While the potential that Baltic states have had as travel destinations has been relatively slow to materialize since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a recent uptick in tourism to the region is a good omen. Riga for one, is a good reason to add a country like Latvia to your future travel plans. With a UNESCO World Heritage old town, the capital of the Republic of Latvia is a wonderful city to visit.
With notable Art Nouveau architecture and dramatic landmarks that dot a fabulous cityscape, the city on the river Daugava is a cosmopolitan home to over 700,000 people. The medieval center, still intact enough to hint at Riga's affluent status from the 13th to the 15th century, draws the lion's share of visitors. The city is also replete with many fine parks and recreation areas that host festivals and events throughout the year, often within close proximity to the attractive banks of the Daugava.
- Freedom Monument – Monument topped with a female bronze Liberty that was off limits during the Soviet days and placing flowers at its base was considered a crime punishable by deportation to Serbia.
- Saint Peter’s – Gothic cathedral that has been around for about 800 years.
- Swedish Gate – Built into the city walls to celebrate the Swedish occupation in 1698. To the east is the Powder Tower from the 1300s.
- Saint Roland – Riga’s patron saint.
- Old Town – A lovely place to visit, with many buildings that resemble Paris, Rome or Berlin.
Riga Art & Culture
- Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum – Farmhouses, windmills and churches that give a peek into the bygone country life. In early June, it also hosts festivals and the National Fair of Applied Arts.
- Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation – Housed in a cloister.
- Museum of the Occupation of Latvia – Recounts the Nazi and Soviet occupations during the last 65 years.
- Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts – Housed in a restored church from the 1200s and includes a wonderful assortment of local textiles, tapestry and china.
- National Museum of Art – Russian and Latvian art displayed among the grandeur of Soviet net curtains, red carpets and marble columns.
- Jāņa sēta - Offers just about every map under the sun, as well as reference books on the country other travel guides.
- A&E Gallery – Looking for art or amber? This is a favourite spot in Riga to find both.
- Upe – Has traditional folk music and instruments and a small selection of local rock music.
- Globuss – Local bookstore with English-language magazines and novels.
- Rimi – The biggest supermarket around.
Gay & Lesbian Riga
- Golden Bar – Stylish place where you can enjoy the bar, lounge area or dance floor.
- Varaviksne – First gay sauna in the country.
- Spot Cafe – Friendly atmosphere to meet new people and enjoy something to eat or drink.
- Purvs – Popular club open daily.
- XXL Club – Modern glamorous club in Riga.
- Erot Boy – The place to go for an erotic massage.
- Lido Atpūtas Centrs - Activities include an outdoor ethnographic park, ice-skating rink and lots of buffet restaurants where you can sample the local cuisine.
- Central Market – Historic and timeless Soviet-style market, very colourful and the biggest one in Europe.
- Esplanade Park – The designer of this lovely area, George Kuphaldt, was expelled by Germany and accused of being a spy for having a telescope in his garden.
- Mežaparks – Forest Park is a pleasant area in Riga with large, gorgeous houses.
- Līvu Laukums – Offers beer gardens during the summer and an outdoor ice skating rink during the winter.
- Catch a local basketball game by the Barons LMT in the Daugavas Sporta Nams arena.
- Make a trip to the Daugava Stadium to see the local athletic competitions.
- Catch an exhilarating hockey game from the Dinamo Riga team at the Arena Riga.
- Enjoy tennis matches at the Ice Arena.
- Stop by the Skonto Stadium to see a football game with the Skonto FC.
- Riga Cathedral
- Art Nouveau Architecture on Alberta Street
- St. Peter's Church
- Riga Zoo
- Riga Castle
- International Festival of Traditional Music
- Riga Opera Festival
- Latvian Song and Dance Festival
- Riga International Film Festival
- La Boheme
- White Dune
- Lounge 8
Riga straddles the line between a maritime and humid continental climate. As such, the city and region experiences four seasons, with cold winters and warm summers.
- Winter (November to March) -8-4°C
- Spring (April to May) 1-16°C
- Summer (June to August) 10-22°C
- Fall (September to October) 4-16°C
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