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Here are my recommendations for the best things to do during a solo weekend in Riga, Latvia.
I, for one, am very glad I got to spend a long weekend in Riga in 2019. During my solo trip around Europe, I visited the three main Baltic cities – Riga, Vilnius and Tallinn. Although Vilnius was my favourite, I still really enjoyed my time in Riga. There’s plenty of things to do in Riga to keep you busy, as well as a picturesque Old Town, cheap food and friendly locals. Here’s my guide to a weekend in Riga, to help you plan your own Riga itinerary.
Weekend in Riga – general travel tips
Getting to Riga
Firstly, I got a Eurolines bus from Vilnius to Riga. If you’ve read any of my Europe posts, you will know that FlixBus is my preferred mode of transport. However, it doesn’t operate in the Baltics, so Eurolines is their local counterpart. The ticket was cheap and there was entertainment, so it got my stamp of approval.
Don’t miss all of my top tips for visiting Europe on a budget
Getting around during a weekend in Riga
I didn’t take public transport once in Riga (shocking, I know). But my accommodation was walking distance from the bus station, Old Town and the main attractions. However, if you’d like more information on Riga’s public transport system, check out this guide.
Where to stay during your weekend in Riga
I ended up staying in a place called Appart-31, which I found on the one and only Booking.com. Located in a residential building, it was very secure with codes and a key needed to gain entry through the multiple gates and doors. There are about four rooms off a common area that includes a bathroom, living area and kitchen. My single room was extremely cheap and comfortable, but my only issue was that I didn’t see an employee or owner once. This just irked me as a) the bin was overflowing at one point in the kitchen and b) I was using a shared bathroom.
Another option I was interested in (but there was no availability) was The Naughty Squirrel. In a central location, the hostel has amazing reviews and nightly entertainment. Alternatively, the Radisson Blu is where you’ll find the Skyline Bar mentioned below.
Here are my top tips for staying in hostels and my favourite hostels across the UK and Europe
What to wear in Riga
I visited Riga at the end of September and it was already getting quite cold. Hence I ended up wearing a couple of layers – a jumper and jacket, along with jeans and my trusty Allbirds. I also had to bring my umbrella out for the day. Here’s my comprehensive packing list for Europe in autumn, just in case.
Is Riga safe for solo female travellers?
I found Riga to be a safe place to visit as a solo female traveller. It was easy to get around by foot, the people were nice and there were plenty of things to do in Riga to keep me busy. I’d recommend it to fellow solo travellers. For more tips on travelling alone in Europe, check out this blog post.
Things to do on a weekend in Riga
Start your weekend in Riga with a wander around the Old Town
First things first. I recommend starting your weekend in Riga in the Old Town. It’s beautiful, with cobblestoned streets, colourful historic buildings and many shops and eateries. Some of the places I recommend visiting in the Old Town include House of the Blackheads, Our Lady of Sorrows Church, the Three Brothers and the Swedish Gate. While you’re in the area, head to the waterfront at Lielais Kristaps for scenic river views too.
I actually headed back to the Old Town a couple of days later and a Harvest Festival was happening in the Old Dome Square. There were an orchestra, young dancers and many market stalls – it was so fun and offered a glimpse at local life.
Walk through Bastejkalns Park
I visited Riga at the end of September and this park – right next to the Old Town – was awash with pretty fall colours. With multiple bridges and walking paths, I recommend making a pitstop here while visiting the Old Town.
Spend an evening at Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs
Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs is a hip bar located in an ancient wine cellar, which is known for its live music and traditional Latvian pub meals. As I was travelling alone, I didn’t go here but it seemed to always pop up when I looked into the top things to do in Riga before my visit.
Buy an amber souvenir
This is a random one, but if you’re looking for a quintessential Baltic souvenir, may I suggest picking up a piece of amber jewellery from one of the many shops in the Old Town? I purchased a set of amber sterling silver studs for €6 and wear them regularly.
Visit Alberta Street for the Art Nouveau architecture
One of my favourite things to do in Riga is to see the amazingly historic Art Nouveau buildings along Alberta Street. Built between 1901 and 1908, the buildings are beautifully decorated with sculptures, columns, balconies and intricate details. If you’re a fan of architecture like myself, don’t miss visiting Alberta Street during your weekend in Riga.
Visit the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia
I didn’t end up visiting the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, but I’ve heard only good things about its exhibits. Its mission is to remember and remind people what happened to Latvia from 1940 to 1991 and to commemorate those who were unjustly convicted and murdered.
Head to the Skyline Bar at sunset
Another of my top recommendations for things to do in Riga is to visit the Skyline Bar at sunset. Located at the top of the Radisson Blu, this modern bar has floor to ceiling windows on both sides, offering amazing views of both the Old Town and the sprawling city. Fortunately, I was able to grab a seat by the window so I could soak up the golden hour. It was beautiful and made even better with a cold glass of cider. Granted, the drinks are not cheap, but the views are worth it.
Alternatively, see the view from St Peter’s Church
Another viewpoint to check out during your weekend in Riga is the sightseeing platform inside the tower at St Peter’s Church. I’ve seen photos and the views are incredible, but it does cost €9 to get the elevator to the viewing platform, which is quite expensive for a budget traveller. I ended up spending less than that on a drink at the Skyline Bar and I was impressed with those views.
Enjoy brunch at Street Fries Kitchen
Street Fries Kitchen is such a great place to visit during your weekend in Riga. They do everything from breakfasts to burgers and steaks. I had bacon, eggs and waffles with maple syrup and it was perfect!
Visit the Central Market
While you visit the Central Market on the tour mentioned below, I went again the next day for snacks (what else). Located in World War I Zeppelin aircraft hangars, it’s home to more than 3000 vendors. With indoor and outdoor stalls, it was overwhelmingly busy on the weekend. I went for a wander and checked out this post for recommendations. I ended up visiting Uzbek Bread and Pastries as their stall is stocked with freshly-baked pastries and bread products. Don’t miss out! Among the clothing and food stalls, the Central Market also has a food court of sorts. Visiting the Central Market gives you a taste of local life in Riga.
Do an alternative walking tour
I love walking tours, it’s true. However, during my weekend in Riga, I only did an alternative walking tour as I wanted to see a different side of the city away from the Old Town. This alternative walking tour is great, as you walk through the Central Markets, the city’s Warehouse and Moscow Districts, past the Science Academy and back to central Riga. Along the way, our guide shared stories about Riga in World War II, what it’s like growing up in Latvia and Latvian folklore.
Enjoy breakfast from Martina’s Bakery
This bakery was near my accommodation and it had delicious and cheap pastries. It was the perfect place to pick up a snack for my bus ride to Tallinn.
Spend the day at Jurmala Beach
You will find the town of Jurmala a 30-minute train ride from Riga. It’s primarily known for its 25 km-long white sand beach. This is a great Riga day trip option during the summer months.
Wander around the Kalnciema Quarter during your weekend in Riga
Riga’s Kalnciema Quarter is known not only for its beautifully restored 19th-century wooden buildings but for its lively arts and entertainment scene as well. It comes alive during holidays like Easter and Christmas and hosts a weekly farmers market on Saturdays.
Visit Laima Chocolate Museum
You guys, Riga has a Chocolate Museum. That is all.
I hope this post on a weekend in Riga helps you plan your trip!
For more inspiration, check out my entire UK/Europe solo travel itinerary, as well as my favourite solo travel destinations around the world.