Impressions of Riga

Riga What to do in Riga if you only have a few hours?

Well, what all tourists do: walk around, snap a few photos and pretend a few hours is enough for you to get an idea of what the place is really like…

Seriously, a few hours is hardly enough to have lunch and walk around the block a couple of times. So, I’m not even trying to describe what Riga is like. Let’s just call these photos my first impression of Riga (or, rather, the Riga Old Town)

But first, I’m sure you’d like to know why I was in Latvia, to begin with…

So, here goes: on our way back from Germany, Professor M and I had a little stopover in Riga. We arrived late in the evening, witnessed a fabulous sunset (sorry, no pictures), spent the night in a hotel, walked around aimlessly for a few hours the following day, and left for Helsinki in the evening. 

Some airlines offer this sort of a stopover for no (or hardly any) extra charge, and it’s a great way to visit a new place. Or see if it’s a place you might want to go back to, one day (in case you’re wondering: yes, Riga is definitely worth a second visit at some point).

As to what you actually get to see in such a short time… Well, you probably see very little, and what you do see does not in any way represent what it’s actually like to live there. Yes, you see some great architecture, sample more or less touristy coffee shops, and admire handicraft in souvenir shops only visited by other tourists… But you won’t get an idea what it is like to live in a place, and you wont get to see the really interesting spots (you know: the restaurants the locals go to, the coolest shops etc) because they’re not in the tourist guide. 

So, that’s what this is: some pictures of the very pretty, picturesque old town, which (like old towns everywhere) is full of tourists and souvenir shops, and houses that nobody lives in.

Riga architecture

Riga

Riga 1300 x 800

OK, first impressions: lots of colour, and art nouveau buildings. Which makes Riga a great spot for anyone interested in architecture. In fact, on more than one occasion, I had a bit of a sense of dejà vu: some of the buildings looked so similar to what I see in my home town… That, of course, is no accident, as both Riga and Helsinki are known for Jugendstil (= the Northern European variety of Art Nouveau) architecture.

Oh, and we did manage to get a glimpse of the famous Riga cat (actually, there are two, but I only have a photo of one):

Riga cat building

According to the story, the owner of the house had some sort of an argument with the city council and was denied entry to the Great Guild. As a revenge, he had these two cats put on top of his house, mooning at the guild… The cats were turned around, of course, when he was finally admitted into the guild.

Right, what else could I tell you… There were a lot of trendy restaurants with cool decor and great food, both modern and traditional coffee shops, and a small, well-curated and interesting Art Nouveau exhibition. That’s about it.

Hey, I only had a few hours. But I would like to go back one day and see a bit more. 

Riga 1300 x 800

Tiina

Have you ever been to Riga? 

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6 Comments

    • Tiina
      Author
      August 16, 2019 / 7:04 pm

      Thanks, Grace!

  1. Arlene
    August 17, 2019 / 3:51 pm

    No I’ve never been there but it looks like a great place to visit. Love the architecture. You’ve done a great job in so little time of showing how pretty Riga is. Thanks for sharing that. Arlene from NJ

    • Tiina
      Author
      August 20, 2019 / 2:19 pm

      Thanks, Arlene!
      I love architecture, I always take pictures of interesting buildings (both old and modern) and architectural details.

  2. September 6, 2019 / 10:00 am

    I’d love to visit Riga. It looks beautiful. My bucket list keeps getting longer and longer.

    • Tiina
      Author
      September 6, 2019 / 9:21 pm

      It’s definitely worth a visit. But I understand: so many nice places, so little time (and money)…

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