Hotels in Riga, Latvia
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Riga: A Hidden Gem in the Baltics
Latvia and its capital Riga may not be near the top of the list for a holiday in Europe, but there are a lot of good reasons to add it to the list. It may seem quiet and sleepy on the outside, but it is becoming known for its hip cafe scene, modern art centres, and interesting experimental restaurants. Like many modern European capitals, it also has a historic city centre, featuring beautiful architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A hotel in Riga can get you to the airport and anywhere else in the city within about 30 minutes due to its excellent transportation system. Experiencing the beauty of Riga’s parks, museums, and history is only a short trip away.
Latvia has a long and interesting history and Riga is one of the best places to discover it. A good place to start would be the Latvian Ethnographic Open Air Museum. The museum, located a bit outside the city, celebrates authentic Latvian culture with a traditional craft fair, 118 buildings, and over 3,000 items. For more recent history, you can head to the Latvian War Museum to find out how Latvia participated in the various wars in Europe. At the Lubyanka Building and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, you can find out more about what happened to it after World War II. Lubyanka tells the story of the KGB in the country as it used to be the headquarters of the group as well as serve as a prison. The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia tells the story of how Latvia was occupied by the USSR almost every year between 1940 and 1991. For a little art history, you can head to the Latvian National Museum of Art, which houses more than 52,000 works of art from 18th-century to present-day Latvia and 16th-century to 20th-century Russia. A can’t miss in Riga is the Riga Art Nouveau Museum. It is one of the few cities in Europe where a large number of the objects have survived, giving it the name “the metropolis of Art Nouveau”.
Go on a Walking Tour
Riga is a great city for a walking tour. All you need to do is put on your walking shoes, leave the hotel, and you are ready. A good place to start would be Vecrīga . This section of the city is the old town section and features The House of the Blackheads, Riga Castle, Riga Town Hall and a reconstructed section of the medieval city wall. Riga Castle, completed in 1515, is currently the home of the Latvian president. Close by is St. Peter’s Church where you can climb to the top of one of the towers and get a good view of the city. The House of the Blackheads is worth a visit as it is a beautiful example of 14th-century architecture. A few other interesting buildings are the Three Brothers, the oldest residential buildings in Riga; the Cat House, with its Art Nouveau elements and legendary metal cats; the Latvian National Opera; and Riga Cathedral, one of the most recognisable buildings in the city. For other views of the city you can walk down Albert Street to see many of the art nouveau buildings the city is famous for or you can climb the tower of the Latvian Academy of Sciences to get a view of the city from 213 feet up.
A Bit of Nature
Many of the hotels and buildings of Riga are beautiful, but to add to the beauty of the city, there are also many parks that you can sit and admire after a long day of walking and museum hopping. Starting with the oldest park, you can see the Triumph Arc in Viesturs Garden Park. Vērmanes Garden Park is the second oldest and features various sculptures, fountains, and concerts during the warmer months. Mežaparks is a district of Riga, but it could be considered a park as it quite forested and was planned as one of the world’s first garden cities. The area used to the be site of the KaiserWald concentration camp, but now is known for its wealthy residents, Latvian Song and Dance Festival, Riga Zoo, and amusement park. Another trip for a relaxing afternoon would be a trip down the Pilsētas Kanāls , city canal, which was once the moat that protected the city during the medieval era. For a taste of the nightlife of the city, Līvu Square is full of the city’s youthful spirit as it never seems to sleep. Miera Street is the arts district and features many different cafes, bars, and creative shops. Head to the Bergs Bazaar, another great area to sit out and admire the city from a cafe or to shop in one of the city’s most popular shopping areas. The shops, both casual and more high-end, offer local and international goods.