Riga, Lativia, the most happening 
city in the Baltics, is still 
re-emerging as its own entity. It was liberated from the Soviet Union in 1991 and is 
a multicultural city with 
a wide variety of influences. Be  warned though, it’s not very cheap for tourists.

Get some Latvian history

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, just off Townhall Square, will tell you everything you need to know about Latvia’s troubled history, and Riga in particular. The ugly steel building isn’t exactly inviting to tourists, but it’s 
free to get in and provides the facts on the Latvians’ fight against German and Soviet occupation, plus personal accounts of those who were tortured and killed.

Riga’s Old Town and market

The Old Town, 
a Unesco World Heritage site, is full of winding, pedestrian 
-friendly, cobbled streets. The Dome Cathedral merits a visit as it houses one of the world’s largest organs, but it’s St Peter’s that dominates the Riga skyline. Climb the 70m high viewing tower for a superb vantage point over the city.

If you want to mix with Riga’s locals, head to the Central Market, located near the bus station. It’s a collection of hangars that were used during World War II, with all sorts of goods for sale. There’s plenty of different meats on offer if you want to cook up your own feast, or stock 
up on sweets.

Eating out in Riga

Tourists shouldn’t expect to eat and drink like a king for next to nothing in Riga. It costs anything from 12-20 lats for a decent meal, while beers in most bars cost 
two to three lats.

The Latvians love meat, so you’ll find lots of pork, game and potatoes on the menu. Eat out at Rozengrals, a traditional-style Latvian restaurant that serves hearty food in the middle of Riga. The waiting staff are in traditional garb and 
the menu is geared towards carnivores. Expect to pay 
about 15 lats a meal.

What to drink in Latvia

Savour a cold pint of Aldaris Zelta, one of the local Latvian 
beers, but be vigilant in bars. Make sure you know exactly how much you’re paying for 
a drink as there are a few places that rip off tourists. 
It’s also best to avoid paying with credit cards as reports 
of people unwittingly being charged thousands of lats are not unusual.

Out of town

About a 45-minute drive from Riga is the sleepy town of Sigulda, where adrenalin junkies can get their fix on 
a bobsled run. The 1.2km long track is Olympic-standard and used by both the Latvian and Russian Winter Olympic teams as a training site.

Essential information on visiting Riga, Latvia

WHEN TO GO: Visit Riga any time of the year, but be prepared for chilly temperatures during the winter months.
GETTING THERE: Fly direct to Riga from London Stansted with Ryanair from £60 return.
VISAS: South Africans need a Schengen visa.
CURRENCY: Latvian Lat. 1 GBP = 0.85 LVL.
LANGUAGE: Latvian, but most young people speak English.
GETTING AROUND: All the main sights of Riga are easily accessible on foot.
GOING OUT: A pint of beer costs about £2.10.
ACCOMMODATION: Dorm beds cost from £4.70 a night, while a room in a hotel costs from £15.

Now read this:
Destination guide: Latvia
Old and new in Riga, Latvia  
Itinerary ideas – Riga, Latvia