Come to 800 year-old Riga and you can expect a World Heritage Old Town, extensive Art Nouveau architecture, cobbled streets and winding alleys, open, green public spaces – all topped off by a sea view. In short, Riga is here and waiting to be explored.
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Hotel deals to Riga
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Much of Riga’s accommodation is focused in and around the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town. Among the options is the five-star Dome Hotel & Spa (Miesnieku iela 4) with its modern décor and opulent spa. Nearby, on the art nouveau-influenced Elizabetes street, the luxury boutique Hotel Bergs (Elizabetes iela 83-85) blends brown and cream tones with African art and feature fireplaces. For of a better sense of the city’s art nouveau heritage, book a suite at the four-star Hotel Neiburgs (Jauniela 25-27), a fusion of art nouveau artistry and contemporary cool. There are plenty of lodgings for those on a budget, including the sleek three-star Hanza Hotel (Elijas iela 7) that curves around Elijas street, while the friendly Ekes Konvent (Skārņu iela 22) guest house is perfect for those seeking local charm amid historic surrounds.
Riga is one of the region’s prime shopping destinations due to its glut of independent shops and international brands. When it comes to shopping under one roof, the possibilities are almost limitless. Among the city’s many shopping centres is Galerija Centrs (Audēju iela 16), which lies at the heart of the Old Town and boasts designer names such as Gant and Diesel. Nearby, shoppers can enthuse over the shops and restaurants at Gallerija Riga (Dzirnavu iela 67), with its seven floors of boutiques. Those looking for Latvian-designed items should browse Green Studio Pienene (Kungu iela 7-9), an atmospheric outlet selling locally made pottery, textiles and cosmetics. For clothes, KLASE (Elizabetes iela 85a) is the place to go, with its chic collections from local designers.
Riga’s restaurants are keen to showcase the country’s cuisine, and none more so than Kaļķu Vārti (Kaļķu iela 11a), which is at the forefront of contemporary Latvian cuisine with its use of locally foraged ingredients and farm produce. BIBLIOTĒKA N°1 Restaurant (Tērbatas iela 2) also stays true to local gastronomy with an inventive and varied menu. Alternatively, the quirky Restorāns Dārzs (Skārņu iela 9) serves good-value local fare in garden-like surrounds. Fish lovers will revel at the selection at Le Dome (Miesnieku iela 4), from herring to oysters, while those looking for fine wine and a few small plates should sample the tasty tapas at trendy Garage (Elizabetes iela 83-85).
Nordea Riga Marathon
Passing some of Riga’s most iconic spots, this marathon attracts more than 20,000 participants. Runners start and finish on the picturesque banks of the Daugava River and can choose between full- and half-marathon or 5km or 10km distances.
Riga Opera Festival
The climax of the Latvian National Opera’s season, this is a celebration of awesome arias and lively librettos through performances of classic and new operas.
This festival celebrates the summer solstice, with events, markets, music and dancing. On 21 June, a midsummer market is held in the Old Town’s Dome Square where local delicacies can be sampled, while concerts take place alongside the Daugava River in the following days.
Riga City Festival
Encompassing everything from music and dance to fairs and fireworks, Riga’s main cultural event last for three fun-filled days at venues throughout the city.
Festival of Light Staro Riga
Illuminations take centre stage at this enlightening festival, with colourful outdoor installations and projections showcasing the latest technology.
Winding cobbled streets filled with hidden alleys, gothic architecture that towers overhead in dizzying spires and secret city guilds meeting by candlelight in the House of the Blackheads – it might sound like the setting of an exciting fantasy novel but Riga is a cosmopolitan capital city with a focus on both forging a path into the future and preserving its rich history. It’s fair to say that we’ve fallen in love with this charming capital and we think you would too.
Riga is a gorgeous city nestled between the Baltic Sea and the River Daugava and is home to many of Latvia’s landmarks and cultural icons. Throughout the city’s history, it has been occupied multiple times and endured several wars – which gives it a patchwork look that’s completely unique. If you’re starting to think it might be worth a visit, we have 5 more things to tell you about the city that you’re going to love!
1) One Of The Best Parks In Europe
Sitting in the centre of Riga, Bastion Hill Park may look like any other sleepy urban park at first glance but the sprawling green space is filled with hidden waterfalls, sculpted stone gardens and picturesque tree-lined walks. The Hill also has historic significance as it’s home to a memorial to five journalists killed by Soviets in 1991 while bringing attention to many of the injustices in Latvia. This combination of timeless beauty and historic significance has convinced many visitors that Bastion Hill Park is one of the best parks in Europe.
2) The City’s Biggest Market Is In A Zeppelin Hanger
What better way to make use of the city’s troubled past than turning it into a symbol of local passion and pride? This was the thought that Riga’s people had when they repurposed the German-built Zeppelin hangers in the city into the biggest food market in Latvia. On any given day you can find over 3,000 stalls selling produce from every corner of Latvia as well as plenty of crafts, trinkets and clothing. It’s a must for visitors in search of souvenirs or just looking to do a little shopping.
3) It’s The Home Of Black Balsam
Like Vodka is to Moscow, Black Balsam is to Riga. A delicate liquor described as having a bitter taste with a sweet aftertaste, Black Balsam is beloved by the people of Riga and many local distilleries will claim their unique blend of botanicals is the best in the city. Of course, the only way to find out which is truly the best black balsam is to taste them all, which is sure to lead to a wild night in the city.
4) There’s A KGB Museum Hidden In The City
It’s no secret that the Soviet government, and by extension the KGB, operated throughout Riga and Latvia, however, unlike many Soviet cities, the people of Riga have chosen not to destroy the remnants of the Soviet regime on their city but instead to transform them in museums. The best example of this is the KGB museum, which looks indistinguishable from a block of flats in the centre of the city - in fact, even the people of Riga advise getting a tour guide to show you which building is the right one. Inside the museum is a preserved KGB jail, interrogation suites and several exhibitions displaying the full state of the Soviet occupation.
5) You Can Eat Like An Emperor At Vincents
One of the city’s most beloved residents, chef Martins Ritins, is the proud owner and head chef for the famed Vincents restaurant in the centre of the city. Having played host to both Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles, it has a royal seal of approval that is supported by Elton John, the Emperor of Japan and Heston Blumenthal. Meals can be very pricey but this is certainly a once in a lifetime experience that you can’t afford to miss.