Planning on visiting Riga?
Read on for some ideas of things to do in Riga, including a couple of free and a couple of paid options. There are also a couple of restaurant recommendations too.
Riga public transport is really great value so keep reading to find out how to use it to get around.
5 Interesting Things to Do in Riga
Are There Interesting Things to Do in Riga?
Riga has some fantastic things to do including the biggest food market in Europe, a brilliant vehicle museum, and a lovely old town. There is the KGB building and the Museum of the Occupation too. For something really quirky there is the World Hat Museum!
Things to Do in Riga
1. KGB Building
The KGB Building is located in a building called The Corner House. It is around a 15 minute walk from the old town area. If you are walking from the old town head to the Freedom Monument. Walk past the monument and keep going straight on. Go past the lovely Lutheran church with the gold domes, past the Radisson Hotel, and keep walking. You will go through an area with some shops and then to the KGB Museum. There is a small wooden door in the corner of the building.
Once inside you will be at the ticket office where you pay if you want to take a tour. You can have a look around the exhibition hall for free. There are toilets just inside the main entrance too.
To really understand the building and its impact on Latvian people you need to take a tour. It is £10 Euros per person, with a discount for students or super teenagers.
The tour itself is led by an English speaking guide. It lasts around 1 hour and it goes through the building visiting the reception rooms, interrogation rooms, exercise yard, cells, kitchen, and execution chamber. The building was not used as a long-term prison – it was mainly for interrogation purposes.
The tour involves going down into the basement and down some metal steps to the exercise yard. There are some other smaller steps and doorsteps to negotiate. The content of the tour means it is not really suitable for younger children.
Tour times vary depending on the time of year. You can find the details, and book online if you want to, at the KGB Building facebook page.
Whilst this might seem quite macabre to include on a list of things to do in Riga, it is a really important piece of Latvian history. It’s even more relevant given the invasion of Ukraine. The guides do a great job of explaining what happened in a sensitive yet detailed way.
You can also see more, including pictures and reviews, on their Tripadvisor listing.
The KGB Building is a sister museum to the History of the Occupation of Latvia. This is located in the old town and tells the much wider story of the Latvian occupation. This building is next to the House of the Blackheads in the old town.
Things to Do in Riga
Riga Motor Museum is located out in the suburbs of Riga. To get there you need to take public transport or a taxi.
Bus numbers 15 and 35 drop off and pick up right outside the museum. Bus number 21 drops off about 0.5 miles from the museum on another main road.
It takes around 30 minutes to reach the motor museum by public bus.
On entering the museum there is a cash desk to pay. The entry fee is 10 Euros. There are toilets at the entrance and also free lockers to store your belongings (you need a 1 Euro coin).
The museum is on two levels and the exhibits flow in chronological order. There are some very rare and unusual cars. There are interactive interpretation screens with one screen for every 4 or 5 cars. You simply select your language and then the car to learn the history and facts of each vehicle.
There are some interactive exhibits and ancillary exhibits such as radio equipment dotted around the edges of the museum too.
Upstairs there are newer cars and the Kremlin collection. These are some Russian diplomatic cars. These now have the addition of StandWithUkraine window stickers which was a great touch too.
Back on the ground floor, there is a small shop and a cafe. The cafe has a daily set menu for around 7 Euros along with a bar serving hot and cold drinks.
We spent around 2 hours at the museum including getting something to eat.
Riga Motor Museum is currently listed as number 1 of 329 things to do in Riga and it’s easy to see why!
Things to Do in Riga
The central market is the largest food market in the whole of Europe, with an estimated 40,000 visitors per day. What an absolute feast for the senses it is to visit too.
The market is divided into halls – fruit and vegetables, meat, dairy, fish, and general goods. There are beautiful displays of fruit and vegetables, lovingly tended by stallholders. We couldn’t resist the biggest strawberries we had ever seen which tasted even better than they looked.
The dairy hall has lovely cheeses and also a small food court area. There are local breads, doughnuts, dumplings, soups, and coffees. It’s a great place to try some local food with great prices too.
The fish hall is worth a wander whether you eat fish or not. There are all sorts of beautifully presented fish including a huge range of smoked fish. There are also pickle and kimchi stalls, with piles of sauerkraut and other delights.
The meat hall has lots of pork, with everything from pigs’ tails to pigs’ heads. There are also cooked meat stalls. It’s a great insight into the local food culture.
Visiting a local market might seem like an odd inclusion on a list of things to do in Riga but the market here really is something special. Take your time to wander, and enjoy something to eat, and drink while you are there. Pick up some food and drink if you are self-catering. It’s also a good spot to pick up some gifts as well.
The market can be easily reached by local tram with most of the lines stopping outside the market area. There are bus stops all around the market area too. Currently, in March 2023, there is a lot of roadworks going on so bus stops have moved around a little from some of their usual positions.
See more information, pictures, and reviews of the Central Market on Tripadvisor
If you want a curated visit then why not try a Central Market guided tasting tour? This 2-hour tour will introduce you to some real local specialties and flavours.
Things to Do in Riga
This modern building occupies a prime position next to the river in the central part of Riga. The ground floor of the building is free to visit. There are toilets and seating inside with a great view up the central atrium to the thousands of books in the library.
Also on the ground floor is a small but great exhibition about books in Latvia. It gives a great history of how bookmaking started and changed over the years. There is also a really lovely interactive exhibit with a large book inside a small audiovisual chamber. Turning the pages of the book changes the display around the reader. It demonstrates how reading can transport the reader to another place.
See more information, pictures, and reviews of the National Library on Tripadvisor
The library is open from 11 am each day. There are also tours available and a viewing deck on the upper levels. The library was designed by a local Latvian architect and is designed to look like a mountain with a flame on the top. The design is called the Castle of Light.
At the front of the museum is an interesting sculpture. It is of a Latvian poet Rainis. There are two figures, both of him. One is 1 metre high and the other is 3 metres high with 10 metres of bench between them.
Next door to the National Library is the railway museum. This museum costs 5 Euros to visit. We planned to do this but ran out of time. It looked really interesting.
See more information including pictures and reviews on Tripadvisor.
Things to Do in Riga
5. Lido Restaurants
Lido is a Latvian chain of restaurants that specialise in cafeteria-type meals with local dishes and produce. We tried the Lido in the Old Town. This has some seating on the ground floor and more on the upper level which is accessed by stairs.
You simply take a tray and then help yourself to the cold dishes and desserts. Hot dishes are served by one of the chefs from the selection on display. When we visited there was chicken with cheese and pineapple, cabbage rolls, sausage casserole, sauerkraut, potato wedges, and egg fried rice on the hot plate. Unfortunately, there were no vegetarian options other than potatoes and rice.
There was gluhwein which was perfect on a cold day though!
For two meals with side salads and drinks, it was 17 Euros which was good value given the size of the plates!
The Lido restaurants are very popular with locals, with a steady stream of delivery drivers coming in to pick up orders during our visit. Find all the locations of the Lido restaurants on their website.
See more information including pictures and reviews for Lido Alus Seta on Tripadvisor
Things to Do in Riga
Street Food Pizza
This pizza restaurant was located close to where we were staying so it was only a 5-minute walk away.
The pizzas were delicious – a thin base, a crusty side and great toppings. The service was friendly and welcoming and we enjoyed two great pizzas with drinks for 19 Euros.
Check out more information including reviews and photos on Tripadvisor
Things to Do in Riga
How to Get Around Riga
Public transport is cheap and plentiful in Riga. There are trams, trains, and buses. For exploring the city centre the tram and buses are the best options.
To use public transport you simply buy your ticket in advance. You can buy tickets at the little convenience stores and kiosks called Narvesen. They are dotted throughout the city.
You can buy a ticket that gives unlimited travel for 90 minutes for 1.5 Euros or a ticket that gives unlimited travel for 24 hours for 5 Euros.
When you board your first bus, tram, and train you validate your ticket by waving it over one of the scanners which you will find at the entrance to the bus, tram, or train.
Trams and buses usually board at the back rather than the front and you cannot buy tickets onboard.
With so many things to do in Riga using public transport is a great way to get around and it’s also a great way to experience some local life too.
Check out hotel prices in Riga with this map view
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