Founded in 1201, the city of Riga was the seat of Albert's bishopric and a base for the conquest of the lands of Livonia to the northeast. The city joined the Hanseatic League in 1282 and became the dominant trading center on the eastern bank of the Baltic Sea. In the 1520s, the Reformation took root in Riga. The Livonian Order was secularized and dissolved together with the Livonian Confederation in 1561.
From the 13th century to the birth of nationalism in the 19th century and independence in the 20th century, the history of Riga has had its rises and falls of surrounding foreign powers over the Latvians and their territory. As a member of the Hanseatic League, Riga's prosperity grew during the 13th to 15th centuries. Riga became a major center of trade and later industry for the empire to which it was subject. Today, almost half of Latvia's inhabitants live in Riga and its surrounding areas.
The city is situated on the Gulf of Riga at the mouth of the Daugava River into the Baltic Sea. Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 and lies 1-10 m above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain.
Choose whichever way of transport suits you best – plane, train, bus, car or a ferry across the Baltic Sea.
There are direct flights to Riga from more than 85 cities on 4 continents. Latvian national airline airBaltic offers easy and convenient connections to all major airports in Europe. Riga International Airport is located just 10 kilometers southwest of the Riga city center.
Ferry connections to Riga are available from Stockholm. Tallink operates ferry connections from Stockholm to Riga every other day. Stena Line offers a regular ferry between Liepaja Passenger Port and the German city of Travemünde.
Train connections to Riga are available from Moscow (daily), St. Petersburg (daily) and Pskov (daily) and are operated by Latvijas Dzelzceļš, the Latvian state railway company. The recently renovated Riga Central Railway Station is located at Stacijas Square, just east of the Old Town boundary. Trains run daily on the Valga, Estonia.
Lux Express is the largest passenger transport company in the Baltics, providing several daily departures from such cities as Tallinn, Tartu, Parnu, Vilnius, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Minsk and others.
Major highways connect Riga with Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kaunas and Vilnius. The speed limit is 50 km/h in built-up areas and 90 km/h on rural roads unless otherwise marked. On some motorways, the speed limit is 100 km/h. Headlights must be switched on at all times.
There are some beautiful buildings in Town Hall Square. The most popular is the Guild House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads – a group of unmarried merchants who are also known for putting up the world's first decorated public Christmas tree in Riga's Town Hall Square in 1510. Currently, the house is closed to visitors as it serves as the Presidential Palace as the Riga Castle is undergoing renovations. If you don't get a chance to go inside, you may still be able to see the President!
The 1991 Barricades Museum around the corner from Town Hall tells the story of the occupations by showing how Latvia rose up against the Soviet Union to regain its independence during a time of revolutions. The museum has photos, actual pieces of barricades and much more.
Around the corner from the main square is St Peter's Church – the beautiful church is the tallest building in Riga and you can go to the top for a great view of the medieval and modern surroundings. The church is also used as an exhibition hall, sometimes hosting temporary exhibitions.
The monument commemorates the soldiers who died fighting Soviet troops during the Latvian War of Independence. The 42-meter-high Freedom Monument is built of red granite and travertine and is crowned by a copper sculpture of Freedom with three golden stars.
The Riga Central Market is part of Riga's UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest and most visited markets in Eastern Europe. Up to 100,000 shoppers enter its pavilions every day. The building is a wonder in its own right. It was built in the second half of the 1920s when the German Zeppelin hangars were converted into pavilions.
Garāža will surprise you! They’ve got good food and interesting interior design. Car seats and other car gizmos are used for seats as well as decoration.
Pagalms meaning courtyard in Latvian is located in a park really close to the old town, hidden away from the main sites and streets, adding quietness and authenticity to the mix. The view to the Pilsētas Kanāls is also good.
Folkklubs is an excellent choice for amazing Latvian food. It's located in an old wine cellar and they serve up authentic Latvian dishes. They also offer live music at least five nights a week!
Province is a charming, rustic restaurant in the old town. This is the perfect place to tastetraditional dishes like crusty garlic bread and creamy pea soup.
The Dome hotel combines tradition, modern interior design, and state-of-the-art technology. This hotel offers king-size beds with Egyptian linens. Each has custom-made furniture and wood-paneled walls. Bathrooms feature a bath or shower, toiletries, bathrobes and slippers. Riga’s Dome Cathedral and Riga Castle are both a 2-minute walk away.
Hotel Neiburgs is located in the very heart of Riga’s Old Town in a majestic art nouveau building dating back to 1903. It overlooks Dome Square and the spires of the nearby churches.
With its central location in Riga Old Town, Boutique hotel has all the advantages of a small hotel and offers a homey ambiance and an individual approach to each guest.
Originally built in 1877 as the Central Bank of Latvia, the Grand Palace Hotel building was creatively turned into a 5-star boutique hotel in 2000 and now offers a place of warmth and comfort to guests.