This week we have been thinking about what city we could recommend to you as the perfect destination for a short city trip and were instantly reminded to our trip to Riga, Latvia’s capital and Europes Capital of Culture 2014 last year. This city impressed us with its beauty and diversity especially throughout its lovely old city center.
Most important things first:
How to get to Riga?
The national airline of Latvia, airBaltic, connects Riga with a lot of airports all over Europe but only with a few intercontinental destinations (Tel Aviv, Tbilisi & Tashkent). Also the low cost carriers Wizzair and Ryanair connect some European destinations. If you come in from anywhere else, you can use Aeroflot via Moskow, Lufthansa via Frankfurt, Scandinavian Airlines via Stockholm, Finnair via Helsinki, Ukraine International Airlines via Kiev or Turkish Airlines via Istanbul just to name a few. If you don’t like to fly you can for sure get to Riga by train, coach or car from all over Europe. But don’t forget to inform about the entry requirements for your nationality before travelling!
Where to stay?
Riga offers a lot of possibilities to be accommodated. From high class hotels to simple hostels you can choose out of a broad variety of bedding. We can recommend to choose a hotel within a 2 km radius of the old town as you can reach most of the sights by foot or tram than. As always, just compare.
Now about our trip:
We flew in on airBaltic from Düsseldorf and where very satisfied with the flight and service. A taxi brought us to our hotel for just a few Euros. Taxis are way cheaper than in Western Europe. We choose the PK Riga Hotel for our stay as it was fairly priced and was in a good spot to discover Riga. The Easter Holidays offered perfect weather (as you can see in the pictures) but during winter you should definitely bring some warm clothes. In April we had some 10-15°C throughout the day but it was a little windy at the river banks.
After the first night and some good breakfast at the hotel we took the tram to the Central Market (Rigas Centraltirgus). We took a walk through the halls of the market, checked out the offers ranging from fresh vegetables and meat over clothes right up to homewares and observed the activities going on as this Saturday was a busy day here. The market is a great opportunity to start your Riga trip as you get a feeling of what the Latvian people are like.
After some touring through the different halls, we left the market to walk over to the Academy of Science, an impressive building reminding us of the typical Russian and Soviet architecture.
We decided to walk into the old town from here to have some coffee. Roaming through the alleys that are lined by beautiful old buildings we discovered the small but nice Spot Kafe. In a nice atmosphere with friendly stuff we enjoyed some tea and coffee while we were listening to indie rock and pop and took opportunity of using the free Wi-Fi here.
Even if we really enjoyed it here, we felt like walking through the city some more. The House of the Blackheads was the next sight we discovered. Right at the place of the city hall this building shows up with its sole beauty. A red brick building decorated with a lot of statues and an astronomic watch it adorns this open place in the old town.
After some more walking around we decided to go back to the hotel through the “Kronvaldspark”, a beautiful park in the inner city surrounded by buildings and houses from different centuries. During the good weather we had this park was a great place to just sit down and leave all the cares behind.
We got some snacks and drinks at the supermarket near the hotel and consulted Tripadvisor to find a good restaurant nearby. Due to the proximity and the really good reviews we went out to the “Bistro Priedaine” and they weren’t letting us down. In nice, hip and a little retro atmosphere we had some really great food served by friendly staff for a fair price. Can’t say nothing more but recommend this place to you!
We left the city center the next day to visit the Zoo of Riga. In the outskirts of the city only a 15 minutes taxi ride away from the center the Zoo is located in the recreational and memorial area of Mezaparks. If you like animals or are in town with children, you should miss this spot out. The Zoo is not expensive and interesting with a lot of animals from all over the world. Even if there were some renovation works going on that was no problem and might even make the zoo better in future. After enjoying it we went through the vast area of the Mezaparks to the nearby lake which the zoo adjoins to. During good weather this is a great spot to have a coffee, drink or beer at the bar or during summer you can also go swimming.
We decided to return to Riga’s old town and the Duna River. We walked along the river promenade before returning to the old town to have some food. We decided to go to the Ribs & Rock Restaurant which seemed nice at the beginning but turning out to serve average food for really high prices. I wouldn’t choose this place again.
Nonetheless we started to walk around the old city and discovered the Petrichurch and some more beautiful old buildings. To be honest, we were carrying a great guidebook (City|Trip Riga by Reise Know-How Verlag in German) but we discovered most of the city by just walking around using the contained map as Riga’s city center is not too big but a great place to discover!
As we did a short trip here, our last day consisted of visiting the Liberty Monument and the Cathedral (Christi-Birth-Cathedral), enjoying the parks and preparing to go back to the airport to go back home on another perfect flight on airBaltic.
All in all Riga is a place you should visit once in your lifetime and which is definitely a city that will stay in your mind. We would return here any time as there is a lot of opportunities to visit the rest of Latvia and the Baltic countries as well!
As always, if you have any questions, please comment below or drop us an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be happy to help you!
You can also follow our Instagram Account @thealterlookout to see some pictures while we are on travelling!
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