Is Riga expensive

6 tips for your next city trip to Riga

The second stop on our one-week speed dating Baltic tour is Riga! Coming for a few euros from Tallinn, Estonia, the fan gun gently touches down on the runway. A flight of less than forty-five minutes separates the two capitals. My buddy Mario and I had hoped the most from the Latvian capital in advance, after all, Riga is the most dazzling and largest city on our trip. At least since it was named Capital of Culture 2014, Riga has also been socially acceptable in Germany and cheap flights to Riga are springing up like mushrooms. Since Riga is small but still has a lot to offer, here is our selection of the best things to do in Riga:

1. Enjoy the sunset over the rooftops of the city

A house in the Stalinist confectioner's style ... What sounds like a sweet gingerbread house is in fact the monstrous and impressive building of the "Academy of Sciences" in Riga. Anyone who has ever been to Moscow will surely have remembered these stone giants as “the seven sisters”. Even if the academy in Riga is more of a toddler compared to its Russian counterparts in terms of nurses ... Nevertheless: At a height of around seventy meters, a 360-degree viewing platform offers visitors a magnificent all-round view of Riga, which enables almost one hundred kilometers of visibility in good weather ! Admission costs around four euros (only half for students). For great moments and even better photos, be sure to inform in advance when the sun goes down and then watch out for your visit to the tower! After the sun has set, you can also start out into the Riga nightlife from there, which leads us to the next point ...

2. Do a pub crawl through Riga's old town

One of the advantages of being a small, big city with a cute center is that you can stumble from bar to bar in the evening: Riga is known for its nightlife beyond its national borders. From around eight in the evening there are live bands in virtually every pub and cellar bar, and beer is served lively in the narrow streets of Riga's old town. At just under 2.50 euros on average, this costs pleasantly little and is very similar to German beer, so it tastes very good! Riga offers numerous organized pub crawls, but you can also drift from bar to bar.

Once in Riga, you should definitely try the Latvian national liqueur "Black Balsam". The Jägermeister faction of the world should really like this thick black pick-me-up! The drink made from valerian, raspberries, ginger, nutmeg and black pepper reminded me of road tar dissolved in salt water. Anyway ... You can enjoy or despise this stuff and of course the Latvian beer in the cozy Latvian pubs and bars. The folk club Ala Pagrabs is particularly recommended. Because this cellar bar offers live music in medieval vaults until midnight and, after midnight, the DJ unpacks his desk and throws the shop with an idiosyncratic but very catchy mix of Russian folklore and house music.

3. Experience and photograph Riga by night

If you are less after partying in Riga and more after rest and eye candy, then Riga will not disappoint you here either. There are cities in the world that look like they were there at night ... and there are some that shine in full splendor at night. St. Petersburg is one of them, so is Lyon and so is Riga. Since being named European Capital of Culture, people have really tried hard and so the beautiful old houses of the city are wonderfully illuminated at night and if you have a bit of patience and calm (and a tripod), you can take great photos. Late in the evening and at night, of course, largely free of disturbing tourists. Riga is too exciting to spend the night in bed!

Birch sap smoothie? Hemp butter? Sorrel soup? Sounds strange, tastes delicious. You can try these and other Latvian specialties at the central market in the southeast of Riga. If you don't necessarily want to be pushed through the halls with the more than 160,000 daily visitors, it is advisable to get up early. Or you just end up stranded in the good old Reeperbahn manner after the pub crawl we just recommended early in the morning in the market halls. You will definitely get rid of your threatening hangover here! If you live in a hostel such as the highly recommended Central Hostel with its own kitchen, be sure to stock up on the market with good and, by the way, very cheap food, you won't regret it!

5. Stroll on Brīvības bulvāris

Okay, admittedly there are promenades in every city, but the Freedom Boulevard (Brīvības bulvāris) in Riga is particularly cute. It leads directly from the river across the entire old town to the Freedom Monument and beyond. The Freedom Monument is definitely worth a photo! Oh yes, by the way, you can do completely different things there, but it can be expensive ...

Somehow everything on Brīvības bulvāris is a little smaller, a little cozier than anywhere else. In particular, the Vermanes Park in front of the city's famous Freedom Monument invites you to lie down and sunbathe. In summer there are lanterns stretched across the park, which bathe the park in a fairytale-like and colorful light after dusk. When the people of Riga bring out their guitars and chilled beers ... What more could you ask for?

6. Somewhat outside: The Ruhendahl Castle

If colorful lampinons and guitar music are still not kitschy enough for you and you still have soles under your shoes, a visit to Schloss Ruhendahl (Rundāles pils) is also worthwhile. Also known as the Versailles of the Baltic States because it was designed according to its model, the palace is one of the most beautiful buildings in the country. The palace park is also beautiful and is reminiscent of the tsarist wealth of Peterhof Palace near St. Petersburg. However, it is almost 70 kilometers from Riga by car or bus to the castle, so plan a whole day for the visit. But don't worry: the bus ride is by no means boring, because the landscape of Latvia is breathtakingly beautiful!

Now that you've got some inspiration for your short trip, some useful information about Riga in a nutshell:

  • The airport in Riga is close to the city, for less than one euro you can take the bus to the heart of the city in 15 minutes.
  • There are good and cheap hostels in Riga, but if you book early and cleverly enough, you will also find very good hotels at reasonable prices.
  • Riga is not big. You can do almost anything with a little foot power. If you do want to be driven, there is an incredibly dense bus network for very little money.
  • The well-known and popular red tourist buses also offer their services in Riga in the hop-on hop-off system. From 15, - Euro for 24 hours you can use it as often as you like in the whole touristic center of the city.