Planning a city trip, but you don’t know where to go to yet? Consider visiting Riga, the beautiful capital of Latvia! I can tell you from my own experience that this is also a perfect destination for solo travelers. Riga is safe, not too overwhelming because of her size and the local people are very friendly and helpful. In this travel blog you can find tips and tricks for a Riga city trip, truly a hidden gem in Europe.
There is a moment in the life of a traveler where you visited all the regular big cities on your continent, and have no clue where to go to next for a (short) city trip. That is the moment you need to think about the beautiful city Riga. I noticed that Riga is a city with a lot of travelers in a rush. It is one of the bigger cities in the Baltic states, and mostly combined on a trip visiting Vilnius in Lithuania and Tallinn in Estonia.
I have to admit that would actually be a perfect itinerary for the Baltic countries, but only if you have the time. Visiting Riga (and the other two capital cities as well) is definitely worth more than a day trip. Try to stay a couple of days, it would be a shame to rush your visit.
Riga has a lot of cool places to see and fun things to do.
Where to stay on a budget
I stayed in Riga for five days and enjoyed every second of it. I stayed in the Cinnamon Sally Backpackers hostel in the city centre. I’m always staying in hostels when I travel solo. It’s the perfect place to meet new people, it’s affordable and I really like the atmosphere in those places (or at least most of the time ;) ). For example: right after I arrived in the Cinnamon Sally Hostel, I was already been asked to join a group of ten others to the Skyline rooftop bar in the city centre, with whom I had an amazing night going out afterwards at the Folkklubs ALA Pagrabs.
Things to do in Riga
Skyline Rooftop Bar
So if you are looking for cool things to do in Riga: Skyline rooftop bar is one of them and if you are looking for great nightlife then don't miss the Folkklubs ALA Pagrabs.
Free Walking Tour
One of the things you have to do when visiting Riga is joining a free walking tour. Not just in Riga, I would suggest doing it on every city trip! I prefer to see the touristic hotspots of a city with background information and stories from local people. In Riga you can do a ‘Old Town Tour’ and the ‘Alternative Tour’. Especially the second one will show you parts of the city you’ll usually not visit without a guide.
Art Nouveau & Jugendstil Museum
There is also an Art Nouveau tour, because Riga counts about 800 buildings in this style, which is 40% of all the buildings in the city centre.
I did a walk in the Art Nouveau district by myself.
Here is where you can also find the Jugendstil Museum, definitely worth a visit!
This is a major cultural and recreational park located at a big lake. Grab a drink at the Jauna Kafejnica where you’ll get a beautiful view over this lake.
A walk in Mezaparks is another great thing to do in Riga.
There goes a direct tramline from the city centre to this park. You can buy tickets fat the Narvesen store which you’ll find in almost every street. Public transportation is a very cheap and easy way to get around town.
There is also a nice Zoo in the park right next to the tram stop. Parts of the Zoo are under construction to improve the animal enclosures, but it still is a nice place to visit in Riga.
Not only the tram is good public transportation in Riga. The train is also working very well, and brings you in 30 minutes to Jurmala.
This cute neighborhood has some nice restaurants, but more important: the beach! I am sure you weren't thinking about going to the beach when visiting Riga.
Go for a walk and some fresh air outside of the city when the sun is shining.
Here you can also find an observation tower, but only go up if you don’t have any fears of heights. Trust me on this one! ;)
Riga Old Town
Last but not least I want to tell you about the Old Town of Riga. It is amazing to get lost in the narrow streets, although it is a pretty touristic area. There are countless cute restaurants, bars and cafes where you can easily enjoy yourself for hours.
The Riga Old Town highlights for me were:
- Black Magic: If you’re into chocolate this witchy place is the one for you.
- Crumble cake: Grab a coffee and a delicious piece of cake in this cute café. It’s close to the ending point of the free walking tour.
- Secret Event: this place has the best bartender ever with whom you can talk for hours about life (while getting drunk).
- Kurts Coffee: You can enjoy the coffee to go in the park which is right besides this booth.
- Herbarijs: You can find this Riga hidden gem all the way at the top of the Gallery.
This is the view over Riga from Herbarijs.
I hope all the above tips are helpful for your city trip to Riga and that it will inspire you to visit this hidden gem of Europe. May you have any questions please leave us a comment below.
This Riga travel blog is written by Margot van der Linde, travel writer for Traveltomtom.