Riga, Riga, Riga! I’m so sorry that I’ve put off writing about you for…well…forever! I’ve realized that the reason that I’ve been dragging my feet on writing this post is that I just don’t feel that I experienced enough of the city to really talk about it in a meaningful way. We were there for a few days, which I do think is more than enough for Riga, but our visit happened to coincide with the worst cold of my entire LIFE and I spent about 90% of the trip nose-deep in a pile of tissues and hopped up on Sudafed.
Not exactly ideal conditions.
Outside of an ill-timed trip to Germany a few years ago where I very nearly got frostbite, this was the coldest I’ve ever been. Ever. The stars were not aligned in our favor. But! We made the absolute most of our mini-holiday and I do have a few spots that I think that you should check out should you make a trip to Latvia. This won’t be a definitive guide to Riga in 72 hours, but it’ll be something, and that’s better than nothing. 😉
My first big piece of advice would be to stay in Old Town if at all possible (there are loads of AirBnBs in this part of the city). So many of the snap-happy spots in the city, from the theater to the parks to the government buildings and museums, will be on your doorstep if you do this. There’s a lot of history in Riga and it’s densely packed into this small area.
We did A LOT of walking around. Mostly to try to exorcise (and exercise, really) the cold out of me. While we popped into a few of the smaller museums and St. Peter’s Church (which is a must-see), we spent most of our time marveling at the architecture from the sidewalks.
Riga is incredibly clean and easy to navigate, so as long as you’ve got comfortable walking shoes and are dressed in a weather-appropriate way, you’ll do fine as far as attire goes.
While health-wise I was in shambles, the sun showed up for us in full force. I can’t say that we would have seen as much or spent as much time outside if not for the glorious sunshine beating down on us. There’s nothing like a little Vitamin D – which, coincidentally, I had just been diagnosed with a deficiency of – to lift your spirits, right?
I guess it’s time to tell you about the food, right?
While we weren’t in the city for too long we did manage to find two wonderful places to eat. The first we lucked into, which is hilarious considering that it’s one of the best restaurants in Latvia: 3 Pavāru Restorāns (3 Chefs Restaurant). By some insane stroke of luck we stumbled in and they had an open table for us. We were met with – literally – a parade of sauces and breads and tea and it was heaven. I can’t even remember what my main was but it was exquisite. I’d definitely recommend making a booking and eating whatever they put on the table, it’ll be amazing.
The second, at a much more budget-friendly price point, was a part of a chain: Garāža. We actually ate here twice: the first because it was incredibly close to our accommodation and did I mention that I was almost on my death bed? And the second because the first time was so good. They have a really random menu (I believe I had both tacos and something that was definitely not taco-adjacent) so there’s something for everyone and the staff and atmosphere was great. It’s a little kitschy without being Applebee’s and the music was so fun that we ended up going home and buying the albums that they had playing.
Here’s my favorite bit about Riga: it was so laid back and pleasant. That doesn’t sound like the most exciting endorsement for a city, but for me it’s everything. Because we tend to work so hard, we really prefer to just swan around and relax on holiday. Maybe we’re just old and our skydiving and abseiling days are behind us? I don’t know. I don’t ski so meandering around a city is really my holiday equivalent of lounging around in a chalet by a fireplace with a good book. (Though trust me if I can meander and lounge around by a fireplace in the same trip that is my ideal.)
Riga basically served up everything we wanted. We had downtime to catch up with each other, beautiful spaces to explore, and good food. Perfection, right?
In all, Riga, I love you – I said as much on Instagram! – and I’ll try to be back soon! Without the sniffles this time!