P and I haven’t done a city break together in a while, and after my Christmas present from him fell through we thought we’d use the money to hop on a plane to a random city. We looked at the dates we were free and where was flying from Leeds Bradford (Skyscanner is your best friend for this)…which is how we found ourselves in Riga.
I really hadn’t thought about visiting Riga before, and I don’t really know anyone who has. I had the perception it would be super stag do-ey but actually it was the complete opposite. Very chilled, an abundance of cool places to eat & drink and just the right level of things to do – enough to keep you entertained but not so much you feel like you’ve got to rush around and squeeze everything in. It’s not the cheapest European city I’ve been to but we definitely went to nicer places rather than scout around for the cheapest beers (my usual tactic). I’ve listed some of my fav places we visited but I’m sure there’s still loads to discover.
Where to eat
Street Burgers – Casual sit in burger place. Burgers are delicious, especially after a few beers. Try the slider selection for a taste of them all.
Gelato Italia – Some of the most incredible pistachio and tiramisu gelato I’ve ever had.
Big Bad Bagel – There’s couple of these dotted around the city. Freshly made bagels (similar to Bagel Nash in Leeds). Perfect for a lunchtime pit stop.
Tavs Bahn Mi – Authentic bahn mi’s but also great for salads if you’ve gone a bit overboard on the carbs.
Meet Point Pizza – Very cheap, quick & tasty pizza in the north of the city (try the truffle oil & mushroom one).
Bon Vivant – Sausage sold by the 1/2m accompanied by lots of salads and pickles. Definitely worth visiting one evening, they also have a brilliant selection of Belgian beer.
Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs – We popped into here for drinks (also good for that) but do try the beer nibbles board if you’re peckish which includes local meats, cheese & pickles. The garlic bread is AMAZING. It’s like deep fried rye bread soaked in garlic butter *drool*.
Where to drink
Easy Wine – Our favourite discovery in Riga. You get given a 50 euro top up card and there are 60 wines all dispensed by a machine in the 100ml/150ml and glass which you can serve yourself. We tried lots of new wines that we normally wouldn’t, especially the more expensive ones. There’s also a cute seating area at the front to watch crowds go by.
Easy Beer – A similar concept to Easy Wine but you free pour the beer. Again it means you can try lots of new beers without committing to a full glass. Good for me as the beer can often be very strong in Europe (in Riga most were around 6/7%+) so it meant that I could pour myself smaller glasses instead of trying to match P on pints which never ends well…
Skyline Bar – A cocktail bar on the 26th floor of the Radisson Blu hotel. Head up for a drink and take in the incredible views of Riga.
Armoury Bar – This bar was right by our apartment, perfect as it had a happy hour on beer and cocktails everyday. Half price aperol spritzs and frozen cherry daiquiris were the perfect way to start the evenings.
Kaņepes Kultūras Centrs – Cool bar in the northern district of the city with a good beer selection and large outside area. It’s also a culture centre so there’s lots of events on like music, public readings, film screens.
Labietis Brewery – My favourite place, part of Riga’s new beer quarter and had a very Warpigs vibe (Copenhagen meat packing district). They have a solid selection of beer, knowledgeable staff, buzzy atmosphere and MOOSE JERKY.
Walters Un Grapa – Similar area to the Labietis Brewery. We went late in the evening when there was some great live music and lots of people chilling outside the bar with beers.
Where to stay
We stayed in a brill Air BnB right in the centre of the old town (I’m not kidding, it’s literally round the corner from the main streets). The apartment was beautiful, felt very safe and was quiet despite a bar below. My only watch out would be that the reason it was so quiet was some excellent double glazing so if you’re staying during summer months and might want the windows open then prepared for some noise as the bar below does get lively.
What to do
KGB Museum – Free museum which has essentially been unchanged since it was last occupied. It’s fairly small but there’s also a cell tour if you’d prefer a more thorough visit.
Latvian National Museum of Art – Huge gallery with 4 different floors of mixed art. There’s a really nice roof terrace right at the top for some lovely views over Riga.
Park – I loved the parks in Riga, it’s similar to NYC in that they are the central hub of the city with areas built around them. Potter round, check out the sculptures & fountains, even go boating on the lake!
Central Market – Fab place to explore and located in the old Zeppelin hangars – buy breads, cheese, pickles and cold meats for a picnic in the park.