Although Latvia is not a small country, its capital Riga is not a very known city. I have no idea why but when I told people that I am going to Riga, I was faced with statements and questions like “Oh, Netherlands is nice, yes.” and “Which continent does the city lie on?” which is really sad. Here are some interesting facts about Riga and Latvians.
Winter in Riga
I visited the city last year at the beginning of December and even if it was really cold at the time, there was not any snow on the streets which would make it more difficult for me to walk around and enjoy the city. The Christmas in Riga is usually green and the snowy days begin around the New Year’s day.
From the Airport
Before you leave Riga’s airport you are greeted with a large indoor billboard with information on how to get to the city centre in every way possible. There are even prices written on it so you do not end up spending more than you have. I have not seen this anywhere else in the world and I appreciated the idea.
People of Latvia
There is one more thing you can see at the airport as soon as you land – some kind of warning that Latvians are an introverted nation. But this is not a reason to panic! If you sit down next to a Latvian on a bus and start talking to him, he will look at to a bit confused at first but overall, they are all going to answer your question and they will be happy to help.
Riga is special for its amazing Art Nouveau buildings all around the city. Art Nouveau is a style of art which was developed and popular in Europe between 1890 and 1914. When in the city, find the Cat House, House of the Blackheads, Three Brothers, etc. and join a Free Walking Tour if you want to hear from a local about what do the buildings represent.
The Legendary Christmas Tree
According to a legend, the habit of decorating a Christmas tree origins from Riga and dates back to 1510. Actually, there are a few different stories explaining how it all started so do not be shy and ask a local tourist guide about their opinion on which one is the right one.
The Central Market
Riga Central Market is the largest market and bazaar in Europe. It was opened in 1930 after 6 years of building and in 1988 it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list together with Old Riga city centre. The market consists of five pavilions constructed by reusing old German hangars and incorporating Neoclassicism and Art Deco styles. The market is 72,300 square metres (778,000 sq ft) wide with more than 3,000 trade stands. One thing tourists have to keep in mind if they want to buy something at the market – NO bargains.
Is Riga Affordable?
If you ask a local for a lunch place recommendation, you can find restaurants with delicious food and spend less than 10€ for a 3-course meal. In comparison to that, I found Riga’s souvenirs not so cheap but still affordable.
Is Riga Safe?
There are some parts of the city where you are not advised to walk around alone at night but the old centre is totally safe. As a female solo traveller, I felt safe at my every step during the trip.
Some Basic Information
Two full days are enough to explore everything you can in the old city centre of Riga. As a currency, they use Euro and speak English good enough to communicate without a problem.
I enjoyed Riga very very much and I would love to visit it anytime again. Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the city and I will be happy to reply in the comment section below.
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