TOP 15 lucruri de facut in Riga – Ce sa vizitezi in capitala Letoniei

If you are looking for a special city break destination, we suggest a visit to the capital of Latvia.

Riga is wonderful, you will enjoy it and remember it as a charming, beautiful and chic city, with a lively historical center and atmosphere and elegant buildings.

Come with us to discover one of the best hidden treasures of Europe and a gem of the Baltic States! In this article you will find the most important tourist attractions of the city, but also useful information about the city, such as transport, accommodation or places to eat.

About Riga

Riga is the capital of Latvia, located near the Baltic Sea. It is the largest city of the Baltic States, with a population of over 600,000 inhabitants, and an important financial and cultural center in the area.

The historic center of the city is included in the UNESCO Cultural Heritage list, starting from 1997. At the same time, Riga is also well-known as one of the cities with the most Art Nouveau buildings.


Latvia is a member of NATO and a member of the European Union since 2004, and the official currency is the euro. The spoken language is Latvian, but most of the population, especially in Riga, understands and speaks English very well.

When to go to Riga

It is known that the Baltic countries are some of the coldest European countries, with long and hard winters. But at the same time, you should also know that summers are beautiful here: the days are long, it gets dark late, the temperatures are pleasant, so the weather is perfect for visiting. This is if you choose to travel in the summer months. The recommended period for a trip here is between the months of May and September.


How to get to Riga

By plane to Riga

The main airline that flies to the Baltic countries, and implicitly to Riga, is Air Baltic. But you can also find flights by low-cost airlines, such as Wizz Air or Ryanair.


Search on Google Flights or possible routes.

How to get from the airport to Riga

Bus 22 is the public transport used to get from the airport to the center of Riga. A ticket costs 1.81 euros and can be bought directly from the bus, with a Visa card, or from the application Rigas satiksmes.

By car in Riga

There are a number of travelers who visit the Baltic States by car, either rented (they arrive in a capital of one of the Baltic States, and from there they rent a car to visit all three countries), or come with their personal car, as was in our case, traveling with a campervan.

In this case, a tip to keep in mind when you arrive in Riga, is to be careful where you park your car, I recommend looking for paid parking lots, to be safe.

In the Baltic countries, no vignette or road tax is needed for small cars and motorhomes.


By bus in Riga

If you're going to visit Riga, there's a good chance you'll want to visit the other Baltic capitals, Tallinn and Vilnius, in the same trip. In this case, a good option to get from one city to another is by bus, such as Flixbus or Omio.

The duration of a bus trip to Tallinn or Vilnius is around 4 hours, and the price can start from 12 euros/ticket. The earlier you buy the ticket, the cheaper you will find it.


How to get around in Riga

Riga is a small city, which means that you will be able to visit the entire historical center on foot, without having to use other means of transport.

But, if you still want to get to places further from the center, such as the airport, the Ethnographic Museum or maybe even Jurmala, you should know that the means of public transport run very well in Riga.

I recommend you download the Rigas satiksmes application to buy travel tickets - a 90-minute ticket costs 1.5 euros, a one-day pass costs 5 euros.


What to do in Riga

We are honest and will tell you that Riga is our favorite capital in the Baltic States! It impressed us and gave us such a good mood, therefore we want to convince you to give it a chance! I invite you to discover further the list of the most beautiful things you can do if you arrive in the capital of Latvia:

1. Discover the historical center of Riga

How can you start your visit in a city better than by discovering its main touristic and historical center? This is what I recommend you do the first time you get to Riga! Go to the old center of Riga, get lost on the city's pedestrian streets, admire the architectural elegance of the buildings and squares and enjoy the lively atmosphere of this city. We really liked the energy transmitted by Riga on a warm June day, with full restaurants, many tourists and a lot of cheerfulness.

At the same time, in the center of Riga you will find some historical or symbolical buildings or monuments, which you should know about:

Three Brothers

We can say that the most famous tourist attraction in Riga is the set of three neighboring houses, called “Three Brothers” .

It is said that these three buildings are the oldest residential houses in Riga, each being an example of medieval architecture specific to the times in which it was built. The houses have a special appearance, but different from each other, and this is because each building was built in different historical period, under the influence of different architectural styles.

Three Brothers - Riga
Three Brothers - Riga

Among the three houses, the oldest is the white house, or house number 17, which was built in the 16th century. The second house, the yellow one or house number 19, was built in the 17th century, and the last one, the green house or house no. 21, was built in the 18th century.

Today, the "Three Brothers" complex houses the Museum of Latvian Architecture and can be visited for free.

House of the Black Heads

House of the Black Heads is an emblematic building of Riga, which stands out due to its remarkable appearance. From my point of view, it is one of the most beautiful and distinct buildings in the city!

House of the Black Heads - Riga
House of the Black Heads - Riga

The original building was built in the 14th century and was the seat of the Brotherhood of the Black Heads, an organization of unmarried merchants of German origin, known for its role in the economic and social life of Riga.

Unfortunately, the original building was destroyed during the Second World War, but completely rebuilt 25 years ago, according to the plans of the old building.

Today, the House of the Black Heads is a tourist and cultural center of the city, and the interior of the building can be visited for 7 euros. Tickets can also be bought online, from here: Riga: Entrance Ticket – House of the Black Heads.

Cat House

You must know that the black cats on the roof of the house with the obvious name “Cat House” are true symbols of Riga! There are two statuettes in the form of black cats with raised tails, placed on the roof of a house in the city center. The building was built at the beginning of the 19th century in the Art Nouveau style.

Cat House - Riga
Cat House - Riga

There are several legends behind these cats. One of the legends says that the owner of the house, when he was rejected from the Riga merchants' organization, placed the statues with their backs and tails raised towards the association's building, as a gesture of revenge.

Dome Square

There is no big city without a main square, and in Riga, Dome Square is the central point and the heart of the city. A lively market, with elegant buildings and numerous restaurants, just like you find in any European capital.

Dome Square - Riga
Dome Square - Riga

In the middle of the square rises majestically the cathedral of the city, whose construction began in the 13th century. It can be visited, and an entrance ticket costs 5 euros/adults.

Dome Square - Riga

Freedom Monument

Freedom Monumentis a symbol of the freedom of the Latvian people.

The monument was built after the First World War, in 1935, to commemorate Latvia's independence from Russia and is a tribute to the soldiers who lost their lives during the War of Independence (1918-1920).

Freedom Monument - Riga
Freedom Monument - Riga

The monument is located near the historical center, in the middle of the Bastejkalna park.  

2. Climb to the top of St. Peter's church in Riga

One thing that most tourists do when they arrive in a foreign city is to find a place at a height, from where they can admire the complete panorama of the city. Well, in Riga, the right place for that is the tower of St. Peter's church.

One of the things you should not miss when you come to Riga is to visit St. Peter's church and climb its tower. The ticket costs 9 euros, and you can go up directly with the elevator, without the need for any physical effort. We also went up, and the city looked absolutely spectacular from above!

3. Discover the Art Nouveau Quarter and Albert Street

One of the reasons why Riga is special is due to the many buildings built in the Art Nouveau style, being a representative city of this amazing architectural style. You will be fascinated by the architecture of these buildings and you will notice that no building is similar to another.

Albert Street - Art Nouveau Quarter - Riga
Albert Street - Art Nouveau Quarter - Riga

I recommend that you go to Albert street, the center of the Art Nouveau district in Riga, to walk and admire the architectural treasures located in this part of the city. I guarantee that you will be fascinated by the story and elegance of this place.

4. Go shopping at Riga Central Market

If you want to see how and where the locals get their supplies, then run to Riga Central Market. It is one of the largest markets of its kind in this part of Europe and you can find here a lot of products to choose from, starting from fish, meat, dairy or fruit, all fresh and tasty!

5. Visit the Corner House in Riga

A major tourist attraction in Riga is the Corner House, the former KGB headquarters in Latvia.

The military forces of the Soviet Union occupied Latvia on June 17, 1940, and this building became the Latvian headquarters of the KGB, receiving the nickname "Corner House".

Here was the place of interrogation and imprisonment of Latvian citizens whom the Soviet regime considered enemies of the state. During the Soviet occupation, the KGB initiated tens of thousands of criminal cases for "anti-Soviet crimes". When Latvia regained its independence, the KGB was declared a criminal organization and abolished in Latvia.

Today, "Corner House" is open to the public, and can only be visited as part of a tour, which you can book here:

A ticket costs 15 euros, and children under 12 are not allowed to enter.

6. Stroll through Riga's parks

A very pleasant walk can be that through the parks around the canal and the Freedom Monument.

Bastejkalna Park or Vermane Gardens are real green oases in the city center, where you can relax after the few hours you have spent visiting the main sights of the old center.


7. Take a boat ride on the Riga's canal

And if you still came in the Bastejkalna park, you will probably notice a few boats running slowly on the canal in the park. If time permits and you enjoy such activities, then I recommend you to go on a boat tour on the canals and the Daugava river.

You can find such a tour here, the trip lasts one hour, and the price is 12 euros: Riga: Canal Boat Sightseeing Tour.


8. Join a Walking Tour in Riga

Our favorite activity in any big city we visit is to participate in a Walking Tour with a local guide. It is the best method to find out the story of a city and to know important information about it, such as history, culture or other social aspects.

We also participated in such a tour in Riga, and we recommend it to you too! You can find such tours here, with a fixed price, or you can take a Free Walking Tour, where payment will be made in the form of a tip at the end.


9. Visit the National Library in Riga

Another interesting landmark in Riga is the National Library, with its building that stands out for its grandeur and modern architecture.

If time allows, go inside it and visit the huge rooms, full of books. Entry is free!

10. Visit the Ethnographic Museum in Riga

A walk through nature combined with a lesson in Latvian history is visiting the Ethnographic Museum near Riga. This is an open-air museum located in a forest, where old traditional houses, up to three centuries old, are exhibited.

You can get here by bus from Riga, and an entrance ticket costs 4 euros.

11. Try the traditional drink Black Balsam

One of the most popular drinks in Riga is called "Black Balsam", and it is an alcoholic drink prepared from plants, considered the national drink of Latvia.

The best place where you can try this drink, together with other products prepared from it, such as desserts or cocktails, is at the Black Magic Bar

12. Take a day trip to Sigulda

One of the most popular day trips from Riga is to Sigulda, a city located 50 km from the capital of Latvia. Admirable here is the entire area surrounding the city, with those gorgeous picturesque landscapes, hiking or biking trails, Gutman's cave and the well-known medieval castles, such as Turaida Castle or Sigulda Castle.

You can come here by car, you can take the train to Sigulda and from there rent a bike, or you can book a private tour from Riga, such as this one: Private Sigulda, Turaida, and Gauja National Park Tour.

13. Relax on the beaches of Jurmala resort

Jurmala is a very popular resort town in Latvia, the main Latvian resort on the Baltic Sea and the largest in the Baltic region. In summer ot attracts many foreign tourists, especially Nordics and Germans, thanks to the long beach with golden sand, the stylishly center, but also thanks to the good weather and the long summer days.


Jurmala is located only 25 kilometers from the center of Riga, perfect for a short escape from the city, to enjoy the sound of the sea on a superb beach.

You can quickly get to Jurmala by train from Riga, there are different lines that run every 15 minutes. Check on Google Maps the easiest and fastest way to get to Jurmala.


And if you want to travel by car, you should know that in Jurmala an entrance fee is required for the car, which is worth 3 euros/day. You can pay this fee online here:

Consider also the option of an organized tour to get to Jurmala and Kemeri National Park: From Riga: Trip to Kemeri National Park & Jurmala.

14. Discover the Kemeri National Park

Kemeri National Park is a natural treasure of Latvia! Here you will find a special trails, Kemeri Trail Bog, which will offer you a wonderful experience: on a wooden path you will cross vast lands of bogs. I know it sounds strange, who would come to visit a bog? But I assure you, the landscape is unreal and mysterious, but you should see it by yourself!


There are two trails, in a loop, one of 1.5 kilometers and the larger one of 3.5 kilometers. I recommend you to take the long route, in order to reach the observation tower, from where you can admire the entire land from a height. It is something unique!

This park is located 50 kilometers from the city, the entrance is free and you can get here either by car or with an organized tour from Riga, if you want a more convenient option. One such tour is this one, where you will be also able to reach the beach in the resort of Jurmala: Kemeri National Park Bog Trail near Riga.

15. Take a day trip to the Hill of Crosses in Lithuania

Another special day trip from Riga is the one to the Hill of Crosses, in Lithuania. It is at a greater distance than the other locations proposed above, but the final destination is completely unique and memorable.

Hill of Crosses, Lithuania
Hill of Crosses, Lithuania

The Hill of Crosses is one of the most famous places in Lithuania, and it is a symbol of the faith, hope and freedom of this country. On a small hill, hundreds of thousands of crosses stand as proof of the faith and devotion of the Lithuanian people, being also a memorial of the national identity.

For us it was one of the most unusual and interesting places we visited in Europe.

You can get here by car, or by means of a private tour: From Riga: The Hill of Crosses Private Guided Tour.

Where to stay in Riga

In Riga, I recommend an accommodation in the central area, to be as close as possible to the important touristic sights of the city. Here are some options:


Where to eat in Riga

One of the most surprising things about the Baltic States, and implicitly about Latvia and Riga, was the extraordinarily tasty local cuisine. And Riga does not fail when it comes to restaurants where you can eat well.

From our own experience, we recommend two places to serve meals:

  • LIDO restaurants - LIDO is a chain of self-service restaurants, with tasty and affordable food, and one of them is located right in the old center. We ate excellently here, both of us, and the total price was around 20 euros. 

Other highly rated restaurants in Riga are:

Riga in pictures

If you are looking for an original city break destination, start looking for plane tickets to Riga, one of the most surprising and delightful cities in the Eastern Europe!


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