Riga is a great city to visit with a beautiful Old Town that is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is great architecture including imposing churches, Art Deco and Art Nouveau buildings and a castle dating back over 500 years. Together with that, you’ll find super places to eat and drink whilst you rest your feet.
Riga Old Town
There are plenty of walking tours available in Riga but I opted for the free tour from Riga Free Tours. Sometimes you get what you pay for, other times the guides working for tips alone will bring the tour to life. Well done to Liga for making the tour so interesting, despite the icy wind blowing and the snow coming down. I found out all about the buildings from my previous post here.
If history interests you then I do recommend the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. Currently out of its normal residence in the old town (not that Google tells you that), it’s a short walk away and offers an insight into the to and fro occupation by Germans and Russians since 1940. The forced migrations, both to the East and West, the imposition of draconian laws favouring the occupiers, fighting for and against first one occupier and then the other before finally being subjected to the ruthlessness of Stalin’s Russification program is all brought to life through photographs and memorabilia of the times. How any country could cope with so much amazes me, although I know many others have faced similar challenges. Entry is free but they do ask for donations.
Sadly another place of interest was closed. The old KGB Headquarters at the Corner House. The building looks impressive from the outside and it would have been interesting to learn more about the atrocities that occurred within its walls. Maybe another time.
Beer and eats
Well why come away without trying the local brews? This 4 schooner taster at the Queens Pub was just the place to start. Aldaris 1865, Bauskas dark, Meźpils unfiltered and Meźpils
You shouldn’t miss the Folkklubs ALA pagrabs if you like subterranean wining and dining. This cellar bar/restaurant, as the name suggests, offers live folk music. The Valmiermuižas dark lager (5.8%) apparently ‘gives you a flavour of hazelnuts, raisins, salty-sweet caramel, dried plums, and mild hops.’ I couldn’t taste it myself – but it helped make the folk music bearable.
On the food front, I tried out the Province restaurant in the old town. You can try a range of traditional Latvian dishes here. I opted for the meat dumplings which I found to be rather bland. The disappointment was short lived as the baked home-made Latvian Cottage Cheese with Cowberry Sauce for dessert easily made up for it. Scrumptious.
If burgers are more your thing then stop at one of the Hesburger’s which, as many a Finn will tell you, are far better than a McDonald’s.
That’s almost time up with my 48 Hours in Riga. Tomorrow I head south into Lithuania for 48 hours in Vilnius.