Top 10 things to do in Riga: here we go! The capital of Latvia is a small city, but it’s packed with interesting places to visit during your stay abroad. Here are the top 10 things to see!

Vecriga (old city):

First of all, let me tell you that Vecriga is brimming with history and beauty. It’s one of the largest groups of preserved medieval buildings in Northern Europe, making it a truly unique experience. As you stroll through the cobbled streets, you’ll be transported back to a bygone era, surrounded by buildings featuring Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau architecture.

Imagine strolling along the ramparts of the old town, where every street corner hides a fascinating story. You can visit the majestic Riga Cathedral, lose yourself in the picturesque narrow streets and discover ancient churches with magnificent frescoes. Don’t miss the Maison des Têtes Noires, an incredibly detailed architectural gem.

The district also abounds in quaint cafés and restaurants where you can sample delicious Latvian specialties, such as pierogi or maïsēni. Enjoy a cup of coffee or tea in one of the comfortable outdoor cafés, and savor the tranquil atmosphere of Vecriga.

If you love art, you’ll be delighted by the many museums and galleries in the old town. The Museum of the Occupation of Riga and the Museum of Latvian Art are must-sees if you want to learn more about Latvian history and culture.

Finally, Vecriga is also lively at night. Once the sun goes down, the streets come alive with a vibrant atmosphere thanks to the many bars, clubs and restaurants. Enjoy a pleasant evening, discovering the city’s lively nightlife.

Centrs (modern city):

The Centrs district of Riga, Latvia, is one of the city’s most interesting and dynamic neighborhoods. Its history dates back to Riga’s expansion in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here’s an overview of its history and appeal:

In the 19th century, Riga was booming economically thanks to its role as an important port in the Baltic region. Centrs was developed to meet the growing needs of the population and businesses. The district was designed according to the modern urban plans of the time, influenced by Art Nouveau and Neoclassical architecture.

The Centrs district attracted the attention of wealthy merchants, industrialists and society’s elite. They built sumptuous residences and commercial buildings, which today are among the most impressive examples of Art Nouveau architecture in Europe.

The streets of Centrs abound with buildings featuring ornate facades, elegant details and artistic motifs. Wrought-iron balconies, sculptures, frescoes and stained-glass windows are all part of the visual appeal of this district.

During the Soviet period, the Centrs district experienced a certain decline, with neglect and deterioration of certain buildings. However, following Latvia’s independence in 1991, it was extensively renovated and restored, allowing the splendor of its architecture to be rediscovered.

Today, the Centrs district has become a popular destination for lovers of architecture, history and culture. There are numerous museums, art galleries, restaurants, cafés, boutiques and picturesque parks.

Rue Alberta iela is one of the district’s most famous streets, renowned for its superb Art Nouveau buildings. It attracts many visitors who come to admire the unique architectural details of these buildings.

The Centrs district is also close to the magnificent Kronvalda Park, a peaceful place to stroll, relax and enjoy nature in the heart of the city.


Construction of Riga Cathedral began in the 13th century, in 1209 to be precise. It was built in the Gothic style, which was widespread in Western Europe at the time. The cathedral has undergone several extensions and renovations over the centuries, giving it its current appearance.

Riga Cathedral was originally a Roman Catholic church, but in the 16th century, during the Protestant Reformation, it became a Lutheran church. It is considered the largest Lutheran church in the Baltic States.

St. Peter’s Cathedral has witnessed many significant historical events. In 1547, a devastating fire severely damaged the structure, but it was quickly rebuilt. Over the following centuries, impressive spires were added to the cathedral, making it one of the tallest churches in the world.

Unfortunately, during the Second World War, Riga Cathedral suffered extensive bombing damage. Its main spire was destroyed and the roof collapsed. The cathedral was restored to its former splendor in the 1950s and 1960s.

Today, Riga Cathedral is a true architectural and cultural treasure. Visitors can admire its impressive Gothic façade, its richly decorated interior and climb up to the observation platform, from where they can enjoy a panoramic view of the city of Riga.

Riga Castle

Riga Castle dates back to the 14th century, around 1330, when it was erected by the Order of the Teutonic Knights, a powerful military-religious organization. The castle was built on the banks of the Daugava River, to serve as a fortress to protect the Order’s interests in the region.

Over the centuries, Riga Castle has undergone numerous transformations and extensions. It passed from the hands of the Teutonic Knights to those of the Polish nobility, then to the Swedes, the Russians and finally the Latvians.

The castle has also been the site of many important historical events. It has witnessed wars, diplomatic negotiations and changes of power. It has been burned down and rebuilt several times during its eventful history.

In the 19th century, the castle was renovated in a neoclassical style and housed the administrative offices of the government of the day. Later, in the 20th century, under Soviet rule, a large part of the castle was destroyed, and it was rebuilt using elements of the socialist architectural style.

Today, Riga Castle is the seat of the President of Latvia and houses several government institutions. It is surrounded by picturesque gardens and offers magnificent views of Riga’s Old Town and the Daugava River.

Although the interior of the castle is not always accessible to the public due to its governmental functions, the exterior view and gardens are well worth a visit. It’s a place steeped in history, bearing witness to Latvia’s different eras and architectural influences.

Freedom Monument:

The Freedom Monument, known as “Brīvības piemineklis” in Latvian, is an emblematic monument located in the heart of the city of Riga, Latvia. Its history is closely linked to the country’s turbulent past. Here’s an overview of its history:

Construction of the Freedom Monument began in 1931 and was completed in 1935. It was erected to commemorate Latvia’s regained independence, which was proclaimed on November 18, 1918, at the end of the First World War and the collapse of the Russian and German empires.

The monument was designed by Latvian architect Karlis Zāle, while the bronze sculpture crowning the monument, known as “Milda”, was created by Latvian sculptor Kārlis Jansons. The statue of Milda represents a woman holding three stars as a sign of peace, freedom and unity.

During the period of Soviet occupation, from 1940 to 1991, the Freedom Monument was seen as a symbol of the struggle for independence and resistance against oppression. The Soviet authorities considered demolishing the monument on several occasions, but eventually decided to keep it as a monument to Soviet soldiers.

However, after Latvia regained its independence in 1991, the Freedom Monument regained its original significance as a symbol of freedom and Latvian national identity. It has become an important venue for national celebrations, rallies and commemorations.

The Three Brothers:

The Three Brothers, also known as “Trīs Brāļi” in Latvian, are a group of iconic historic buildings located in the Old Town of Riga, Latvia. They are often considered the city’s oldest stone apartment buildings and have a fascinating history. Here are a few anecdotes that might make you want to visit them:

  1. Remarkable age: The Three Brothers were built at different times, but are all located next to each other. The oldest building, at number 17 Maza Pils Street, dates back to the 15th century, making it one of the oldest in Riga. The other two buildings, at numbers 19 and 21, were built in the 16th and 17th centuries respectively.
  2. Unique architecture: Each of the Trois Frères buildings features a different architectural style, reflecting the different eras in which they were built. The oldest building is Gothic, with distinctive medieval elements. The middle building is in the Dutch Renaissance style, recognizable by its richly ornamented gables. The most recent building is Baroque, with elegant details and ornamental carvings.
  3. Legend of the competing brothers: Local legend has it that the Three Brothers were built by three competitive brothers. Each of the brothers was said to have wanted to build the tallest building, but ended up constructing buildings of different heights. Although this legend is not historically verified, it adds an extra charm to these unique buildings.
  4. Restoration and preservation: Over the centuries, the Trois Frères have undergone renovation and restoration to preserve their architectural integrity. In the 1950s, renovation work was undertaken to restore the buildings to their original state, and they were declared protected architectural monuments.
  5. Symbol of Riga’s Old Town: The Three Brothers have become a symbol of Riga’s Old Town, and are often featured in tourist brochures and postcards of the city. Their historic charm, remarkable architecture and picturesque location make them a must-see attraction for visitors.
Little Moscow:

Little Moscow, also known as “Mazais Maskavas forštats” in Latvian, is a district of Riga, the capital of Latvia. It takes its name from the fact that it has historically been home to a large Russian community. Here’s some information about the district:

  1. History: Little Moscow was created in the 19th century to accommodate Russian workers who had come to Riga to work in the city’s booming industries, such as textiles and shipbuilding. At the time, Latvia was part of the Russian Empire, and Riga had a large Russian population.
  2. Architectural features: Little Moscow is distinguished by its distinctive architecture, which reflects the Russian influence. Buildings with colorful facades, Orthodox churches and typical Russian architectural elements can be found here. This gives the district a unique atmosphere and a different aesthetic from that of Riga’s other neighborhoods.
  3. Russian community: Although the district has retained its name of Little Moscow, the ethnic composition of the population has evolved over time. Today, the Russian community is no longer so dominant, and the neighborhood is home to a diverse population of Latvians, Russians, Ukrainians and other ethnic groups.
  4. Culture and traditions: Little Moscow retains a certain Russian ambience, with Russian grocery stores, restaurants serving traditional Russian dishes and cultural events showcasing Russian music, dance and art. It’s an interesting place to visit to discover Russian culture in Riga.
  5. Contemporary developments: Over the past few decades, the Little Moscow district has undergone a number of changes and renovations to adapt to urban developments. Rehabilitation projects have been undertaken to preserve the architectural heritage while introducing new cultural and economic initiatives.
The House of Black Dots (Melngalvju nams):

The House of Blackheads, known as “Melngalvju nams” in Latvian, is an emblematic building located in the old town of Riga, Latvia. This medieval building is distinguished by its richly decorated facade and statues of knights in black armor. It once housed the Bachelors’ Merchants’ Guild and the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Sword. Today, it houses the Riga Art Gallery, featuring temporary exhibitions by local and international artists. The House of Blackheads is ideally located in the heart of the old town, offering panoramic views from its roof terrace. It’s a must for discovering Riga’s history, appreciating contemporary art and exploring the charms of the old town.

Kipsala Island and Kalnciema district:

Kipsala Island and the Kalnciema district are two fascinating destinations in Riga, Latvia. Here’s why you should consider visiting them:

Kipsala Island:

  1. Natural beauty: Located on the Daugava River, Kipsala Island offers a picturesque natural setting with its riverside landscapes, verdant expanses and stunning views of Riga’s Old Town. It’s an ideal place to escape the urban hustle and bustle and enjoy the tranquility of nature.
  2. Charming architecture: Kipsala Island is famous for its charming architecture, with traditional wooden houses and well-preserved historic buildings. The combination of ancient architecture and natural landscapes creates a unique and picturesque atmosphere.
  3. Leisure activities: Kipsala Island offers a variety of leisure activities. You can stroll along the river banks, cycle, picnic in the parks or even enjoy water sports such as sailing or kayaking. It’s a great place to relax outdoors and enjoy the natural surroundings.
  4. Cultural events: Kipsala Island also hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year, such as art festivals, exhibitions and concerts. It’s a dynamic place where you can discover Riga’s artistic and cultural scene.

The Kalnciema district

  1. Well-preserved architecture: The Kalnciema district is renowned for its well-preserved architecture, with charming 19th-century wooden houses. A stroll through the streets of this district will give you an authentic impression of Riga’s history.
  2. Kalnciema market: The Kalnciema market, held every Saturday, is a must-see experience. You’ll find a variety of local products, including fresh foods, handicrafts, clothing and souvenirs. It’s an ideal place to discover Latvian cuisine and craft culture.
  3. Cultural events: The Kalnciema district is also renowned for its many cultural events, including open-air concerts, art exhibitions, festivals and traditional performances. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in Riga’s vibrant cultural scene.
  4. Warm atmosphere: The Kalnciema district is appreciated for its warm, friendly atmosphere. Small boutiques, cozy cafés and quiet streets create a pleasant, welcoming atmosphere. It’s an ideal place to stroll, relax and interact with the locals.
The National Library:

Nicknamed Gaismas Pils, or Castle of Light, it is the symbol of the more modern face of Riga. The imposing glass and steel structure is 67 metres high and has 13 floors, housing around 4 million ancient and modern books.

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