Riga

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Riga is the capital of Latvia, the largest city in the Baltic States, and the second-largest city of the Eastern Baltic. It holds about half of the country's population.

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Points of Interest in Riga

Riga is divided into two parts by the river Daugava. Old (medieval) town is in the centre of the city on the east side of the river. It is surrounded by a ring of ~19th–early 20th century architecture, followed by a mix of private 2-floor house districts (many also pre-WW2) and Soviet-era 5-18 floor apartment districts, with an occasional factory (especially near railroad lines). The term "centre" loosely refers to quite a large area around Old town limited by the river to the west, the railroad lines to the east and south, and without a definite boundary to the north.

The areas usually most interesting to tourists are the Old Town and the area around the Freedom Monument, located nearby.

A walking tour is by far the best way to see these two districts. The tourist office, located inside the House of Blackheads, offers both guided tours and free pamphlets, complete with detailed descriptions of many buildings, for independent walks. These walks cover the old town and the nearby city centre sights as well as heading out to view the Art Nouveau district. It's all pretty small scale so it's easy to do each of these in around an hour, or linger and read every detail in the booklet - in the absence of any signs or plaques around the city the booklet gives you an insight to what you are seeing. Private companies also operate tours. If you want to get away from the 'touristic areas', alternative tours on bike and on foot are also available, as well as a free city tour that runs everyday from St Peters Church at 12:00. Look for a yellow suitcase.

The Riga Card [14], which costs 10Ls-18Ls, has discounts for museums and some tourist attractions.

The residential areas outside Riga center are largely made up of gray apartment blocks built in the typically Soviet style. These areas are nearly identical to those all over Eastern Europe. However, they do give an idea of how the vast majority of the people in Riga live and of the history of the area.

Old Town

The Old Town (Vecrīga) is both a place of historical tourism sites, as well as the centre of night-life for locals. The area around Old Town is mostly built between 1860 and 1914 and has many buildings that resemble Berlin, Paris, or Rome. Many Soviet-era movies set in Western Europe were filmed here as the buildings can make the city pass for a city in Western Europe.

Triangula Bastion - 11 Novembra Krastmala 17. Modern building with an excavated fragment of historical Riga fortification wall system which protected medieval Riga city from attacks from war ships. Also Triangula Bastion has the best view terraces in Riga. Open 9:00 – 22:00. Free entrance.

  • Town Square and surroundings.
    • Statue of Roland (In the center of the Town Square).
    • House of Blackheads, 1 kalku iela,  (+371) 67044300. The House of Blackheads is where the merchants-to-be had their guild. Part of this building is the tourist information office, the rest is a fascinating museum. The upper levels house grand ballrooms while the basement has a wine cellar and several exhibits relating to trading in Riga. 2 LVL, 1 LVL students.
    • Town Hall. Pretty to look at, but not open for visitors.
    • Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, 1 Strelnieku laukums,  (+371) 67212715, e-mail: omf@latnet.lv. This noticeable and austere black building is clearly out-of-place. In the Soviet days, this housed a museum to the Red Riflemen, a group of Latvians who volunteered for the service to Russia during the Russian revolution of 1917. Now it houses a museum of Latvia's time under both the Nazi and Soviet occupations. Very long, but very moving – essential for anyone interested in the history of the USSR or Nazi Germany. Outside the building away from the town square stands the Soviet-era Monument to the Riflemen. Free.
    • St. Peter's Church, 19 Skarnu iela,  (+371) 67229426, fax: 67211375. St. Peters Church, dating to 1209, is Riga's oldest church. Besides its ensemble of architecture, the church has an elevator to the tower from where you can see all of Riga (service not available on Mondays). 2 Lats.
    • St. John's Church, 7 Jana iela. 10AM-5PM Tu-Sa. A smaller, less spectacular church near St. Peter's. There is a nice altar inside, and unlike most Riga churches, this one is free. The altar is from the Renaissance period and depicts the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. The ceiling is from the Gothic period, and has 5 separate vaulted compartments. There is also a huge pipe organ, and many stained glass windows. This church dates back to the mid 1200s.
    • Porcelain Museum, 9 Kalēju iela, e-mail: porcelanamuzejs@latnet.lv. 11AM-6PM Tu-Su. Covers the history of porcelain in Riga through the 19th and 20th centuries. 1 Lat, 50 santimi for children, free under 7.
    • Sun Museum, 1 Kungu iela,  (+371) 67225587, e-mail: info@saulesmuzejs.lv. 10AM-7PM daily. A definite contender for Riga's weirdest museum, this one covers the history of sun mythology and its role in Latvian culture. 2 Lats, 1.5 Lats for students, children free.
  • The Big Guild, 6 Amatu iela. Housed the guild of the tradesmen, who would join after being a member of the Blackheads (see House of Blackheads). Home to the Latvian Philharmonic, but you can't just walk inside. It's the exterior that's worth seeing though.
  • The Little Guild, 5 Amatu iela. Another pretty building just behind the Big Guild, this one housed the craftsmen's guild. Like the Big Guild, you can't go inside except for a performance.
  • The House of the Black Cat, Next to the Big Guild. This building (also housing a pub of no particular note) is most famous for the two statues of black cats on the roofs. The legend has it that a disgruntled tradesman who was not accepted into the Big Guild, built this house and put the cats on it with their tails pointing towards the Big Guild, thus expressing his scorn.
  • Wagner Concert Hall, 4 Vāgnera iela. Wagner once lived in Riga, on the street now named after him. This hall where he performed occasionally holds concerts.
  • St. Saviour's Anglican Church, 2a Anglikanu iela,  67222259. Riga's only Anglican church has English language services every Sunday, and free concerts every Wednesday. [15]
  • St. Jacob's Catholic Church, 2 Klostera iela. Dating to 1226, this is one of the few Catholic churches left in Riga. At one point, it housed one of Riga's first schools. Free.
  • Riga Castle - Rigas Pils (Near the Northern boundary of the Old Town). The castle itself is fairly uninteresting, but it houses the following 2 museums:
    • National History Museum of Latvia, 3 Pils Laukums,  67223004, fax: 67220586, e-mail: museum@history-museum.lv. 11AM-5PM W-Su. The History Museum is interesting, however there is little English (Every room has its exhibits summarized on a single plaque). However, the museum does give a very good idea of Latvian history, and will give you a good understanding of the area. Admission: 2 LVL; Camera fee: 5 LVL.
    • Museum of Foreign Art, 3 Pils Laukums,  67226467. 11AM-5PM Tu-Su. The less interesting of the two museums: this is just a standard art museum. Admission fee: 2.50 LVL; Camera fee: 0.50 LVL.
  • Cathedral Square and surroundings (Doma square).
    • Riga Cathedral (Doma cathedral), 1 Doma Laukums,  67227573. Dating to 1207, it is one of Riga's symbols. The 6768-pipe organ inside is particularly spectacular. Besides the organ, however, the interior is rather spartan, and may not be worth the entrance fee. (Currently, even the organ is being restaurated, though).
    • Museum of the Barricades of 1991, 3 Krāmu iela,  (+371) 67213525. 10AM-5PM M-F, 11AM-5PM Sa. Covers the dramatic events that occurred in the tumultuous final year of the USSR, when Soviet authorities sent troops into Riga to overthrow the elected Latvian government. Free.
    • The Three Brothers, 17, 19, and 21 Mazā Pils iela. 9AM-5PM Tu-Th, 9AM-4PM F. The oldest dwelling houses in Riga. One of them has a small architecture museum inside, along with changing exhibits about Latvia.
    • Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation, 4 Palasta iela. May-Sep: 11AM-5PM daily, Oct-May: 11AM-5PM W-Su. Actually 2 museums plus a number of special exhibits, though you pay one price. Like the National Museum, English translations are limited to plaques summarizing rooms, but here you can also pick up pieces of paper describing some of the exhibits. Both of the main museums are quite interesting, and they provide a good idea of what Riga was like in the past. 3 lats plus more for photo permission.
    • Latvian Parliament (Saeima), 11 Jekaba iela. A rather plain building housing the Saeima, Latvia's parliament. It has had a number of uses--including as a soviet-era museum. Currently not open to visitors
    • Arsenal Museum of Art, 1 Torna iela,  67357527. Apr-Sep: 11AM-7PM Tu-Su, Oct-Mar: 11AM-5PM Tu-Su. Riga's premier museum for modern art.
    • Swedish Gate, Btw Torna and Aldaru iela. The last remaining gate from the old city walls.
  • Powder Tower & City Wall (Northwestern end of Old Town). The following attractions are here:
    • Museum of War, 20 Smilsu iela,  67228147. May-Sept: 10AM-6PM W-Su, Oct-Apr: 10AM-5PM W-Su.
    • St. Jacob's Barracks, Torna iela. The primary attraction here is the last remaining stretch of city wall directly opposite the barracks.
  • Latvian Museum of Pharmacy, 13-15 Riharda Vagnera. Tu-Sa: 10am-5pm. In a renovated 18th century house. 1 LVL.
  • Latvian Photographic Museum, Marstalu iela 8. Contains photos of Latvia since 1839, with focuses on the World Wars and 1905 Revolution. 1 LVL.

Around the Freedom Monument

  • Freedom Monument, 1 Brivibas iela. One of Latvia's national symbols. It was erected during the first independence and surprisingly never taken down by the Soviets (although laying flowers at its feet was forbidden). The statue of a woman holding three stars at the top of the monument represents Freedom embracing Latvia's regions.
  • Laima Clock (just south of the Freedom Monument). Laima is a Latvian chocolate manufacturer and means good luck in Latvian. The Clock is a traditional meeting place for people in Riga.
  • Museum 'Jews in Latvia' and Jewish Community, 6 Skolas, 3rd floor,  67283484, e-mail: jewish.museum.latvia@gmail.com. Su-Th: Noon-5PM. Small museum dedicated to Jewish life in Latvia since the 16th century. Includes information on destruction of the synagogues by the Nazis, and the Latvians that saved Jews during the Holocaust. Exhibits are in English and Latvian. Free, donations welcomed.
  • Mentzendorff House, Grecienieku 18. W-Su: 11:00am-5:00pm. Former residence of a wealthy merchant built in 1720, now a museum dedicated to life in Riga in the 17th & 18th centuries. 1.20 LVL.
  • Art Noveau Buildings. Alberta and Elizabetes streets (iela) are the best place to see the creations of Art Nouveau architect Eisenstein, famous of his splendid style. Other Art Nouveau buildings can be seen in the area around the Freedom Monument, including the embassies on Raina Bulvaris and on Strelnieku iela.
  • Bastejkalns, Between Raina Bulvaris and Basteja Bulvaris. A small, pleasant park surrounding Brivibas Bulvaris. Sites in the Bastejkalns include a Chinese and a Japanese building, and the Bridge of Love over the Pilsetas Canal. The Bridge of Love has several locks on the railings put up by recently married couples. There is also a memorial to the two people killed here in the tumultuous events of 1991.
  • Esplanade Park (a block from the Freedom Monument). Designed by Georg Kuphaldt, who was expelled by Germany in 1915 as a spy because he had a telescope in his garden.The following attractions are here:
    • National Museum of Art. Houses many works by Latvian artists.
    • Riga Orthodox Cathedral. The Orthodox Cathedral was erected during Russian rule ofr Russian residents. In contrast to its relatively plain exterior, it is spectacular on the inside, but be aware that shorts are not allowed. free.
    • Kobe Clock (Western corner of the park). Donated by Riga's sister city Kobe in celebration of anniversary of restoration of independence.

Other sights

  • Andrejsala. An artists' island is starting to emerge behind the passengers port a short distance north from the Old town.
  • Riga Central Market (Centrāltirgus) (right next to international bus terminal, 2 min walk from Central station or Old town). Different hours for different parts, see website for info. Noticeable for its huge hangars, built from parts of actual zeppelin hangars bought for the market in 1920. The market has also a large open-air area. It deals mostly in fresh food and is a good place for fresh local fruit and vegetables, especially during summer. There are stalls that sell cheap clothing and accessories. It is especially beloved by Scandinavian tourists coming via ferry for its cheap cigarettes, most of which are speculated to be contraband.
  • Maskavas forštate (Moscow Suburb). A district with old wooden houses and other sights.
    • Choral Great Synagouge, At Gogola and Dzirnavu iela. Mostly in ruins as the Germans burned it down on July 4, 1941 with 600 people locked inside. There is a memorial to 400 Latvians who saved Jews during the Holocaust dedicted on July 4, 2007.
    • Russian Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, 9 Gogola iela.
    • Grebenshchikov Church, 73 Krasta iela. An Old Believers' church.
    • Jesus Church, 18 Elijas iela. An unusually-designed Lutheran church.
    • Latvian Academy of Sciences, 1 Akademijas laukums,  67225361. Balcony: May-Sep: 9AM-8PM daily. Built in 1953, this building is often called Stalin's Birthday Cake because of its austere and ornamented design. The 17th-floor balcony is open to visitors for a fee of a couple of lats.
  • Mežaparks (Take Tram 11). Forest Park is a pleasant park area on the outskirts of Riga. There are large, gorgeous residential houses once inhabited by Riga's prewar elite during the summers. They were largely let go during Soviet times but many are now being refurbished, repainted, and brought back to their original glory.
    • Riga Zoo, 1 Meza Prospekts. The Riga Zoo is small, but fairly popular. 3 - 4 Lats.
  • Riga Motor Museum, Eisensteina 6 (8km from the old town; take trolleybus 14 or 18 to Gailezers Hospital, then walk 500m). 10am-6pm daily. Contains former vehicles of Stalin, Kruschev, and Brezhnev. 1 LVL.
  • Riga Ethnographic Open Air Museum (Latvijas Etnogrāfiskais Brīvdabas Muzejs), 440 Brivibas (take the A2(E77) to the east out of Riga or take bus N.1 or Tram 1, 3, 6 (but from the tram there is a 2 km walk)),  67994106, fax: 67994178, e-mail: info@brivdabas-muzejs.lv. The Museum is in Jugla, near a lake of the same name. There are many traditional Latvian countryside houses collected in a forest/park and exhibitions inside them about the traditional things. The employees are often dressed in the traditional Latvian costumes, creating a nice atmosphere.

Pārdaugava

Left Bank of Riga is less frequently visited by tourists. The following attractions are there:

  • Ķīpsala (Cross the Vanšu bridge over the Daugava). An island with Nordic dwelling architecture, solitude, and delicious sights of Riga over the river Daugava.
  • Riga TV Tower, 1 Zaķusalas krastmala,  67108643. A 368 meter-high tower built of concrete and standing on three legs.It has an observation deck at a height of 97 metres. The inexpensive tours feature a tour guide but don't depend on the guide speaking much English!
  • Āgenskalns (Take Tram 2, 4, or 5; bus 21, trolley bus 9). A very picturesque historical part of Pārdaugava, in 19th century it was a district for mansions and manors, some of which still remain (although bereft of any grounds), and some were replaced by slightly newer early 20th century residential architecture of wealthy middle and upper class. Many embassies were located there pre-WWII.
    • Victory Monument (Uzvaras piemineklis) (Get off the tram at the second stop after the bridge over the Daugava). A splendid example of high Soviet art and the biggest occupation-era monument in Latvia. If you've never seen a Soviet monument before, you should really check this out.
    • Railway Museum, 2 - 4 Uzvaras bulvaris,  67232849. 10AM-5PM Tu-Su. Exhibits several collections of Soviet rolling stock.
    • Theatre Museum (Eduard Smilgis Museum of Theatre), Eduarda Smiļģa iela 37/39 (tram #2, stop Eduarda Smiļģa iela),  67611893. 11AM-6PM W-Su. Located in the eccentrically designed and furnished pre-war house of a former director of Riga Daile Theatre and one of the key figures in Latvian theatre of the 20th century. 0.50–2.00 LVL.
  • Riga Aviation Museum (At Riga-Spilve International Airport). 9:00 - 18:00. Bored at the airport? Check out the Riga Aviation museum, which contains several rare aircraft. €5.

Latvian National Opera

Riga Cathedral

Cathedral Square

Riga History and Navigation Museum

Parliament

Riga Castle

Three Brothers

St. Peter\'s Church

Powder Tower

Swedish Tower

Town Hall

Occupation Museum

Laima Clock

St John\'s Church

Esplanade Park

Freedom Monument

St. Jacob\'s Cathedral

Latvian Rifleman Monument

National Theater

Vansu Bridge

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Popular events in Riga in the near future

Date: Category: The event list provided by Eventful
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About Riga

History

Riga was founded in 1201 by Albert of Bremen as a base for the Northern Crusades. It developed as the major trade hub of the Eastern Baltic during the high days of the Hanseatic League, ruled by the Archbishop of Riga. The Reformation reached Riga in 1522, which ended the Archbishops' power. After the fall of the Hansa, Riga became a part of first the Swedish and then the Russian Empires, before becoming the capital of independent Latvia in 1918. Riga remained as the capital of Latvian Socialist Soviet republic throughout the Soviet period, and emerged in the 1990s as the capital of newly-independent Latvia.

Germans have inhabited the city since its establishment by Albert, and throughout most of its history Germans were the elite while Latvians remained a lower class. Their position as the elite continued through the Imperial period of Riga. As such, much of the architecture in Riga has been heavily influenced by Germany. The Germans were forcibly repatriated after the Nazi occupation of 1941-44.

Much of Riga was bombed during World War II and the ruins were mostly left to decay until independence, when the government, realizing the tourism potential, began to invest in reconstructing and restoring the old buildings. Because of this, Riga has one of the most complete old towns in Europe.

Activities

  • Latvian National Opera, 3 Aspazijas bulvaris, e-mail: boxoffice@opera.lv. A pretty building in its own right, this is also a nice place to see an opera or ballet. 4 LVL to 45 LVL depending on seat.
  • Latvian Philharmonic Concerts @ Big Guild.
  • AK-47 Shooting, Biekensalas 6,  (+371) 26576166. Real Gun Shooting Packages for groups from 5 persons (includes transfer, guide, ear protection, targets and bullets) from €40.
  • Bungee Jumping. Bungee jump from a cable car 45 m high over a scenic river in the national park outside of Riga.
  • Scenic Flights over the Old Town.
  • Canoe Trips. Journey down the River Gauja.

Food

Riga, as the most vibrant and cosmopolitan city of the Baltics, offers countless opportunities to sample both local cuisine and international favorites. Latvian food can be hearty, using a lot of potato, cabbage, beef, pork and fish. A diversity of foreign cuisines is also available -- sushi restaurants in particular are currently in vogue.

Budget

  • Čili Pica, Several locations (One near the Freedom Monument, another on the ground floor of the Stockman mall near central station). Cheap but good pizza.
  • Ķīpsala Island Student Cafeteria (Ķīpsala Island). Several sets of home-like food are offered in a cozy atmosphere.
  • Lido. A network of 8 restaurants offering decent hearty Latvian food, including desserts, at good prices. The restaurants are either cafeteria-style or feature English menus. The following resturants are in the Lido network:
    • Lido Entertainment Center, 76 Krasta iela (Take Tram 3, 7, or 9 to Krasta masīvs),  (+371) 67504420, fax: 67241168. Main Restaurant: 11AM - 11PM daily, Express Restaurant: 1PM - 11PM daily, Beer Cellar: 6PM - 12PM MON-FRI, 12AM - 12PM Holidays, Playroom: 5PM - 10PM MON-FRI, 12PM - 10PM Holidays. The wooden building features three floors of dining, a built-in wooden windmill, and a small amusement park outside. The ground floor and basement operate cafeteria-style. There is a huge choice available, including a variety of soups including borscht and the Latvian cold beetroot soup, as well as kebabs, breasts, chicken sausages, fish, red meats. Blinis are another specialty here. Cafeteria: 2.30 LVL for a meat main course and 0.50 LVL for a plateload of roast potatoes. Pancakes for 0.40 LVL. Top floor: Buffet for set price of 11 LVL.
    • Alus Seta, Old Town. Literally Beer Yard. Serves huge portions of excellent meat and two veg from a grill at the front of the tavern, as well as an excellent choice of Beer. Probably the best value place in town, with two courses easily costing less than 5 LVL.
    • Staburags. á là carte based and not cafeteria-style. Rustic interior, low prices and large portions of traditional Latvian food. Plays pseudo-traditional Latvian music with synthesized backing.
    • Vermanitis, 65 Elizabetes St. A fantastic range of Latvian food in "authentic" environment. Fried fish: 2 LVL, Salmon steak: 3.50 LVL, Half chicken: 1.80 LVL, large side of mashed potatoes or pasta: 0.70 LVL, 500ml beer: 1.50 LVL.
  • Smilšu Pulkstenis, Kalku iela #7. Cheap & tasty Latvian food.
  • Varzob, 1 Ratslaukuma iela (J-2),  67211332. Uzbek food. The plov is an excellent choice, as is the Shashlik and Lagman.

Midrange

  • 13 Kresli, Dome Sq. Still going from Soviet times - 13 Kresli (13 chairs) has grown a bit, but is excellent, especially for tea and snacks
  • Alus Ordenis, 15 Raina bulvaris,  67814190. Serves rural Latvian food for an eminently reasonable price. Try pork shanks or bull testicles!
  • Cafe Grill Bar/Stork's Nest Pub, 14-16 Kaleju iela, e-mail: slbars@e-apollo.lv. A jewel of a restaurant/bar with all the comforts of the USA/UK, serving both Latvian and American food The walls are decorated with American/English memorobilia and there is a large plasma TV showing English or American shows and sporting events.
  • Double Coffee, various all over Riga & Majori. Not just a coffee cafe like Starbucks, but a wide range of teas & coffees + other drinks plus an wide range of food - both Latvian & international. Excellent for lunch or a snack. Reasonable prices too.
  • Juffin's 12, 10 Aldaru Street,  (+371) 67224271, fax: 67224272, e-mail: juffins12@inbox.lv. 11AM-11PM. Serves European and Oriental international food and has an extensive wine list.
  • Le Crabe, Jauniela 24,  (+371) 67212416. 12AM-12PM. One of the best fish restaurants in town. Champagne Glass: 5 LVL, Bottle of Philipe Brugnon 1er Cru Rose: 33 LVL.
  • Osiris, 31 Krisjanis Barona iela. An artsy cafe with a cool interior, fireplace and pancakes worth killing for. While there, drop by Gallerija Istaba for another cup of coffee or beer, and make sure to check out some of the artwork sold downstairs.
  • Sweetday Cafe, Tirgoņu 9 (old town). Coffee house that serves freshly homemade cakes. It has a great cozy atmosphere, and the best service in town. The owner is Inese, speaks Latvian, English, Spanish, Russian and a bit of Dutch.
  • Traktieris (Russian: Трактиръ), 8 Antonijas iela. For a Russian experience, try out Traktieris. Huge servings, great food, loads of vodkas to try out, and a Russian troubadour for entertainment. Few tourists.
  • Vecmeita ar kaķi, 1 Mazā Pils iela. This restaurant and bar is a more upmarket option than Lido, serving very good Latvian food.
  • Gardenia, Grecinieku street 28 (City centre, Old Riga),  (+371) 67224650, fax: 67359749, e-mail: restaurant@hotelgardenpalace.lv. 12:00-24:00. Enjoy Mediterranean and European cuisine at our re-established, cozy, and elegantly casual Restaurant. €5 and up.

Splurge

  • Rozengrāls. An authentic medieval restaurant in a real medieval basement in the Old Town. Serves tasty medieval foods and beverages.
  • Vincents, Elizabetes 19,  (+371) 67332634. M. - F.: Noon-11PM, Sat: 6PM-11PM, Su: Closed. If you're splashing out try Vincents Restaurant which compares favorably to any up market western restaurant at half the price. 20 LVL.
  • Bergs, Elizabetes 83/85, Hotel Bergs. The restaurant of the hotel Bergs may be just about the best that Latvia has to offer. The food can be described as a fusion of Latvian and Western European cuisine. Menus are seasonal, and the ingredients always fresh - meaning sometimes not everything on the menu is available. With impeccable food and service, it is a wonder this place has not yet received the first Michelin star of any restaurant in Latvia.
  • Pinot, Grecinieku 26. The restaurant next to the Museum of Latvia occupation offers a continental take on Baltic food. Menus are seasonal, but the seafood, venison and cloud berry with camembert salad were amazing in May 2012. The wine list is extensive, and the staff speak Latvian, Russian and English reasonably well. Menus are in all three languages. ~40 Lat per person with one drink.

Drinks

Cafes

  • Double Coffee. International chain of coffee houses/restaurants based in Riga and started in 2002. They have WiFi, but you need to buy a Lattelecom wifi card. 10% service charge is added to the bill.
  • Coffee Inn, Audēju 15, Tērbatas 7, Kaļķu 28. Hot or cold coffee, with all kind of flavours. Also delicious, huge cookies, muffins, cakes, sandwiches, etc. Basically Coffee Inn is Latvian version of the Starbucks.

Bars

Riga is a major nightlife destination for tourists and bars here are often open later than those in other European cities. On average, bars in Old Town will charge 2 LVL per beer and bars outside of Old Town will charge 1 LVL per beer. A specialty liquor is Riga Balsam, which is an acquired taste.

  • Betty Page (Betty Page Cocktailbar), Dzirnavu iela 28 (Down the Dzirnavu street near to the). 10.00-04.00. Inspired by the notorious Bettie Page and pin-ups from the 1950s, Betty Page is a local bar snuggled in the quiet center. With fun music, delicious kitchen and nightly happy hour for cocktails (17.00-19.00) it is a great choice for evening ease off. In the backstage there is cozy Cigar Lounge for those who enjoy good cigar, or just want to hide from the world..
  • Cuba Cafe, 15 Jauniela,  +371 67 22 43 62. Cozy bar, DJ in the evenings (who mimes!). Cuba cafe is lways crowded. Girls don't need ID's, bartenders don't check them, gives you wrong change.
  • Skabene (SKĀbene bar), Alksnāja iela 14 (Corner of the Albert square). Well known place for the locals who just want to escape the pretentious bars of the Old Town - if you just want to meet some new friends and have a drink - just go to Skabene. On Tuesdays and Thursdays they have darts tournaments. Music varies from old-school Jamaican ska to 80s hair rock to psychedelic funk. During summertime you can sit outside or ask for a snooker table to challenge the local pros.
  • Karakums, Lāčplēša iela 18. Fun bar with TV and dance room. Beer: 1 LVL.
  • Key Bar, Skarņu iela 2 (Old Town). Owned by three Latvians: Kaspars, Gatis and Frank. The chairs, lamps, and most of the internal design of the bar is all hand made by Kaspars.
  • Leningrad. A bar with a retro Soviet interior of assorted communist relics and furniture. The beer might not be as cheap as it was in Gorbachev's time, but for Old Riga the local Brengulis and Czech Kozel are remarkably affordable. The beefy bartender with the shaved head and trimmed beard looks like Lenin on steroids.
  • Mojo Cafe Bar, Pils 7,  (+371) 29 65 30 03. Interior of red and yellow walls, wooden furniture and a chill out section in the back with couches, a record player and TV all circa 1970. Summer terrace. Mojitos, Caipirinhas: 3LVL; Lāčplēsis beer: 1.50LVL.
  • Orange Bar, 5 Jāņa sēta,  +371 67 228 423.
  • Pulkvedis. A trendy place popular with a younger crowd. ALL of the barmen are very good and the speed is superb. The basement offers techno-ish and/or alternative sounds. Upstairs which is the busiest area with a mix of pop/dance occasional rock music. It is a very busy place on Thurs/Fri/Sat and is closed on Sunday. Entrance: free + face control. Beer: 1,50 LVL, vodka orange: 2.75 LVL, vodka coke: 2.50 LVL, Cocktails: 4-5 LVL.
  • Skyline Bar, 55 Elizabetes iela (On the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel). Just perfect view at sunset. Finding a table next to the windows might be difficult after 11PM. Beer: 2.20-2.80 LVL; Wine: 2.80-3.60 LVL; Cocktails: 4-6 LVL.
  • Route 66 (U.S. Bars) (Along the canal, north of Kristina Valdermara). A dirty grungy bar with skinny waitresses and loud heavy metal. Weekends feature live local bands. No cover charge, local beers and mixed drinks..

Clubs

Riga is known for a sparkling nightlife. There is a difference in style between 'Russian' clubs and 'Latvian' clubs.

  • Amber Night, Elizabetes 55 (In the Radisson Blu Hotel),  +371 29 401 431, e-mail: info@ambernight.lv. Loaded with foreigners and women willing to meet them. 21+.
  • Crystal Club, Lachplesha 52/54,  +371 20 302 030, e-mail: club@crystalclub.lv.
  • Essential Club, 2 Skolas iela. Many famous international DJs play here.
  • Godvil, Brivibas gatve 214B,  +371 66 666 666, e-mail: info@godvil.lv.
  • I Love You, 9 Aldaru iela,  +371 67 225 304.
  • Nabaklab, Z.A.Meierovica bulvaris 12.
  • Push Club, Terbatas 2,  +371 20 223 322, e-mail: info@push.lv. Mostly Russian, age: 20-30 years old, music - dance main-stream.

Shopping

  • Don't go to the souvenir shops, instead buy items like amber and wool mittens and socks in the central market or throughout Old Riga in little stands. You might haggle and get good prices for souvenirs.
  • Taste Latvia, shopping center 'Galerija Centrs', 4th floor,  +371 67104540, e-mail: info@tastelativa.lv. Open from 10.00 to 21.00 all week. Despite the slightly misleading name, Taste Latvia is a "Latvian fashion concept store", selling mostly clothes, but also accessories and items for the home, such as wooden kitchen and cooking utensils, hand-made ecological candles, and other items. The items are all from contemporary Latvian designers. If you want to take home some contemporary Latvian design, Taste Latvia is one of the best places to look.
  • During the Christmas season there is a small Christmas market which offers lots of festive fare and hot wine.
  • Konventa Seta, Behind St. John's Church. A former convent courtyard that now contains several touristy shops.
  • Central Market (Centrāltirgus), 1 Centrāltirgus. 8AM - 5PM daily. This striking building near the central train station began life as an airship hangar in the 1930s, but is now an excellent place to buy fresh produce, meat, dairy, and the occasional counterfeit goods, though these have been mostly eradicated. The market is actually quite non-touristy but very good for souvenirs. There are lots of small cafes scattered around the markets that serve up cheap local eats.
  • Latgalite, Corner of Gogola and Dzirnavu iela. If you are looking for Soviet era items, such as hats, medals, pins, or complete uniforms, go to this flea market. On the way there you will see old buildings that aren't exactly well conserved, but there are some that are breathtaking.
  • Galerija Istaba, 31 Krišjāņa Barona iela. Nice local artwork can be found here. There is also a small cafe/bar on the second floor with a nice, laid-back atmosphere.
  • Stockmann, 13 Janvara iela (Near the train station),  (+371) 67071222, fax: 67071254. 1st Floor: 9AM - 10PM MON-SAT, 10AM - 10PM SUN 2nd Floor: 10AM - 9PM daily. The Latvian branch of the Finnish department store chain.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Riga on Wikivoyage.

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