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Wondering what to do for a weekend in Riga Latvia? Well, this Riga weekend guide contains helpful information on the best things to do in Riga, where to find art nouveau buildings in the city centre, the House of the Blackheads, three brothers, and where to stay for your very first trip to Riga.
Riga is both the capital and largest city of Latvia. It’s one of the three Baltic states (Estonia and Lithuania being the others) and one of Europe’s best-kept secrets.
It has all the charm you would expect from a classic European city but without the massive tourist crowds and large price tag. This makes visiting Riga all the more enchanting. If you’re spending a weekend in Riga, this travel guide will guarantee that you have the most magical two days in this quaint Latvian city.
Before visiting Latvia, I’d never heard of Riga before, so don’t feel bad if you haven’t either. I was visiting Riga to attend a travel conference because I’m trying to grow my side hustle aka – this blog.
Don’t have time to read the whole article? The best Riga tour is this Riga Central Market Latvian Food Tour, sample 20 different food with a near-perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating.
I also had the chance to spend a few extra days in Riga and visited the town of Cesis, which I highly recommend if you are planning a visit to Riga. Riga on the surface seems to lack the elegance and modern transformation of larger European cities, like Paris, London and Italy.
The country is very much still recovering from Soviet occupation and the World War II bombing, and this can be seen in the older parts of the city, in the stories of the people that have lived through it and their way of life.
But to me, this is what also makes Riga interesting, unique and full of character as a city. There is a story behind every corner, and the residents of the city are one with nature. This makes Riga city break a top pick for nature lovers and holistic travellers.
Wondering what to see in Riga in 2 days? read on
Riga Weekend | Day 1 in Riga Itinerary
1. Explore Riga’s Old Town
Now that we’ve covered the basics of the city let’s get into the best way to spend your time.
On your first day in Riga, you should explore Riga Old Town. This beautiful district is characterised by well-preserved medieval architecture, beautiful pastel buildings, and charming cobbled streets. It’s also very pedestrian-friendly. You’ll be able to spend the whole day walking from site to site.
If you’re looking for things to do at night in Riga, you’ll find many restaurants and bars in this area too.
👉 Book Here Riga Day Tours | Take a Riga walking tour of the Old Town. To learn about the history of the buildings, in and around the Old Town of Riga.
A walking tour of Riga Old Town will also help you get your bearings on the city, and you can always double back to the sites that you are more interested in after the tour. That is what I did after my walking tour.
I wanted to get some more shots of some of the builds we had passed by. The Old Town and Town Hall Square are two of the top things to see in Riga Latvia.
2. See the Best Vantage Point of Riga at St Peter’s Church
St Peter’s Church is a beautiful brick gothic church. It was first mentioned in records in 1209, and the current basilica was constructed during the 15th century.
In 1997 Riga St Peter’s Church was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Possibly the best part of the church is the viewing platform on the third floor. You’ll be able to admire unobscured views of Riga in all directions.
Address | Reformācijas laukums 1, Rīga, LV-1050
Website | www.peterbaznica.riga.lv
Opening Time | 1 May – 31 Aug Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 – 19:00, Sunday 12:00 – 19:00 1 Sept – 30 Apr Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 – 18:00 Sunday 12:00 – 18:00
Admission Fee | €9
3. Make a Wish at The Bremen Town Musicians Statue
Behind the St Peter’s Church of Riga, you’ll find The Musicians of Bremen Statue. The Bremen Town Musicians Statue is based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. The statue is of a donkey, a dog, a cat and a rooster stacked on top of each other.
They say if you rub the nose of each of the animals and make a wish, it will come true. You’ll know you’re by the statue when you see other tourists taking photos and rubbing the figures. Because everyone is looking for a bit of luck.
4. Learn a Unique Part of Riga’s History at The House of the Blackheads
You might be wondering why it is called the House of Blackheads – The House of the Blackheads was a building erected during the 14th century. It was used for the Brotherhood of Blackheads, which was a medieval society for unmarried merchants and foreigners in Riga.
You might also be wondering why the House of Blackheads coat of arms and building is covered with images of black people. Well, the patron saint for The House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads is Saint Maurice. Saint Maurice, is a black Egyptian Christian Saint.
So, the House of the Blackheads is covered with images of black people in his honour. I’m going to just leave this here. Unfortunately, the original building was bombed into ruins during World War II. The building you see today is a reconstruction that was built from 1996 – 1999.
Inside, there is an excellent museum that showcases the history of the brotherhood. On display, you’ll see a selection of items that once belonged to the brotherhood, including silverware, artworks, and pottery.
Checking out this museum it is definitely one of the more unusual things to do in Riga Latvia.
Address | Rātslaukums 7
Website | www.melngalvjunams.lv
Opening Time | 10:00 am – 18:00 pm Monday – Sunday
Admission Fee | € 3 – 6
5. Revisit History at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia
If you want to learn more about the Occupation of Latvia and the city’s history, I highly recommend visiting this amazing museum. Give yourself at least 2 hours to explore the museum and watch the videos on the occupation.
I enjoyed my visit there and learning about the country’s history and the resilience of its people. The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia was established in 1993. It’s dedicated to the history of German and Soviet occupation of Latvia from WWII until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
The museum’s mission is to show the effect these totalitarian regimes had on the country. Many citizens were forcefully deported, fled in terror, perished, or were persecuted during this time.
Address | Raiņa bulvāris 7
Website | www.occupationmuseum.lv
Opening Time | 11:00 am – 18:00 pm Monday – Sunday
Admission Fee | Free
6. Wander Around Dome Square
Dome Square is impossible to miss as you wander around the Old Town, the square is filled with fantastic buildings and large murals.
Dome Square is one of the Old Town’s charming squares that houses two important Riga attractions. The Riga Cathedral is another one of the city’s religious landmarks. The foundations for the cathedral was laid in 1211.
It was constructed through the years in Romanesque, early Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau styles. The cloister of the cathedral houses many historical artefacts, including items unearthed during an archaeological excavation. These are just a few things to do in Riga Old Town.
7. The Three Brothers
The Three Brothers are the oldest residential buildings in Riga. These adjoined houses date from the 15th – the 17th centuries.
They were all built during different time periods and have their own unique style and quirkiness. Each building has a visibly different facade.
Address | Mazā Pils iela 17, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
8. Snap a Picture of the Swedish Gate and Old City Walls
The Swedish Gate in Riga was erected in 1698 as a part of the Riga Wall that went around the city during medieval times. It was one of the few entrances into Riga and served as both a fortification wall and an area where trade was conducted.
It’s a beautiful and iconic landmark and a real gem in the Old Town. It’s located in a gorgeous section of the city; surrounded by local shops and lovely old streets. This gate is hard to miss as it is so beautiful, I visited it twice and on my second visit found some hidden colourful alleyways next to the gates.
Address | Atgriežu iela, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
9. See the Famous Riga Cat House
The Cat House in Riga was built in 1909. It was styled in medieval architecture with components of Art Nouveau. The building is known for its two black cat sculptures found on the roof. They appear life-like, with raised tails.
Legend has it, the owner of the house placed the cat sculptures on the roof with their tails turned toward the house of the Great Guild. He held a grudge against the members after he was refused membership.
If you’re a cat lover, this is one stop on your Riga travel guide you don’t want to miss. The Cat House is one of the sites you’ll see on the Riga sightseeing tour.
Address | Meistaru iela 10/12, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Riga Weekend | Day 2 in Riga Itinerary
Now that you’ve seen the highlights of the Old Town, it’s time to explore the other areas of the city. You’ll visit a nice range of attractions on day two of your Riga sightseeing map.
10. Eat Local at the Riga Central Market
The Riga Central Market is a big, bustling indoor and outdoor market. It’s housed inside five large 1920s pavilions.
Riga Central Market is located in the heart of Riga, a few hundred meters from Old Town on the banks of the River Daugava, next to the Riga International Bus Terminal. It is one of the largest marketplaces in Eastern Europe.
In 1998, Riga Central Market was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list. You’ll find local vendors selling things like fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, freshly-baked pastries, fish, and meat.
The market includes five pavilions each into specific categories – vegetables, dairy, meat, fish and gastronomy products, as well as an outdoor area with stalls and stands, the Night Market and ‘Round the Clock Farmers’ Market.
Visit the Central Market and try out some Latvian specialities. Smoked fish, rye bread, and fried potatoes are items worth indulging in. This is also a great place to pick up some reasonably priced souvenirs to take home with you. Visiting the Central Market is one of the Top 10 things to do in Riga.
🍽️ Tours in Riga Book Here | Do a Riga food tour of the largest open-air market in Europe, where you get to sample 20 different traditional Latvian food.
Address | Nēģu iela 7, Rīga, LV-1050
Website | www.rct.lv
Opening Time | Monday – Saturday 08:00 – 18:00 Sunday 08:00 – 17:00
11. Reflect and Remember at the Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum
After visiting Central Market pay a visit to the Riga Ghetto and Latvian Holocaust Museum, which is 5 minute’s walk from the market. To me, visiting the Holocaust Museum is one of the top things to do in Riga Latvia for many reasons. I learnt so much from visiting this museum.
The first was that the Jews in Latvia were valuable and influential members of society. That Jews were ordinary members of society with rights, they formed political parties and participated as members of parliament. The Jewish community flourished and contributed towards Latvia’s development.
There was no Jewish Ghetto and segregation before the occupation of Latvia, only after the occupation when Jews were forced from their homes and into select sections of the city. Where when these “ghettos’ were formed.
This museum is a well-presented and moving memorial to the victims of the Holocaust. There are lots of personal artefacts found inside. There is even a reconstruction of a wooden 2-storey house built in the mid-19th century, which was a part of the Riga Ghetto (housing 30 people) on display.
These include the identity badges and yellow stars worn by the Jews, and letters written to loved ones from the concentration camps. The museum displays an important piece of history that needs to be remembered. The Latvian Holocaust Museum is one of the best museums in Riga.
Address | Maskavas iela 14A, Latgales priekšpilsēta, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Opening Time | 10am – 6pm daily (closed on Saturday)
Website | http://www.rgm.lv
Admission Fee | Adult | € 5 – Child € 3
12. Visit the Stunning Bastejkalns Park
Bastejkalns Park is a peaceful green space next to the Old Town. It’s very well-maintained with lots of visually stunning sights to see. These range from colourful gardens to historical monuments and art installations.
🚣♀️ Enjoy a break from the cobblestone streets and take a stroll along the river. Take a Riga sightseeing tour on a canal boat to see things from a different perspective.
13. Freedom Monument
While you’re here, make sure to visit the Freedom Monument. It was erected in 1935 to honour the soldiers killed during the Latvian War of Independence. It’s an important symbol of the country’s freedom.
14. Marvel at the Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral
The Riga Nativity of Christ Cathedral is a striking yellow-brick and golden-domed Orthodox cathedral. It was built in a Neo-Byzantine style from 1876 to 1883. This was during the time when Latvia was part of the Russian Empire.
The inside is gorgeous. You’ll see the amazingly detailed painting with a beautiful blue and gold contrast. When the sun streams in from the windows, it hits the golden religious icons and creates a magical visual.
15. Admire the Art Nouveau District
Riga has the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture anywhere in the world. These unique buildings are characterised by elaborate and flamboyant designs, with unusual sculptures and ornate facades. Each building has its character and symbolism.
Albert Street is the best place to explore the Art Nouveau district. Nearly every building on this street is built in Art Nouveau-style architecture.
16. Visit Miera Street
Miera Street is Riga’s fun bohemian quarter. This colourful street is filled with local treasures, including charming cafes, bars, vintage shops and even a chocolate museum. Head here to check out this street’s eclectic and fun range of attractions and one of the places to visit in Riga.
Riga City Break | Where to Stay in Riga Latvia
Finding the right accommodation when visiting Riga for a weekend is a vital component of a great trip. Here are a few options that are conveniently located in Riga’s Old Town.
Grand Poet by Semarah – This charming 5-star hotel is fresh and modern. It features a spa and wellness centre, a restaurant, complimentary breakfast and much more. All rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, electric kettle, bathrobes and slippers.
Wellton Riga Hotel & Spa – This mid-range hotel provides many great perks, from a spa and wellness centre to an on-site restaurant/bar and complimentary breakfast. You’ll have everything you need for a comfortable and pleasant Riga weekend.
Rixwell Hotel Konventa Seta – This budget hotel is housed in a historic townhouse. It offers spacious rooms with satellite TV, work desks, and free Wi-Fi. Every morning guests can enjoy a buffet breakfast.
Airbnb is another excellent option for affordable accommodation in Riga. I found this fantastic apartment in the centre of the Old Town for just £33 per night.
Click here for the latest prices. I stayed in an Airbnb apartment in Riga and liked it.
How to Get to Riga From London
If you’re travelling from London to Riga, the easiest way to reach the city is by plane. Several airlines fly non-stop from London to Riga and will get you there in about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Flights to Riga are generally very affordable. I bagged my flight from London to Riga for £35, which was a bargain.
Getting Around in Riga
Considering Riga isn’t a large city, getting around will be fairly easy. Most of the city’s popular attractions are within pedestrian-only zones. For public transportation, Riga has a great network of buses, trams and trolleybuses. Driving is also an option. And lastly, taxis and bicycle hire are very common.
But walking is your best bet, as the city isn’t large and you can walk to most of the sites within 15 minutes from the main square. Also if you want to take a taxi download the Bolt app, it’s their version of Uber and is a lot cheaper than a regular taxi.
Where To Eat in Riga| Best Restaurants in Riga
If you’re looking for the best places to eat in Riga, here are four great options. These restaurants are the perfect place to try out the local cuisine, mingle amongst the locals, and enjoy a social experience.
Even better, if you’re looking for things to do in Riga at night, these restaurants will keep you going well after the sunsets. These are some of the top things you can do with 2 days in Riga.
🍽️ Zviedru Varti
This restaurant is located next to the Swedish Gate in the Old Town. It has a beautiful outside seating area and serves authentic Latvian dishes. Also, for being located in a touristy area of the city, the prices are surprisingly reasonable.
🍽️ Black Magic
Black Magic is a former apothecary turned into a cafe/bar. The atmosphere is very cool, with a black magic theme reminiscent of old times. It’s the best place to drink Riga Black Balsam. This is a traditional Latvian liqueur – it’s made from 24 herbs and available in different flavours.
🥃 Skyline Bar
The Skyline Bar is located on the top of the Radisson Blu Hotel. It offers an incredible view, and the cocktails are like works of art. It’s a great place to grab a drink and wind down after a day exploring. For Riga nightlife options, this bar stays open until 2:00 or 3:00 every night.
Best Coffee Shops in Riga
If you’re a coffee fan, you’ll be spoiled with cafe choices when you visit. Here are two cool coffee shops in Riga to try.
☕ MiiT Coffee
MiiT Coffee is a cosy cafe with lots of vegan/vegetarian food options. They prepare their coffee with freshly-roasted, speciality coffee beans that are imported from small coffee-growing farms.
☕ Rocket Bean Roastery
Rocket Bean Roastery is the largest coffee roastery in the Baltic states. Their speciality coffee beans come from all over the world, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia, Guatemala, and Brazil.
If you have 3 days in Riga, then take a day trip to a neighbouring town.
Best Day Trips From Riga
If you’re spending more than two days in Riga, consider taking a day trip and exploring more of the beautiful baltic region. Here is one trip that is worth it.
🚗 Day Trip to Cesis
If you’re looking for an exciting Riga day tour, travel to the northeastern Latvian town of Cesis. This town is only a 1.5-hour drive from Riga or 2 hours by bus or train. A beautiful 13th-century medieval castle is the main highlight of Cesis.
It features dungeons, towers, and incredible views. This is one of the best Riga day trips to do on your visit.
City breaks to Riga Latvia | Riga Travel Guide
💶 Currency | The currency used in Riga is the Euro (EUR)
🗣️ Language | The language spoken in Riga is Latvian
🕒 Local Time | Riga is two hours ahead of GMT/UK time
✈️ Airport | Riga International Airport
These are just a few Riga weekend tips to keep in mind
Riga Weekend Break Guide FAQs
✔️Is Riga Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! As you’ll find in my guide, Riga is a city that has something for everyone. There are unique museums, historic sites, lovely old art nouveau buildings and countless architectural styles, modern architecture, delicious Latvian Beer and natural local cuisine.
✔️Where is Riga?
Riga is located in Latvia, a northeastern European country that shares borders with Estonia, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania. The city sits on the Baltic Sea in the northern area of the country. The Daugava River runs through the city and, the Gulf of Riga carves out the coastline.
✔️Why Visit Riga?
Riga offers many reasons to visit. The city has a beautiful aesthetic charm, friendly locals, delicious food, and lovely scenery. You’ll find a vast range of attractions, from museums to historical landmarks in Old Town Riga to parks and some of the largest local markets, I’ve ever seen.
It’s the perfect size for a quick and easy weekend trip. Pack a light suitcase, and you’ll be good to go. The city is super walkable, with lots of small alleyways and secret spots to explore.
✔️What is Riga Latvia Known For?
Riga Latvia is best known for its stunning architecture. The Old Town Riga is filled with beautiful buildings, many of which date back to the late 19th, and early 20th centuries.
It’s also known for its stylish Art Nouveau architecture. Riga has the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture found anywhere in the world.
✔️What to See in Riga?
The main things to see on your weekend in Riga are the historic old town of Riga (UNESCO world heritage site), the Latvian National Opera building and the modern Art Nouveau District.
You’ll find some amazingly unique buildings in these areas of town. The city is very photogenic and bringing a travel camera is a must!
✔️How Long to Spend in Riga?
Two to three days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Riga. It’s not an overwhelmingly large city, and many of the attractions are within walking distance of one another, making Riga a very walkable city making and a Riga city break one of the most relaxing weekends you’ll have.
These are just a few of the best places to stay in Riga Latvia.
Riga City Guide | Best Time to Visit Riga
The best time to visit Riga, Latvia depends on your weather preferences. For outdoor exploring, summer is the ideal time to plan a trip to Riga. June is the month when Riga reaches its peak tourist crowds.
However, other months of the year are still wonderful times to visit. In winter, Riga is cold and snowy, but the city’s Christmas markets light up the town.
During spring and fall, the temperatures are cold but bearable. And a bonus is that the accommodation will be less expensive. Whenever you decide to visit, with this Riga weekend guide, you’ll be fully equipped to explore and discover the city like a local. Know you know what to do in Riga Latvia.