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Riga, the quiet giant of the Baltic Sea! Latvia’s capital will remind you of many of the most prominent European cities, with all the cosmopolitan feeling and charm you can get. If you’re planning on travelling there, first search for the cheapest air fares to Riga and then make sure you will have plenty of time in the city, as the likelihood of you not wanting to leave the place is dangerously high! Visitors get enchanted by Riga’s art nouveau beauty, all around River Daugava’s canals and cobbled streets of the Old Town. Book your accommodation in Riga and you’ll soon realise it has nothing to be jealous of the largest European metropolises. On top of all the important historical and cultural landmarks, UNESCO sights, museums and art galleries, Riga boasts an extremely vibrant nightlife and a delicious, world class cuisine. It’s time you booked your trip to “Paris of the East”!
Riga has a population of 1,000,000 and is the largest city of the Baltic. The capital of tiny Latvia looks as if it has no boundaries, giving home to more than a third of the country’s population. The city extends across the banks of River Daugava and it’s been the main gateway to the Baltic for more than 3,000 years.
Riga is famous for the art nouveau architectural gems that decorate the Old Town, which itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.Lots of great moments have marked the history of Riga, many shadows as well. The city was greatly bombed by the Nazis and was heavily affected by the soviet regime. Nonetheless, the modern city rises above all dark moments of the past and remains more friendly, welcoming and fascinating than ever. It’s definitely worth a visit!
Riga’s international airport (Starptautiskā lidosta “Rīga”) is located 10 kilometres west of Riga and is accessible by the bus network.
Getting around Riga
Riga’s extensive public transportation system consists of buses (53 lines), trolleys (20 lines), trams (9 lines) and trains. Fares start at 0.70 LVL and minimum taxi fare at 1.50 LVL.
Your day in Riga starts at the end of Riga Old Town, where the Freedom Monument is situated. This powerful statue, in memory of the heroes of the Latvian War of Independence, depicts a woman – freedom – looking to the west, holding three stars in her hands. Three stars for the three constitutional districts of Latvia, Kurzeme, Vidzeme and Latgale and a sign that says “Tēvzemei un Brīvībai”, which means “For Fatherland and Freedom”.
After you take your pictures and maybe leave some flowers at the monument, you can walk across the old city walls, until you reach the Swedish Gate. After entering the gate and within short distance, you will find yourself at the Cathedral Square (Doma laukums), the city’s main point of reference.
The Cathedral Square is dominated by the Riga Cathedral, an imposing red-brick gothic-like building constructed in 1211. The cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Riga, it’s the largest church in Baltic and one of the most famous landmarks in the city.Some of the oldest houses in the city can be found around the corner, widely known as “The Three Brothers” (Tris brali). These are a beautiful bunch of fully restored traditional residences of rich merchants of the 15th century, open to the public and one of them houses the Riga Museum of Architecture (Arhitekturas muzejs).
By all means try to visit the Riga Castle (Rigas pils), a fairy tale fortress by River Daugava, dating back to the 15th century. The National History Museum of Latvia (Latvijas vestures muzejs) and many more notable museums are housed in the building and deserve a fair amount of your time.
As you walk across Alberta street, it’s interesting to keep in mind that this street’s art nouveau architecture has given Riga the “Capital of Art Nouveau” status!
In Riga the official language is Latvian, but you can easily communicate in English and Russian.