Kempinski Blog Article
One of the classic Baltic destinations, the Latvian city of Riga appeals to those who appreciate culture, cuisine and everything else that makes a city break great. Discover the city's turbulent history, see its unique architecture, and enjoy Riga's charming, characterful nightlife.
Throughout the ages, Riga has been part of ten countries, and this fractured history has left a lasting mark on the city, its historic centre in particular. From the beautiful medieval buildings crafted when the city was part of the merchant Hanseatic League, to the exquisite Art Nouveau buildings constructed during the nineteenth century.
Behind this elegant exterior, visitors can enjoy modern art exhibitions, experimental cuisine and trendy nightlife, the perfect accompaniments to the range of sites and experiences on offer in the city.
As one of the most cosmopolitan Baltic cities, Riga features a range of international dishes alongside hearty and rich Latvian specialties such as pork shank, smoked fish and a huge range of milk products including caraway cheese, sour cream and biezpiena sieriņš, a sweet, pressed cottage cheese.
In Riga, excellent restaurants include the gourmet Vincent's (known for its foie gras ravioli), the bright and healthy Milda and the slightly more traditional, but no less delicious Bar and Restaurant Petergailis. Lastly, for an elegant and one-of-a-kind evening, head to Neiburgs Restaurant or International SV, the latter of which has waiters skilled at pairing wines with your particular culinary choices.
Riga has lots to see and do throughout its interesting, culture-filled neighbourhoods. Here are some of the city's best sights.
St Peter's Church
With an enormous spire that offers an amazing view of the city, any visitor to Riga should take the 72m-high trip up to St Peter's Church's second gallery. Inside, you can learn about the building's 800-year history and understand its importance to the city, and marvel at the beautiful pink brick interior and spectacularly decorated coats of arms hung on the walls.
The Historic Centre of Riga
A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, the centre of Riga is itself an architectural museum, and a must-visit for anyone with an interest in beautiful buildings. The neoclassical designs, around 350 Art Nouveau masterpieces and winding streets lined with ancient medieval structures make the city a pleasure to explore.
Latvian National Theatre
Featuring operas, ballets and other classical concerts, the Latvian National Theatre is a hub for all the performing arts. As well as hosting highly rated productions, the building and its interior are also wonderful, so much so that tours regularly run during the day.
The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia 1940-1991
If you are interested in Latvia's darker twentieth century history, this former KGB building is home to a range of interesting exhibitions that detail what life was like in Latvia during the Soviet occupation. Learn about how Riga and Latvia were controlled during this period and take a tour of the KGB offices in the centre of the city.
During a trip to Riga in spring or summer, travellers should visit the relaxing Vermanes Park. Enjoy boating along the park's waterways or simply take a walk down the leafy paths that criss-cross the area – it is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon.
Travelling to Riga is easy - Riga International Airport is just 10km southwest of the city, with airlines such as Wizz Air, Air Baltic and Ryanair flying to a range of European and international destinations including Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Tel Aviv and Moscow.
From the airport, bus 22 and minibuses 222 and 241 take visitors to the city's Old Town - around 40 minutes away – and there are taxis available outside the terminal, taking around 15 to 20 minutes to reach the city centre.
Buses to Riga run between most major European cities, and frequently to Estonia and Lithuania, and a ferry to the city can be caught from Stockholm. Visitors from Russia, Belarus and Estonia can also catch a train to Riga.
Travelling on foot is the best way to explore the city, particularly in the Old Town, and for destinations further away, Riga's tram and bus services are an inexpensive way to get around. If the weather is good when you visit, consider hiring a self-service bicycle at one of the various rental points located across the city.
When staying in Riga, book a room at Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga, opening soon and one of the best locations in the city. As well as enjoying the luxurious facilities and dining opportunities, here you will receive the finest level of service, with staff always being on hand to help you get the most out of your city break to Riga.