Why should you visit Riga?
Riga – the city in Northern Europe, capital of Latvia and the biggest city in the Baltic states. There are many reasons to visit Riga. It has beautiful and various architecture from medieval buildings to very modern ones. It has one of the fastest Internet connections in the world and believe it or not, is a hipster-friendly city. Before you head out on your Riga adventure, it might be worth your while to peruse their fashion trends online first.
What to start with? Start with the heart of the city!
You really have to visit Old Riga. It has typical Medieval architecture with narrow streets and churches, cute cafes and restaurants. It is quite small and you can walk everywhere without using transportation. St. Peter’s Church is the most famous Church in the old city and has a ton to offer like: exhibitions, concerts, and panorama view from the church tower.
Go to the House of the Blackheads. This is a beautiful building where you can make nice photos and therefore save money for buying post cards for you friends!
Hungry after walking around? You can find cafes and restaurants for any taste on every corner! Plus you can snag the super fast WIFI from just about any cafe. One of the trendy places is FAT CAT eclair cafe – FAT CAT eklērnīca in Latvian. Looks like not only France is famous for its eclairs, now Latvia is giving the king of patisserie’s a run for his money. The eclairs here are very delicious, with so many different tastes and fillings. They are my main reason to visit Riga. But rest assured, they won’t make you fat, it works only for the cats!
Art Nouveau neighborhood in Riga
Walking outside the Old town, you will get to a fabulous part of the city with Art Nouveau buildings. There is even an Art Nouveau Museum at Alberta Street 12. Museum offers audio guides and guided tours in English. You should definitely take plenty of photos here; with its gorgeous views and rich history, it’s definitely worth the photo op!
When you feel tired and hungry after taking in the beautiful architecture, you can continue enjoying time in a cozy restaurant. Riga likes animals, after Fat Cat cafe you can go to Flying Frog or Mr. Fox restaurants. The two last are located in the Art Nouveau neighborhood. After having a nice lunch, it is worth visiting Latvian National Museum of Art, which is only a five minute walk from the cafes mentioned above. The museum was renovated recently; It has a huge collection of unique Latvian art in addition to many other genres and famous pieces from around the globe. On top of the building there is an observation platform with a magnificent view to the city. You have to see it!
And now we are moving to the most interesting part – hipster places and neighborhoods in Riga. You can visit some of the bars mentioned below on day one, and continue investigating the rest of them on day two.
The heart of hipster culture is located around Miera Street which is translated as Peace Street. Here you can find plenty of coffee places and nice cafes, small shops with unique Latvian hand-made products, bars, and the legend of Latvian chocolate – Laima Chocolate Museum. People are very relaxed and friendly here, you can easily talk to them and ask whatever you want. Don’t be shy – dive right in!
Cafes and bars
If you’re a fan of live music, particularly jazz, welcome to DAD cafe at Miera Street. Every week there are different bands playing here. This cafe also offers lunch which is super delicious. If you are hungry, it’s the perfect place to come and satisfy your hunger. You can kick back with a glass of wine or a coffee in the afternoon and tune in for some spectacular live music.
Another place that you have to visit is Kaņepes Kultūras Centrs. The building of this venue is more than one hundred years old and was not renovated in order to save the original style of this building. The Center is super dynamic in terms of its events ; from movie festivals to concerts, parties, art festivals, and more, it would be hard to unfair to call this spot a one-trick pony. Bartenders are notoriously friendly and they all speak English. The local cider is a must! Fun Fact: Latvia produces many ciders and it is very popular among hipsters. One of the best ciders is Tālavas apple cider. Grab a cold one, enjoy the unique space and relax for a while whilst you visit Riga!
Clubs and Nightlife
Almost around the corner there is another authentic venue which is called Autentika. When you see this club, you will understand why it’s authentic. It’s an old wooden building which doesn’t look like much to tourists. It’s abandoned essence tricks non-locals into thinking it’s just another run-down spot. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. This spot has it going on! Parties with electronic music, hip-hop, jungle, techno – and all other genres of music are available at Autentika!
Expat & Locals Bars
Another seemingly rundown wooden building that could trick you is a bar called Aleponija. It is situated very close to Riga Central Station. This bar has cozy interior with vintage lamps, tables, and chairs. Many expats, locals, and tourists come here and you can be sure that everyone speaks English: which is a huge plus when you’re trying traveling. Again, try the cider here, sit by the bar counter with… the cat. Yes, the Cat is a usual guest here, he feels like he is an owner of the place, and though it’s not guaranteed he will probably sit on the chair next to you. Whilst you visit Riga, the cat visits you.
The repertoire of bands changes often, which means you can enjoy a multitude of genres –from jazz to rock and psychedelic. The bar is usually not overcrowded, so you can easily see the band, enjoy your specialty adult beverage and chat to your friends, locals, or random Latvian hook-up.
Tired after visiting museums, parties, clubs, and bars? Relax at the hotel and plan your next visit to Riga. This city has still many things to discover! You will want to go back and visit Riga again to experience more, or maybe you would prefer a European Roadtrip?