top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureRiga Free Tour

Riga top tips - Top 10 tips during your stay

Updated: Feb 5

At Riga Free Tours we want all of our guests to come to Riga and get the most out of their stay. Many of you will have just 2-3 days to explore this cool little city, so its good to know how to navigate and get involved.


Please, try not get stuck just in the old town. Spread your wings and see the city.


Riga tips
Riga is an awesome city to explore. Below are some tips and ideas to make the most out of your visit.

You are visiting Riga for the first time and you want to know all the insider Riga top tips, tricks and hacks to make your stay the very best possible. Let us give you some insider info that will help you from your arrival all the way to departure.


Below you can follow the page sections to get information useful to your stay in Riga. We are adding to the list of tips when we come up with new information. In the meantime if you have suggestions to make peoples time exploring Riga more enjoyable please let us know and we will add relevant information.



Riga top 10 tips & Hacks


Our 10 top tips and hacks to make your stay in Riga more enjoyable is summarised below. Scroll down for more in depth ideas and locations for your visit.


  1. Nature - Latvia is a green nation and you can find many green spaces in Riga. From parks to forests, rivers to lakes. Riga has it all. look at the map, get a transport ticket and explore! Beyond Riga you will find no shortage of water, forest, beach, rolling hills and space.

  2. Public transport is super cheap - Just 1.50 euro per 90 mins and if you have a longer trip planned 10 euro for 5 days unlimited transport. The taxi app Bolt is also quite affordable.

  3. Currency - Riga is the Capital of Latvia, an EU member stat and as such uses the Euro! No funny exchange and easy to follow. Always carry cash for tipping and for the markets but in the most part you can exist just with wireless payments or cards.

  4. Language - Latvian is the state language but as a member of the EU many people speak a high level of English and services. Local information is easily found in Latviab, English and in Russian. If you want to learn some basics in Latvian start with 'Paldies' to say Thank you. There is a substantial Russian speaking population here also, with performances, publications and events that can be attended im Russian language.

  5. Lunch Menus - What? Lunch menus, yes! This should be number one and it will lead you on some great side quests... Lunch menus! These are the best way to eat in Riga. Mondays - Fridays 5 - 15 euro. Off you go find a lunch offer and boom. taste local simplicity with a real glimpse into what most Latvians eat. Think meats, root vegetables and some side salad. You can find canteen style, price per item or even fine restaurants and hotel dining offers that are amazing for the price.

  6. History - There is so much rich history here in Riga you can just join a free tour or head to one of the many hill forts, castles, museums, exhibitions and events to uncover an amzing past. Our tours are a great place to start so we can get you on tour feet in seding you the best historic sites for you.

  7. Museums - This leads us on from history but there are so many great museums in Riga that it just has to be a must do on your visit. There are also many free options like the War Museum.

  8. Riga is safe - We feel Riga as a city is really safe and with some small exceptions the city is very welcoming. In central areas one can walk quite freely perhaps with the usual exceptions around train and bus stations.

  9. Climate - The climate in Riga can be described as seasonal. 4 distinct seasons will spread out evenly throughout the year. Winter brings the snow sports and Christmas markets, spring the fresh air, summer the long days at the beach and autumn the long walks through the parks and the forests.

  10. Leave Riga - Wait? leave the city I just came to visit? Yes! It is so easy to hop on a train and be at the beach in 30 mins or 1 hr in the forest valleys and national park. You can make a half day trip and see more of the beautiful landscape!



Landing at Riga Airport - top tips to reach Riga's centre:


Riga airport is really small and conveniently about 20 mins from Riga centre. The most common way to reach the city centre is by Taxi but be aware! There are tricky taxis at the airport that will rip you off. Download Bolt Taxi app and be sure that you will not be overcharged, Read more about Riga Taxi scams here


Riga airport is close to the center
Riga airport is close to central Riga

You may want to save even more money and use the airport bus No 22 which takes about 30 mins.


The bus No 22, is the only bus you can by the ticket from the driver. Price per ticket – 1,81 EUR. You need to pay by card but there are ticket machines and kiosks such as Narvessen all over Riga where you can buy tickets as shown below.


  • Time ticket - 1.50 euro 90 mins

  • Day ticket - 5 euro 24 hr, 8 euro 3 day & 10 euro 5 day

  • Monthly ticket - 30 euro


You can also get your tickets online on the mobile app's of "Rīgas satiksme", "Mobilly" and others. As many of you will be in Riga 3 days the 8 euro ticket is a good option, you can get back and forth from the aiport as well as explore Riga by Tram which is probably the most easiest routes for you top reach areas such as Agensklans, Moscow District or Mežaparks and the zoo. If you are just going to use from airport to and back to the center that you will only need 3 euro for that luxury. Take advantage of bus No 22 and the system that Riga has in place. Maps for the network can be seen in this link for Riga public transport.

 

Tips for eating and drinking in Riga:


Let us just begin by being clear when it comes to tourist bars and restaurants and local bars and restaurants. There are some good and bad in all sides of the catering business and as many of you will be staying in Old Riga we will list a few good areas to explore and spots to look out for in that area that offer a decent experience for realistic price ranges. Below are some tips on how to navigate Riga's catering.


Riga cake
Best cake in Riga? Why not?

Our best advice for enjoying the gastronomy of Riga is Lunch Menus. Yes, you heard us, the humble lunch menu is the best most affordable way to try a wide range of local foods at a decent price. Many bars and restaurants of all price ranges put on Monday - Friday lunch offers. Some are simple with basic take on local contemporary food trends, think post Soviet canteen all the way to the other end of the spectrum where top restaurants open their doors to business lunchers.


We cannot recommend this enough and all our guests who take advantage of the lunches across Riga thank us for it. restaurants are always changing so just look out for the boards offering "Pusdienas"


Riga Central Market and Agenskalns Markets are a must. You need to visit these locations to enjoy some local foods. Riga Central Market is by far the biggest you may have seen and you can sample fish, honey, cheese, smoked meats, pickles.. you name it! Take cash and enjoy the ride. The stark economic reality of Latvia can be seen in the Central market. Not everyone is driving a flash car.


Agenskalns is a bit more hip. Nice for a stroll across the river and a dip into the emerging middle class. Pardaugava is an area less explored and well worth some time spent on. Biy your local products to cook in your AirBnbs and help the local economy!


Fine dining in Riga is relatively affordable. Although food prices have risen across Latvia in the past years, this has mostly effected the lower to mid range dining. Top end can be found across Riga and plenty of bloggers and journalists write about the same top 10 spots to eat on counltess platforms.


Although here in Riga there is not an unlimited choice of high end dining, for a 2- 3 night stay you can eat very well for a less eye-watering price than western Europe. Just check out on a quick google search 'Best Riga restaurants'and take your pick! Many you find around Central Riga and Quiet Centre. read about a Riga Michelin star restaurant and more food options here


 

We added a short list of some spaces in Old Riga we send all our guests. You simply cannot go wrong with these options.


Ala Pagrabs is a good example of a huge Folk club with plenty of space that caters typical Latvian food and beer in a quasi Latvian folk atmosphere. Once you get over the imposing smell of old beer as you enter the vast basement you will be warmly at home in one of the tourists and locals favourite spots. Live music and events take place and this is really a down to earth wholesome business. Might be a pinch to much artificial medieval / folk vibes for some but when you eat their food and have a few beers any one can enjoy this location.


 

Crumble cake cafe is our tour guides local cafe in Old Riga. Locally owned and run by one of the most awesome teams in town, this cute cake and coffee spaces is definitely a must all year round to get your tastes buds excited about. A big range of fresh cakes are on offer but be aware the location is quite small and often the get fully seated very fast. It is a good sign for sure. Again, locals and tourists visit this beautiful gem in Old Riga. Probably the best cafe in Riga

 

Martin's Bakery (Mārtiņa Beķereja, konditoreja) is the cheapeat and most delicious spot to try Latvians finest 'bulcinas' basically bready dough balls of goodness filled with savoury and sweet delights. We know this place is good because all the Grandmas from Riga queue the place right out of the door. They have cakes and some nice treats with basic coffee but for less than 5 euro you cant eat like a Bulcina King. Probably the best https://www.rigafreetours.com/post/the-best-bakery-in-riga


 

Riga Nightlife:


To be fair Riga has a reputation for being a party destination. The old city of Riga fills with revellers and drunks and can feel a bit trashy on weekends. This however does not mean you cannot find a decent bar to spend the evening in. We will not be listing any bars or clubs in this section as they change hands so many times its hard to keep up with the general scene in a blog post.


Riga nightlife
Riga nightlife - What to look out for

We will however list different districts where you may want to explore depending on budget and aims for the evening


  • Old Riga - Younger local crowd and tourists. Pricey but no expensive, foreign beers, cliche. Good for stags

  • Central Riga - Local bars, restaurants and cafes. Affordable and more down to Earth. Stabu iela, Miera iela, Avotu iela, Tallinas Kvartals all god areas to look for bars in. Meet locals and enjoy what the city has to offer. Craft beer and decent food.

  • Quiet Centre / Klusais Centrs - Up market, nouveau riche, fancy cars, embassies and Botox. Cheese, wine, cigars and fast cars. Some mid range and high end locations.

  • Andrejsala Port area - Used to be very alternative but now has a few pop up restaurants and clubs

  • Agenskalns / Across the River. Head to Agenskalns Market for evening drinks. You can find a few places to eat and drink across the river but you should locate where you are going before as its more residential and quieter on this side of the river.

  • Wagon street / Vagonu iela. Party like its 1983. Well there is an old industrial quarter with brewery, night club, odd bars and developing. Its far out but worth it for the fun. Raves, experimental and mixed crowd.


We personally recommend Central Riga. You can just open google maps and look at the density of drinking and eating venues. A lot to choose from and reviews tell a lot about these local places to enjoy.


 

Traveling with kids in Riga


for Riga there are plenty of attractions for kids to look out for. On top of this so many parks are perfect for children and there is no shortage of ideas.


Riga with children
Riga with kids - enjoy the spaces that Riga has on offer

  • Nature museum - Great to get to know the animals of the land and father afield.

  • Mežaparks - Visit the Zoo and take a stroll through the trees. A lake has summer activities also. Great play areas here

  • Day in Jurmala at the beach - Says it all really :)

  • Go Karting - Lots of go karting around town to try out if its raining

  • Riga's parks - Vermanes gardens is really nice and close to old town. Ziedondarzs is in Central Riga and great in summer with small pool area. Check out more of the best parks in Riga here


As a father myself I can say we have a lot of options for kids here. Its relatively clean and safe and you can always find out door options all year round.

 

Riga best free attractions


These is easy for us! Of course Riga Free Tours is the best free attraction in town! But there are some other great ideas to spend some time on your travels for free


walking tour of Riga
Take a tour with Riga Free Tour

  • Museums - Many museums in Riga are free of charge to visit. Check out online all the museums of Riga

  • Old Riga - Take a stroll in the historic Center. You wont be disappointed with all of the beautiful architecture and public spaces.

  • Riga Central Market - 5 Pavilions make up one of Europes largest covered markets. Amazing place to spend a rainy day in Riga

  • Mežaparks - take a tram or a bike ride to the big lake of Riga. Great for walks in the woods.

  • Swimming spots in and around Riga - there are designated swimming zones in Riga as well as the beaches close by. Easy to access and even in winter some ice dipping locations. Be careful always in water. Latvia has one of the highest rates of drwoning in Europe. The water may look calm but it's deadly.

  • Riga Free Tours - We may be a bit biased here. A must do in Riga .


Whatever you do to spend your time enjoying yourself just remmeber Riga has a lot of spaces and activities that cost nothing.

 

Day trips from Riga


If you are limited to public transport then do not worry. Plenty of destinations are connected by bus or train and below we will list them for you. Escape Riga and discover Latvia on a nice day out.


Riga by train
Escape Riga by train

  • Jurmala - take the train to one of the many stations along the western beaches just outside Riga. 30 mins on the train and you are there! You an even cycle there by bike.

  • Kemeri - take the train around 1 hr from Riga. Here is a massive nature park and beautiful bog trails and wetlands. Amazing day out especially for bird watching and nature

  • Sigulda - take the train around 1 hr from Riga. Awesome landscape with castles and valleys, Gauja river and much more.

  • Cesis- take the train a little over an hour and come to Cesis. Rich history, cool castle and park grounds and a hip place to see Latvia from a different perspective

  • Rundale - A new bus operates from Riga to Rundale palace 1st may - 30th September. This location is a must for anyone liking period dramas. Beautiful grounds and history awaits. Ask in tourist info centre of Riga for upto date options to reach this amazing destination.

  • Kuldiga - It is a long bus ride but well worth it to see one of Europes widest waterfalls. It may be wide but certainly it is not that high! Nonetheless, Kuldiga is a great day trip steeped in history and charm.


If you can rent a car tehen Latvia awaits your. There is so much more than just Riga and with so many options we could only list a few.

 

Luxury options in Riga


Riga has a few luxury options. The Quiet centre is definetly a place for nic edining and high life style. Thorughout central Riga desiener stores and boutiques can be found. A couple of nice options to look for are the Spa's of Riga


  • Espa Riga - Located in the Hotel Latvia. Simpl a nice experience.

  • Kempinksi Riga - The Spa is up market and they also have an amazing brunch offer at the hotel restaurant.


If you want to spend your money in Riga, it is easy to do so. There is a fair amount of well off people living in the city so if its your thing you can find a way to splash your cash.

 

Is Riga Safe? What kinds of Scams to avoid


A question often asked by our guests and to which we generally believe the answer is yes! Riga is safe. Well at least if we compare to larger European cities but there are a few things to watch our for and this we talk from experience. Sadly it happens when abroad that people get themsleves in to trouble. I can honestly say with the exception of pick pocketing and rip off taxis, almost all problems people face involve alcohol and groups of men


  • Rip off Taxis - Always use a taxi app to protect yourself from over charging. It happens too often and its an easy mistake to make. Get data coverage on your phone or a local sim card and upload the BOLT taxi app. You will be fine

  • Riga Pick Pockets - The pick pockets in Riga have been on the streets as long as I have been guiding. I know them by face and through countless interactions when they are trying to rob our groups. They operate mostly the tunnels between bus station, train station and old town. They are a pack of 2 - 5 women, who pretend to be tourists. Easy to see them, they use maps and umbrellas to mask their work. Sadly there seems to be no incentive to clear them off the streets so just do not be a statistic. recently they target all the construction areas around the railway station. Wear you bags on your front

  • Searching for Strip Clubs - This is someting we do not advise. Too many men in the past decades are following their smaller brain and end up in places and spaces that they should not be. Do not fall for Strip Club Scams in Riga. Follow the link to read a real story we had rom our clienets.


Read more about is Riga safe here

 

Riga on a rainy day


rain in riga
Escape the rain in Riga

We covered the top tips, hacks and ideas on what to do on a rainy day in Riga in an article we wrote previously. The good news is there is plenty of things to do on a rainy day in the city from museums to the market, go karting to visiting the Latvian National Library. You wont be left short with ideas.


What ever you do with your time in Riga, be safe have fun and enjoy what this magical city has to offer


See you soon!

282 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page