The capital of Latvia is called Riga. It is located on the Gulf of Riga on the banks of the River Daugava and is considered the largest urban centre in the Baltic States. A city trip to Riga is worthwhile!
Riga was once a Hanseatic city founded by German merchants in the Middle Ages. At that time, trade flourished in Riga and prosperity grew in some population groups.
From 1918 to 1941 Riga was the capital of the independent Republic of Latvia. From 1944 Latvia belonged to the Soviet Union and Riga was the administrative seat of the Latvian SSR. Since 1991 Latvia is again independent and the city is again the capital of the republic.
Sightseeing in Riga
Riga, the capital of Latvia, is well worth a visit. We went there over the Christmas period and left with many new and interesting impressions.
I didn’t dare to wish for it but during our time in Riga, it snowed every night. The snow transformed our walk along the Daugava in Riga and we were walking in a winter wonderland. A dream!
The Cathedral of Riga was about a one-minute walk from our hotel and, in addition to that, also one of the spots where a Christmas market was taking place. This made it a location we absolutely had to visit.
The House of Blackheads is, for me personally, amongst the most beautiful buildings in the Old Town of Riga. We were in Riga over the Festive Season and got to see the wonderful Christmas lights on the building.
During the preparations for our trip, I was enthused to find out about the Yellow Church of Riga. It quickly became clear that after visiting the Blue Church in Bratislava, we had to also go see the Yellow Church.
On a guided tour we passed the Freedom Monument in Riga. Our guide told us about the history of that monument and made us smile.
Riga’s Old Town is not that big. There are almost no cars in the Old Town and public transport is diverted around that area. So, let’s go for a walk.
Riga Central Market is a must see in Riga. This was one of the rare locations that are used by locals and tourists alike and where we got a better feeling for the Latvian way of life.
You cannot miss it when you are visiting Riga’s Old Town – Stalin’s Birthday Cake. This is what locals call the Latvian Academy of Science.
Who doesn’t know the Bremen Town Musicians from the Brothers Grimm fairy tale? But what are they doing in Riga?
Those who come to Riga in December are usually not only hoping for snow but also want to visit the Christmas Market. It was our goal, too, to go and see the market which was in close proximity to our hotel.
It is a little disappointing to visit the Old Town of Riga and stumble on KFC, McDonald’s, Costa Coffee and all the other chains that one doesn’t really like to go to. Our tourist guide in Riga had a few recommendations for us about where to eat in Riga.
Stay overnight on a Riga city break
We discovered a lovely hotel for our city trip to Riga. We immediately felt at home in Hotel Justus.
Riga travel information
Riga International Airport is located about 10 kilometers from the city center. Mainly the airBaltic airline lands here, but some low-cost airlines also fly to the city. In total, there are flights to Riga from 85 cities worldwide.
From the airport you can easily get to the city by public transport. Bus number 22 goes directly to the city center. The tickets can be bought at the kiosk or a little more expensive from the bus driver. The ticket costs 2€. The tickets must be validated on the bus!
If you travel with airBaltic, you can use the offered minibus service. This is more expensive than the public transport, but you are usually driven to the hotel door in the city center.
By cab it takes 10-20 minutes to get to the city center, depending on traffic. The cost is about 10-15€.
The main station in Riga is served by long-distance trains from Russia, Belarus and Lithuania. In addition, local trains from the region arrive there.
The central bus station is located east of the old town and west of the central market. Buses from some of the major international operators run regularly to the station. Bus connections to Riga are available from Berlin, Hamburg, Warsaw, Prague, Pskov, Kiev, Grodno, Vilnius, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kaliningrad, Minsk and many other international cities.
Trunk roads connect Riga with Tallinn, St.Petersburg, Moscow, Kaunas and Vilnius.
There is a direct ship connection from Lübeck to Riga.
On the way in …
By bus and tram
Public transport in Riga is very well developed. There are buses, trolleybuses and trams in the city area. They usually run between 5.30 am and 11.30 pm.
Tickets can be purchased at kiosks, ticket offices and from the driver. The prices at the driver’s are significantly higher. You need an extra ticket for large luggage. If you are travelling by public transport on 18.11, Latvian Independence Day, you do not need a ticket.
There are e-tickets for a certain number of journeys:
- one journey – EUR 1.15,
- five journeys – EUR 5.75,
- ten journeys – EUR 10.90,
- for 20 journeys – EUR 20.70,
- but also in the form of 24-hour tickets for EUR 5.00,
- three-day tickets – EUR 10.00, and
- five-day tickets – EUR 15.00.
The e-ticket is a standardised electronic ticket that every passenger needs.
Suburban trains run in the greater Riga area. Depending on the distance, the fare here is between €0.90 and €1.50. Buying a ticket from the conductor on the train is considerably more expensive. Bicycles can be carried in specially marked compartments on the train, but this costs extra.
When travelling by taxi, you should pay attention to the fare printed on the rear doors of the vehicle. There is no maximum fare for kilometres travelled, time or basic fare.
The use of bicycles is encouraged in Riga. Thus, more and more cycle paths are being developed, which sometimes take some getting used to, especially in the intersection area.
Almost the entire old town is a pedestrian zone and there are only a few free parking spaces in the other districts close to the centre. A guarded parking space costs from 10 euros per day.