Riga Travel Guide

Superlative adjectives are bandied around enthusiastically when references are made to the Latvian capital of Riga. The hippest, coolest, chicest, trendiest city in Europe has long since shaken off the shackles of communism and the former Soviet Union to become a destination still shy of mass exploitation but home to a fashionable edge that makes it a sought after city for those in the know. Riga is located on the coast of the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the River Daugava.

Riga’s old town is notable enough that it boasts UNESCO World Heritage site status and is indeed the focal point for much of its history and cultural heritage. Typical old fashioned cobblestone streets preside, within which a variety of Germanic Art Nouveau buildings can be found.

Indulgent pleasures abound in the new city at the myriad of pubs, bars and restaurants available, among which are some genuinely cool little venues with their own distinct themes and d├ęcor. A trip to the Central Market with its hip second-hand clothing stalls and collectible item vendors is a must for Bohemian types; it’s also the ideal place for a spot of people watching as the locals mill around buying fruit and veggies.

Highlights

House of Blackheads: in no way related to acne or facial blights, the House of Blackheads is a recent rebuilding (2001) of a classic 14th century structure that was eventually razed completely by the Russians following significant damage to it during WWII.

Church of St Peter’s: dating back to the early 13th century, this fine structure has seen its main tower reconstructed a total of three times; the last time being in 1973 when steel was finally favored over wood as a suitable material.

Latvian National Opera: with construction completed in 1863, this fine building was intended originally to be the home of the city’s German Theater but its acoustics proved perfect for opera and now the 967 seat auditorium is dedicated to that and pretty much that alone.

The “Three Brothers“: these three old houses are excellent examples of Riga’s medieval architecture. The first was built in the 15th century with the others following in the 17th and 18th centuries respectively.

Riga Motor Museum: a must for automobile enthusiasts and those with general interests in modes of transportation old and new. Over 100 vehicles of one description or another are on display here.