Last week I told you about my mini-cruise to Latvia and my experience onboard. This week it's about my time off-board, namely in the city of Riga. That is to say facts and loads of pictures of Riga, as well as my opinion of and my experiences in Riga.
Facts about Riga
Riga is Latvia's capital city and with 700.000 inhabitants the biggest city of the Baltics. It was an important hansa town in medieval times and has been under German and Russian occupation in the past.
Another important feature of Riga is the Art Noveau architecture that you can find all around the city centre and that is part of the UNESCO world heritage. It makes Riga so beautiful and unique - I just couldn't take enough pictures of art noveau buildings.
However you can of course also find German and Russian influences on the city so that I felt like being in Northern Germany on one street and like being in Russia on another. Russians also make up the majority of Riga's inhabitants with 60% - quite a lot! Well at least that's what our tour guide (a Latvian) told us.
Wikipedia says its 45% Latvians and 40% Russians but you probably already got that the two groups don't like it each other too much. Anyway, Riga hasn't got so many inhabitants either way and the youth mostly moves to Western Europe in search for jobs. The birth rate in Riga and Latvia in general is quite low, so that Riga will probably only become smaller with time.
What to see and do in Riga
The most important sights of Riga apart from its architecture are the Museum of Soviet and German Occupation, the Old Town, St. Peter's Church, Riga Castle, the Freedom Monument, the Latvian National Museum of Art, the Central Market - and, watch out for the black cat on the rooftop ;)
The newly build library and the TV Tower are also important even though they aren't build in the art noveau style and not really liked by the locals. I couldn't visit every sight as I only stayed in the city for 6 hours but I visited the top of St. Peter's Church to take pictures of the city from above and this was definitely a highlight for me.
If you're interested in local food you should try the Melnais balzams which is a black and as I got told, very bitter snaps.
How to get to Riga
The cheapest and most scenic way to get to Riga is by Baltic cruise from Helsinki or Stockholm - which makes the city a perfect destination for a short stopover or detour when you're exploring Scandinavia!
You can also take the bus from Tallin or Tartu in Estonia or from Vilnius or Kaunas in Lithuania if you'd like to explore all of the Baltics.
If you'd like to spend your entire vacation in Riga, no problem! The airport is mostly connected by budget airlines such as Ryan Air, Wizz Air and Air Baltic, making it the perfect destination for a weekend trip on a budget!
Where to stay in Riga
As I went to Riga on a cruise, I don't personally have any experience with accommodation in the city but I always book hotel rooms via Booking.com and apartments through Airbnb as both options mostly tend to be the cheapest.
If you haven't heard about Airbnb before, use this link to find out more and get 37€ in travel credit as a gift from me!
No matter whether you stay in Riga for only 6 hours like I did, a full day or an entire weekend; the city is absolutely gorgeous and you won't regret visiting!