If you are planning a trip to Riga, Latvia then these are the things you can do in 2 days.
I decided to go in september which is maybe not the warmest time of year, I was there in the middle of the month and within a day the temperature dropped 10 degrees!! Unfortunately I hadn’t done any research and so didn’t come prepared with a coat, which would prove a mistake as I was headed north and it would get colder.
Getting from the airport into Riga is very easy, if you are staying in the old town then there is no point getting a taxi you can get the bus from the road outside the airport, just go outside, cross the car park, look for the bus stop and get either the 22 or 222. It costs 2 Euro into the centre and there are 2 stops for the old town depending on the area where you are staying. I was staying near the bus/train station so I got off at the Stockmann shopping centre. It only takes 30 minutes and is cheaper than a taxi which would cost 15 Euro.
I arrived in Riga in the afternoon with a friend and as we had missed the free walking tour for the day we decided to have a walk around the places recommended to me by my hostel.
We firstly walked down Merkela Iela and stopped at the impressive Russian Orthodox Cathedral which was built between 1876 and 1883 and is the largest in the baltic countries. It is beautiful inside and worth a visit if you are in Riga.
Then we walked towards Alberta Iela to see some Art Nouveau buildings. Around a third of the buildings in Riga are Art Nouveau built between 1904 and 1914. It is beautiful to walk down the streets and see the different styles of art nouveau architecture from this period.
We then walked down to Kronvalda Park where we chilled out on the grass by the canal, despite it being a bit damp from the recent cold nights!!! It’s a great place to chill out and you can even take a boat trip down the canal if you want.
We carried on walking along the canal rather than the busy roads until we got to Freedom Monument, it was built to honour the soldiers killed during the Latvian war of independence from 1918 – 1920. It was unveiled in 1935 and managed to survive the soviet occupation in Latvia. There is supposed to be a guard of honour, two guards who stand watch between 9am – 5pm every day, but as you can see from my photo, no guard that day!! Though I did see the guards the following day!! An interesting fact is that you can only be a guard if you are at least 6ft tall!!
After this we then walked into the old town and saw Riga Dome Church.
Then St Peter’s Church.
We walked around the whole of the old town for several hours as I couldn’t decide where to eat and we did see all the streets and the old wall and powder tower before I finally decided on a place!! It was quite cold sat outside on an evening but I was given a blanket to keep me warm and a few ciders helped nicely too. We then called it a night and headed back.
After saying bye to my friend the next day I headed to the meeting point for the free walking tour to see the sights I had missed the day before. It started in the old town before proceeding down to the market. The market is the largest in Europe and was constructed using 5 old German Zepplin hangars. It’s a great place to walk through with lots of cheap local food to try.
After we had walked through the market we headed to the river front, there is a walkway at the side with beautiful views.
From there we walked up past the Riga Ghetto Museum which informs visitors about the history of Latvia’s Jewish community and the 70,000 Jews who lost their lives during the holocaust.
We then walked past the Academy of Sciences which you can go up and see the view of the city. It was completed in 1956 and the 17th floor has a viewing platform for the public.
We then walked through the train station and down the art noveau district I had visited the day before and finished at the freedom monument. As you can see from the picture below the honour guard was there that day.
After this I decided to go and visit the Riga Dome Church and see inside. It costs 3 Euro to get inside but you also get to see the cloisters which is a beautiful area.
I then went to St Peter’s Church and got the lift up to the top of the spire as I had heard the views of the city were amazing. I wasn’t disappointed, though I was a little shocked at the 9 Euro fee!!!
After this I went out for dinner and back to my hostel. Riga is a great town to visit with lots to see. My next two days I spent visiting Sigulda a beautiful town outside of Riga within Guaja National Park and Kemeri National Park.
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