I’m a summer person and usually I travel to countries that are warmer than my home country Austria. The majority of my trips include sunshine, the ocean and a beach. This time I decided to head north for a change to countries that have a quite similar weather as Austria and I didn’t regret it at all.
To be honest, I haven’t known much about tourism in the baltic states before. All I knew was that there’s a lot of nature and I’ve heard from friends that the capitals are beautiful. So I was excited to go and get my own impression. As it always had around 0°C I didn’t visit any of the national parks or lakes but stayed in the capital Riga the whole time.
Riga is divided into two parts: the historical old town and the new town. There are still leftovers of the city wall that used to surround the old town. The old town hosts a lot of beautiful architecture and ancient buildings.
A bit outside of the center there’s the Art Nouveau District which is full of awesome architecture as well. And I’m saying that even though I’m not especially interested in architecture.
Riga is a beautiful city and the center isn’t too big. Two full days are enough to explore everything. If you also plan to visit some countryside areas around Riga – which I recommend if you go in spring, summer or fall – you should plan some more days. I was positively surprised by Riga and it’s definitely worth a visit! The good thing about visiting in winter is that the streets and sites are not crowded but I guess the city would be even nicer in spring or summer.
- Lido: Buffet style restaurant where you can try local food for a low price. You choose the components of your plate and then you pay for what you chose only. Black beans with cabbage for 3,10€ – and the portion was enough for two meals.
- Latvian National Library: Great view over the city for free
- Try the traditional rye bread. Latvians love bread and I’m not surprised why. Usually I don’t find places that have better bread than Austria but Latvia is a strong competitor.
- Central Market Riga: Huge area of market halls and stands where you can buy local products
- Churches: Riga has loads of huge, beautiful churches even though most citizens are not religious. And all of them look completely different.
- Black Balsam: The traditional Latvian alcohol. They say that you haven’t been to Latvia if you haven’t tried it. I really liked the one with black current flavour.
- Galleria Riga: Shopping center with a rooftop on the 8th floor and great views over the city – especially for sunset
- LuxBus is a cheap baltic coach company. The busses have super comfy seats, wifi on board and there’s free coffee and tea.