Riga is the historical capital of Latvia, one of three Baltic states with the others being Estonia and Lithuania. Latvia was founded in 1918 and was under communist rule by the Soviet Union from 1945 after World War Two, since that time Latvia regained its independence in 1991 and remains a sovereign state today.
Major Capital in Baltics
Riga is the biggest city in the Baltics and sits next to the Gulf of Riga which is part of the Baltic Sea, its centre is situated around 17km from the coast.
Weather in the capital fluctuates from as low as -6° in the winter to highs of 24° in the peak of summer, so if you travel at winter be sure to bring some warm clothes as it is quite cold.
Riga makes for a nice European city break with everything you would expect such as good cafes, restaurants, nightlife and architecture!
The buildings in Riga’s old town are beautiful and they help bring the city to life. Everywhere you walk you are surrounded by buildings such as the ones seen in the photograph above, it feels like a mixture of Stockholm, Gdansk and Copenhagen.
Check Out the Old Town
The old town is a decent size so there is plenty of little streets and squares to enjoy, but as a tourist this is predominantly the only part of the city really worth seeing, three days is definitely long enough to see everything here.
Take your time, check out some of the wonderful bakeries and little bars dotted around and find a nice restaurant for food in the evening. At night there are plenty of bars to explore also, recommended is Cuba Café which is a communist styled bar and Rozengrāls, an underground medieval bar which does a good job in taking you back in time to the dark ages.
Discover House of the Blackheads
The best exhibit of architecture in Riga is the stunning House of the Blackheads. It was built in the fourteenth century as a guild for merchants and ship owners but was unfortunately destroyed by Nazi bombs in 1941.
Thankfully the building was reconstructed from 1995 and now sits beautifully in Riga’s old town to be admired, you can also go inside for a tour and visit the museum too, so definitely take a look at this wonderful building! Outside the old town there are a few attractions worth mentioning too…
Visit Nativity Cathedral & More
Nativity Orthodox Cathedral which is seen in the above photograph was built under Russian Empire rule in a Neo-Byzantine style from 1876 and wasn’t completed until 1883. It remains the largest Orthodox Cathedral in all of the Baltic states but was actually closed by the Soviet Union before its restoration after Latvian independence in 1991.
Another symbol of independence can be spotted in the background if you follow the road from the bottom left up towards the pillar in the distance. This is Freedom Monument which Latvian’s consider an important monument of their freedom and sovereignty, plus with a guard of honour as soldiers are present between 9am and 6pm, switching every hour.
This view is from the Skyline bar in the Radisson Blu Hotel and can be accessed from the 26th floor. If you’re looking for a modern cocktail bar with great views this is a great location to relax and observe the Riga skyline. As mentioned before three days is the perfect duration for visiting this city, so if you’re looking for a short European city break certainly consider Riga.
House of the Blackheads