Riga, the Capital of Latvia is a real hidden gem in Eastern Europe, with amazing history, architecture, delicious food and beer and is a great base to explore more of the country.


Riga is one of the most beautiful cities available for you to travel in Eastern Europe. Before you travel to Riga, it is important to plan your trip so you can get the most out of time that you will be spending in the city. This comprehensive travel guide will be able to help you. So, let's get into it...




TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. HOW TO GET TO RIGA?

  2. WHAT TO DO IN RIGA?

  3. LIST OF TOP THINGS TO SEE IN RIGA

  4. HOW LONG TO STAY IN RIGA?

  5. DAY TRIPS FROM RIGA

  6. RIGA NIGHTLIFE

  7. WHERE TO STAY IN RIGA?

  8. WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT RIGA?

  9. TRAVELLING AROUND RIGA

  10. COMMUNICATING IN RIGA

  11. TRADITIONAL LATVIAN FOOD

  12. IS RIGA CHEAP?


HOW TO GET TO RIGA?


You can easily get to Riga via Riga International Airport. A large number of budget airlines, especially Air Baltic operated flights are available for you to travel to Riga from all parts of Europe. In addition, numerous budget airlines such as Vueling, Wizz Air and Ryan Air can also cater to your transportation requirements.


Riga airport to the city is an easy route which takes around 25-30 minutes. You can take the public bus number 22 to get into the city centre from Riga airport if you are travelling on a budget. If you would prefer a taxi from Riga airport to the city, it will cost you around 15-20 Euros. The taxi service runs 24 hours a day from Riga airport.


The three Baltic states are Latvia, Estonia and Lithuanian and it's easy to travel around the three on a multi-city trip. If Riga is just one of your stops on a trip around Europe, you may be travelling from Tallinn to Riga or Vilnius to Riga.  


GETTING FROM TALLINN TO RIGA


The distance between Tallinn and Riga is 311.8 km and is a commonly travelled route. To get from Tallinn to Riga, bus or train would be the recommended mode of transport. The train from Tallinn to Riga could take up to 9 1/2 hours, but the trains have power sockets and free wifi. However, you will have to change trains at Valga and the trains do take a lot longer than the bus.


Taking the bus between Tallinn to Riga takes around 4 hours 20 and various buses leave throughout the day. Lux Express and Ecolines offer the Tallinn to Riga route. The buses in Eastern Europe are efficient, clean and comfortable and some have VIP areas were you get a personal TV and reclining chairs.  


There is also the option of flying or driving between Tallinn and Riga.


GETTING FROM VILNIUS TO RIGA


The distance between Vilnius and Riga is 294.7 km, so very similar to Tallinn to Riga. Vilnius to Riga is an reasonably quick journey by bus which takes around 4 hours 15 minutes. Lux Express and Ecolines offer regular buses journeys between Vilnius and Riga. It is also now possible to get the train from Vilnius to Riga but the train only crosses the border at weekends. You have to change at Daugavpils, so is not the most convenient way to get from Vilnius to Riga.



WHAT TO DO IN RIGA?


There are lots of things to see in Riga but if you want to get yourself lost in beautiful architecture, you should definitely start in the old town. If you search for Riga on Pinterest or Instagram there is a mass of beautiful pictures showcasing what it has to offer. Most of the tourists who explore the old town in Riga are impressed with fascinating intricate Art Nouveau architecture that they can see. On the other hand, the old town is the venue where you can experience the best of nightlife in Riga as well. You will be able to enjoy your nights to the maximum when spending your time here.



LIST OF TOP THINGS TO SEE IN RIGA:-

1) Riga Castle

2) Freedom Monument

3) Free Walking Tour

4) Get lost in Old Town

5) Riga Church

6) Riga Motor Museum

7) House of the Blackheads

8) Tour at the KGB Museum

9) Riga Town Hall Square

10) Latvian War Museum

11) Riga Central Market


If you want to get out of the old town then people who are looking for a peaceful venue to enjoy their time can think about visiting Lucavsala. It is a small island that you can find in river Daugava, which is flowing across Rigs. This river is dividing Riga into two sections. You will find it as an easy task to get to Lucavsala Island. Or else, you can think about visiting Mežaparks Park, which is located alongside the lake. It is an ideal location available for you to go ahead with longer walks.


If you want to try something new, then why not try your logic and creative thinking in one of the many escape rooms in Riga, try the traditional food on a Food Walking Tour or go on a Segway Tour.   


If you are looking for a long weekend with some relaxation with friends, then there are also spas in Riga where you could treat yourself to a treatment, or two.


HOW LONG TO STAY IN RIGA?


2-4 days would be a perfect amount of time to get to see the real Riga and what it has to offer.


DAY TRIPS FROM RIGA


If you have set your base in Riga and you want to see more of the country, then there are lots of day trips from Riga. Riga is a city that is located near to the sea. Therefore, you can think about visiting the beach during the time that you spend in Riga as well. Vakarbuļļi and Vecāķi are the two most prominent beaches that you can access from Riga. You can get to public bus number 24 and access these two beaches from the centre of the city of Riga.


Kemeri National Park offers hiking, stunning nature, where you can even walk around the little fishing villages. Getting from Riga to Kermeri National Park is quick and easy. You can take a train from Riga to Kemeri station for around 2-3 Euros, which takes around an hour.



RIGA NIGHTLIFE


Whether you like a few quiet drinks in a bar or to dance until the early hours of the morning, you should have no problem finding a good night out in Riga. Riga has large clubs such as Le KiKi or Coyote Fly which open around 10-11pm, where you can dance to your heart's content. There is also a great craft beer scene in Riga and there is some spectacular beer to taste at the various bars such as Labietis, East Beer or Alus Celle.


If you are looking for something a bit more unique on your night out in Riga, then you could visit the Armoury Bar, which is full of firearms (don't worry they are not loaded) which you can hold and look at, while you sip your fresh craft beer (obviously I am not promoting using guns in any sense but it is a good way to learn about the firearms in a safe environment, whilst providing a unique drink experience). If the firearms are not enough then you can entertain yourself with table football in the basement or by watching sport on the large screen TVs. Or the men could head to 'Vest', which is a bar where you can have your beard trimmed while you enjoy your beer, multi-tasking at its best! 


If you are looking for something a little more high-end, then head to Star Lounge Bar on the top floor of the Albert Hotel Rigathe Skyline Bar or to the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija. Both do great cocktails and have great views.


WHERE TO STAY IN RIGA?


You will be able to discover a large number of accommodation options in Riga. Hence, looking for a place to stay in the city will not be difficult, even if you go there during the busy summer months. There are lots of hostels, hotels, Airbnb's and guest houses in Riga, which can work for any budget.


The old town of Riga is packed with the majority of the restaurants, bars and hostels. If you are interested in enjoying the nightlife of Riga, you should think about reserving a hotel that is located close to the old town. If you are coming to Riga only to spend a couple of days, this is something that you shouldn’t ignore. You will also be able to access the central bus station and central train station of Riga with ease from the old town.



If you are looking for cheaper accommodation options in Riga, you must take a look at Airbnb. This will also help you to live in Riga like a local and your host should offer you some local knowledge about the hidden spots that tourists wouldn't usually be able to find.


WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT RIGA?


Winters in Riga can be cold. Therefore, it is better if you can avoid visiting Riga during the winter season as much as possible (mid-December to early March). Summer (June to September) is the best time of year for you to visit Riga and enjoy the best out of what the city has got to offer.


TRAVELLING AROUND RIGA


You can discover an excellent public transportation system in Riga. This public transportation system will provide you with the opportunity to get to your destinations without spending a lot of time or money. You can get a 24-hour pass to explore the city by bus, which only costs 5 Euros.  The majority of the main sights are in walking distance from the old town but if you have time or physical restrains then there are plenty of taxi services are available in the city.


COMMUNICATING WITH PEOPLE IN RIGA


People who live in Riga speak three different languages. They include Latvian, Russian and English. You will find that most of the people speak only in Latvian and Russian with some broken English. Therefore, it is better if you can get to know about the basic phrases in Latvian before you visit Riga.



TRADITIONAL LATVIAN FOOD


The traditional Latvian food is hearty, comforting and delicious. Here is a list of traditional Latvian food that you should try on your trip to Riga:


1) Borscht

2) Rye bread

3) Potato pancakes

4) Bread soup

5) Speck

6) Smoked fish

7) Stewed sauerkraut

8) Rasol

9) Pelmeni dumplings

10) Karbonade


After a bite to eat, why not try the traditional Latvian drink called Balsam which is liquor and is similar to Jager.


IS RIGA CHEAP?

The currency in Riga is the Euro. Eastern Europe is generally cheap to travel in comparison with the West. Riga is a great place for the budget traveller, as there is cheap accommodation with hostels costing as little as 8 Euros (including breakfast) and you could easily get lunch for 5 Euros. Good quality beer in Riga will cost you 3-4 euros. Museums will generally be around 8-12 Euros which still make Riga a cheap country to explore if you are on a budget. It is also cheap to travel to or from Riga from other destinations by bus.


So is Riga cheap...Yes Riga is very affordable.


FINAL WORDS


Now you know how to get to Riga and what you will be able to expect during your trip. Go ahead and book your tickets to explore Riga. You will never regret the decision and the time that you take to explore this city.



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If you have taken a career break or sabbatical and have a story to tell, drop me an email at careerbreakkate@hotmail.com to be a part of the interview series.

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About Me

Hi, I'm Kate. I love everything travel and after returning from an around the world trip, 35 countries later, I am determined to continue to travel, whilst holding down a career. 

 

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