Considered one of the most beautiful and well-preserved cities in the whole of the Baltics, the Latvian capital is big on charm and appeal. Famous for a blend of wooden medieval buildings and Art nouveau architecture, the city blends much older styles perfectly with 20th century ones. The city's central Town Hall Square is a postcard favourite with its Town Hall and Blackheads House -- two of its most notable Art nouveau buildings. Livu Square is the place to head for bars and clubs, in a city with a growing reputation as an excellent location for a night out. The city is also home to the most celebrated restaurants, theatres and opera houses in the Baltic Region. Those travelling with children will find plenty to do such as visiting the Zoo and Ethnographic Open Air Museum. As well as plenty of activities, there's nearly always a traditional or cultural event to experience at any given time, with a calendar that includes everything from medieval fairs to beer festivals.
Things to Do
There's plenty to do in Riga, especially for anyone with a love of art and architecture (and even more especially for those with a fascination for Art nouveau). This is in addition to excellent markets, world-class restaurants and plenty of museums.
Most of the city's charm lies in its Art nouveau architecture, which was used when much of the city was rebuilt after desecration from World War Two. Notable buildings include the Amphora building on Elsabeth iela and the row of Jugendstil houses on Alberta iela as well as much of the Town Hall Square. The hugely ornate facades are some of the best examples of this architectural style in the world. That said, some medieval buildings remain intact in the Old Town: a UNESCO protected part of the city in the very centre.
Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, this city has grown in popularity with younger tourists and has developed its own very vibrant nightlife thanks to its own student and younger populations. Some of the best bars and clubs can be found in Livu Square. Those looking for a quieter evening should go to one of the city's celebrated restaurants that are thought to be some of the best in the Baltic region! Try the elegant Mediterranean style Riviera, the hip Koya or a Latvian fine dining experience at Benjamin's.
Family friendly Riga
This city is great for families, with plenty of things to see and do. This includes the Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum, the ideal place for children to get a better understanding of the country's cultural and social history. Further hits with kids are Zingoo Riga, a science centre found in the Galleria shopping mall, the Leima Chocolate Museum and the National Zoo.
Calendar of Events
As a cultural centre for not only Latvia but all the Baltic states, Riga plays host to numerous traditional and cultural events every year.
- Count of May. This medieval festival takes place in mid-May each year and sees brave knights and ladies dressed in historic garb for a street festival with a difference
- Latviabeerfest. Later in May, one of the biggest beer festivals in the region, Latviabeerfest, is a must for beer lovers. As well as plenty of beer, visitors can be guaranteed live music, shows and general joviality.
- Latvian Song and Dance Festival. This performing arts festival is nearly 150 years old. Held every year in Riga in July, it's one of the country's key cultural events.