As the European Capital of Culture Riga showed the world in 2014 what it has to offer: Hundreds of special events took place in Latvia’s capital last year and while the torch has passed to the Belgian town Mons since then, the reasons to explore this fascinating UNESCO world cultural heritage on the Baltic Sea are only becoming more numerous.
Conny (27) from Austria, language teacher and avid traveler, has visited Riga this spring – and returned with a lot of stimulating things to tell, including the following recommendations.
Top sights: Once you are in Riga, you absolutely have to follow the yellow suitcase. The what? A yellow suitcase? Yes, go for it! It will be the key to a wonderful guided city tour that you can find for example next to the main entrance of St. Peter’s Church. Join a 2 1/2 hour walking tour into some of the less explored sides of Riga. Young Latvians will tell you well-researched stories from the past and present. It’s a great way to discover the city with locals and people from all over the world. And if that’s not enough: it’s all for free! The organization operates only on tips. The tour starts every day at 12 p.m.
Cuisine: Riga has a wide variety of lovely restaurants and bars. You are a meat lover? Awesome! Then go and try Karbonāde ar kaulu (grilled pork chops). You are more of a vegetarian? Great! Then go and grab traditional grey peas! You are a sweet tooth? Try this to melt away: traditional home style cottage cheese fritters coated in cinnamon sugar and rosewater syrup, served with mulled wine sautéed fruit. Wanna know, where I found all those lovely dishes? Here’s the name of probably the best bar/restaurant in town: Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs – an authentic Latvian place, where loads of students and travelers hang out together listening to one of the live bands that are playing every night. (You will find it in Peldu iela 19.)
Shopping: You won’t come to Riga for crazy shopping weekends, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t go shopping at all. Rather, put a more “traditional way” of shopping on your to-do-list: for example, I found a lovely handbag and amber jewelry at the farmer’s market in the heart of the city center. Beside that, Riga is full of small stores that offer you handmade delicacies like honey, chocolate or sausages.
For the soul: Go to the central market! It consists of 5 pavilions which were used as zeppelin hangars during World War 2. Enjoy the bustling atmosphere and try some of the fresh meat, fish, fruit or vegetable!
A cordial thank you for this colorful insight into a city that HTD puts definitely on its ‘to-visit-list’! (ger)