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Riga City Break Review: Fantastic City with Great Food & Discoveries

Is Riga A Good City Break?

Riga has so many attractions. There is a wonderful old town with historic buildings and cute cafes. The Art Nouveau district has some fabulous architecture to admire. There is a lovely canal running through the city with boat trips on it, and around the canal are lovely gardens. Riga is home to the amazing National Library of Latvia – a wonderfully modern building. It’s also home to the largest food market in Europe, packed with tempting tastes and flavours. It’s a great option for a varied and wonderful city break.

Read on for my review of a Riga city break, based on two visits actually. Once with a tour group and once as a solo traveller.

riga old city view with market buildings in middle of picture and tv tower in the background

1. Riga City Break – Getting to Riga

Riga is easy to each from the United Kingdom.

Flight time is around 2 hours and 40 minutes from London.

Check out the flight options below. The year calendar gives an idea of prices from London to Riga for the year.

The flight schedule gives an idea of how many flights and flight timings each day.

2. Riga City Break – When Is It Best To Visit?

As you can see the summer months are clearly the best time to visit.

I visited in October and Riga was covered in a blanket of snow which was rather lovely.

In terms of visitors Riga is a city with a popular of 690,000 and it gets around 3.5 million visitors a year.

May and September are likely to mean less tourists and better value prices.

The current weather in Riga is;

3. Riga City Break – Getting to Riga from the Airport

There is a bus that runs from outside the airport to reach the centre of Riga. To reach the bus you follow the sign for ‘public transport’. There is a waymarked path which will lead you across the car park where you will see the bus stop. You can buy a ticket at the bus stop.

The bus number is 22. The fare is 1.15 Euros if you buy in advance, 2 Euros is you buy from the driver.

You can find all the information about bus and taxi transfers on the Riga Airport website.

The bus can be quite busy as locals use it too so you may have to stand for most of the way.

It takes around 30 minutes to reach the centre of Riga. On the way in you will pass the Riga library, which is large modern building set beside the river.

When you cross the river you know you are coming closer to the city centre.

4. Riga City Break – Where to Stay in Riga

Riga has a great choice of hotels with options in the old town, around the city centre and near the river.

There is something to suit every budget.

Check out the map view below to quickly find hotels in the area and price range you want. Hover over a hotel price to see a picture, alongwith the guest rating. Click to view more details and check prices for your dates of travel.

Check below to find the best hotel deals in Riga. Just click view hotel to see more information and check prices for your dates of travel.

Riga City Break – Hotel Opera

I stayed in the Hotel Opera and Spa on a previous visit to Riga. It was very handy for the airport bus and close to one of the drop off points.

The rooms were nice and comfortable despite it being absolutely freezing and snowing outside.

The bathrooms had a strange feature with a glass panel in the door. The bathroom window was frosted but had no blind which meant the bedroom was quite light during the night as a result.

Whilst the evening meal in the restaurant was quite good the breakfast was quite sparse with a poor selection by the time I arrived.

However, for the price I paid it was OK.

I stayed in October and it was £33 for one night including breakfast.

Riga City Break – Radisson Blu

On a previous visit to Riga on a tour we stayed in the Radisson Blu. This hotel has a great location, it overlooks one of the park areas and looks down towards the Freedom Monument.

This means that exploring the city from this hotel is very easy on foot.

There are also lots of cafes, restaurants and shops in the streets behind the hotel too.

The buffet meal we had is one of the best I have had on a tour anywhere, both for breakfast and dinner.

Guests thought the hotel rooms were small but I thought the location more than made up for it.

riga old town the professional traveller riga city break
5. Riga City Break – Things to Do in Riga

The Old Town of Riga is definitely worth a wander around. There are cute squares with lovely cafes and a different types of architecture to enjoy too.

If you fancy hearing all about the history and culture of the Old Town then why not consider a walking tour? From £18.02 for 3 hours it is a great way to learn all you need to know. Local guides are also great sources of information for top cafes and restaurants too.

learn more walking tour the professional traveller riga city break
freedom monument riga city break the professional traveller

6. Riga City Break – The Freedom Monument

The Freedom Monument is a beautiful monument dedicated to the Latvian soldiers who died in the fight for Liberation from 1918 – 1920.

The monument is 138′ or 42 metres tall. It is worth stopping by for a closer look because around the base there are scenes depeciting Latvian culture and history.

Amazingly the monument survived during the Soviet occupation of Latvia and became a symbol of the independence movement. It was a visible reminder and something that gave hope to the campaign.

Check out the Tripadvisor reviews of the Freedom Monument

riga river trip the professional traveller riga city break

7. Riga City Break – Take River Trip

There are lovely small boat trips that run from the centre of Riga, not too far away from the Freedom Monument. These boat trips are a great way to see the city from another angle.

The trips are operated by Riga by Canal. The boats are lovely wooden boats which give good views.

The trips last 1 hour long and it costs 13 Euros per adult

learn more riga by canal the professional traveller
central market the professional traveller riga city break

8. Riga City Break – Central Market

Riga is home to the largest market in Europe. Five huge buildings house various pavillions – meat, fish, vegetable and produce. It is a fantastic place to visit and experience a bit of everyday Latvian life. Around 80,000 people a day visit the market.

Like most markets there are also little cafes tucked in an around the market itself.

Try some Latvian specialities including Lampreys and Knauss which is a non alcoholic brewed drink.

Why not take a guided 2 hour market tour and find the best Latvian dishes thanks to the local knowledge of your guide? At £24 this tour is a great way to find fantastic new flavours and try them as well!

learn more the professional traveller riga market riga city break
art nouvea district riga city break the professional traveller

9. Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

This museum is well worth a visit. It is located within easy walking distance from the city centre Freedom Monument area.

The museum is located in the ‘Corner House’. This building was used as an interrogation centre when Russia occupied Latvia. There is an exhibition area giving more information on display boards. The exhibition is free to enter, with donations much appreciated.

I would highly recommend taking one of the tours. They have 4 tours guided in English running each day. The cost of these tours, which last about an hour, is 10 Euros per person.

The tour takes you through the building and give you a much better understanding of this grim, but important to know about, chapter in Latvian history.

The guide who took the tour I was on had been questioned in the building but thankfully never detained. I found the tour a really great insight into Latvia too, their worries about Russia and their support for NATO.

The only downside to the tour was the eagerness of some of the other guests to role play the interrogations that took place, or to snap photos of bullet holes where people were shot in a small cell.

Click the button below to go to the museum website.

learn more museum of occupation riga city break

10. Aspara Tea House, Riga

On my first visit to Riga I spotted this gorgeous building when taking a trip on the canal through Riga. I vowed to go back and one of the reasons I chose the Opera Hotel (see above) to stay in was it was close to this teahouse.

The building is a glass pagoda style pavillion. It is run by Aspara Tea, a local company.

The super cute building has a welcoming and friendly interior, with equally welcoming and friendly staff.

Upstairs the floor is covered with cushions enabling you to lounge with your cup of gorgeousness and enjoy the quirkiness of this building. There are views over the canal too making it a peaceful and relaxing experience.

Click the button below to find out more and see some photos of this super cute place!

learn more aspara teahouse riga city break

11. Riga City Break – Is Riga Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

I’ve visited Riga twice. Once with a group and once on my own. I have felt quite safe exploring anywhere in the city, including walking at night.

However, I did have a bit of an unpleasant experience when using an underpass to get from the airport bus to the Hotel Opera. I was carrying a medium size case which was a bit awkard to get up the steps. The steps were quite narrow. I had an over shoulder bag too.

As I climbed up the steps a man walked up beside me and managed to get his hand inside my shoulder bag.

Thankfully there was nothing valuable in the central compartment. I shouted at him and he scurried off.

When checking in at the hotel I told them of the experience and they said it was quite common when using the underpass!

I will cross the road another way next time.

12. Riga Frequently Asked Questions

Is Riga Worth Visiting?

Definitely. It’s got such a lot of variety in a fairly compact city. The food is great, there are some great attractions and the food market is worth going for on it’s own. It’s a great place to visit.

What is Riga Popular For?

It has amazing art nouvea architecture – one of the best collections anywhere. Did I mention it’s got the biggest food market in Europe too!

Is Riga Friendly?

On my two trips I found Riga friendly, despite someone trying to pickpocket my bag. The locals on the buses were also friendly and helpful, as was everyone I spoke to in the market.

Do The Speak English in Riga?

English is very widely spoken. I didn’t have any problems and nor did any of my guests when I was there with a coach group.

Further Reading

If you have found this Riga City Break article useful you might also like;

Istanbul City Break

Valencia City Break

Baku Holiday

Or for more general ideas head to my Travel Inspiration page

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