Top 10 Rīga Attractions

Top 10 Attractions in Riga

The beauty of Rīga draws visitors in from the first minutes: a wide river, sea breeze, seagulls in the sky, green parks, medieval landmarks, picturesque streets, and Art Nouveau masterpieces – a wonderful mix for an unforgettable stay.

Founded in the 13th century, Rīga is Latvia's capital and the largest city in the Baltic states. Its historical center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, notable for Art Nouveau architecture and 19th-century wooden buildings. The Daugava River, which flows into the Baltic Sea only 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the city center, divides Rīga scenically, with the Old Town on the right bank.

After Málaga (Spain) and Warsaw (Poland), it is Rīga that I visit most often in Europe. A little like Stockholm, it looks beautiful in all seasons. I enjoy the romantic atmosphere of port cities; with cruise ships, they seem charming. Rīga is no exception. Once, I took a ferry from the city to Sweden's capital, and it was an exciting experience. Below is my guide with a brief description of Rīga's top ten tourist attractions.

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Top 10 Attractions in Rīga

Rīga Map

1. St. Peter's Church

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
St. Peter's Church's tower

The Lutheran Church of St. Peter stands near Town Hall Square. Built-in 1209, it is a true masterpiece of Gothic architecture and Rīga's oldest and tallest church. The spire of its 123-meter (405-foot) tower dominates the Old Town skyline. If you have time, take the lift to the observation deck for a stunning view of Rīga from a height of 72 meters (236 feet).

Address: Reformācijas Laukums 1, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Website: Pētera baznīca

2. House of the Blackheads

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
View of the House of the Blackheads from the northwest

The 14th-century House of the Blackheads, which stands in Rīga's Old Town, is probably the city's most beautiful structure. In the Middle Ages, young merchants in Rīga chose Saint Maurice as their patron saint; they were known as "blackheads" because Mauritius was of black Moor origin. The façade of this architectural monument has the 17th-century Mannerism style. The building now houses a museum and a concert hall, and it also hosts exhibitions and official receptions for foreign delegations on occasion.

Address: Rātslaukums 7, Centra Rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Website: Melngalvju Nams

3. Three Brothers

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
The Three Brothers

The "Three Brothers" is the oldest architectural complex in Rīga, located near the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. James. This complex consists of three buildings constructed close to each other at different times. Built at the end of the 15th century in the Gothic style with Renaissance elements on the façade, the oldest building housed Rīga's first confectionery in the 17th century. The mid-house dates from the middle of the 17th century. Due to its façade having Dutch Mannerism features, the Three Brothers is considered a piece of Holland here in Latvia's capital. The late-17th-century building is on the row's left. Its owners were artisans who used the first two floors as workshops and the upper third floor for living.

Address: Mazā Pils iela 17, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050
Website: Arhitekturas Muzejs

4. Cat House

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
The Cat House

The Cat House, famous for a couple of cat sculptures on the roof, is a 20th-century building designed by Latvian architect Friedrich Scheffel. The cats are identical. The building's façade is also symmetrical and topped with an eagle figure. The floral pattern adorns the portal, and a winged marker figurine mounted above the entrance decorates the door.

Address: Meistaru iela 10/12, Centra Rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

5. Bastejkalns Park

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
Bastejkalns Park

Bastejkalns park is a natural wonderland in the heart of Rīga, with its love bridge, flowing river, soft green grass, colorful flowers, and the serenity of the fresh air. There are benches in the park. If you've been walking all day, this is an excellent place to relax. If you want, you can also take a boat ride down the Pilsētas Kanāls.

6. Rīga Cathedral

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
Northeastern view of the cathedral

The Evangelical Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary is the largest medieval church in the Baltics and one of Latvia's most recognizable landmarks. Often depicted in Rīga's souvenirs, postcards, and paintings, this building, along with the Church of St. Peter and the Cathedral of St. Jacob, dominates the Old Town landscape. The church began its history in 1211 and, after various reconstructions, it took on its current appearance at the end of the 18th century. 

Address: Herdera laukums 6, Centra Rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Website: Rīga Cathedral

7. Rīga Castle

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
Southwestern part of the castle

Rīga Castle, built in the 14th century, has a long and complicated history. Throughout its seven centuries of existence, it has been renovated and changed its appearance numerous times. However, the purpose of this structure has remained constant – it has always been the focal point of political life, as the castle served both a representative and a defensive function. Rīga Castle today serves as the official residence of Latvia's President and houses several museums.

Address: Pils laukums 3, Centra Rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

8. Rīga Central Market

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
Inside one of the Rīga Central Market's pavilions

Rīga Central Market is Latvia's largest and most well-known market. If you arrive in Rīga by bus or train, this is the first landmark you see when you step off the platform. Five massive pavilions, built-in 1924–1930, loom over the canal directly across from the stations. Although this is a former military facility, the architecture demonstrates the pompous manor house style with Art Deco elements so popular in Latvia back then. The market was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988 and is now a top-rated attraction on all city tours.

Address: Nēģu iela 7, Latgales priekšpilsēta, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia
Website: Rīgas Centrāltirgus

9. Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
The Orthodox cathedral from the east

The Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Rīga, built between 1876 and 1883 in Neo-Byzantine style, is Latvia's main Orthodox church. The building, located in Esplanāde Park, not far from the square with the Freedom Monument, fascinates with its beauty and monumentality. It stands out from Rīgas's surrounding architecture due to its unique design.

Address: Brīvības bulvāris 23, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050
Website: Рижский кафедральный собор Рождества Христова

10. The Swedish Gate

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
The Swedish Gate

The Swedish Gate is an architectural landmark in Rīga's Old Town and a part of the city wall. Residential buildings along the city wall arose during Swedish rule in the early 17th century. For the new ones, a lockable passageway was necessary. For this purpose, the homeowner decided to demolish a hole in the house and construct a new city gate. Rīga had eight gates, but only one has survived to the present day – the Swedish Gate.

Address: Atgriežu iela, Centra Rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia

Best of Rīga Walking Tour – Highlights and Hidden Gems

Take the Best of Rīga Walking Tour if you want to visit the Old Rīga, Art Nouveau, and Central Market districts, learn about Latvia's history and cultural heritage, and sample traditional Latvian food with a small group. Enjoy!

Latvian Currency

Latvia joined the Eurozone by adopting the euro in 2014, so visiting Rīga and traveling around Latvia and two neighboring Baltic states – Estonia and Lithuania – is convenient.

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