Riga was the first stop on our trip across the Baltics this winter, and it made for a lovely snowy welcome! The capital city of Latvia is similar to many European capitals, with a quaint old town at its heart, complemented by cobble stones, churches, and traditional architecture. Spiralling out from here is the rest of the city, including the famed Freedom Square, parks, and still Daugava River.
We arrived mid-morning, and took a bus from the airport into town, passing by the iconic National Library building, and across one of the many river bridges. From there, we walked to our apartment in the Old Town, and went out to explore… Here’s our favourite finds from our 36 hours in Riga, and what to do across an entire day!
1. Crumble Cake, Riga
Jāņa iela 14, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
For sweet-tooths like us, Crumble Cake is a must-visit to experience traditional apple crumble cake and great quality coffee too. Tucked away on a little side-street in Riga Old Town, it can be a little dangerous to get there in the snow (look out for ice and falling snow from rooftops!) but it’s a warm refuge inside. The staff speaks great English and is very welcoming too.
2. House of the Black Heads
Rātslaukums 7, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Riga’s main tourist attraction is the House of the Black Heads, a re-built Gothic building heralding the days of the Black Heads, a group of merchants that preserved much of the city and its people in the middle ages. We toured the property and its basement for roughly 1.5 hours, and enjoyed milling about but could have done with booking a tour for the full experience.
3. Bastejkalna Park
Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Z and I like to walk, and across our trip to Riga, Tallinn, and Helsinki, we hit at least 15,000 steps per day. In Riga, we did this by visiting a lot of the local parks, and it was Bastejkalna Park that really took our breath away. With a beautiful icy river, winding paths with statues and Christmas lights, and the towering Freedom Monument in the distance, we could have spent a long time here – if it wasn’t for the freezing cold.
5. Neiburgs Restaurant, Riga
Jauniela 25/27, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Our final stop is the must-visit out of this entire list: Neiburgs Restaurant. Neiburgs is both a 4-star hotel and restaurant, but we came just for the food. Due to its popularity, we timed our visit between meals in order to snap up a table. (For mealtimes, booking is advised). The restaurant is an eclectic mix of traditional styles and modern twists, and the food reflects this too. We dined on the Chef’s Special, a 5-course meal that was beautiful, delicious, and filling, in equal measure (and cost us just over 30 euros per person). If I were to come back to Riga in the future, Neiburgs would be my first stop.