, though) with you to feed the insatiable ducks!
11. Go to Vecāķi and Mangaļsalas mols (Mangalsala pier)
Latvia has more than 500 kilometers of coastline. Mostly it’s sandy. Swimming season is very short, though – it lasts only about 6 weeks. If you happen to be in Riga in July or August, you can actually go for a swim in the sea! Just take a train to any of these places: Vecāķi, Kalngale, Bulduri, Dubulti or Majori. You’ll find beautiful beaches there, and it’s not too far away from the center of Riga.
Want to enjoy a pleasant walk by the coastline?
The easiest option is to take a train to Kalngale, walk to Vecaki (Vecāķi), and take a train back to Riga. You can walk either right on the beach or take a trail going through the forest next to it. If you will go all the way to Mangaļsalas mols (Mangalsala pier), a beautiful place another 3 kilometers or so further from Vecaki, you can go back to Riga by bus. But take into account the fact that the nearest bus stop is another 15-minute walk away. By the way, Mangaļsalas mols is a really nice place to watch the sunset.
Nature in Latvia is beautiful. Just check out these photos of Latvia.
12. Visit The Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia
Hidden in a forest at Lake Jugla, the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia is a place where one can learn about Latvian culture and history. It’s located just outside Riga, and is open all year round. It’s one of the oldest open-air museums in the whole of Europe!
Brīvdabas iela 21, Rīga.