Riga (Rīgas)

Riga Aerial View

 

Location: Map

 

Description of Riga

Riga is the capital and the largest city of Latvia. It is the largest city in the Baltic States and home to more than a third of the population of Latvia, and is the largest cultural, educational, political, financial, commercial and industrial center of the Baltic Sea region. The city is located in the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava River. It has an area of ​​307.17 km² and is located on a sandy plain between 1 and 10 meters above sea level.

Riga was founded in 1201 and is a former member of the Hanseatic League. The historic center of Riga, declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, stands out for its art nouveau architecture and its 19th century wooden buildings. The city was designated European Capital of Culture in 2014, together with Umeå in Sweden. The city is communicated by air thanks to Riga International Airport, the largest airport in the Baltic States.

Riga is a member of Eurocities, the union of the Baltic cities (UBC) and the Union of Capitals of the European Union (UCEU).

 

Travel Destinations in Riga

Riga is a big and busy city. The standard program of his visit consists of long walks in the Old Town with a stop at the Dome Cathedral and St. Peter's Church, a tour of the boulevards adjacent to the Old Town with the Freedom Monument, Art Nouveau houses in the Albertas iela area and, perhaps, the high-rise of the Academy of Sciences with a nearby central market, although this final part is unlikely to arouse enthusiasm among those who expect cleanliness and accuracy from Riga. Of course, you cannot neglect all of the above, however, you will not get a complete picture of the city in this way, but you will see only the very center, while the historical districts of Riga occupy a good half of the modern city.

Although Riga has a rich medieval history, there are only a few objects older than the 17th century: these are several churches of the Old Town, fragments of the city walls with the only surviving (Powder) tower, the Ecka convention and one of the "three brothers" - a complex of medieval houses, two of which were built when the Middle Ages in the Baltics ended irrevocably. On the contrary, a lot has survived from the 17th century - this is the famous facade of the House of the Blackheads (however, destroyed during the war and only recently restored), and multi-storey merchant houses with sharp roofs (Mentzendorf, Dannenstern), and purely Baroque mansions like the Reitern house, and, finally, auxiliary buildings such as barns and warehouses. The Riga Castle has preserved the layers of different eras. It is based on buildings of the 16th century, but visually it is perceived as something from the Swedish time, which is greatly facilitated by the forburg built in that period.

Walking around the Old Town, you will surely notice a bunch of high-rise buildings, built no earlier than the end of the 19th century. During this period, Riga experienced a powerful construction boom, which also affected the historic center. The buildings of the large and small merchant guilds are made in the neo-Gothic style, the famous house with black cats (named after the sculptures on the roof) is a wonderful monument of Art Nouveau, and all this, although it no longer has the slightest relation to old Riga, fits well into the landscape, however, the antiquity of the Old Town is now hidden in narrow streets and cobblestone pavements, but the architecture here is very different - including modern ones.

At the turn of the XIX and XX centuries. was built in Riga in different ways, but from this diversity its own style stands out steadily, later called Riga Art Nouveau. Most of all, it resembles German Art Nouveau (Jugendstil), although rich stucco moldings, as well as classical sculptures, which are more characteristic of Austro-Hungary, play a significant role in it. The most famous Riga Art Nouveau houses are on the streets of Alberta iela and the parallel Elizabetes iela, where a prestigious neighborhood with cozy restaurants and cafes has been formed. Slightly less sophisticated, but no less interesting buildings of a century ago are scattered throughout the St. Petersburg suburb: you can walk there for hours, discovering new and new corners.

In addition to multi-storey residential buildings, churches were also built in Riga, and the most different ones. For example, in the Moscow suburb, a kilometer from each other, you will find several Orthodox churches (including the Old Believer), Catholic and Lutheran churches, as well as the ruins of a synagogue and a Stalinist skyscraper, which is also in a sense a temple - just not religion, but science. They were built in different styles, from wood and stone, and this variety is one of the main features of Riga. Interesting neo-Gothic churches are to be found in the Petersburg suburb, and another gallery of churches of different confessions is located in the Agenskalns area in Zadvinje.

Wooden houses are another important part of Riga. In the Petersburg suburb they sometimes wedge themselves into multi-storey buildings, violating the harmony and severity of the long, straight and like two drops of water similar to old Petersburg streets. Ordinary wooden buildings of a century ago - in the Moscow suburb, interesting wooden mansions are found on Kalnciema iela and adjacent streets in the Agenskalns area (also known as Kalnciems quarter). Lots of authentic wooden buildings in the former working-class district of Sarkandaugava in the northern part of the right bank.

Finally, the last, but no less important component of pre-revolutionary Riga is the old factories and plants. When tourists get tired of the spiers on the traditional panorama of the Old Town, Riga can make its brand old water ponds, which are found in almost every district and are very colorful. Even more colorful are the industrial buildings stretching along the railway along the perimeter of the St. Petersburg Forstadt and even going beyond it, like the old buildings of the carriage building (RVR) and electrical engineering (VEF) factories, where among the many utilitarian buildings you can find, for example, a luxurious neo-Gothic building of the old building VEF with a statue of Zeus on the facade.

 

The main legacy of the first Latvian republic in Riga is the Freedom Monument. It sets the tone for the entire interwar Latvian architecture: dull, monotonous and a little heavy, tending more towards modernism than towards geometric forms of functionalism and Bauhaus. The most prominent architectural monument of this period is the central market, and small forms are most fully represented by villas in the Mezaparks area.

The Soviet period brought several new elements to the Riga landscape. Firstly, all the central bridges across the Daugava were built: without their unusual shapes and wonderful illumination reflected in the dark water, one can no longer imagine the panorama of Old Riga. The attitude towards the Stalinist skyscraper of the Academy of Sciences in Riga is restrained, and it stands in the middle of open slums, but, of course, it has become the high-rise dominant of the city along with the quaint and very high (368.5 m) TV tower. In recent years, the city's silhouette has been replenished with the building of the national library and several glass skyscrapers, which are gradually forming an ensemble on the formerly low-rise and discreet left bank of the Daugava.

There are observation platforms on the tower of St. Peter's Church and in the building of the Academy of Sciences, as well as on the TV tower, but it stands a little to the side of the center of Riga.

 

Old Town of Riga

Riga Castle (Riga)

Saint Jacob's (Saint James) Cathedral (Riga)

Mazā Pils iela

Museum of the Occupation (Riga)

Museum of Decorative and Applied Arts (Riga)

Saint Roland Statue (Riga)

Latvian National Opera (Riga)

Central Market (Riga)

Saint Peter's Cathedral (Riga)

Old Warehouses (Riga)

Freedom Monument (Riga)

Swedish Gate (Riga)

Powder Tower (Riga)

Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation (Riga)

Līvu Laukums (Riga)

Latvian National Theatre (Latvijas Nacionālais teātris) (Riga)

 

 

New Town

Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum (Riga)

National Museum of Art (Riga)

Valdemāra iela 10a

Tel. 2732 4461

www.vmm.lv

Open: 11am- 5pm Wed- Mon

 

Jewish Community Centre (Riga)

Skolas iela 6

Tel: 2728 3484

Open: Museum 12pm- 5pm Sun- Thu

 

By plane
Riga is the largest aviation hub in the Baltics and the base airport for Air Baltic, which operates flights to most of Europe and the CIS. Although Air Baltic positions itself as an airline that sells low-cost tickets, which means that it charges a separate fee for baggage, food and even for check-in at the airport, tickets for direct flights to Riga are usually more expensive for it than for connecting flights. It should be borne in mind that Air Baltic allows very long connections with an interval of more than a day between flights, and this is one of the opportunities to visit Riga, although you will certainly not have enough time for any meaningful tour of the city.

There are several flights a day from Moscow, Petersburg, Vilnius, Tallinn, Helsinki and Stockholm to Riga. Among the low-cost flights, WizzAir offers flights to various points in Western Europe. Ryanair is on the schedule but less active. As of 2015, the Riga airport can even boast of performing one transatlantic flight: an Uzbek Airlines plane from Tashkent to New York makes an intermediate landing here.

Riga Airport (Lidosta, IATA: RIX). The airport is located to the west of the city almost on the border of residential buildings. Although there is only one passenger terminal building, it is divided into five parts, called terminals A-E. You can walk from one to the other in a couple of minutes right inside the building, but this fragmentation leads to the fact that in each of the compartments it is quite crowded, and this configuration is especially unsuccessful for those who fly outside the Schengen area: after passing through passport control, you you will find yourself in a small room, where there is practically nothing to eat, and there are not enough chairs or amenities for everyone. Transit through Riga (especially for flights outside the Schengen area) is below average pleasure. If you have a long connection and have a visa, feel free to go to the city.
The departure area of ​​the Riga airport is known for unreasonably high prices even for coffee, not to mention other food, which, however, is not enough here. The most basic thing to eat is pizza in Terminal A and sushi in Terminal B, while other cafes will only offer you cakes and sandwiches. In the reception area, the situation is somewhat better: there is a TGI Friday restaurant and a large, but unobtrusive Lido on the 2nd floor above the reception desks. Prices are the same as in the city (€ 5-10 for lunch), plus a great view of the airfield. Those arriving in Riga will find it useful to have a tourist information kiosk in a small hall, where they get through the customs. The kiosk sells tickets for public transport and city maps, and it works late. At the exit from the airport building there will be a Narvesen kiosk with the opportunity to buy a local SIM card or press if you need it for some reason. Luggage storage is located in the arrival hall: € 1.50 for every 8 hours up to a day, € 3 for every next 24 hours (2015). There is free Wi-Fi throughout the airport building, but sometimes it can be congested.

How to get there:
City bus number 22. In the center it stops at the bus station and railway station (central market). Travel time: 25 minutes, interval of movement: 10-15 minutes, does not go after midnight. You can buy a ticket from the driver, but it is more advisable to do this before boarding - for example, at the ticket machine at the bus stop. See also Transport.
Minibus number 222 goes to the railway station. The payment system is the same as on the bus.
The Airport Express minibus runs twice an hour and differs from regular public transport in that it travels around the city center, stopping at major hotels. The final one is the bus station. Ticket: € 5 (2015) from the driver, can be bought in advance via the Internet. There is Wi-Fi.
Baltic Taxi: green cars are carried by the counter or by a special voucher, which must be bought for € 14 on the airline's website no later than a day before the trip. The voucher covers any trip within the city and is justified in the event that you do not want or do not have the opportunity to order a taxi by phone. When ordering a taxi from the city to the center, it will hardly cost more than € 10.

If you arrived at the airport ahead of time and do not know what to do, you can go to the aviation museum created by local enthusiasts, where old planes and helicopters, mostly Soviet ones, are exhibited: from the terminal exit to the left, 400 m along the fence, Mon – Fri 9: 00 - 18:00.

By train
Trains in Riga are mostly suburban. There are only three distant ones: to Moscow (16 hours), Minsk (12 hours) and St. Petersburg (16 hours), all at night. The Moscow and St. Petersburg trains are of the Latvian formation (LDz company), the Minsk train is of the Belarusian one. All trains are registered electronically, i.e. a ticket can be bought through the Russian Railways website and simply printed. Tickets are also sold at ticket offices at Riga and Daugavpils train stations.

 

Each of these trains has less than ten carriages, but all classes of service are represented in them - from the general carriage to the CB. The pricing policy is the same as in Russia, i.e. take a ticket in advance - up to 30% cheaper, and less than 10 days before departure - 10-15% more expensive than the basic fare, which for Moscow is approximately € 35/70/135. There is no common carriage in the Minsk train, reserved seats and compartments cost € 34 and € 52, respectively (2015). If the Minsk train has a certain meaning, then you can fly to Moscow and St. Petersburg for about the same money by plane, unless, of course, you want to travel overnight in a common carriage - and this is the most classic common carriage based on a reserved seat. The rest of the cars are also of Russian type, some have Wi-Fi (only in Latvia). The Moscow train seems to have a restaurant car.

If you want to go by train to Vilnius or just somewhere in the direction of Lithuania - forget about it. You can go to Tallinn with a change in Valga, which will take from 8 hours (by bus, about twice as fast). In the direction of Tartu, the train is comparable to a bus, 2-3 times a day, on the way 5 hours with a change in the same Valga.

Railway station (Centrālā stacija). The station is located a stone's throw from the Old Town and looks more like a shopping center from the outside. A hall with suburban and long-distance ticket offices is hidden among the numerous shops and cafes. In the basement, there is an automatic locker, there is also a manual locker: € 2/3 for 24 hours depending on the size of the luggage (2015). From the central hall you can go through one of the tunnels leading to the central market. The most useful tunnels B and C, between which there is an inexpensive cafe Pelmeni XL, as well as a cozy dining room Kļavas lapa - an analogue of Lido, only cheaper. There are dozens of places where you can drink coffee in a cozy atmosphere. An Origo shopping center with a Rimi supermarket and many other outlets is attached to the station. City cards, other printed materials and SIM-cards for mobile communication can be purchased at the points of the Narvesen trade network (there are several of them in the station building).

By car
From Riga you can go anywhere in Latvia and the Baltic States: to Tallinn 308 km along the E67 highway, to Vilnius 300 km, to Kaunas 260 km, to Klaipeda - 309 km via the E77 highway. Riga is connected to Moscow by a direct highway E22 (920 km). The highway to St. Petersburg (600 km) goes through Pskov (300 km).

By bus
Bus service is the main one within Latvia, and the Baltics as a whole. Buses to Tallinn (4.5 hours) and Vilnius (4 hours) run on average every 2 hours. They differ in the level of comfort, but most often they belong to the Lux Express group, less often to the Ecolines. Tallinn buses stop in Pärnu. Buses to Vilnius sometimes call in Panevezys, but often go without stopping at all. Ticket prices start at € 10 and go up to € 20-25 at peak times, especially if you want to travel in comfort. All buses are large and modern, most often equipped with sockets and Wi-Fi.

There are no direct buses to Estonia except Tallinn. You can get to Tartu (4 hours) and Narva (7 hours) by buses to St. Petersburg (11-12 hours), there are also St. Petersburg buses through Pskov, and there are at least 3 of them a day. In the direction of Lithuania, in addition to numerous buses to Vilnius, direct buses go to Palanga-Klaipeda and Siauliai several times a day, but they are served by local carriers. A night bus to Moscow (15 hours) runs daily, at a price comparable to a common train carriage.

Bus Station (Autoosta), Prāgas 1. Riga Bus Station is compactly located behind the railway station, between the railway embankment and the city canal, next to the central market and a stone's throw from the Old Town. In the timetable, it is designated as Rīgas SAO (Starptautiskā Autoosta) or Riga Coach Station and is the final destination of all intercity buses (some international buses go to the airport, making a stop at the central bus station). On the ground floor there are a couple of food outlets, of which only a pastry shop deserves attention, as well as shops, cash desks and a round-the-clock storage room (€ 0.60 for the first hour, then € 0.30 / h). There is no waiting room, very few seats. If you need to pass the time, head up to the second floor for an old-fashioned inexpensive dining room. Its windows offer a rather unusual view of the central market and the dark water in the canal.

Minibuses parking. The minibus berth, designated in the timetable as Rīgas MTS (Maršruta Taksometru Stacija), is located on Satekles iela across the street from the railway station. At the beginning of 2015, there are already more urban minibuses here than intercity ones. Nevertheless, minibuses still operate flights to some surrounding cities and, in principle, may be in demand by travelers. Each direction has its own berth, the schedule is also posted there.

 

Each of these trains has less than ten carriages, but all classes of service are represented in them - from the general carriage to the CB. The pricing policy is the same as in Russia, i.e. take a ticket in advance - up to 30% cheaper, and less than 10 days before departure - 10-15% more expensive than the basic fare, which for Moscow is approximately € 35/70/135. There is no common carriage in the Minsk train, reserved seats and compartments cost € 34 and € 52, respectively (2015). If the Minsk train has a certain meaning, then you can fly to Moscow and St. Petersburg for about the same money by plane, unless, of course, you want to travel overnight in a common carriage - and this is the most classic common carriage based on a reserved seat. The rest of the cars are also of Russian type, some have Wi-Fi (only in Latvia). The Moscow train seems to have a restaurant car.

If you want to go by train to Vilnius or just somewhere in the direction of Lithuania - forget about it. You can go to Tallinn with a change in Valga, which will take from 8 hours (by bus, about twice as fast). In the direction of Tartu, the train is comparable to a bus, 2-3 times a day, on the way 5 hours with a change in the same Valga.

Railway station (Centrālā stacija). The station is located a stone's throw from the Old Town and looks more like a shopping center from the outside. A hall with suburban and long-distance ticket offices is hidden among the numerous shops and cafes. In the basement, there is an automatic locker, there is also a manual locker: € 2/3 for 24 hours depending on the size of the luggage (2015). From the central hall you can go through one of the tunnels leading to the central market. The most useful tunnels B and C, between which there is an inexpensive cafe Pelmeni XL, as well as a cozy dining room Kļavas lapa - an analogue of Lido, only cheaper. There are dozens of places where you can drink coffee in a cozy atmosphere. An Origo shopping center with a Rimi supermarket and many other outlets is attached to the station. City cards, other printed materials and SIM-cards for mobile communication can be purchased at the points of the Narvesen trade network (there are several of them in the station building).

By car
From Riga you can go anywhere in Latvia and the Baltic States: to Tallinn 308 km along the E67 highway, to Vilnius 300 km, to Kaunas 260 km, to Klaipeda - 309 km via the E77 highway. Riga is connected to Moscow by a direct highway E22 (920 km). The highway to St. Petersburg (600 km) goes through Pskov (300 km).

By bus
Bus service is the main one within Latvia, and the Baltics as a whole. Buses to Tallinn (4.5 hours) and Vilnius (4 hours) run on average every 2 hours. They differ in the level of comfort, but most often they belong to the Lux Express group, less often to the Ecolines. Tallinn buses stop in Pärnu. Buses to Vilnius sometimes call in Panevezys, but often go without stopping at all. Ticket prices start at € 10 and go up to € 20-25 at peak times, especially if you want to travel in comfort. All buses are large and modern, most often equipped with sockets and Wi-Fi.

There are no direct buses to Estonia except Tallinn. You can get to Tartu (4 hours) and Narva (7 hours) by buses to St. Petersburg (11-12 hours), there are also St. Petersburg buses through Pskov, and there are at least 3 of them a day. In the direction of Lithuania, in addition to numerous buses to Vilnius, direct buses go to Palanga-Klaipeda and Siauliai several times a day, but they are served by local carriers. A night bus to Moscow (15 hours) runs daily, at a price comparable to a common train carriage.

Bus Station (Autoosta), Prāgas 1. Riga Bus Station is compactly located behind the railway station, between the railway embankment and the city canal, next to the central market and a stone's throw from the Old Town. In the timetable, it is designated as Rīgas SAO (Starptautiskā Autoosta) or Riga Coach Station and is the final destination of all intercity buses (some international buses go to the airport, making a stop at the central bus station). On the ground floor there are a couple of food outlets, of which only a pastry shop deserves attention, as well as shops, cash desks and a round-the-clock storage room (€ 0.60 for the first hour, then € 0.30 / h). There is no waiting room, very few seats. If you need to pass the time, head up to the second floor for an old-fashioned inexpensive dining room. Its windows offer a rather unusual view of the central market and the dark water in the canal.

Minibuses parking. The minibus berth, designated in the timetable as Rīgas MTS (Maršruta Taksometru Stacija), is located on Satekles iela across the street from the railway station. At the beginning of 2015, there are already more urban minibuses here than intercity ones. Nevertheless, minibuses still operate flights to some surrounding cities and, in principle, may be in demand by travelers. Each direction has its own berth, the schedule is also posted there.

On the ship
Cruise ships often call in Riga. Regular sea service is limited to the daily Tallink ferry to Stockholm.

Passenger port, Exporta iela 3a. The Riga port passenger terminal is located one kilometer north of the Old Town.

 

Public transport
There are trams, trolleybuses, buses and minibuses in Riga. All of them belong to the municipal company Rīgas satiksme, on whose website you will find complete timetables, a map and a route planner. Public transport operates from 5 am to midnight. On weekends (night from Friday to Saturday and from Saturday to Sunday) there are special night buses. Many routes converge in the area of ​​the railway station (stops Stacijas laukums, Centrālā stacija and Centrāltirgus).

The trams are very diverse. The lines include both old Tatras and modern, smooth and quiet low-floor air-conditioned trams. The retro tram of the early 20th century runs in summer (from May to September) on weekends on the Ausekļa iela - Mežaparks route, which roughly coincides with the route of tram number 11: this is a great opportunity not only to ride, but also to see non-tourist areas of the city. The cost of a ticket for a retro tram is € 2.00. Tickets are sold by the driver, smart cards are not valid. For children under the age of 7, the trip is free (2017).

Minibuses (minibuses, minibuses) are currently fully integrated into the route network, depart on schedule, and their difference from the rest of the transport is that they stop on demand and travel, thereby, somewhat faster than buses. Minibus routes are generally longer and connect more distant parts of the city than other modes of transport. Minibuses have three-digit numbers starting with 200. Ordinary city buses have one- and two-digit numbers.

Tickets: The simplest paper one-way ticket can be bought from the driver for € 2 (2020). It is much more profitable to purchase a smart card (e-talons), which can act as a multi-trip ticket (€ 1.15 each) or a daily ticket (€ 5, valid for 24 hours). There are also tickets for 3 days (€ 10), 5 days (€ 15) and monthly passes. The cards are sold at Narvesen kiosks and ticket machines at major stops. "Yellow" smart cards have no collateral value and can be thrown away at the end of their validity period. By default, you will be sold exactly this. There are also “blue” rechargeable smart cards with collateral value, which have a number of advantages, but they do not make sense for those who do not live in Riga permanently.

Regular tickets are not valid on night buses. The journey costs € 2, paid to the driver.

When entering the transport, the smart card must be attached to one of the validators. Single tickets do not imply transfers, i.e. at each entrance to the transport you will have to pay for a new ticket.

By bike
The Riga authorities are encouraging bicycles in every possible way and even created a network of bike paths in the city. Cyclists can be seen here almost all year round, although this does not mean that cycling will be easy and comfortable everywhere: the layout of the streets has largely been preserved from Soviet times, and the bike paths are created by cutting sidewalks or the roadway. There are few equipped bicycle parking lots.

There are many private bike rental companies in the center of Riga. You can also use the city bike rental company Sixt, which has more than 20 stations throughout the city: € 0.90 for every 30 min or € 9 / day (2015). The bike can be picked up at one station and returned at another. Pre-registration is required with a credit card number and mobile phone. Bicycles are removed for the winter.

Pleasure boats
Nice, though not cheap, way to see Riga from an unusual perspective. From spring to late autumn, small and modern, but stylized at the beginning of the 20th century, ships sail along the canal among the boulevards surrounding the Old Town, go through the tunnel to the Daugava, bypass the Old Town and re-enter the canal. The walk takes about an hour and costs € 18 (2015). If this type of entertainment is not to your liking or is not affordable, just watch the boats from the shore: they fit perfectly into the Riga landscape.

Marina for pleasure boats, Bastion Hill next to the Freedom Monument.

By car
Driving around Riga by car is not a big deal, but as in any big city, finding a parking space can be difficult. During the day and especially during rush hours, the streets are busy, traffic is slow, and in some places there are bus stops without "pockets" or left turns without a dedicated lane and traffic light, which contributes to traffic jams. The quality of the roads is poor, there are one-way traffic on many streets even outside the center, and there are not enough signs.

 

Parking in the Old Town is always paid: the first hour costs about € 4, each next hour costs € 7. Outside the Old Town, you need to pay only on weekdays from 8 to 20 and on Saturdays from 9 to 17, the first hour is € 1.5-2, each next hour is about € 3 (there are several zones with different costs). Payment at a parking machine or from a mobile phone. There are also private guarded parking lots at various prices. The easiest way to park a car for free is in Zadvinje, and then cross the bridge on foot or take 1-2 stops by bus. Hotels in the Old Town do not have their own parking lots, with rare exceptions, and therefore will charge you a considerable bill for parking. Arriving in Riga with a car, it is better to settle further from the center. For unpaid parking, they usually write out a fine and simply leave it on the glass. Evacuation is rarely used.

Taxi
Riga taxis are known for their tendency to cheat customers. Even after the city authorities introduced the maximum permitted tariff (€ 2.13 for a landing and € 0.71 / km), there are enough drivers in the city who are trying to demand much larger amounts from passengers, citing night time, bad weather or something else. The requirement to turn on the meter can meet with strong and even fierce resistance, so try to order a taxi by phone, and not catch on the street, especially since even the official tariff is lower in this case. Avoid cars around the train station and Old Town.