Riga Visitor Guide 2021: Everything you need to know4 March, 2021by Bounce
Latvia, along with its neighboring Baltic states of Estonia and Lithuania, remains largely off the European tourist track. Riga itself received 3.5 million visitors in 2018. While a respectable total, and the highest the city has ever achieved, it pales in comparison to the better-known European cities. But the relatively undiscovered nature of Riga is part of its charm. That, and its unique northern European culture. Riga is home to a third of Latvia's entire population, and this intriguing city is embracing its position as a regional hub of culture.
It's also a great place to explore. The entire city is listed as a World Heritage Site thanks to its unique architecture. Combining historic attractions with modern charm, Riga is a fascinating place to discover. Drop off your bags at a Riga luggage storage locker and see for yourself what the Latvian capital has to offer.
A weekend in Riga
A weekend in Riga won't exhaust what the city has to offer by any means. It will let you see some of the more popular attractions and get a sense of the city's atmosphere. Drop off your bags at a Riga suitcase storage and get ready to enjoy your weekend.
Riga's Old Town was the key to the city getting World Heritage Site status. The narrow cobblestone streets are a fascinating place to explore, and the brightly colored buildings house no end of cafés, restaurants, and quirky shops for you to visit.
There's more architecture to explore in the Centrs district. Riga's booming economy in the early twentieth century saw the city expand beyond its medieval walls into an area that is now the world's largest collection of Art Nouveau architecture. Take a walk or even a guided tour through this area to enjoy the elaborate buildings of this decadent era.
See a fragment of Riga's old medieval city walls at the Swedish gate. This is the only remaining gate of the ancient city, and was once home to Riga's resident executioner.
One of the best things to do in Riga is to simply wander. That’s due in part to the city’s famous architecture that is best enjoyed on foot. To make things easier on yourself, drop off your bags at a Riga luggage storage service so that you don’t have to carry more than you need to. Knowing your bags are safely looked after makes it easy to enjoy your stay.
Off the beaten path in Riga
Riga is already somewhat off the beaten path. Although it can occasionally get a little busy, you won't find the crowds here that you have to deal with in other European capitals. But if you're looking for something truly unusual, you've come to the right place.
Riga spent years under Soviet occupation. At the Corner House, you can see a former headquarters of the KGB, the Russian secret police that once rooted out enemies of the state in Riga. Now converted to a museum, this location is a haunting reminder of totalitarianism's dangers.
One of the oldest objects in Riga lies in a narrow street close to the town hall. A semi-fossilized oak tree was uncovered during construction work. 3500 years old, the tree is an unusual photo opportunity in the heart of the city.
Fans of aircraft shouldn't miss Riga's Aviation Museum. Home to jet fighters and helicopters, the museum is the life's work of a single man named Victor Talpa, who created an impressive collection of aircraft over the course of 50 years.
What to do alone in Riga
Riga is a city that rewards solo exploration. Traveling by yourself allows you to do exactly what you want to do and gives you ample opportunities to soak up this ancient city's modern atmosphere. Drop off your bags at a Riga luggage locker and begin your solo exploration.
If you can't get enough of Riga's Art Nouveau architecture, check out the Art Nouveau Museum on Albert Street. The former home of a famous architect, this apartment has been preserved with its original 1903 interior. It's like a trip back in time.
Explore the cultural treasures of Latvia at the National Museum of Art. Dedicated to nineteenth and twentieth century art, the sprawling collection will introduce you to lesser-known artists from around the country. And don't miss the roof terrace on top of the grand building that offers a great view over the city.
With around 100,000 visitors every day, Riga Central Market is one of the busiest in Eastern Europe. Located in German zeppelin hangers from the 1920s, this unique market lets you immerse yourself in the culinary scene of Latvia. It's a great place to rub shoulders with the locals and see what life is like for regular Latvians.
The best souvenirs in Riga
The Baltic region was known for its amber even in the days of ancient Greece. To this day, the area still provides 80 percent of the world's amber. So amber jewelry makes a beautiful and very appropriate souvenir of Latvia. Visit Timberline for a great selection of local amber jewelry. Pottery is also a traditional Latvian handicraft, and the pampalu pot is a distinctive creation that will always remind you of the city. Visit Medus Istaba to pick up this unique item. Finally, if the Art Nouveau architecture of the city has inspired you, pick up items that celebrate this period in art history at Art Nouveau Riga.