Cityguide Riga



"Riga is such a beautiful city" - I think I heard that sentence very, very often. So of course, I was really excited for the city everyone hyped. I had a lot of expactations. But I need to say, that I could not really understand the hype people get about the city. I do not want to say, that Riga is not a nice city, its just, that I have seen nicer ones. 

Backpackers usually have the same route around the baltic states. From Finland down to Estonia, Latvia and Lithunia or from Lithunia up to the north.
I heard a lot of travellers saying, that they personally prefered Tallinn(Estonia) than Riga. And others sure prefered Riga. But I need to say, that after seeing Budapest and Krakow and other awesome cities of eastern Europe, I had quiet the same expectations for Riga. It is definitly a nice city. It has its charme. There are some great sights to see, some fun bars and clubs to go and definitly great places to hang out, but I cant say, that Riga is in any way nicer or better than other cities. 
But I only know Riga in Wintertime, so maybe it is a totally different city in summer. 

But do not change your mind about the city, just because some blogger is not totally convinced about it,  it is definitly worth a visit. The Baltic states are great, full of nature and small charming cities. 


Some basic informations about Riga
Riga is the capital city of Latvia with a population of 700.000. Latvia is located between Lithunia and Estonia in north-east Europe. 
The Latvian currency is Euro. Often people say, that the prices of products here are way cheaper in eastern europe than in middle europe. But I cant really relate to that opinion that the prices in the grocery stores are way cheaper than they are  in other, richer countries. In bars, restaurants and clubs you definitly pay less for drinks or food, thats sure, but buying food in the store was not really cheaper. (We mostly went to the supermarket called "Rimi". But I am sure, that there are cheaper places to go to). 

In winter the days in Riga are very short. The sun goes up around nine and goes down around four. Winter here are way colder then in central europe. The air is freezing and as soon as there is snow, you do not want to spend to much time outside. 


Getting to and around Riga 
There is a Airport not far from the city. With the bus number 22 you can easily reach the city in 30 to 45 minutes. If you buy a ticket in the bus you pay 2 euros, if you buy them at a store it costs less. 
The bus drives directly to the citycenter. We left at the station, located directly after the river and walked into town. 
The good thing about the city is, that you can easily walk everywhere. But there are busses and trams that you can take as well. 
Next to the main train station there is the bus station with busses driving to Estonia, Lithunia or even Sankt Petersburg. 
The most popular Buscompanies are Ecolines and Lux Express. 

Popular Hostels in Riga
We spend new years at the Naughty Squirrl hostel, that had a good reputation for its party lifestyle. 
It is located directly in the citycenter, two minutes from a shopping mall, grocery store and not far from sights and bars. 
The staff is young and fun. They try the best for you to have a good stay. The common areas are good for socialising and with their daily activities you never get bored. 
(Another so heard fun, social  hostel is the Friendlies Fun Franks, but I cant tell anything about it yet). 


Some things to do in Riga

Exploring the Old Town of Riga. 
 House of Blackheads 
 Museum of Occupation 
St Peters Church 
Central Market 
Riga Town hall square
 Visiting the nearby Town Jumala
Freedom Monument

Stalins Tower

Freedom  monument

Great thing about Riga is that you can get lost in the old city, see some nice churches and monuments and eat in some nice restaurants just by walking around those small, nice streets. Nothing is really far away. You can explore everything without taking public transportation. People are friendly, nice and they always seem to have a smile on they lips. 



Best Place to eat

For real Latvian food you need to go to Ala Pagrabs. It is one of the most popular places to eat and our Hostel had an event where we all went to the Restaurant for a fun evening with good food and nice wine.



Nightlife

Rockcafe 
Was one of our favorite places to go to. It has kind of everything, from Restaurant to bar, to karaoke area and dancefloor. There are people from all age groups, from students to businessman. Dress code was casual to chick. Some guys in jackets, some in hipster, urban outfit.
There are a lot of areas to go to. Down in the caves is a place to play some Billiard or to sing karaoke. On the main floor you can sit at the bar or eat in the restaurant and on the first floor you can party on the dance floor. On new years there was even a  band playing.
Entry is for free (on new years it was seven euros). Cocktails four euros and up.

Skybar
Sitting there, with a nice (expensive drink) and a view over Riga. Nice place if you like some luxus in your backpacker life.
It is situated in the Radisson Blu Hotel.

Tims Mints
Social Pre Party Place in the Oldtown.

Shot Cafe
One of the most popular cocktail bars.

Aussie Backpackers Pub
Mix of Locals and Travellers.
They have some fun activities and a lot of different beer to try out.


You can find a list of detailed nightlife places here.
And the Travelstory here.


Gauja Nationalpark

The Nationalpark is located 60 km outside of Riga. There is a bus driving every hour from the busstation that takes you to Sigulda. The cost is 2,50 euros and you can buy a ticket directly from the driver. 
At Sigulda you can go to the tourist office and get some maps for hiking trails. 
The trails passes next to churches, lakes, rivers and you can even go into the woods. 
The best way to explore the nationalpark is just by taking a whole day, go there and explore everything spontaniously. 









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