Things To Do In Riga
Riga, Latvia’s capital city and its collection of well-restored buildings in the Art Nouveau style is impressive. Alberta Lela is perhaps the most well-rounded cultural experience you can find in one street. But in many other places there are houses that are also worth looking at. In particular, one must visit Elizabetes Iela 10 b. The building is in blue brick with plush, white decorations, and decorated at the top with two scary faces staring in opposite directions.
The view of Riga from the top of the St. Peter’s Church Tower offers fantastic sights of the largest city in Latvia. Choose a sunny day to see the magnificent view of the Old City (Vecriga), Daugava River, bridges, and its adjacent old structures and monuments. Do not miss a visit to the Vermanes Park, it is nicely laid out, clean, well maintained and the perfect place to relax in this great city.
When To Go:
Summer (June – August) is the perfect time to explore the city of Riga. At this time, the city is full of tourists and locals looking for the best nightlife happenings on bars, pubs, restaurants, as well as heading out to the beach to escape the heat of the city. Because of its nearness to the Baltic Sea, Riga encounters warm temperatures unlike other Balkan cities. Together with the affordable lodging (rates that are less expensive than those in much of Europe) and package flight deals that can be availed all year round; this city can actually be visited anytime of the year.
In summer, the temperature can go as high as the mid 70s. Rain showers may occur unexpectedly, so keep an umbrella in your bag. The spring and fall seasons (September – November) daytime temperatures typically run somewhere around 30 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, while the winter season (December – January) provides a chilling cold both day and night.
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These are the top things to do when in the city of Riga.
Old City of Riga (Vecriga)
The Old City of Riga is very charming. Everywhere there are cute alleys with markets, souvenir shops, crafts and interesting buildings. This old town is like a dream because every conceivable architectural style of the last 1000 years is available, sometimes in the same lane, winding, cobbled and Baltic stones were used (for the girls, avoid high heels when making a tour). It is filled with many streets and squares with an incredible variety of outdoor restaurants of all kinds. Everywhere from morning until the night there is live music, every now and then there are hordes of local and foreign drinkers (but are all peaceful); you can go, relax and unwind.
You may not get enough as you explore all around because behind every street corner something exciting comes out again. Pay attention to the details because every corner here is truly worth discovering. You can see small and large churches, as well as museums with very special collections (statues, artworks, porcelain, etc.). What is more fascinating about this place is, everything is within walking distance and the attractions are just a few doors away from each other. A walk through the old town is definitely worth it, seeing the ancient streets, colorful art deco houses and the cute cafes are a beautiful experience when in the city of Riga.
Riga Town Hall Square
The Riga Town Hall Square is the most beautiful square of the city that remains fascinating even until today as the Latvians have managed it after the devastation of the war and after the liberation by the Soviets. In the center you can listen to musicians performing national music, watch a movie in a tour of Riga in 3D, or eat ice cream on a bench while admiring the exquisite architecture of the House of the Blackheads and the St. Peter’s Church imposing towers.
You can sign up for an excursion adventure of Riga on board the tour bus. Listen well to the guide because you will learn many interesting facts about the square and the history of the buildings. On the corner there are a few souvenir shops with a large selection of amber. It is not hard to find because you will immediately see the attractive gingerbread houses and the medieval inspired cobblestone road. From the center of the area you can make the best photographs and memories about Riga.
House of Blackheads
Dubbed as the monument with an unusual name, the House of Blackheads is one of the symbols of the old town. The architecture of this home is very different from the other structures around here. The name also plays an important part of its history. At night, it is more pleasant to walk because there is much less tourists. The presence of this attraction stands out more especially when illuminated at night. Guests look at it with pleasure as it blends into the city’s modern skyline. The bizarre shape of the house is intriguing and the architecture is admired for its sense of style, brilliance, decoration, ease and grace.
It is mandatory for every visitor to stop and be photographed with the House of Blackheads behind them. It is not only pleasing to the eye, it also creates a magical atmosphere especially during the Christmas Season when it is all covered with snow and the entire area is fully decorated. Fully renovated after being devastated by the war with Russia 15 years ago, the building certainly did not lose its charm and antiquity base on the number of tourists who are still intrigued and amused by its presence. Built since 1334 but fully rehabilitated in 1999, the building now serves as a theater, information center, and temporary working office of the president.
The Alberta Lela street is located at some distance from the old town (20-30 minute walk) but it's worth it. Each house that lines this famous street is a unique example of Art Nouveau. There are a lot of details, patterns, elements that can be admired and photographed for hours. This cozy and quiet street offers a deep sense of history and architecture you feel like being transported to another time and your eyes cannot resist looking in different directions as you stand in awe at the grandeur, detailed art, and effort shared in every piece of art from contained in this area.
It is probably the shortest and most beautiful street in Riga where every house is a masterpiece. Be sure to visit this street because along the facades of the houses is its extraordinary and inimitable style making it a great addition to the main attractions of the old town.
St. Peter’s Church Tower
The St. Peter’s Church Tower offers the best viewing platform right in the center of town. The climb is not the cheapest, but it's worth it. You have a choice of using the stairs or the elevator. When you reach the tower you have a wonderful view of the surroundings. On a clear day, it gives you the opportunity to take unique photos from an unusual angle and certainly no tourists in the frame. However, when the city is experiencing strong winds and downpours, this site is closed.
The view from the bell tower of the church of St. Peter is really gorgeous and incorporates all the different attractions that surround this old cathedral. The cost of the entrance fee is very reasonable and the lift can accommodate ten passengers per trip. It offers a nice view of the city and an interesting perspective to take lots of pictures (including Zeppelin hangars converted into central market, "Stalin's Birthday Cake” or the Latvian Science Academy, the “Statue of the Three Riflemen” in front of the Museum of the Occupation and the House of Blackheads).
Musee Art Nouveau (Riga Art Nouveau Museum)
The Riga Art Nouveau Museum is the youngest museum of the city. It was inaugurated on April 23, 2009. The apartment-Art Nouveau Museum is located on the first floor and consists of 10 rooms - a living room with a bay window, bedroom, fireplace room, dining room, office, exhibition room, kitchen, bath, toilet and maiden room.
All rooms are furnished with period furniture and filled with household items, kitchenware, and accessories of the modern era. The staff is very welcoming and dressed in the national costume of Latvia. Upon entrance you will be greeted by a beautiful spiral staircase with floral flourishes where tourists like taking pictures. The museum itself is an apartment that belongs to one of the richest architects in Riga.
There are preserved vivid details of Art Nouveau (Jugendstil style), but the most noticeable thing is the presentation of its exquisite style. The Museum of Art Nouveau in Riga is very particular about presenting a detailed exhibit which adds to the mystical charm of the place.
It gives the impression of an uninhabited house, and it seems that the owners have gone to the theater and will be back soon, and museum visitors are left to wait at home. Come to the museum in advance because in addition to the tour, one of the fun things to do while you are here is to try a wide selection of hats at the hats hill section located at the entrance to the museum.
The Vermanes Park is the signature venue of the Latvian Folk Festival which is held in Riga every 4 years. The park itself is very nice well kept and has many stalls and stages for live musical performances that starts from morning until evening. There is Wi-Fi connection throughout the park. It is ideal for those who want to sit, spend quiet times alone, contemplate and even connect to the internet. The Vermanes is also the most ancient garden of Riga. It was built in 1814 and covers an area of about 12 acres. It is right in the center of the city, plays host to concerts and events throughout the year, and popular with the kids because of its mini games and playground.
Latvian National Opera
The Latvian National Opera is a grand monumental structure surrounded by large gardens and sculptures. The Opera House is a huge white stone colonnade with a Greek type theater. Try to watch a classical performance and ballet to admire its wonderful interiors. It has a full season of concerts and works of great quality. You can also stroll around the park that is well kept in every detail with flowers of all types making a perfect background for a photo opportunity while in the city of Riga.
St. Mary's Dome Cathedral
The interior of the St. Mary's Dome Cathedral has been redesigned on the basis of the previous cathedral (built since 1270). This ancient cathedral is famous for its 50 epitaphs, tombstones, and a painting on the north portal entrance depicting the coronation of Mary.
Another interesting part of this church is the antique organ (1884); restored and visible in the nave section beside its magnificent pulpit. You can take pictures freely. In the cloister inside the buildings of the church are deposited materials that are no longer used in the church beginning with statues of various sizes and materials found in the subsoil during the excavation of its restoration process.
Museum of the Occupation of Latvia
The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia is a beautifully built and decorated museum where you can get a good picture of the occupation by Germany and Russia not only during the 2nd World War, but continuously until 1991. There is no entrance fee collected but a voluntary donation is required for the maintenance of the place. The museum is located next to the old tower of the magazine, a landmark and promenade area in Riga.
There are 5 floors dedicated to different eras. It provides lots of photographs, military uniforms, and old weapons. It is very worthwhile to visit this museum to have a deeper understanding about the sacrifices and everything that the Latvian people had to endure. Take the 2 hour audio tour; it is truly informative and emotionally laden. It's always interesting to remember these painful pages of history especially if the presentations and exhibits are all well done.