Planet Traveler: Weekend trip to Riga gives history, outdoors exciting, beaches | KyivPost


RIGA, Latvia — Want to appreciate exceptional architecture, conquer a forest trail and unwind on the beach? It requires just a brief flight from Kyiv and 3 days of holiday in Riga.

The Latvian capital of 641,000 folks is a smorgasbord of culture and adventure, wrapped in a tiny package. And guests can practical experience this vibrant city more than a lengthy weekend or as aspect of a longer tour of the 3 Baltic states.

Beyond its historic sights and the surrounding organic beauty, Riga also gives fine dining and parties at bars and nightclubs — and all at an economical value.
But what underlies the Riga practical experience is the distinct cultural identity of its folks and their proud history of struggle against imperial rule. Latvians cherish their roots, acknowledge hard history and move forward as an economically and technologically created European state.

When to come

The very best time to stop by Riga is in the summer season when the temperature hovers about a pleasant 24 degrees Celsius, fantastic for the beach.

The ultimate occasion to stop by would be the Latvian Song and Dance Festival, 1 of the world’s biggest amateur choral and dancing events. It requires location every single 5 years in July with the subsequent 1 scheduled for 2021.

Riga hosts other events all through the summer season, like Rigas Ritmi jazz and planet music festival in July. The city’s Lucavsala Park has also come to be a prime venue for well-liked musical acts, with Ed Sheeran and Rammstein performing there this summer season. Riga has a lot of reside music bars, as well.

Autumn is also a fantastic season to appreciate the colors in the parks and countryside, but temperatures fall swiftly soon after mid-September. In the winter, snow-bound Riga and the surrounding nation can have a lot of charm. And there are lots of downhill skiing possibilities, Zagarkalns ski resort amongst most well-liked.

Numerous of the buildings on Riga’s Town Hall Square benefited from a restoration project in 2001 soon after becoming destroyed by German bombs for the duration of Planet War II. (

Old Town, Art Nouveau

Naturally, it is very best to get started exploring Riga from its Old Town, a Medieval central district featuring most of the city’s sights that was masterfully restored soon after the destruction of Planet War II. Gems like the Dome Cathedral and the Home of the Blackheads are surrounded by cobbled streets of subtle beauty, like Troksnu Street with its quirky medieval Swedish Gate.

The Old Town also homes the Museum of the Barricades of 1991, which focuses on a series of clashes in which Latvians defended their independence from the Soviet Union, sacrificing lives though facing the Soviet specific police. It has a tiny entrance that is simple to miss on three Kramu St.

1 can not assistance but consider about how the story echoes the 2013–14 clashes of the EuroMaidan Revolution in Kyiv, when Ukrainians place up barricades to defend their country’s self-determination from Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych and eventually drove him out of energy on Feb. 22, 2014.

Riga’s Old Town attracts lots of vacationers, but not almost as lots of as Western Europe’s capitals. For a much less crowded tour, the city has the so-known as Quiet Center, a neighborhood featuring turn of the 20th century Art Nouveau architecture. Alberta Street has the most of these unparalleled buildings, which contain nature symbols and ornamental carvings on their facades.

The Old Town is very best explored on foot, given that it is compact and vehicles are permitted on only a handful of streets. The Art Nouveau district is inside walking distance as nicely. Normally, Riga is welcoming for these who like to stroll — each the bus and train stations are much less than 500 meters away from the edges of the Old Town. The only drive 1 may possibly have to take is from the airport, which is positioned 10 kilometers away.


Riga has a vibrant restaurant scene that gives a range of international cuisines, like standard Latvian cooking. Such is the specialty of the Province restaurant with its rustic interior in the heart of the Old Town. Also nearby, the Le Dome fine-dining restaurant specializes in freshly caught Baltic fish. The LIDO chain of self-service restaurants gives Latvian meals on a spending budget.

The hidden gem in Riga’s nightlife is a group of venues on Aristida Briana Street, away from the city center. The Piens coffee shop, which also has meals and wine, is a favourite location for the city’s hipsters to chat and dance away the evening. The Labietis brewery and pub subsequent door has a laidback atmosphere and 12 in-property beers on tap, plus a lot more in bottles. And the 1 1 nightclub nearby has the trendiest electronic music parties in town.

Just after a evening of partying, the fantastic location to restore one’s power is Innocent, a coffee shop that gives all-you-can-consume brunches for a fixed value. Innocent gives pizza, salads and some international meals. It is positioned at 34 Blaumana St. close to Riga’s train station, a departure point to the beaches and organic parks about Riga.

The Jurmala stretch of beaches and pine forests on the Baltic Sea begins just 15 kilometers away from Riga and extends up to 20 kilometers. It is dotted with outside bars and volleyball nets in the summer season. (

Park &amp Jurmala beach

It requires an hour and a half by train travelling west from Riga to attain Gauja, Latvia’s most well-liked naturapark, which stretches for about 100 km along the Gauja River Valley. The ticket each strategies charges €3.62 or $four. Trains depart every single two hours from the Riga’s central train station to Sigulda, the most handy access point to the park.

Sigulda has a park information and facts workplace and a bobsleigh track — a likelihood to practical experience the speedy sport at a affordable value. A wheeled automobile is utilised in the summer season for €10 or $11 per individual. Guests can ride a actual sleigh in the winter for €50 or $55.42 per individual.

Practically half of the Gauja National Park is forested. It is residence to about 900 distinctive plants, 149 birds and 48 mammal species. Guests can hike or run via the vast wooded places or ride a boat or a canoe on the Gauja river to see the caves, cliffs and ravines of the park.

To the east of Riga is Jurmala (“seaside” in Latvian), a picturesque stretch of beaches and pine forests along the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic Sea. The tiny coastal towns that make up Jurmala have strict developing regulations to preserve the 19th-century wooden summer season residences.

A train from Riga’s central train station to Majori, the heart of Jurmala, travels about half an hour and charges €3.32 or $three.68 each strategies. Jomas Street in Majori is a strip of outside cafes, restaurants and hotels. It has a range of shops that sell some of Latvia’s well-liked souvenirs: amber jewelry, the Laima brand of chocolate and Riga Black Balsam, a medicinal drink in a neat ceramic bottle.

How to get there
Round trips flights from Kyiv to Riga typical at Hr three,126 ($124).
Exactly where to keep
Hotel rooms with in central Riga get started at Hr 1,260 ($50), Airbnb apartment rentals get started at Hr 756 ($30).

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