Riga is a fantastic blend of old and new. On a trip around this wonderful city, you could come across a 700-year-old church next to a modern store next to a new structure that has been renovated to feel thousands of years old. Because of this mix of architecture and interests, Riga, Latvia, has a lot of exciting things to do, and there’s something new in every square.
10. Admire the Castle
The Riga Castle, located in the heart of Latvia’s capital, is a magnificent medieval fortress that has played an important role in the city’s history for centuries. The Livonian Order, a powerful military organization that controlled much of the Baltic region during the Middle Ages, built the castle in the 14th century. The castle was expanded and renovated over the centuries, serving as a residence for various rulers and nobles. The castle now houses the Latvian Museum of History and the Latvian Museum of Foreign Art, providing visitors with an intriguing glimpse into the country’s rich cultural heritage. Throughout the year, the castle also hosts a variety of events, such as concerts, festivals, and art exhibits. The Castle of Riga is a must-see for anyone interested in history and architecture, and it offers a unique glimpse into Latvia’s rich cultural heritage.
9. Cross the river to get a bird’s-eye view of the city.
The majority of the best things to do in Riga are on the right bank of the Daugava River, but from a different perspective, walk to the left bank. The river can be crossed via the Akmens tilts or the Stone Bridge, which is quite long. As you cross the bridge, you will see the modern asymmetrical National Library of Latvia, also known as the Castle of Light, which opened in 2014. This architecture’s modernity is quite the antidote to the older architecture on the other side of the river, reminding you that Riga is a vibrant modern capital. When you reach the left bank, walk down to the river’s edge to see the old town’s skyline stretching out in front of you, punctuated by the proud spires of the various cathedrals and churches.
8. Visit one of the many peaceful parks.
Riga, Latvia’s capital city, is home to a number of beautiful parks that provide visitors with a peaceful break from the bustling city center. The Mezaparks, the city’s largest park, cover more than 260 hectares of land and include a large lake, hiking and cycling trails, and numerous sports facilities. The Bastejkalns park, located in the city center, is known for its picturesque canals, fountains, and landscaped gardens. Another popular park is the Vermanes Garden, located in the heart of the city and offering visitors a wide variety of seasonal flowers and a picturesque pond. In addition to these larger parks, Riga has a number of smaller green spaces, such as Kronvalda Park, which houses the Latvian National Opera, and Grizinkalns Park, which has a network of hiking trails and stunning views of the city skyline. Riga’s parks are ideal for nature lovers, and they host a variety of outdoor activities throughout the year, such as concerts, festivals, and sporting events.
7. Learn of the Occupation of Latvia
The Museum of Latvian Occupation, located in Riga’s heart, is a powerful and thought-provoking museum that provides a unique and detailed look at Latvia’s occupation by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany from 1940 to 1991. The museum features a wide range of exhibits, including personal accounts, photographs, and artifacts from the period, as well as interactive displays that allow visitors to experience life during the occupation. The museum is divided into three sections, each covering a different period of occupation and providing a comprehensive look at the occupation’s political, social, and cultural impacts on Latvia and its people. The museum also helps visitors better understand Latvia’s independence struggle and its role in shaping the country’s modern identity.
6. Recognize the Past at the Freedom Monument
The Freedom Monument is one of Riga, Latvia’s most recognizable landmarks and a symbol of the country’s struggle for independence. The monument was built in 1935, during Latvia’s first period of independence, and has since served as a powerful and emotional reminder of the country’s history and resilience. The monument, which towers over the surrounding streets and buildings, is located in the city center and features a bronze figure of a woman holding three stars in her hands, representing Latvia’s three historical regions. The monument is also embellished with various national motifs and symbols, such as a shield bearing Latvia’s Coat of Arms and other decorative elements.
5. Behold the magnificent Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ
The Nativity of Christ Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ, is a stunning and historically significant Orthodox cathedral located in the heart of Riga, Latvia. The cathedral, which was constructed between 1876 and 1883, is notable for its distinctive onion-shaped domes and intricate brickwork. The cathedral’s interior is equally stunning, with stunning frescoes and iconography adorning the walls and ceilings. The cathedral was used as a planetarium and concert hall during the Soviet era, but it was returned to the Orthodox Church in 1991 after Latvia regained its independence. Today, the cathedral is an important center of Orthodox worship in Riga and a popular tourist attraction for visitors interested in the city’s rich cultural and religious heritage.
4. Take a boat ride on the canal and river
A boat ride through Riga’s canals and rivers is a unique and enjoyable way to learn about the city’s beautiful architecture, history, and culture. Boat tours range in length from 30 minutes to two hours. Passengers will be treated to breathtaking views of the city’s famous Art Nouveau architecture, medieval old town, and charming riverside neighborhoods along the way. Some tours also include an audio guide or live commentary that provides information about the city’s history and landmarks. Visitors can relax and enjoy the sights and sounds of the city from a different perspective as they glide along the water, making for a memorable and relaxing experience in Riga.
3. Take a stroll through the Art Nouveau district.
The Jugendstil district of Riga, also known as the Art Nouveau district, is a must-see for architecture and art enthusiasts. The area is famous for its stunning Art Nouveau buildings, which feature intricate details and ornate facades and are located in the city center. Visitors can explore the district on their own and admire the architecture up close, or they can join a guided tour to learn more about the buildings’ history and cultural significance. The Art Nouveau district, in addition to the impressive buildings, is home to a number of boutique shops, cafés, and restaurants, making it a great place to stop and relax while taking in the sights. The district is particularly stunning in the spring and summer months when the trees and gardens bloom, but it can also be enjoyed year-round.
2. House of the Blackheads
The House of the Blackheads is a historic building in the heart of Riga’s Old Town that is a popular tourist attraction. The building, which was originally constructed in the 14th century for the Brotherhood of Blackheads, a guild for unmarried German merchants, has undergone many transformations over the centuries, including being destroyed during World War II and later rebuilt. Visitors can now tour the building and learn about its history while admiring its stunning architecture and interior design. The magnificent facade, which features intricate carvings and decorative details, as well as the impressive Great Hall, which has been restored to its former glory and is now used for concerts and other cultural events, are among the building’s highlights. The House of the Blackheads is a must-see for anyone interested in Riga’s history and culture, and it is a fine example of the city’s rich architectural heritage.
1. Wander Riga’s Old Town
Riga’s Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Latvia’s most popular tourist destinations. It is a charming and picturesque neighborhood in the city, with narrow streets, historic buildings, and a vibrant atmosphere. Visitors can explore the many cafés, restaurants, and shops that line the streets or simply walk around and take in the sights and sounds. The Riga Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, and the Three Brothers, a group of medieval buildings that are among the city’s oldest, are all must-sees in the Old Town. The Latvian Museum of Foreign Art and the Riga Art Nouveau Museum are among the museums and galleries in the Old Town. The Old Town of Riga is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Latvia, with its unique blend of history, culture, and entertainment.
Top 10 Things to do in Riga on a MAP
Excited to go to Riga? To help you with your planning, we’ve compiled a list of the best hotels to stay at while visiting this city.