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About city Gallery Where to stay

If cities were people, Riga would be an elegant lady, well-dressed and mannered, slightly flirty, but never vulgar, even somewhat solemn. The latter quality suits this fair lady well, for she celebrated her 810th birthday in 2014.

Riga is a small metropolis, home to 700,000 people. It is small enough to get acquainted with it in a couple of days, but big enough for the selection of services not to disappoint.

Riga
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Riga

It is best to start your acquaintance with Riga in the heart of the city – the Dome Square, close to one of Riga’s oldest and most impressive churches, Doma baznīca. Travelling along the imaginary spiral from the city centre to the outskirts, you will not only learn Riga’s history step by step, but also understand how its architecture changed throughout the course of history (from the early Medieval Age to modernism, from the Soviet era to nowadays). Taking turns on the spiral, you will see that the city is still growing. Latvians believe that when Rigans start saying their city is finished, the waters of Daugava will devour it.

You can ascend to the panoramic view area of St. Peter’s church and admire the wide river Daugava, where, by the way, at noon the Riga free tour starts. You also must visit the luxurious House of the Blackheads, a guild house for unmarried merchants. The building decorated with gold plated statues and an exquisite clock strongly differs from the building of the Occupation Museum that resembles a black box. When you get hungry, locate Riga’s narrowest street, Rozena iela – the extraordinary Rozengrals Restaurant situated on that street offers authentic medieval cuisine. Meals are eaten under candlelight, just like in the old times.

Street in center of Riga
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Street in center of Riga

After taking a stroll along the Riga Canal that separates the Old Town from Riga city centre, climb the romantic Basteja Hill and stop in front of the Freedom Monument. If you come at the exact hour you will see the changing of the honour guard. The nearby Latvian National Opera is luxurious both on the outside, and on the inside. By the way, opera and ballet tickets aren’t expensive, so you can make the most of the opportunity to get acquainted with the classical works of music and dance.

Another attraction awaits you just outside the Old Town – the Riga Central Market that has been open since 1930. Here you will find everything imaginable! By the way, five historical market pavilions, where nowadays fish and meat is sold, at one time hosted blimps.

Riga is famous for its Art Nouveau buildings. The Alberta iela Street, where the Art Nouveau Museum is located, is especially impressive. On the way to the museum you will probably notice a big Orthodox church, which is referred to by locals simply as Katedrāle (The Cathedral). This beautiful 19th-century church was turned into a planetarium and cinema in the Soviet era, but in modern times it was renovated and is now serving its original purpose.

One if the city’s newest attractions is the Light Castle (Gaismas pils), as the new long-awaited building of the Latvian National Library is called. The spectacular and ultra-modern building on the other shore of Daugava offers various exhibitions and a perfect view of the Old Town.

The market hall in the old town of Riga
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  The market hall in the old town of Riga

It is a good idea to spend one of the days of your stay outside the city. You can go to the open-air Ethnographic Museums close to the Lake Jugla. Here you will not only see old huts form different regions of Latvia, but also learn ancient crafts and take parts in pagan celebrations. Children will enjoy the Riga Zoo and especially the Tropical House, where the visitors get the feeling of being in a jungle. If museums and exhibitions aren’t your cup of tea, go on a daytrip to Jūrmala, a luxurious seaside resort. In the summer, you will enjoy Blue Flag-certified beaches, and during the winter you can go on long walks along the frozen bay.

You can try cheap and delicious traditional dishes in Lido chain restaurants. Here you will find different meat and fish dishes, appetizers and traditional soups. You should try grey peas with bacon bits, and Maizes zupa (rye dessert with cream) for dessert.

Where to stay

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