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Planning your next city break and wondering if Riga is worth visiting? Read on for the Citrus Holidays guide to short breaks to Riga – including what to do, where to eat and where to stay.
Riga is the capital of Latvia – a country on the Baltic Sea wedged between Lithuania and Estonia. The capital sits on the Gulf of Riga at the mouth of the Daugava River and flight time from the UK is around two and a half hours. The city is known for its Art Nouveau architecture, concert halls and medieval Old Town.
Riga sightseeing is a feast for the senses – there is certainly plenty to keep you busy during your city break. From the cobblestoned backstreets of its Old Town to the bustling bazaar, you’ll find charm lurking around every corner.
When it comes to deciding what to do in Riga, your trip won’t be complete without a visit to the Old Town. This UNESCO World Heritage Site boasts Art Nouveau style buildings and beautiful medieval-era churches. Despite being destroyed in WWII, it was rebuilt in the 1990s and is now a Riga city break must-see – along with the area near the impressive Freedom Monument.
Here are some of our favourite things to do in Riga:
Soak up panoramic views of the city and the Daugava River from St Peter’s Church tower – a 123-meter steeple. Inside the church, have a look at the three basilicas and local artwork in temporary exhibitions.
Visit the Town Hall Square, a meeting place since the 13th century and home to the world-renowned House of Blackheads. This beautiful, orange-colored building was established in the 14th century as a guild for unmarried merchants, foreigners and ship owners known as the Brotherhood of Blackheads.
Go to Riga Cathedral, the largest medieval church in the Baltics and around eight centuries old. It has the biggest organ in Europe and very often features in paintings.
See the Swedish Gate, the last remaining gate from the old city walls.
Enter Riga Castle, home to the National History Museum as well as the President’s residence and offices. Boasting Latvian artefacts and views of the Daugava, Riga Castle was founded all the way back in 1330.
Go to the Three Brothers building complex – a trio of houses that represent different periods of construction development.
Visit the Cat House, a medieval-meets-art-nouveau style building with two cat sculptures on its roof. It is an intriguing sandy-colored building that was built in the early 1900s.
Marvel at Riga’s Freedom Monument, a memorial that honors soldiers who were killed in the Latvian War of Independence.
· Get lost in the Latvian National Museum of Art, home to more than 52,000 works of art in the Baltic area dating back to the 18th century up until the present day.
· Visit the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, which houses artefacts documenting the period in the 20th century when Latvia was occupied by the USSR.
· To gain even more of an insight into Riga’s history, go to the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation.
· Go to the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia, nestled in a forest by Lake Jugla and offering a look at Latvian housing and dwellings.
Haggle at Riga Central Market, the largest one in Europe and awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status. There are five pavilions made from German Zeppelin hangars and with more than 3,000 trade stands (offering a range of vegetables, dairy product, meat, fish and other foods) there is plenty to sink your teeth into.
Depending on the length of your Riga city break, you might not be able to tick off everything on this list – but not to worry, decide on your top five favourites and gradually add more if you have time.
Latvian food typically uses a lot of potatoes, cabbage, beef, pork and fish – and Riga is no exception to the rule. When visiting the country’s capital, make sure you try some of the local delicacies:
Rye bread - a Latvian food staple served with most meals.
Smoked fish such as pollock, salmon, cod and trout harvested from the Baltic Sea.
Cold beet soup - made from shaved beetroot, gherkin and yoghurt and served with a hard-boiled egg (a great summer refreshment).
Pierogis - onion and bacon-filled pastry snacks often served with sour cream.
Black Balsam – a strong 45% herbal liqueur brewed in Riga since the 18th century. You can drink it neat (if you dare), or have it with blackcurrant juice. Some people even bake it into cakes.
Kvass – a low alcoholic drink fermented from black rye bread popular among many Baltic states.
Karbonade – the Latvian version of schnitzel, consisting of pork that has been breaded and fried.
Many of our city break deals include flights, accommodation and transfers – taking the hassle out of booking and leaving you with other important and fun choices to make: how to spend your time at your destination.
Choose between a three or four night trip – the Deluxe Riga City Break deal offers four star accommodation while the 5 Star Riga Getaway does exactly what it says on the tin. And if you fancy a little bit extra, enjoy our Journey Through Riga & Tallinn tour – taking you from a four star hotel in Riga to another four star in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital.
In Riga, most people speak both Latvian and Russian. English is widely spoken.
The currency is euros.
The time difference is GMT+2.
The power plugs and sockets are type F. You’ll need an adapter.
112 is the emergency number in Latvia.
At Citrus Holidays, we not only offer Riga city break deals but also plenty of other jam-packed tours and trips too. Fuel your wanderlust and have a look at our other European city breaks here.