Sunday, 17 June 2018

Riga sightseeing fun


Greetings! Last month I made a trip to visit Tallinn in Estonia, Riga in Latvia, Vilnius in Lithuania, and Warsaw in Poland. I shared a map of my itinerary here, and my Tallinn sightseeing photos here.

From Tallinn, I headed south by bus to reach Riga, Latvia's capital. The distance is about 280 km (175 miles). The road condition is very good with no passport control at the border since both Estonia and Latvia are in the European Union. The weather continued to be sunny and warm with piercing blue sky. Spring flowers were blooming and the countryside was lush green. On each day of my trip I had about seventeen hours of daylight, which made a day felt like two days, just perfect for exploring.

Since Latvia is a small country and is not a well-known travel destination yet, I wrote a few quick facts before sharing some of my snaps of Riga in this post.

QUICK FACTS:
  • Latvia is located in Northern Europe, on the East shore of the Baltic sea
  • Latvia's official language is Latvian
  • Latvia's official currency is the Euro
  • The population of Riga, Latvia's capital, is about 650,000
  • Riga's Old Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site

RIGA'S TOP SIGHTS:

Art Nouveau architecture - According to Wikipedia, "Art Nouveau architecture in Riga makes up roughly one third of all buildings in the centre of Riga, making the Latvian capital the city with the highest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in anywhere in the world."

The Art Nouveau buildings on Alberta Street (Alberta iela) and Elizabetes Street (Elizabetes iela) in Central Riga are simply gorgeous. Each building is like a huge painting with intriguing details. The longer I look at them, the more beauty I discover. The master architect responsible for most of these is Mikhail Eisenstein. Click to enlarge the pictures to see what I mean.










Old Town - Riga's Old Town is delightful, clean, uncrowded, and with plenty of unique shops, coffee places, and restaurants. I enjoyed exploring the narrow medieval streets, viewing Gothic and Baroque churches, 19th-century buildings, and finding treasures here. Baltic amber souvenirs and amber with silver jewelry are common. Did you know that Baltic amber is fossil resin produced by pine trees in Northern Europe about 45 million years ago?

Riga's Town Hall Square

Buildings of the Brotherhood of the Blackheads, Riga

St. Peter's Church, Riga

Riga Cathedral

Latvia's Radio Building

Latvian National Opera

Riga's Old Town




Central Market - Riga's Central Market is housed in five enormous German-built Zeppelin hangars, and spilling outdoors as well. It is a lively place for people watching, browsing from smoked fish, and fresh produce to handmade souvenirs, and buying Latvian local snacks such as a variety of rye bread, or Laima vanilla zephyr.

Vegetables at Riga's Central Market

Latvian linen at Riga's Central Market

Smoked fish at Riga's Central Market

Rye bread at Riga's Central Market

Freedom Monument - Riga's Freedom Monument honours soldiers killed during the War of Independence, bearing a symbolic female holding aloft three stars representing the three regions of Latvia during the first republic. November 18, 2018 is Latvia's 100th anniversary. On this day every year, locals lay flowers at the monument. The main boulevard leading to the monument has beautiful rows of green trees. There is also Esplanade Park, on the west side with lots of mature trees, fountains, public art, and benches.

Freedom Monument in Riga

Riga's Canal and Daugava River - A leisurely one-hour boat tour either by the canal boats or river boats offers a nice view of Old Town Riga and the left bank.

Boats by Riga's canal

LATVIAN CUISINE:

I took a picture of the menu at a Latvian restaurant in the Old Town to remember the various Latvian dishes. Smoked herring, smoked cheese, rye bread, shashlik (shishkebab or grilled meat or vegetable on a skewer), potatoes, and cold beet root soup are also common.


The Lido restaurant chain offers inexpensive local food, cafeteria style. The Art Nouveau area has a good mix of residential buildings, restaurants, and shops. I had the pleasure to savour a tasty mango chicken meal at The Flying Frog, while gazing at beautiful Art Nouveau facades.


I truly enjoyed my stay and exploration in Riga. It is a sophisticated and beautiful historic city. In general, I found Riga very affordable for an European destination. Unlike Tallinn which has hills, Riga and all of Latvia are flat. This gave me the idea that cycling would be another wonderful way to explore Latvia.

MY NEXT STOP: Vilnius, Lithuania.

Now that you've seen some photos of Riga, would you consider visiting the city? What would draw you to Riga? I'd love to read your comments. Please share below.

36 comments:

  1. Riga looks so great - I've read a lot about it. Hopefully one day!

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    1. Thanks, Lydia, for stopping by. I hope you get to visit Riga. It's a beautiful city. Enjoy your blogging break!

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  2. I didn't know much about Riga or Latvia until I read your post Natalie. The countries around the Baltic are quite lovely aren't they? I know I was impressed with Tallin and Riga has beautiful architecture. Thanks for sharing I always enjoy seeing where you have travelled. Have a great week xx
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond

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    1. Thank you, Sue, for stopping by. The three Baltic cities, Tallinn, Riga, and Vilnius, are all lovely and historic. No wonder they're listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Have a fabulous week!

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    2. I've only visited Tallin so I'm enjoying your photos, Natalie! Thanks for sharing also at #MLSTL it is always great to have you join us. xx

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    3. Thank you, Sue, for hosting #MLTSL. I like the new look of your site. Have a fabulous week!

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  3. Thank you for sharing, I love seeing other places and learning about them. Loving those gorgeous buildings.

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    1. Thank you, Becky, for visiting and commenting. I greatly appreciate it. I was pleasantly surprised at the high number of Art Nouveau buildings in Riga.

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  4. Thank you for taking us along on this adventure, Natalie. I greatly appreciated learning more about Latvia's capital. Did you try the cold beet root soup?

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    1. Thank you, Donna, for stopping by. Yes, I did try the cold beetroot soup served with roasted potatoes on the side. It was very good. I'm glad I tried it.

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  5. Looks like a beautiful place and the architecture is stunning. Thanks for sharing your lovely pictures.
    stopping via OpenSlather

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    1. Thank you, Suzy, for your visit and comment. I greatly appreciate it. Riga is a beautiful and historic city. I would recommend it to other travelers.

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    1. Thank you, Emma, for your comment. I greatly appreciate it.

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  7. I had no idea Riga contained so much art nouveau! I love how you keep combining facts and photographs in these posts, Natalie. We learn something, while we are looking at the beauty this capital has to offer. Those are some huge rhubarb stalks at the market by the way! I’d like to visit this city, just like your other destinations on this trip. :-)

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    1. Thank you, Liesbet, for your comment. I'm glad to share some facts with my photos. I was in awe with the quantity and quality of Art Nouveau buildings in Riga. I also found it interesting that the Central Market there separates vegetables, from fish, from meat, etc. For now, the Baltics are wonderful countries to visit without breaking the bank :)

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  8. Riga looks beautiful and so many fascinating things to see and do.

    SSG xxx

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    1. Thanks, SSG, for stopping by and commenting. I greatly appreciate it. Riga is a beautiful and historic city. I really enjoyed my time there.

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  9. These sure are examples of amazing architecture and you have caputured these so well. Loving your travels taking me where I will not ever go, so I thank you for that. 17 hours of daylight is amazing. In the southern hemisphere we do not have anything like that even in Summer.
    Thank you for linking up for #lifethisweek. Next week's optional prompt 26/52 is Thank a Teacher.

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    1. Thank you, Denyse, for hosting the link up and your comment. I greatly appreciate both. Some visitors find it hard to get enough sleep with the long daylight hours in the summer in Northern Europe. It's an adjustment for sure.

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  10. You are always on the go Natalie. Before our next trip to Europe, I know whose blog I will be reviewing for tips. Thanks! LuAnn

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    1. Thank you, LuAnn, for your visit and comment. I greatly appreciate it. I'm happy to share my travel stories, tips and photos on my blog, and to learn from your travels from your blog, too.

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  11. Loved your post, Natalie. My hubby has toured sections of Europe and this seems like a truly fun European city and experience. I appreciate all your beautiful photos and info about Riga! Read this on #MLSTL!

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    1. Thank you, Terri, for your visit and comment. I greatly appreciate it. I'd recommend beautiful Riga to other travelers.

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  12. Wow what a beautiful place. Lovely. Thanks for sharing. #MLSTL

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    1. Thanks, Patrick, for stopping by and for your comment.

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  13. There's some lovely old buildings and I really like that the Zepplin hangars got a new life by becoming markets. It's strange to think where the world would be today if Zepplins had become the favoured mode of air transport.

    Thanks for linking up with us at #MLSTL and I've shared this on my SM xx
    Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au

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    1. Thanks, Leanne, for hosting MLSTL and sharing this on your SM. The five reused Zeppelin hangars that house Riga Central Market are huge. They'd require even more enormous airports if they were used as the favoured mode of air transport.

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  14. So amazing! My grandad was born in Riga, I remember he had a book about Riga with a lot of pictures of old buildings just like these. He was in the second world war and his sister sent word not to go back home when it was over, because things were bad, so came to Australia.

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    1. Thanks, Alicia, for sharing your personal family connection to Riga. It must be sad for your grandad to be on his own so far from home then. I spoke with a local guide and she told me it was bad after WW2. However, from what I saw, Riga has bounced back beautifully since.

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  15. I knew nothing about these places till I read your blog Natalie. Your pictures are awesome and make me want to visit all of these areas.

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    1. Thank you, Victoria, for your comment. I really appreciate it. I'm glad you like my photos.

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  16. The art nouveau architecture is lovely. Each building has such personality. I would think you would have a crick in your neck from looking up!!!

    Your posts are like travelogues. Thank you for sharing your adventures!

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    1. Thank you, Leslie, for stopping by and for your comment. You're right all those tall buildings sure gave my neck a workout. I learned to stand across the street so I could look at the whole building. It's hard to get a good photo without chopping part of the building height or width (sigh). It's my pleasure to share my travel adventures with you and anyone who's willing to read my posts :)

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  17. Hi Natalie,
    I have heard about Riga. But didn't know of many of the stuff you have shared here. Good read. :-)
    (Came here via MLSTL. Shared this post on social media.)
    -- Pradeep | bpradeepnair.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you, Pradeep, for stopping by and for your comment. I appreciate it. I'm glad you found my post on Riga a good read to share with others.

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