What are the main things to do in Riga, Latvia, you ask? I have to say I had no idea about what to visit in Riga before getting there, but I was beyond surprised to discover such a lovely and diverse city. I will admit that Riga is my favourite Baltic city.

Visiting Riga was not a priority, but it became one as I was drafting the itinerary for the Baltic road trip I took in August 2019.

I had little to no information on where is Riga, what is the Latvian currency (it’s Euro), how’s the weather in Latvia like and I had no information on what things to do in Riga. I call myself spontaneous.

And I assume that you’re also spontaneous and eager to learn more about the Baltics and especially, about Riga.

So… let’s start with the basics.

Where is Riga?

Riga is the capital of Latvia, the middle of the Baltic countries.

If you’re like me, you are probably confusing the 3 Baltic countries. I used to do that, and I never knew what the correct position of each is. But after travelling there, I have everything clear in my head.

Considering you’re looking at a map, from South to North you have the Baltic countries, stack up, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. They’re called the Baltics because they are all next to the Baltic Sea, and Riga is one of the largest ports of the Baltic Sea.

What are the things to do in Riga, Latvia?

Riga, Latvia, is one of the most vivid cities I’ve seen, with some parts of it reminding me of Berlin and its multicultural face. Other parts of Riga, give its visitors a glimpse of the revolutionary times with its Art Nouveau architecture.

That’s why I want to share with you all the things to do that I tried myself in Riga, Latvia, to understand why I loved it so much. Because Riga has so much more to offer than its wonderful old town. And if you want some authentic Latvian experiences, then it’s not a bad idea to get a bit outside the old town.

Here’s the Riga vlog you need to watch if you still need to decide whether or not to visit Riga, Latvia.

So these are my recommendations on things to do in Riga, Latvia.

Riga Old Town

Riga’s Old Town is one of the most popular places for tourists, and for a good reason. Most things to do in Riga are packed in the Old Town of Riga, where you can take a free walking tour (one of the cheapest travel hack you can do while travelling in Europe – but do tip the guide at the end if you enjoyed the tour).

Riga is a city built by Germans, and you will discover it by walking around and admiring the buildings and learning about the local stories.

Even if you do go on a free walking tour, make sure not to miss these places as they are the most exciting things to do in Riga, in the Old Town:

  • Town Hall Square
  • House of the Blackheads
  • Riga Cathedral
  • Three Brothers
  • Swedish Gate
  • St Peter’s Church
  • Freedom Monument
  • Latvian National Opera and Ballet
  • Cat House
  • Nativity of Christ Cathedral
  • Museum of the Occupation
  • Town Musicians of Bremen

Fun Fact:

Riga claims to have had the world’s first Christmas tree in 1510. There is a small monument for it, in front of the House of the Blackheads.

Art Nouveau Architecture

Albert Street is where you want to go to admire the renown Latvian Art Nouveau architecture. Riga is famous for this street, so you should consider a stop as it is one of the things to do in Riga.

Top 5 amazing things to do in Riga, Latvia

At the beginning of 1900, Albert street was built, where Latvian but also German architects created these beautiful apartment buildings, heavily influenced by the Romantic architectural trend of the time.

Today, you will find Belgium and Irish embassies and also the Riga Art Nouveau Museum on Albert Street (Latvian: Alberta iela).

Riga Central Market

Not far from the Old Town, you will find the Riga Central Market. It is considered the largest market in Europe, and it resembles a bazaar.

This Central Market is a place famous for its building. The location is a former Zeppelin hangar, six to be more precise (all connected), and today, each one has a specific use.

Most tourists will be in the 3rd hangar, where all the food is. The 3rd hangar of the Riga Central Market looks and smells like a food court, and you will find all kinds of international and local foods, ready to eat on the spot.

What else can you see in the Central Market in Riga? Everything from fresh produce to meat, pickles, fish, milk, bread, fruit, and even clothes and hardware.

Great Tip! Next to the Central Market is the Latvian Academy of Sciences which has an observation deck and provides the best panoramic view of Riga. Don’t miss that!

Fun Fact:

The hangars in which the Central Market exist today were built by the Germans, during WWI. They believed the Zeppelins to be the future of flying.

Tallinn Street Quarter (Tallinas ielas kvartāls)

Riga is beautiful, and once you get away from the crowds, you will understand that it has a strong personality and culture.

I mentioned before the different cultural resembles other cities. While it’s hard to believe, Riga has a whole different face when visiting the Tallinn Street Quarter. For me, it looked a lot like the hipster parts of Berlin.

This is actually an area of Riga, where you will find open-air bars, music spaces and halls, artsy spaces, craft beer bars and the most friendly people.

On the second day I spend in Riga, I treated my boyfriend with a complete tour of the best beer places in Riga. It was one of the most memorable experiences from the Baltic road trip. And no worries, I have it on camera and on Youtube.

If you are a craft beer lover, art lover or looking for nightlife in Riga, Latvia, I recommend these places:

  • Alķīmiķis
  • Kaņepes Kultūras centrs
  • Taka – alus bārs
  • Tallinas ielas kvartāls
  • Labietis
  • Valmiermuižas alus vēstniecība Rīgā

Ethnographic Open Air Museum

I am a big fan of nature and exploring the authentic lifestyle of each new place I travel to. And that’s precisely what the Ethnographic museum of Riga is all about.

If you haven’t been to an ethnographic museum before (some call it a village museum) then you are missing a lot of the essence of culture travel.
The Riga Ethnographic Open Air Museum is located a bit outside of the city, so you will need to drive there or take a taxi. Uber is super affordable in Riga, so you have no excuse to miss this place.

What will you see at the Ethnographic Open Air Museum in Riga?
Imagine a vast park, with countryside houses scattered all around. I find it to be very authentic as it is located in a forest (and half of Latvia is covered in forests).

Although the Ethnographic Open Air Museum is open until 7 pm during summer, try to get there before 4 pm, when they lock the houses. You will still be able to walk around. Still, you will miss the interiors of the houses, which are very insightful if you want to know more about the authentic Latvian lifestyle.

The admission fee for the Ethnographic Open Air Museum in Riga is 4 Euros, and you can stay for as long as you wan

Jūrmala

Jūrmala is a seaside resort, only 30 minutes away from Riga and is considered by Latvians one of the top things to do in Riga, although it’s an independent town.

As it is so close to the capital of Latvia, Jūrmala is the default spot for seaside weekends during summer.

Although you can visit Jūrmala on a day trip from Riga, you can also spend the night in Jūrmala, and it will feel like a holiday by the seaside
Riga is one of the most amazing and lovely cities in the Baltics, and it has a lot to offer. You will not be disappointed with all the things to do in Riga, Latvia.

Also, let me know what other places to visit Riga should be added to this list of things to do in Riga, Latvia.


Riga is one of the most unexpected and lovely cities in the Baltics, and it has a lot to offer and you will not be disappointed with all the things to do in Riga, Latvia.

Also, let me know what other places to visit Riga should be added to this list of things to do in Riga, Latvia.

Fun Fact:

Riga is featured as one of the cheapest countries in Europe and I highly recommend to put it on your travel bucket list to make your travel budget last longer.

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a traveller and her obsession started in her teenage years. Her aim is to discover as much as possible from this world and to inspire others to do the same! The ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth is travelling and this is what she discovered after years of depression. Now she shares her stories here. Describing experiences for others who might need them.

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