Thu, April 28th, 2011 - By

Riga Love


Riga is the capital and largest city in Latvia, a country that goes largely untouched for many travellers who probably would rather head south for more well known destinations.  A shame, because Latvia has a lot going for it. I just love their tourism slogan, Best Enjoyed Slowly.

So what will you see if you head here, one of the “gems” of the Baltics?  Here’s a sampling.

Art Noveau Architecture

While amazing architecture can be found throughout Europe, Riga seems to have amassed an amazing collection of art nouveau buildings, so much so that a portion of the city has been declared a UNESCO world heritage zone. The buildings here have been well preserved, with period features dating back to 1200s still present.

What’s even nicer is many of these buildings are now home to modern art galleries and cosmopolitan cafes; the city has had a bit of a cultural renaissance in recent years, so there’s definitely a great atmosphere found in the city centre.

Nightlife

They say that Riga is one of the undiscovered hot spots for European nightlife. I’d disagree – go out on a summer weekend and you’ll see that there are plenty who have discovered it. Nonetheless, Riga does offer a lot of bars, pubs and clubs for you to let your hair down and have some fun on your weekend break or holiday.

I might suggest, though, before your overnight debauchery, you partake in a bit of beer tasting, because Latvia is known for its quality and extensive beer production and there is a lot to choose from. Merlin is one of the famous beer restaurants and a great place to eat well and taste a few beers, though surprisingly their Latvian selection is limited.

The Old Town is where much of the nightlife action begins – many of the pubs have outdoor terraces, making them the perfect place to start off the evening. The later the night wears own, the more folks tend to head down the alleys and backstreets – plenty of places stay open until the wee hours, so bring your dancing shoes.

Note: There are many unsavoury characters running about in the Riga nightlife scene, including a lot of scams. If it seems strange or unusual, then move on.

Art


Art seems to be ever-present in Riga, and some of the most popular spots are art-related. Whether you just want to see what the local art scene is like or you’re an art culture enthusiast, here are some recommendations:

  • Latvian National Art Museum:  This is an interesting stop as it explores two centuries worth of Latvian treasures; you can see over the years the Soviet influence and how that affected some of the scenes depicted.
  • Kalnciema: This is another UNESCO district and another architectural spot, known for the wooden houses here. Some of these little shops are offices, but there are also art galleries and other interesting places to pop in and take a look.
  • Spīķeri Creative Quarter: Another interesting and unique district, here you’ll find a plethora of creative arts, from music and theatre to dance and art. Rotating exhibitions and one-off events make the vibe here very fun, and top that off with some of the best food and drink in Riga, and you’ve got a winner.

Have you been to Riga?  What was your favourite?

Photo Credits: upyernoz, jsolomon, anjci

Andy Hayes

Andy Hayes is a travel journalist currently based in Seattle, Washington. When not soaking up the Pacific Northwest lifestyle or enjoying life on the road, he is spending time hanging out on his own travel lifestyle magazine, Sharing Travel Experiences.

Posted : Thursday, April 28th, 2011 at 11:00
Category : Spotlight
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