Riga is the largest city of the three Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) with a population of 640,000. Mostly known for it’s charming old town – named a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1998 – Riga has the good fortune of being located directly on the water (Daugava river).
While walking the streets of Riga, one gets the vibe of a calm laid-back city where everything is orderly and quiet. However, Riga is renowned for its parties and there seems to be something going on virtually every night of the week! Be aware that if you’re staying in the old town, you might want to bring some ear plugs ; )
- Named the European Capital of Culture in 2014, Riga is an extremely well-maintained city.
- P.S. A travel tip – try to visit cities the year before, or a couple years after they were named a ‘Capital of Culture’. You’ll see cities in their best possible condition and the amount of construction will be greatly reduced. And since no one really pays attention to these titles anyways, there won’t be a huge increase in the amount of tourists ; )
- Despite the presence of basketballs (below) as you enter the main square, Latvia is crazy about hockey, unlike its basketball-obsessed neighbour to the south, Lithuania.
Riga contains an impressive amount of green space and there is a really nice park which surrounds the river running through the city. Even more impressive, Latvia’s new president is the first in the world elected from the green party!
- Unfortunately, this is not him…
Latvia is known for its love of music/performing and you’ll see many street performers doing their thing around Riga.
First gaining independence from Russia after WWl and subsequently regaining it in 1990, Latvia has come a long way. They joined the EU in 2004 and officially switched from the Latvian Lat to the Euro in 2014.
Riga is a nice charming city that you shouldn’t miss if you’re in the area. Roughly half-way in between the other two Baltic capitals (Tallinn, Estonia and Vilnius), most travellers will stop in for at least a night or two. While nothing really blows you away in Riga, it is a pleasant place to visit for a few days. Enjoy!