Things to do in Riga

Dom Cathedral photo

Dom Cathedral

Dating back to 1211, the red brick Dom (or Dome) Protestant Cathedral is a highlight of the historic centre of Riga. The cathedral is situated near the Western Daugava River and bo…

Dom Cathedral

Dating back to 1211, the red brick Dom (or Dome) Protestant Cathedral is a highlight of the historic centre of Riga. The cathedral is situated near the Western Daugava River and boasts an incredible organ with over 6,500 pipes built in 1844, stained-glass windows, and a beautifully whitewashed interior. There are regular concerts held on the organ, and the cathedral also has its own boys' choir that gives regular performances. The Dom Protestant Cathedral is a great historical sight in Latvia that earns rave reviews from all who experience it.

Website www.doms.lv/index/

Riga Castle photo

Riga Castle

Riga Castle (or Riga Pils) was built in 1330 on the site of the original settlement of the city as a residence for the master of the Livonian Order, and later it served as the base…

Riga Castle

Riga Castle (or Riga Pils) was built in 1330 on the site of the original settlement of the city as a residence for the master of the Livonian Order, and later it served as the base for the city's occupiers throughout its history. The distinctive yellow castle was destroyed and rebuilt over time, and today it serves as the offices and home of the Latvian president, as well as the Latvian Museum of Foreign Art and the Rainis Museum of Literature and Art History. The castle is strategically placed on the banks of the Daugava, originally in order to oversee all ships entering the city's port, and has four towers and an inner courtyard.

Open Air Ethnographic Museum photo

Open Air Ethnographic Museum

Tucked away in the pine forest around Lake Jugla, the Open Air Ethnographic Museum is a fascinating and intimate reflection of the traditional Latvian way of life. Set on 247 acres…

Open Air Ethnographic Museum

Tucked away in the pine forest around Lake Jugla, the Open Air Ethnographic Museum is a fascinating and intimate reflection of the traditional Latvian way of life. Set on 247 acres (100ha), the museum consists of farmhouses, fishing villages, windmills, and other historic buildings relocated here to create an outdoor exhibit. Visitors to Riga can watch craftsmen at work, sample traditional Latvian cooking and ales at a handful of restaurants, and learn more about the history of this deeply interesting country. The museum is also has a craft where visitors can pick up souvenirs.

Website www.brivdabasmuzejs.lv/en/

Riga Central Market photo

Riga Central Market

One of the oldest and biggest of its kind, Riga's Central Market was first opened in 1930 and is a riot of sounds, sights, and smells. Anything from fresh fruits, cheeses, and whol…

Riga Central Market

One of the oldest and biggest of its kind, Riga's Central Market was first opened in 1930 and is a riot of sounds, sights, and smells. Anything from fresh fruits, cheeses, and whole sheep carcasses, to appliances, clothing, and CDs are on offer, usually at very reasonable prices. The market was moved from its original home and relocated several times, but since the 1930s has occupied the same space in several World War I hangars, close to the bus and train stations. There is room for over 1,000 vendors, and no visit to Riga is complete without a stroll through its tantalising stalls.

Website www.rct.lv/lv/

The Museum of the Occupation of Riga photo

The Museum of the Occupation of Riga

Latvia was occupied from 1940 to 1991 by two successive regimes in the forms of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. This well-curated museum conveys what life was like during this time…

The Museum of the Occupation of Riga

Latvia was occupied from 1940 to 1991 by two successive regimes in the forms of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. This well-curated museum conveys what life was like during this time, and serves as a memorial to those who died or fled as a result of the occupation. Visitors can view film archives and see a reconstruction of life in the infamous Siberian labour camps. A sobering and humanising experience, highly recommended for those who wish to connect to Latvian culture while on holiday in Riga.

Website www.omf.lv/index.php?lang=english

Art Nouveau Architecture photo

Art Nouveau Architecture

The city of Riga contains the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the world. Otherwise known as Jugendstil, some of the buildings in central and downtown Riga date…

Art Nouveau Architecture

The city of Riga contains the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the world. Otherwise known as Jugendstil, some of the buildings in central and downtown Riga date as far as the late 19th century. The style is characterised by unusual shapes, curved and organic arches, gargoyles, carved faces, and flamboyant cornices. Over 30 percent of central Riga's buildings were created in this style, many supervised by famous Russian architect Mikhail Eisenstein. The best streets to view buildings on are Elisebetes, Strelnieku, and Albert. The Riga Art Nouveau Centre, located in central downtown, has been furnished in the Art Nouveau style allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the early 20th century.

Website www.latvia.travel/en/article/art-nouveau

Riga Motor Museum photo

Riga Motor Museum

What is undoubtedly eastern Europe's finest motor museum is tucked away on the outskirts of Riga, and makes for an essential outing if visitors enjoy classic cars and Soviet histor…

Riga Motor Museum

What is undoubtedly eastern Europe's finest motor museum is tucked away on the outskirts of Riga, and makes for an essential outing if visitors enjoy classic cars and Soviet history. The museum contains Molotov's limousine, Stalin's bombproof sedan, and the wreck of Brezhnev's car in which he crashed. The model dummies in the vehicles are a nice touch. There is a priceless collection of classic sports cars and motorcycles, irresistibly photogenic for petrol heads.

Website www.motormuzejs.lv

Jurmala photo

Jurmala

Jurmala is the main holiday resort town in Latvia, the place locals go to when they want to relax, catch a tan, and enjoy a spa treatment. The beaches are very good and the seafood…

Jurmala

Jurmala is the main holiday resort town in Latvia, the place locals go to when they want to relax, catch a tan, and enjoy a spa treatment. The beaches are very good and the seafood restaurants are excellent too. Apart from sand and sea, the main attractions of Jurmala are its spas, which offer a range of therapies and treatments at a fraction of what they'd cost in western Europe. Getting to Jurmala from Riga is easy: by train or bus, the journey takes 30 minutes. Jurmala is fast becoming one of eastern Europe's best spa destinations, and tourists are urged to check it out before the secret gets out and prices begin to sky-rocket.

Sigulda photo

Sigulda

Just 33 miles (56km) from the capital, Sigulda is a picturesque little town located in the primordial Gauja Valley. It's well worth the trip for tourists to Riga. Dubbed the 'Switz…

Sigulda

Just 33 miles (56km) from the capital, Sigulda is a picturesque little town located in the primordial Gauja Valley. It's well worth the trip for tourists to Riga. Dubbed the 'Switzerland of Vidzeme' due to the steep cliffs and caves that line the sides of the river gorge, Sigulda makes a wonderful base from which to explore Latvia's considerable natural bounty. Notable tourist attractions of the area include the Medieval and Turaida Castles, with the former staging an annual open-air Opera Festival in the summer. Gauja National Park is within touching distance of Sigulda, offering great activities such as walking trails and bungee-jumping in summer; and luge, bobsledding, and skiing in the winter. The town of Sigulda itself is particularly worth visiting in spring, when cherry blossoms bloom; and in autumn, where the town seems to take on the blood-orange hue of the leaves falling from its trees. Visitors should be sure to visit the Gutmanis Cave, the largest in the Baltic region, and the setting of the Latvian folktale of the Rose of Turaida.

Latvian National Opera photo

Latvian National Opera

The Latvian National Opera building is a magnificent 19th-century structure, home to the National Opera, Ballet, and Orchestra companies. Built by the St Petersburg architect Ludwi…

Latvian National Opera

The Latvian National Opera building is a magnificent 19th-century structure, home to the National Opera, Ballet, and Orchestra companies. Built by the St Petersburg architect Ludwig Bohnstedt and opened in 1863, the columned and colonnaded building is not only incredibly photogenic, but lays claim to an interesting history. Guided tours of the opera building take place at 5pm every Friday, and are a very popular tourist attraction in Riga. Culture-vultures should also check out the Latvian National Opera's website for programme information. The country has a proud classical music history, with Richard Wagner being Director of Music in Riga between 1837 and 1839, and recitals are often of rare quality.

Website www.opera.lv