Riga’s the biggest city in the Baltics, the most-vibrant city, and the place with the best nightlife. In English-speaking Europe, the capital of Latvia is also known the stag- and hen-party capital of the region.
This is part three of a three-part series on the Baltic countries: Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. To listen to the Latvia podcast, hit play below or find episode 303 in iTunes, Stitcher or Soundcloud:
Night kayak through Riga
Riga was one of the largest Hanseatic cities and controlled the river traffic that reached from the Baltics all the way into the heart of Russia. We learned more about this on a midnight kayak tour of the river and main canal of Riga.
It was a real highlight of the trip: the large and quiet river, the tight canals which ran alongside and sometimes underneath impressively façaded buildings. We spotted several beavers who playfully followed one kayak along the canal bank before disappearing into the water.
St Peter’s Tower
The top of St Peter’s Tower is a great place to look out over the rooftops of Riga. Entrance is €9 and you can see all of the old town and much of the surrounding modern city.
From the top of the tower you can see the huge market area: five big warehouses that were used to house zeppelins during the Nazi occupation. An estimated 80,000 people of the city’s 640,000 work and shop here every day of the week. It’s a great place for a wander around, but it’s the kind of market where you buy in your produce in bulk, not tiny quantities.
Neiburgs Restaurant in the Neiburgs Hotel is a top pick for Latvian food, and it’s conveniently located just a few meters from two of the main squares.
Transport in the Baltics is great, with excellent connections by coach between the main cities.
We arrived in Latvia by Lux Express, a local coach company. The bus had airplane-style business-class seats with private in-seat entertainment systems and power outlets. Headphones were provided, along with bottled water, a snack and a complimentary coffee machine.
This big, blocky, Baroque palace is conveniently located between Riga and Vilnius — a great place to break the journey if you’re travelling by car. With its beautifully manicured gardens and gorgeous interior, it’s a relaxing place to spend a couple of hours.
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[box]Craig travelled through Latvia with JayWay Travel as part of the #jaywaybaltics trip (see posts on Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, you name it). In Riga, he stayed at Hotel Justus. More details on our Baltics page.[/box]