Fun Things to Do in Riga,Latvia
I love Riga, she is a beautiful city and even though I say she could be much more multicultural with different people from diffrent countries, Riga is still worth a visit.
The city is a brilliant mix of the old and the new. At any moment on a walk through this lovely city, you could glimpse a 700-year-old church next to a modern store next to a new building that was reconstructed to look old. This blend of architecture and interests means there are lots of fun things to do in Riga, Latvia, and there’s something different in every square.
With its bustling markets, refreshing open spaces, and pieces of history everywhere you look, the city quickly became my favorite city on my tour through the Baltics. I used every free minute to visit the corners of the city.
Visit Central Market
Built in 1930, the Central Market is the largest in Europe and one of the top attractions in Riga. It serves as many as 80,000 people a day.
Central Market is made up of five massive former Zeppelin hangars, each of which sells different types of products. Wandering among the sections, you see everything from pig snouts to flowers to fresh cheese and other Baltic foods. And, of course, pickles.
See the House of the Blackheads
The walkable Old Town is full of history and lots of beautiful buildings. My favorite was the House of the Blackheads just around the corner from my hotel. Originally built to house the Blackheads guild in the 14th century, the Gothic-Dutch Renaissance building was destroyed by a combination of World War II bombing and the takeover of the Soviets. It was reconstructed in 1999 and is impossible to walk by without taking (several) photos.
Take in the view from St. Peter’s Church
St. Peter’s Church in Old Town offers the best bird’s-eye view of the city. Take the clanking elevator 235 feet up to the panoramic viewing platform for magnificent views of Old Town, the Central Market, and the river.
Visit the Art Nouveau neighborhood
Just one-half mile from Old Town is the Riga’s Art Nouveau district centered around Alberta, Elizabetes, and Strelniku streets. The 100-year-old buildings here are unique, to say the least. They are a true highlight of Riga sightseeing.
Explore the Kalnciema Quarter
Across the Daugava River about 20 minutes from Old Town is the Kalnciema Quarter, a bustling hub of fun things to do on a weekend in Riga. This area is renowned for its wooden architectural heritage dating from the 19th century but is popular for the numerous cultural and artistic events that happen here.
Try Black Balsam
Riga’s traditional drink, Black Balsam, is a 90-proof herbal liqueur. Drunk straight, it’s pretty strong and has a bit of a medicinal taste. To make it more palatable, it is often mixed with schnapps or in drinks like coffee, Coke, or black currant juice. We enjoyed it expertly crafted in a cocktail.
Celebrate independence at the Freedom Monument
The 140-foot-tall Freedom Monument is impossible to miss on a walk around the city. At the junction of Old and Central Riga, the granite and copper pillar celebrates national unity, independence, and freedom in Latvia. Its creation was funded entirely by Latvian citizens as a memorial to those who died in the struggle for independence.
The female Liberty at the top–known familiarly as “Milda”–holds three stars that represent the original cultural regions of Latvia. Below her, 55 more sculptures on multiple levels depict Latvian history and culture.
Built in 1935, the statue was erected just five years before the Soviets moved in.
Walk through the Swedish Gate and medieval lanes
The medieval town was surrounded by strong walls to protect it from attackers, with few entrance and exit points. The only city gate remaining today is the Swedish Gate, which dates from 1698 when the Swedes ruled the city. Immediately behind the walls are some of the small, original medieval streets. Troksnu iela, which was built next to the old city wall in the 13th century, is now a colorful street with a series of bars and cafes.
Find the Bremen Town Musicians
One thing I did not expect to see on my trip was a statue of the Bremen Town Musicians. Bremen, as in Bremen, Germany, nearly 1000 miles away where there is a similar statue.
The Bremen Town Musicians statue is based on the Brothers Grimm fairy tale of the same name. The quartet–a donkey, dog, cat, and rooster-is essentially the symbol of the city of Bremen. In the fairy tale, they become fast friends and set out together to make a living playing music.
Visit the Powder Tower
Originally built in 1330, the Sand Tower was one of more than 20 enormous towers that stood as part of the city’s defense system. Over the centuries, it has taken its share of blows and been reconstructed several times.
Visit the Three Brothers
The oldest group of houses in Riga is known As the Three Brothers. Legend has it that they were built by the same family, although they certainly weren’t built by brothers because they date from different time periods.
The oldest building—the white house—dates from the 15th century and is influenced by the architectural styles seen in other Hanseatic cities like Bruges and Lubeck. The pale yellow house was built in the mid-17th century. The largest of the three, it now houses the Latvian Museum of Architecture. The narrow white house is from the late 17th century.
See the Nativity of Christ Cathedral
The gleaming golden dome of the Nativity of Christ Cathedral is impossible to miss and beckons visitors inside. The orthodox cathedral was originally opened in 1884 and served as a house of worship before the Soviets took it over in the 1960s.
Under the Soviet reign, this lovely building was used as a planetarium and even a cafe–anything but a church. Now restored to its original purpose, the Cathedral is one of the most interesting places to visit in the city because the interior is a feast for the eyes. It is brilliantly decorated with Neo-Byzantine art and bright icons.
Summer time - Family Time
Soon we will be moving to a new country and thus we are enjoying and celebrating our final summer here in Latvia.Since my wife is Latvian and my daughter is also half Latvian we will always have a special connection with the country.If you ever want to visit Lativa, a beautiful country,please do reach out to me.