Bucket List: Top 15 Best Things to do in Riga, Latvia

Riga Bucket List: Tourist Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Riga, Latvia

Riga perfectly blends in Latvia’s tradition, which makes it a beating heart of the region worth exploring on its own. The center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site packed full of treasures and lands of exploration from their top-notch restaurants and recreational activities. Its charm comes from the architecture of the Old Town and the art grandeur of the historic center to hang-out spots around the wooden gems of Pardaugava. Taste their local delicacies and craft beers to fill up, and dive into Riga’s world-class cultural gifts to the world for the perfect vacation.

Start and Adventure by Old Town Riga

Old Town Riga Latvia

Stroll on the narrow cobblestone streets, colorful squares, Medieval styled architectural buildings, and treasures. Old Town Riga features over 500 creative buildings that reflect various architectural styles like gothic, baroque, modernism, and art nouveau.

The notable ones are the Riga cathedral, the largest medieval church in the Baltics, St Peter’s church for its beautiful skyline views where you can observe on the upper floors, and the Three Brothers houses in different centuries.

Don’t miss out on Rozena Steet, a narrow alley where you can touch the opposite walls with both hands, and stop for a coffee at one of the pavement cafes on Dome Square.

Fill Your Stomach at the Largest Market in Europe

The aerial view of Riga Central Market's pavilions photo via Depositphotos
The aerial view of Riga Central Market’s pavilions photo via Depositphotos

Get a fulfilling taste-test of pickled cucumbers that would surely make you want to buy more. This market has various vegetables freshly picked from the farm and the all-time favorite freshly-smoked eel.

To venture more on shopping sprees, this is the best location as it is not only one of the largest markets in Eastern Europe, but it is also one of the most visited markets on average.

It’s not only food that you can get, but there’s also a bonus of its lovely pavilions and old warehouses, which is now a creative art and entertainment area.

Take a tour of the House of the Blackheads.

House of the Blackheads at dusk by Diliff via Wikipedia CC
House of the Blackheads at dusk By Diliff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC.

The House of Blackheads has a lot to offer as it’s a known used venue for exhibits, concerts, and events at its Conference Hall. You shouldn’t miss out on the façade of its building that features different architectural styles in different eras.

There are also artisans, craftsmen, and restored antiquities like crystal chandeliers, silverware, paintings, pottery, and one of the Conference Hall’s most notable ceilings.

Learn in the Latvian Academy of Sciences

Latvian Academy of Sciences by Ogre11 via Wikipedia CC
Latvian Academy of Sciences by Ogre11 via Wikipedia CC

The Latvian Academy of Sciences is a part of the Socialist Realism in Latvia. The building was originally meant to have another purpose, like a hotel or dormitory, but it never came to be. The locals used to call the buildings “Stalin’s birthday cake,” “Stalin’s baroque,” “Stalin’s tooth,” “Kremlin,” and suchlike. On the 17th floor, you can take a panoramic picture of the whole city while seeing the Central Market’s bustling life.

There are also concerts and events held here like popular music performances for an audience of all ages.

Immerse Yourself in the Fantasies of Riga Gallery

Enjoy the unique world offered by the Fantasy Riga Gallery, located at the heart of Riga. It’s going to be fun for children too as you can recognize a lot of characters from a book, a story or a movie. These fantasy characters are created by famous artist Vladlena and other notable artists.

They feature three different subject exhibits with more than 60 different fantasy characters. One fascinating section is the ghost story, where you can take pictures with human-sized characters.

Pray and Attend Concerts at Riga St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter's Church, Riga
St. Peter’s Church, Riga

St Peter’s Church is the tallest one in Riga, which offers a picturesque view of Old Town’s red roofs, cities, and rivers. You can enjoy art exhibitions and even attend concerts. Don’t miss out on the Blue Guard Chapel, the wooden altar, and the original statue of Knight Roland.

To get more immersed, you can get acquainted with the skills and sense of our ancient builders’ art to get more impressions of modern architecture.

Explore Mentzendorff’s House

Antique Typewriter inside Mentzendorff House in Riga by Keith H via Flickr CC
Antique Typewriter inside Mentzendorff House in Riga by Keith H via Flickr CC

Mentzendorff’s House is an ancient building from the 17th century that houses a museum exhibiting Riga’s wealthy residents’ stories and the city’s cultural history and traditions. You can admire their interior with unique wall paintings, along with their sophisticated furniture and collections.

They are located in the centuries-old shop room, kitchen, drawing room, dance hall, poet’s room, chapel, landlord’s room, girls’ room, old cellars, and a romantic attic that now house exhibition halls. They also host glass workshops, and if you’re interested in art, you can also paint tiles like how Dutch artists painted before.

Take Photographs of Riga’s Architecture

Art Nouveau Facade in Riga Latvia
Art Nouveau Facade in Riga Latvia

Riga’s architecture gives an authentic, bold, and vibrant style, especially the Central Riga, where there are many medieval vibes, wooden structures, and Art Nouveau architecture unique.

It’s worth visiting the first Art Nouveau-themed building, a rental property, and the adjacent buildings at Elizabetes designed by the avid advocate of Art Nouveau, architect Mihails Eizenšteins.

Haggle at the Latgale Tirgus Flea Market

Flea Market
Flea Market

The Latgale Tirgus Flea Market is a unique location for flea market enthusiasts as it is one of the best flea markets in the whole Baltic region. A stroll will give you an exciting glimpse into the past and present of this Russian, German, and Scandinavian influenced town.

There are different finds like old vinyl records, home items, bicycles, electronics, ancient coins, books, and a seemingly endless assortment of things based on your needs.

A fascinating one is the Soviet-era memorabilia like pins and uniform parts of the Red army. Ensure that you have your handy translator as most of the sellers only speak Russian, and taking pictures is forbidden in the market.

Learn the World of Filmmaking at the Riga Film Museum

Riga Film Museum by Smig via Wikipedia CC
Riga Film Museum By Smig at Russian Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

You can learn more about filmmaking processes and how film technologies evolved. A good one where younger audiences would be interested in are animations, puppets, and other digital animated themes.

They offer mini-exhibitions, lectures, events, and even movie screenings. You can take a guided tour, lessons, and be part of the creative workshops about film history.

Take a stroll by the Daugava River.

Daugava River photo via Depositphotos
Daugava River photo via Depositphotos

You can’t miss out on the Daugava River if you’re in Riga. It’s an enormous river, and its oily dark waters half the city in two, parallel with the Old Town on the East bank and towards the Gulf of Riga.

Latvia’s serpentine ‘river of fate’ passes through Latgale, Zemgale, and Vidzeme before passing Riga and emptying in the Gulf of Riga.

The Latvian Museum of Decorative Arts and Design

Latvian Museum of Decorative Arts and Design by Janis U via Wikipedia CC
Latvian Museum of Decorative Arts and Design By J?nis U. at Latvian Wikipedia – Own work, Public Domain, CC

The Museum offers a lot of decorative arts and design created by Latvian artists. You’ll be able to admire the biggest collection of porcelain artworks, an extensive collection of ceramics, and a group of textile arts where different techniques have blended over time as the basis of contemporary decorative and applied arts.

They offer various creative workshops, where you can learn how to make wool, work with wooden prints for decorating fabric, learn textile printing, and creative activities.

Attend Performances at the Latvian National Opera and Ballet

Latvian National Opera and Ballet by Diego Delso via Wikipedia CC
Latvian National Opera and Ballet by Diego Delso via Wikipedia CC

Expect a top-class classical opera, ballet performances, children’s opera, and modern opera from authentic Latvian productions.

Their desire is achieved with how many people watch them maintain classical and romantic opera and ballet traditions.

Take pictures of the Freedom Monument.

Freedom Monument in Riga Latvia by Diego Delso via Wikipedia CC
Freedom Monument in Riga Latvia By Diego Delso, CC BY-SA 3.0, CC

The Freedom Monument comprises granite and copper representing the Latvian state, unity, independence, and freedom. Found at the base of the monument is the “For Fatherland and Freedom,” while at the top of the monument’s obelisk is the nine-meter young woman holding three stars above her head.

These three stars symbolize the three historical provinces of Latvia and national unity. At present, two honor guards stand at the base of the monument, representing Latvia’s sovereignty.

Try the Riga Black Balsam

Riga Black Balsam is a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur photo via Depositphotos
Riga Black Balsam is a traditional Latvian herbal liqueur photo via Depositphotos.

Riga Black Balsam is made using a single-barrel infusion technology. Barrel by barrel, botanicals are infused in the spirit-water to create a so-called this essence. The essence is blended with the rest of the ingredients and bottled in ceramic bottles, which you can purchase.

This traditional recipe was created in 1752 by Abraham Kunze, and it consists of 24 herbs like blueberries, raspberries, birch buds, bitterwort root, peppermint leaves, and other botanicals.

Riga Travel and Tour Packages

To help you plan out your vacation to Riga, we listed places to visit and other amazing activities in Riga, Latvia. We also listed some of the best travel deals and tour packages and excellent flight deals and accommodation.

Searching for the best hotels, resorts, and affordable flights in the nearby Cities? Check out our list of affordable Riga hotels and resorts via Agoda, Booking, or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

Want more updates about new package tours and tourist spots in Riga, Latvia? Follow #TeamOutofTown, on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Bloglovin, and Pinterest for more travel ideas.

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