Trendy restaurants and cafés, a cosy old town, great value shopping, excellent nightlife and much more. Come and see for yourself how great the Latvian capital is!
Our top picks in Riga
1.The National Library of Latvia
Opposite to the Old Riga on the left bank of the river Daugava stands the new building of the National Library called also the Castle of Light. The building was designed by Gunārs Birkerts - the most renowned Latvian architect in the world. He also designed the Law Library Building at the University of Michigan and the Corning Museum of Glass that were both included in the list of 150 all-time favourite buildings in America, compiled by the American Institute of Architects. The architect intended for the new building to reflect a hill of glass that has a symbolic meaning in the Latvian culture. The building has 13 floors that rise 68 m high. You can take a tour through the building and dine at the restaurant Klīversala that boasts a great view to the city. Read more
2. The Kalnciems quarter
The trendy Kalnciems quarter is located on the left side of the river Daugava around the junction of Kalnciema and Melnsila streets. Thanks to two brothers who have a passion for old wooden buildings, the former worker and craftsmen residential homes have been carefully renovated and transformed into stylish offices, restaurants and shops. The quarter is now engulfed in a creative atmosphere and is a top meeting place for the hip folks of Riga. Every Saturday a farmers and crafts market takes place in the area, which is a popular spot for getting together and having breakfast. During summer on Thursday evenings, free open-air concerts are organized there, and people gather around for a glass of wine after work. To have a meal, visit the restaurant Māja, where you can experience the aura of an authentic former wooden residence or have a beer in the bar Vinilbārs where the music is played on vinyl only. Buy tasty chocolate-covered fruit, marzipan or milk candies in the Skrīveru saldumi sweets shop on 32 Kalnciema street. Read more
3. The Berga Bazaar
The Bergs Bazaar, a historical pedestrian oasis dating from 1886, is one of Riga’s most unique and charming destinations. Explore small boutique shops offering both local and imported goods such as stylish clothing made by local designers, current and historical maps, delectable pastries and French wines. Both women and men can pamper themselves at one of the various salons including Rīgas Bārddzinis (Riga Barbershop) featuring exclusive products and straight-blade shaves for discerning gentlemen. Dine at an array of restaurants and cafes: Andaluzijas Suns, Cydonia Gastropub, Zoste, Kanēļa Konditoreja and Buržuja Brokastis are more casual, while restaurant Bergs and wine bar Garage are more up-market. Read more
4. Sunday brunch
A Sunday brunch in Riga is a must. There are many places to choose from depending on your culinary tastes and wallet. The finest brunch spots are in Andrejosta behind the Riga passenger port and near the yacht port on the river Daugava. The former industrial territory now features many restaurants and clubs and is especially lively on the weekends. There you can enjoy brunch with a magnificent view to the river on the outdoor terraces of the restaurants Koya and Aqua Luna. In the city centre, the Sky Line bar on the 26th floor of the Radisson Blue Hotel Latvija offers brunch with the best view overlooking the city. Innocent Café and the vegetarian café and bike design studio Meet are popular brunch spots among hipsters. Read more
5. Riga Central Market and Spīķeri quarter
Riga Central Market is located on the border of Old Town, almost on the Daugava riverbank. It dates back to the mid-twenties of the 20th century, when the German military Zeppelin hangars from World War I, which give the market its unique appearance, were put to a new use. In its heyday the market stored 700 tons of food, but nowadays it’s a great everyday alternative to supermarkets, offering a variety of products from Latvian farms, both organic and conventional, the Baltic sea as well as a lot of exotic fruit, vegetables and spices from around the world. Because of this, the market is beloved by local chefs, professionals and amateurs alike. Since 1998 Riga Central Market has been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Old Riga. If you’re around the market, you definitely should also pay a visit to Spīķeri quarter right next to it. Since the Middle Ages this area has been serving the port, first as the place where cargo was loaded onto ships and later as the port warehouse. Its current look was established mid-19th century, and right now its one of the cultural hotspots of the city – with a contemporary art center, a theater, a concert hall, and cafes to round your sightseeing up with a nice meal! Read more
6. Splendid Palace and cafe Film Noir
Built in 1923, with funds raised by traveling cinema shows around the post World War I Central and Western Europe where most cinemas were destroyed or non-operational, the gorgeous Splendid Palace may well be one of the most interesting cinemas in Europe. The founders truly believed that films should be enjoyed in the same environment as the opera, and this belief is abundantly reflected in the Neo-Baroque exterior and the Neo-Rococo interior. Today Splendid Palace follows its original intention and still treats cinema as an elite art form, screening the latest and most critically acclaimed films from Europe and the world, movies that rarely are included in the repertoire of big commercial cinemas. Here you can also enjoy a film while having a glass of wine and a delicious meal at Cafe Film Noir – located in the same Splendid Palace building and sharing the film repertoire! Read more
7. Entertainment outside old Riga
Old Riga is undoubtedly gorgeous, but on weekend nights it might be too overwhelming for a tourist who wants to hang out with the locals instead of other tourists. In that case Riga offers a whole lot of entertainment spots outside Old Town. The usual route starts at Kaņepe Culture Centre (KKC), located on the corner of Lāčplēša and Skolas. They’re often having exhibitions by local artists or independent music bands gigs, while the crowd mostly features people from the creative industries, and local and exchange students. Within a 5 minute walk is Vest cafe, which could be considered a local version of the popular Deus Ex Machine cafes in Milan and Sydney. The tasteful interior and music together with the always diverse bunch of people never fails to keep a good vibe going. The next stop is club Piens (meaning Milk in Latvian) on Aristīda Briāna Street, one of the top entertainment spots for a while now. Fun fact – at its very peak it was so popular that next to it the Kefīrs club was opened – mischievously named after a popular dairy drink made of milk. If you’d like to escape the city centre entirely and instead enjoy some nature while having fun, there’s no better place than Cabo cafe in Mežparks, next to the Ķīšezers Lake – popular among active lifestyle lovers and water sports enthusiasts! Read more
8. The palace of culture Ziemeļblāzma
When you have acquired an impression of the city centre and get that longing to leave town and see the Baltic Sea, head to Vecmīlgrāvis. Historically a fishermen’s village, it is now a sprawling district, conveniently reached by buses 2, 24 or 29 – just get off at the final stop. Visit one of the witnesses of the past – the old Mangaļsala pier, over 150 years old and 2km long, is a stone structure ushering River Daugava into the Baltic Sea. Besides wonderful views of sandy Baltic beaches from the pier you’ll also find an impressive early 20th century building called Ziemeļblāzma (meaning Northern lights or Aurora in Latvian). The stunning building has recently been renovated, and if you’re lucky with your timing, you might spend an evening enjoying a classical or academic music or jazz concert. Stroll around the vast park right next to Ziemeļblāzma and climb the 35-meter high watchtower (previously used as a light house) to take in a magnificent panorama of the Baltic Sea! Read more
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