Riga the Beautiful Town close to the Baltic Sea
What to do in Riga?
Yes, when you visit Riga you will definitely visit the hot spots in old town. But you can also easily take a train to go do some great hiking, you can shop zero waste with no problems and get amazing vegetarian/vegan food and coffee.
We got here by bus from Vilnius (Lithuania). Lux-Bus or Ecolines are great for traveling through the Baltics. I like the Lux bus a little more. The buses are spacious and new (all those we traveled with). In both lines you can get free tee and coffee, but remember to bring your own cup to refuse the single use coffee cups (no they are not paper cups, they are lined with plastic and are non-recyclable).
Last time when we traveled from Tallinn to Riga we took a sightseeing bus that made some great sightseeing stops on the way. They also offer this Riga-Tallinn and Vilnius-Riga/Riga-Vilnius. Check the Tours here:
We stayed for a month in Riga, so we booked an Apartment via Airbnb. If you don’t have an Airbnb Account yet you can sign up here and get a discount for your first booking.
What my eyes happily spotted while being here in Riga: A lot of people actually put their cigarette butts into ashtrays/bins and don’t litter them! I was very impressed.
Green Tip for smokers: Consider to bring your own pocket ashtray when traveling so you don’t need to carry your cigarette butts a longer way to the next bin.
What to do in Riga:
1) Riga Old Town
As most European Cities Riga has a nice old town. As every European City, Old Town is very touristic. You will find heaps of possibilities to buy local souvenirs (and non local, mass produced ones), many places to get food and drinks and take photos of all the beautiful buildings. Rigas Old Town has been included to the UNESCO world heritage list.
Whether you like to take a guided city tour, free city tour or walk around by yourself you will enjoy the old town for sure.
2) Take a walk or run along the canal
The Old town of Riga is surrounded by water. The city canal of Riga and the river Daugava.
It is nice to take a walk along the canal. Perfect for a run on not too busy day times since many locals and tourist enjoy the canal paths.
If you like you can also take boat tours on the canal.
3) The Great Cemetery
The former city cemetery. Established in 1773. After 1945 converted into a park. Luckily a lot of old graves and crosses have survived. You will find many German names there because it has been the main burial ground for the Baltic Germans in Latvia. A nice place for a walk to hide from the summer heat or enjoy the autumn colors…
On the way to the Great Cemetery you will find a chocolate museum. Laima. If you are interested… We didn’t visit, but we tried the chocolate of course 😉 we bought a chocolate bar from Laima in a supermarket. The one I chose contained no palm-oil, no dairy and was without plastic packaging (it had paper-aluminum packaging)
Kipsala is a small island in the river Gaudava, connected to the city Riga by bridge. It is just a short walk and you can enjoy a lot of old traditional wooden houses and new renovated ones with an old look or a new one. You can walk along the waterfont, in summer there is a beach to chill and you will have a nice view of the city Riga too.
5) Tea House
The Apsara Tea house is a real gem. It is located at the city canal, so if you are lucky to get a spot at the right place you can enjoy a very nice view. Remember to take off your shoes if you sit on the top floor.
You can sit and chill and have a great cup of tea. The only serve loose tea, great for all of you that like to avoid plastic, because conventional tea bags have plastic included in the fibers because they get glued together.
The also have a range of cakes and cookies if you fancy something sweet.
-Terbatas iela 2
6) Crumble Cake Café
If you like crumble cakes and cozy old styled cafés, then Crumble Cafe in old town is the place to go.
They even warm up the cakes, so perfect for a stop to warm up after an autumn/winter walk around town.
-14 Jāņa iela
7) Zero Waste Café M
We stumbled upon the first zero waste cafe in Riga and the baltics by accident. We walked around the neighborhood when my boyfriend saw the sign saying: Zero waste Cafe M.
We had a great cup of coffee (they roast their own coffee) and a delicious vegan cheesecake. They have lunch too, but maybe not on Sundays because when we visited they had none.
Next door is a small grocery shop and a Humana second hand store.
-Kr. Barona ieal 41/43
8) Rocket Bean Coffee
Great coffee and food. It is a coffee roastery with great interior, friendly staff and two locations in Riga.
-Dzirnavu iela 39 and Miera iela 29/31
9) Second Hand Stores
If you like to go shopping while exploring Riga, you will find a lot of second hand stores around. Sure they are not in Old Town (at least I didn’t find any) but outside of Old Town, but easy to reach by foot. Humana and other stores will allow you to shop eco-friendly while on holiday.
My favorite "sightseeing": Explore the Outdoors...
10) Visit the Baltic Coast
My favorite part of visiting new countries is to get outside and explore nature.
The Baltic coast is very easy to reach by train, and the train is super cheap too.
If you ask around most people would tell you to go to Jumala. It is a huge baltic sea resort town, so I would not recommend it.
Stay on the other side of Riga and just drive to wherever you like by train. We went to the small town Vecaki and had a great day hiking along the beach and in the forest next to the beach. There is even an old ruin you can explore.
(Check trains on: https://www.pv.lv/)
11) Go for a day trip to Sigulda
If you have time for another day trip think about visiting Gauja National park. It is the largest and oldest national park in Latvia. Established in 1973 it stretches over more than 90.000 hectares protecting the beautiful Gauja Valley along Gauja River.
We went by train to Sigulda and hiked 18KM through the national park.
We finished our trip in a great small local Café called Mr. Biskvit. Very delicious cakes and sweets and the savory food looked amazing too.
12) What to do in Riga? Zero waste shopping! 😉
Zero Waste shopping is easy in Riga. You just need to bring your bulk bags and reusable produce bags. They have 3 zero waste stores in town, europeans biggest indoor market hall that offer many bulk options and plastic free fresh produce and even in the supermarkets you can get a lot of unpackaged food and bulk nuts.
My favorite Zero Waste Store was Burka. They had a great range of bulk, liquids, soaps, accessoires, etc.
The other two are called Turza and Zeroveikals.
Turza is also big one with a good range of dry bulk, liquids and also fresh produce, eggs and even cheese while Zeroveikals is a really small one with only organic bulk products and stuff for your zero waste bathroom, etc.
Tip: Who said that a lightweight plastic veggie bag is for single use?? If you really can not avoid a plastic bag in a store, wash it and REUSE it next time.
13) Vegetarian and vegan food in Riga
We had an Apartment, so we cooked at home mostly. But it is also easy to find vegan and vegetarian food in Riga. In the traditionally restaurants in Old Town maybe not so much, but everywhere else around you can find great options. We went twice to the Hare Krishna Restaurant Rama where they serve only vegetarian and vegan food. The Zero Waste Café M had vegan cakes. All the Cafes have vegetarian and a few vegan options and you can find several vegan restaurants by using the App Happy Cow.
14) Best Ice Cream in Riga
The best ice I had in Riga came from Gelato Italia in Old Town (Grecinieku iela 20). It is just two minutes walk from the House of the Blackheads.
I had some of the best dark chocolate ice cream when we visited Riga in summer. Get a cone to avoid the plastic cup and spoon or bring your own cup and spoon if you can’t eat the cone.
15) Find the most hidden Cafe in Town
This is the most hidden Cafe in Riga Old town! We weren`t searching for it but we found it and yes it is romantic, cozy and hidden 😀 Challenge accepted? 😉
16) Coffee with a view
If you like views: at the top level of the Radisson Blue Latvija Hotel (Elizabetes iela 55) you can enjoy a drink or snack while enjoying a great city view.
I hope you enjoyed my tips and got some inspirations for your next trip. If you have been to Riga and like to share your favorite place feel free to do so in the comments:)