Prepare for Landing in…..Riga
Let’s warm up a little bit with a few facts and some stories before we jump into this city. Please make sure your seat belts are securely fastened, this is going to be a mind blowing trip to the other side of Europe!
Some clues about our destination today:
- It’s in the middle of the Baltic States
- It has more than 600 thousand locals, plus tourists, plus everyday workers, plus people from all over the country squeezed into 300 km2.
- It’s ethnically one of the most international cities in Eastern Europe.
- It’s a city where almost everybody speaks at least three languages – tourists have no problem at all getting information.
- It’s a land of legends, history, modern gadgets, old fashioned architecture and UNESCO World Heritage sites. Memories of the soviet era run alongside strong national patriotism. It’s where ‘cold’ people like to keep their distance, but share their last piece of food with their friends. It happened to me more than once. Much of the natural landscape is untouched. There are huge forests, roads that lead nowhere (or look that way after driving for 200 km without seeing any other form of life). Then there’s the bay of the Baltic sea with its 500 km long coast and beach.
… I could go on and on….
In case you don’t know by now, the country I’m talking about is Latvia and our lovely destination today is Riga. Follow me and I’ll take you around this beautiful city, a city that I’ve visited lots of times over the past last 7 years.
There are huge amounts of information on the internet nowadays about Riga. Just type the word into Google and you’ll get everything. And I mean everything. I’ve warned you! Lots of people think this city is the sex tourism capital of the Baltic States. You’ve probably read this online, but there’s so much more to Riga. It’s true, the city gets its fair share of bachelor parties and weekend tourists, but it’s trying to change this image and is making good progress so far.
Riga is the perfect size for a capital city. Not too big, not too small, you can spend just a couple of days here and have lots of fun.
Interested in architecture and history? Head to the old town and check out the St Peter’s Cathedral, or check out the Art Nouveau buildings or visit some of the traditional wooden buildings. Most of them offer very nice traditional food and the service is always friendly. You can also take a nice walk on the bridges above the Daugava.
The riverside was renovated just a couple of years ago, not so far from the historical Jewish ghetto and the bus station. If you want to take a rest after the walk, you’ll find very nice coffee in the Stockman restaurant, or in the Nero bar on top of the train station.
Riga has lots of cultural events, bars, museums, tourist attractions, shopping centres, restaurants, hotels, hostels and parks. Whether you’re planning a quiet family holiday or a noisy hen party, there’s something to keep everyone happy.
Festivals and Events
Latvians are very proud of their national song and dance festival when the whole city and actually the whole country gets behind this amazing event. Also they organise tall ship competitions where you may see those beautiful “ladies” from all over the world.
I can just advice to purchase a cheap ticket and go there for the weekend… pack your backpack, take your girlfriend and your wife as well (for even more fun). I hope to see you there next Saturday!
Péter is a CSS JU in Ryanair’s Kaunas base