During the city’s ten thousand year history, Riga has seen a number of invasions, occupations and declarations. Having declared itself an independent democratic state in 1991, the city has developed rapidly having been stifled for so long. Many external businesses see Riga as an anchor for investment and development in Latvia and through the Baltic States.

The capital is made up of ancient cobbled alleys intertwining between spectacular spires of the churches and castles. The enchanting old town itself can take up a few days exploration; the experience enhanced by a stay in one of the centres many charming boutique hotels. The characteristic asymmetries, curves and organic surfaces and Art Nouveau style has pushed Riga as one of the most important architectural landmarks and makes it an interesting and rewarding tourist destination.

Sadly the city has suffered an influx of British visitors on stag-dos which has meant that not only is there a risk of bumping into them on a night out, but also the clubs and bars have adapted to appeal to this type of market. The authorities are doing their best to minimise the effects however and with a bit of common sense and selectivity, most visitors should remain unscathed!


Riga Cathedral – The building is not only revered as a lynchpin in the Christianisation of Latvia, but is also a visual delight. The Romanesque structure has been elaborated with touches of Baroque and Gothic and the interior showcases the 16th century organ and its exquisite golden pipes. The cathedral’s impressive dome also lends its name to Doma Laukums (“Dome Square”) which is the site of many fairs and town events.

Bastion Hill – For a change from the concrete streets, beautiful as they are, Bastion Hill is a man made park constructed from the remnants of a defensive sand banks. Amongst the lawns and wooded areas there is a sombre memorial to the five who were left dead in 1991 during Soviet activities in the region.

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia – This is an informative and emotive account of the subsequent occupations of Latvia and the associated responses and final “National Reawakening”. There are also special temporary exhibitions which focus on particular aspects of the period of 1940 to 1991. Those with a special interest in the region’s brave uprising may like to visit the Museum of the Latvian People’s Front, which is a smaller but more detailed look at the final stages of the Soviet occupation.


Central Riga has more fashion outlets than you could hope to explore, those hunting for a bargain will however be disappointed as prices are far dearer than Western Europe. The many shopping centres are smart and modern (such as mc2) but all tend to have to same shops selling little more than confectionary and clothes. The central market housed in several 1930s hangers sells more basic goods, and is well worth a stroll if you fancy a less clinical shopping experience.

Nightlife and Eating Out

The portrayal of Eastern European food as bland and stodgy may still hold in the cheaper outlets, but Riga has some real delights when it comes to traditional food. The medieval Rosengrals serves healthy portions of rich but flavoursome fodder in a particularly entertaining setting, complete with the Baltic tradition of costumed waiting staff. Almost every conceivable nationality of food is represented here in restaurants and fast-food outlets. The popularity of eating out reflects the relative price, which is low. It is possible of course to spend lavish amounts on a meal and you are unlikely to be disappointed in doing so. The hotel restaurants are often the best place to do this, offering great service, quality ingredients and the best views.

As mentioned above, Riga has been plagued by over-indulgent stag weekenders and so there is of course no shortage of clubs and strip bars catering to this market. It’s not all seedy however and there in fact a great deal of clubs and bars to choose from. Many bars have basements which are smoky affairs packed with locals, serving steaks and bar snacks upstairs in a less hectic environment. The trendier bars such as Orange bar and larger clubs are well decked out with neon and decent décor. Club Essential is probably the highlight in terms of music, bring in international house and breakbeat djs on a regular basis. The more mainstream venues are safe and generally friendly, a slightly higher level of care should be taken in the more adult-orientated clubs however door staff will not stand for any misbehaviour.

Tourist Information

Address : Rātslaukums 6, RigaTel: +371 703 79 00 Fax: +371 703 79 10Email: tourinfo@rcc.lvWebsite: latviatourism.lv


Riga International Airport sees flights from a large number of destinations, the majority of which are Eastern European but also include the United Kingdom, America and the Middle East. There is a very cheap shuttle bus that runs ever half hour to the city centre from the terminal behind the car park. Taxis run according to schedules flights so there should be one there to collect you whatever time you arrive. The journey to town takes about 15 minutes.