When I mentioned I was going to Lativa people generally either questioned where that was even located? Followed by… what exactly are you going to do there?
In popular culture this small country is often known for its great love of basketball (Winston from New Girl even went here to play, if you remember that story line!) But, beyond this?
Here are a few suggestions of what I enjoyed about this beautiful and (very) underrated city.
1. Go night kayaking on the river Daugava
One of my favourite features of Riga is its lovely river and the iconic bridges it houses.
During the day I crossed over Vansu Bridge and had a wander around the other side where lots of locals were enjoying the sunshine on the sandy areas underneath.
A massive highlight during my stay though was doing the Riga at Night kayak tour. It was 25 euros and lasted around 3 hours. We started along the main river but also got to kayak down some of Riga’s smaller canals which light up at night in different colours – it’s really beautiful.
The kayaking was hard work and we were freezing cold with the river water soaking us right through but overall it was a fantastic tour and I really enjoyed it!
2. Watch the sunset from the Radisson Blu Latvija Hotel
Sadly, this is somehow the only photo I seem to have from here!
In typical backpacker fashion, I had run into a girl I’d met on a day trip in Estonia a few days previously on the streets of Riga. She suggested having a drink at this bar for sunset and with no other plans for the day I happily joined her and her other American friend.
We lucked out and got a window seat to enjoy the sunset views over Riga. The bar is on the 26th floor only but is easily one of the highest buildings in this small city. Drinks are naturally expensive at around 9 euro or so for a cocktail but we just nursed one each for a good hour 🙂
3. Try a traditional meal at Folkklubs Ala
A huge selection of great beer AND huge portions of tasty food for a reasonable price? It’s no wonder this place is popular with visitors and locals alike.
When my room mate described it to me I was pretty skeptical at first since it sounded like a tourist trap but this underground restaurant is awesome. Often there is also live music and I just really enjoyed the atmosphere.
Pictured here is a questionable looking meal I know but I chose to try the traditional grey pea dish which is black bread, ham, some kind of creamy onion sauce and a side salad. Delicious!
4. Free Walking Tour
Meeting at St. Peter’s church at 11am (please check with your accommodation if these times have changed) my tour guide was called Toms and he was an energetic young guy with plenty of personal stories and historical background to share on Riga.
It was a pretty long tour at around 3 hours from memory but he took us around most of the old town, the local markets and gave us a lot of information behind well known buildings such as the ‘black cat of Riga,’ which you’re sure to discover upon a visit here.
5. Soak in amazing art nouveau architecture
Oh my goodness, I can’t remember when I last saw so many striking buildings in such close proximity. If you love some good architecture, Riga’s got you covered.
We found that Alberta iela (street) was a great place to start and then you can kind of wander around the Central district to find more examples.
In fact, apparently a third of all Riga’s buildings are classified as art nouveau style!
Please enjoy a mere selection of some of my favourite snaps, which provide an insight into how we ended up walking hours around and taking hundreds of pictures while admiring buildings like these.