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Riga is not only a pretty sight with its tall church steeples pointing to the sky, it is also the most dynamic capital of the Baltic States. Riga is a vibrating big city, with broad avenues, majestic Art Nouveau palaces, trendy cafés, restaurants, clubs and shopping centres. Tourism is booming and the opening of restaurants with specialities from the most remote parts of the world please the increasingly cosmopolitan locals, as well as visitors from afar. For art lovers, a simple walk around the city centre may be enough excitement: Riga is, above all, famous for its spectacular Art Nouveau architecture. There is no other European city with so many buildings featuring the particular 19th-century style. The easiest way to discover architectural extravaganza not likely to be seen elsewhere is to simply walk around with your head up.
Riga offers plenty in terms of sightseeing and entertainment, just as one would expect from a city that was named European Capital of Culture in 2014. Guided tours normally depart from the Old Town Square. Many of the most beautiful and interesting sights are concentrated in the Old Town, so it is a good idea to start your tour from there.
Traditional Latvian food culture is dominated by typical Russian and Eastern European dishes, using a lot of potato, cabbage, beef, pork and fish, served in big portions. Riga also offers countless opportunities to try international favourites, from American steakhouses to Indian veggie food, Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Russian or Ukrainian specialities. Visitors must try Riga’s famous Black Balsam, a thick and black yet smooth and velvety alcoholic liqueur. The 45 percent alcoholic drink is said to cure sore throats as well as hangovers. The exact recipe is a closely guarded secret, but basic ingredients include ginger, oak bark, bitter orange peel and cognac.
Below you can find some nice places in Riga that have pleasant interiors and also serve good coffee and pastries. Many cafés in Riga are also open for breakfast if you feel like eating out or grabbing something on-the-go.
Riga has countless restaurants, bars and nightclubs, featuring entertainment that will satisfy most music tastes and clubbing preferences. During summer, Old Riga bursts with open-air cafes and beer gardens, while those who rather fancy cocktail sipping or dancing can enjoy the night in any of the numerous lounges and clubs of the city centre.
The shopping scene in Riga is rapidly changing, with many chic brand-name stores opening outlets in central Riga. For those of you who enjoy marketplaces, the Centraltirgus is an enormous marketplace spread over several blocks around the railway station area. Meat and vegetables are sold inside four giant Zeppelin hangars. Outside, an oriental style bazaar offers just about anything at prices lower than elsewhere in the city.
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