The parks in Riga help to make it one of the greenest and most spacious cities in Europe. Thanks in part to large redevelopment of the city during the late 19th and 20th century we find that Riga has plenty and varying parks and gardens that are located all over this vast city.
In this article we want to highlight some of the most interesting parks that you may want to visit during your stay. Some are a tram ride, bike ride or longer walk to get to but as we always try to tell our guests. Riga is big, do not get stuck in Old Riga! find out what Riga is really like and spread your wings to explore the city!
Scroll down to the bottom of the article to find a map of Riga with all the best parks in Riga shown as wide open green spaces and find our best recommendations throughout Riga for all kinds of other attractions.
Mežaparks or the forest park in English, is by far one of the most interesting parks in Riga, if you are looking to spend a day out within the city limits with everything from play areas, huge outdoor concerts, disc golf, skating and cycling routes, food and drink, a zoo, a lake with water sports, a beach area, a forested walking path km's in length, one of the best Shashlik grills in the Baltics, a golf course next door, a bike lane to reach it from the centre of Riga and great tram connections (nr 11 tram and the retro tram) then Mežaparks is the location for you! It sounds like a theme park and be advised in some weekends it gets really busy. We advise the paths best early morning, coffee down by the lake and sunset / sunset to avoid the crowds. I used to live in the heart of the park on 'Peacock street' and with the city zoo' s giraffe's as our neighbours and lake as my morning ritual I was living in paradise in the summer months! Feeling nostalgic about this location, I really question why I ever moved away?
Vērmanes dārzs (dārzs means garden in Latvian) is a beautiful central Riga park, a fenced in gem, right in the heart of the city and an oasis away from the hustle and bustle of the central Riga's traffic. Perfect for picnics, amazing for outdoor chess tournaments amongst some of Riga's finest pensioner Chess elite in Riga, great for ice creams and play time in the play area for children, great for concerts at the band stand and full of interesting monuments and a wide selection of botany, this is again one our best parks in Riga. Do not miss out on the many markets that are held here and on occasion private events that use the parks fenced in area to create memorable mini festivals right in the heart of the city. Grab a coffee and chill under a hundred year old tree. This is one of the oldest parks in Riga, sating back to the 19th Century.
Riga City Canal
The Riga city canal is really the old defensive moat of the city that was remodeled in the second half of the 19th century to create the parks and gardens that we see today. The parks along the canal stretch from the National Opera all the way down to the River Daugava. Probably the most beautiful part of the Riga city canal is the wonderful display of flowers and fountain in front of the Latvian National Opera. Sandwiched between this wonderful building and the Latvian freedom monument, one can enjoy the beauty of the flora whilst having a quick break from city life. Walk along the canals and you will find a wide range of monuments and object of interest to enjoy. The canal park joins up with Kronvalda park and Bastejkalns parks and flows freely, separating the Old City of Riga from Central Riga. Look at the line of the canal, it follows a zig zag meander that reminds us of the old fortifications long gone.
Although an island historically, Ķīpsala (sala means island in Latvian) is connected to Riga by the suspension bridge and now has a lovely small park area right on the banks of the Daugava river. Here sports is played and a really cool play area has been built for children. Sunbathers flock here right beside the wizzing traffic of the suspension bridge and the brave step foot into the Daugava river to cool off in the summer months. Make sure to explore Ķīpsala for more interesting sights, like the Old Gypsum Factory, wooden houses, cobbled streets and the Žanis Lipke Memorial museum. A large convention centre on the island (currently in use as a vaccination point) hosts a range of different events from erotic expos to dog fairs. Riga is a strange one that is for sure!
Latvian Botanical Gardens
The Latvian Botanical gardens is a lovely day out for all the family and very close to my heart. Why? You may ask. Well if you a lucky enough to chose the audio guide for the park in English it will be my voice guiding you on your journey through the flora and fauna! Many summers we have sent our son here to enjoy a garden club and the grounds offer a huge range of surprises that you may not expect to find in the Baltic regions. There is a large glass house with many exotic species and the whole are offers plenty of places for relaxing and unwinding from the city all year round. This is a paid garden to visit but well worth it, wit so many things to discover and such rich history we are giving the Latvian Botanical a big thumbs up!
Riga Esplanade park
Home to the Latvian National Museum of Art, the Latvian Academy of Arts and a giant gold topped Russian Orthodox Church of the Nativity, the Esplanade park is one of the chunkiest and vast spaces in central Riga, complete with giant Soviet era crumbling concrete slabs, cafes, favoured skate spot by the newly paved area around the Latvian National Art Museum, a range of monuments, cute mini pay ground and one of the largest gold toped high fives to the main man in the sky, this park is more a place that you pass through than a place to sit and enjoy for long periods, it seems unfinished and maybe in some years to come it will have a face lift. Do not miss out on the seasonal markets and occasional events held in this large space.
Venturing a bit out towards Central Riga and towards the more residential districts of Riga you will find one of our favourite parks, Ziedoņdārzs is a really cool spot for city picnicking, basketball courts, play area, paddling pool, out door training and exercise clubs and out door gyms. Gone are the years of drunks and local hoods hanging around and as Riga starts to find her feet and the inhabitants begin to find that life is not so bad after all, the messy times have been replaced with more and more families, looking for urban life without the hangover. This amazing and lovely park has one major downside. Dog Poo. There are a percentage of people in central Riga who seem to not care about where their dogs pass their waste and with a dog park located here as well, we see its a hot spot for local messy animal lovers . Most noticed after the snow melts we recommend you check the grass before choosing your picnic location. Some people just dont care about a nice living arrangement for all to share. Lets hope like the drunks, the dog poo will be a thing of the past as people develop their civic respect for each other.
Located right by the L:atvian Freedom Monument and home to the famous Riga canal, here you will find the Bastion hill. An artificial folly created when the city redeveloped its military zones beyond the city walls. Here we can find a bridge of love. where locals lock their padlocks to an artificial bridge, created just for this purpose, dear God, a lock for life! better call a locksmith! You can pick up a canal boat here to explore more the city by water and enjoy the local musicians who play here. As a sign of how recently Latvia regained independence and the struggle that Latvians faced, look out for the stone monuments in this park, reminding us of the victims of shootings that took the lives of a number of people back in January 1991 in the period known as the Barricades.
Fancy some water activities along the Daugava river such as SUP boarding? A huge concert ground? Running tracks, city growing gardens? Visit Lucavsala, a huge space dedicated to many things! Even grilling spaces are available here for some BBQ chicken by the river! Easily reached by bicycle or scooter! The urban gardens are a great are to get lost in. A maze of small rented gardens with interesting locals, some bums and some rather eccentric characters can be found here.
Holy moly what is that giant Soviet monument across the bridge in Riga you may ask! It is the Soviet Victory monument built in 1985 to commemorate 40 yrs of the end of the Great Patriotic War. Here on May 9th thousands of local Russians in Riga gather to remember the sacrifice made in the struggle to ride Europe of Fascism. But this park is more than just a giant Soviet monument, here you will find people practicing cross country skiing on roller skates in summer months and nice little railway museum close by
Deep in Central Riga you will find Grīziņkalns, a hilly park with a large area dedicated to the Ghetto games. skating and basketball and other street sports and activities. Nice for a jog around, dog walking and a really cool park for kids. Super nice in winter for sledding around although can get a bit shady in night times, like other areas of Riga, it is changing. Give it time and this will be one of the nicest parks in Riga.
Riga Centra sporta kvartāls
The Riga Central Sport Quarter is a modern open area, asphalted and covered in play equipment, skate park, football courts, bmx track, training grounds and no trees, no shade. A real nightmare for parents in the summer heat! But who cares about grown ups? Who needs shade? Its awesome for kids! Make sure to pack water, take an umbrella and let the kids run wild. As a sign of the times local police patrol the area, keeping an eye out for the kids. It is large so best to place a tracking device on your children unless you want to be one of the Mums or Dads running around like headless chickens!