Top 10 attractions in Riga

Top 10 Attractions in Riga

The beauty of Riga makes you fall in love with this city from the very first minutes: a wide river, green parks, medieval monuments, picturesque streets, Art Nouveau masterpieces – a perfect combination for a visit.

Founded in the 13th century, Riga is the Latvian capital and the Baltic states' largest city. Set by the Daugava River, it picturesquely divides into two parts; its historic center stands on the right bank. Just 10 km (6 mi) from the center, the Daugava flows into the Baltic sea. 

Nicknamed Paris of the North, Riga is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as it has the finest collection of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe. 

Riga is the epicenter of the ever-growing art scene in the Baltic. – Agnija Mirgorodskaja, a Russian-Lithuanian artist.

The best period to visit Riga is from May to August and during the Christmas and New Year holidays. If you prefer a calm atmosphere, it is better to come in the second half of April or from September to mid-October.

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Top 10 attractions in Riga

Riga, both ancient and modern, has attracted travelers at all times. Here is a guide that contains a detailed description of the top 10 tourist attractions in Riga. And as a bonus, a map of Riga is attached to show their locations.

Find cheap flights to Riga

1. St. Peter's Church

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
The tower of the church


Not far from the Town Hall Square, there stands the Lutheran Church of St. Peter (Svētā Pētera baznīca), the high spire of which cuts the blue sky. The church's 123.5 m (405 ft) tower is an integral part of the Old Riga silhouette. If time permits, be sure to go up to the observation deck: a beautiful view of Riga's historical center opens up from a height of 72 m (236 ft).

Built in 1209, St. Peter's Church – a true masterpiece of Gothic architecture – is the oldest building and the tallest church in Riga. The exhibition hall, the tower's viewing platform, and its interior decoration attract thousands of tourists every day.

Address: 
Reformācijas Laukums 1, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050

Transportation:
Bus (line 22): Grēcinieku iela
Tram (lines 1, 2, 5, 10): Grēcinieku iela
Trolleybus (lines 9, 27): Grēcinieku iela

2. House of the Blackheads

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
Northwestern view of the House of the Blackheads


The House of the Blackheads (Melngalvju nams) is considered the most beautiful building in Riga. This 14th-century architectural monument stands in the historic center of the city. During its existence, the building has been remodeled, expanded, and supplemented several times. The facade of the House of the Blackheads has the Mannerism style of the 17th century. In the Middle Ages, young merchants in Riga chose Saint Maurice as their patron saint; they called themselves "blackheads" because Mauritius was a black Moor by origin.

The unusual facade with sculptures and clocks, rich interior decoration: painted ceilings, weapons, armor, ornated stained glass windows, and crystal chandeliers can undoubtedly interest tourists. Currently, the House of the Blackheads houses a museum and a concert hall and occasionally hosts exhibitions and official receptions for foreign delegations.

Address: 
Rātslaukums 7, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050
Transportation:

Bus (line 22): Grēcinieku iela
Tram (lines 1, 2, 5, 10): Grēcinieku iela
Trolleybus (lines 9, 27): Grēcinieku iela

Riga: culture and food tasting tour

3. Three Brothers

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
The Three Brothers


The "Three Brothers" (Trīs brāļi) is the oldest architectural complex in Riga. This ensemble 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 facade, the oldest one stands on the far right in the row. In this building, Riga's first confectionery operated in the 17th century.

The date of construction of the mid-house dates back to the middle of the 17th century. Its façade has features of Dutch Mannerism, and due to this, the "Three Brothers" is considered a piece of Holland in Latvia's capital. Now it houses the Museum of Latvian Architecture.

Built in the second half of the 17th century, the smallest of the three is on the left in the row. Its owners were artisans who occupied the first two floors as workshops and used the upper third floor for living.

The architectural complex is on the narrow picturesque Maza Pils Street in the historical center, near the Cathedral of St. James.

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

Transportation:
Tram (lines 5, 7, 11): Nacionālais teātris

4. Cat House

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
The Cat House, with one of the cats on turret rooftop


The Cat House (Kaķu nams) is a 20th-century building, designed by the Latvian architect Friedrich Scheffel, and famous for a couple of cat sculptures on the roof. The cats are absolute twins. The façade of the building is also symmetrical and topped with a figure of an eagle. 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

Transportation:
Tram (lines 5, 7, 11): Nacionālā opera

The best of Riga segway tour

5. Bastejkalns Park

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
View of the park


Bastejkalns park is a breathtaking beauty of nature in the middle of Riga: from the love bridge to the flowing river, to the soft green grass, to the colorful flowers, and the peace and tranquility of the beautiful outside air.

There are places to sit in the Bastejkalns park. If you have been walking all day, this is a perfect place in which to take a break. You can also take a boat trip on the Pilsetas Canal if you feel like it.

Address: 
Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050

Transportation:
Bus (lines 1, 14, 16, 300, 316, 371): Inženieru iela
Trolleybus (3, 4, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 22): Inženieru iela

6. Riga Cathedral

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
Northeastern view of the cathedral


Riga Cathedral (Rīgas Doms) is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Latvia. This Evangelical Lutheran church presents a large number of souvenirs, postcards, paintings, etc. Along with the Church of St. Peter and the Cathedral of St. Jacob, it is a high-rise dominant in Old Riga.

The church has begun its history back in 1211 and acquired its modern look at the end of the 18th century, having gone through many reconstructions and absorbing the most varied architectural styles. The tower was struck by lightning four times. It acquired its present appearance at the end of the 18th century.

The organ is one of the main sights of the city. The first musical instrument was installed by the master Jacob Raab in the 16th century and served almost 300 years. E. F. Walcker & Cie from Ludwigsburg (Germany) manufactured it in the 19th century, and at the time of installation, the organ of the church was the largest in the world. Its height is equal to a nine-story building – 25 m (82 ft)! The famous Hungarian composer Franz Liszt wrote some works for performance on the organ of Riga Cathedral.

Address: 
Herdera laukums 6, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050

Transportation:
Bus (line 22): Grēcinieku iela
Tram (lines 1, 2, 5, 10): Grēcinieku iela
Trolleybus (lines 9, 27): Grēcinieku iela

Rent a bicycle in Riga

7. Riga Castle

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
Southwestern part of the castle


Built-in the 14th century, Riga Castle (Rīgas pils) has a long and complicated history. Over the seven centuries of its existence, it was renovated many times and changed its appearance. But the purpose of this building remained unchanged – it has always been the center of political life as the castle performed both a representative and a defensive function.

Today, the castle is the official residence of the President of Latvia and home to numerous museums. The state flag always flies over the fortified structure. On the days when the President is in the country, the President's flag flies too.

Address: 
Pils laukums 3, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050

Transportation: 
Bus (lines 13, 30, 37, 41, 53, 57, 336): Nacionālais teātris
Trolleybus (lines 5, 12, 25): Nacionālais teātris

8. Riga Central Market

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


Riga Central Market (Rīgas Centrāltirgus) is the largest and most famous market in Latvia's capital. If you arrive in Riga by bus or train, this is the first attraction you can see when disembarking on the platform. Five huge pavilions tower over the canal directly opposite the stations.

Located in a complex of five large brick pavilions in which the city government stored once German airships, the market is famous for an assortment of the freshest farm products in the city. These pavilions were built according to the design by the Latvian architect Pāvils Dreijmanis in 1924–1930.

Although this is a former military facility, the buildings' design clearly shows the pompous manor house style with Art Deco elements, which was fashionable at a time in Latvia. In 1988, the market was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List and included in all city excursions as a top-rated attraction.

Address: 
Nēģu iela 7, Latgales priekšpilsēta, Rīga, LV-1050

Transportation:
Bus (lines 2, 5, 7, 10, 11, 14, 16, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 47, 50, 51,52, 55, 57): Centrāltirgus
Trolleybus (lines 3, 4, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 23): Centrāltirgus

9. Nativity of Christ Cathedral

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
Eastern view of the Orthodox cathedral


The Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in Riga (Rīgas Kristus Piedzimšanas katedrāle) is the main Orthodox temple of Latvia. It was founded in the fall of 1876 and took five years to construct. The project belonged to Robert Pflug, then a young, ambitious graduate of the St. Petersburg Academy of Arts in the Russian Empire. He proposed to build a Neo-Byzantine style church, and these ideas were also adhered to in the painting of its inner wall and dome. The three dark oak iconostasis with icons on a gold background are also in Neo-Byzantine style.

Located in Esplanāde Park, not far from the square with the monument to Freedom, the temple fascinates by its beauty and monumentality. Due to its design originality, it stands out from the surrounding architecture of Riga.

Address: 
Brīvības bulvāris 23, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050

Transportation:
Bus (lines 20, 53, 336, 371): Esplanāde
Trolleybus (lines 4, 14, 17): Esplanāde

10. The Swedish Gate

Top 10 Attractions in Riga
View of the Swedish Gate


The Swedish Gate (Zviedru vārti) is an architectural monument of national significance in the Old Town located in several buildings on Torne Street. Construction of residential buildings in this area began along the city wall in the early 17th century during Swedish rule. It was necessary to equip a lockable passage for the new ones. For this purpose, the homeowner decided to demolish a hole through the house and build a new city gate.

The Swedish Gate is the only of the eight gates of Riga that has survived to this day. At present, the name refers to the entire architectural complex, including several houses with the passage. In addition to the Latvian Union of Architects, the complex has housed a library where you can freely enter and find knowledge about the country's history and culture.

Address: 
Atgriežu iela, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050

Transportation:
Tram (lines 5, 7, 11): Nacionālais teātris

Book a hotel in Riga

What to Buy in Riga

Amber Jewelry. Like nearby Lithuania, Latvia is rich in amber. Various jewelry made of this petrified wood resin is popular in Riga. The shade of amber can be found from delicate honey-lemon to very dark, deep brown.

Laima ChocolateSweet tooths never pass by Laima chocolates. Serenāde, the recipe for which has remained unchanged since 1937, is still the most favorite chocolate candy for many.

Smoked Sprats. A jar of Riga sprats is probably the most unusual souvenir to bring back home from Latvia. It is the cheapest to buy at supermarkets like Maxima and Rimi. I like Latvian delicious smoked sprats, especially by the Riga Gold brand: a jar of it looks like a pretty souvenir (painted Riga Old Town on the lid).

Linen ProductsLinen is an environmentally friendly and practical material. Tablecloths and fashionable shopping bags with patterns made from non-bleached linen look original and attractive.

Wood ProductsWood, like clay, is a traditional handicraft material in Latvia. Small, attractive wooden items are part of any Riga souvenir shop assortment.



16 comments

  1. Oh, wow. Riga is so beautiful! I would love to visit with my family and see everything in person.

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  2. Ever since I saw previews of Riga's beautiful landmarks in Eurovision some years ago, it's on my bucket list! I really hope to visit and experiences these beautiful places in person soon.

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  3. Riga sounds amazing city. They have beautiful building and full of history. I really want to visit Latvia and the go to Riga.

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  4. I have never even heard of Riga. Now I want to go. I love old cities like this.

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  5. Cool tour. I love the House of the Blackheads it looks so beautiful.

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  6. Majestic!!!! The House of the Blackheads is really something else, I must say! I love how it all turned out!

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  7. Looks like an amazing place! Never thought about visiting before! But it is definitely on my list now!

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  8. Wow, the House of the Blackheads is so beautiful. I can completely understand why it is named the most beautiful building in Riga! Love to see all the greenery and the colors at the market too.

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  9. I had hoped to visit Riga last year, the Art Nouveau is a big draw for me. The façade of the House of the Blackheads is incredible and I would love to see the sculptures on the Cat House. I will for sure visit the Swedish Gate and the library inside. Thank you for the great recommendations

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  10. What a lovely city full of historical buildings and natural beauty! The House of blackheads looks simply impressive with its red and white colors and unique architecture. We have visited Scandinavia but yet to explore Latvia and surrounds. The Cat house is an unusual building. Bastejkalns park with options to do a boat ride sounds perfect for a long walk and ride. :-) Jan.

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  11. Wow just fell in love seeing the pictures. Although me and my wife have traveled to Europe extensively, Latvia had never struck me. Love everything about Riga. The river, the cathedrals, the castle, the Swedish Gate and the Central Market too. Would love to visit now for sure.

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  12. The names of the buildings here are very interesting. House of Blackheads has a super exterior. The three brothers buildings look interesting too. And am now going to read more about the Amber jewellery.

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  13. What a beautiful city. I've never been to Latvia before but it has such interesting and colourful architecture. I've never seen cathedrals quite like the ones on your post. Lovely

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  14. Riga looks gorgeous! I have always seen pictures and wanted to visit but haven't made it there yet. I think House of the Blackheads is an iconic landmark because it comes up in most searches about Latvia but I also love Riga Cathedral's architecture. The Swedish Gate looks pretty awesome too.

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  15. Wow! I have never been to Riga and had no idea that there is so much to see. I would love to visit all the Cathedrals. The Swedish Gate is so instagrammable. I have a lot of photoshoot ideas here.

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  16. Oh my God! I instantly fell in love with the House of Blackheads and the cathedral. They are such pretty looking buildings. I have never been to Latvia before but I have had it in my list. And surely is Riga. Its such an amazing place with so much of architecture, would love to visit it soon.

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