Even if our tours are not running and even though many activities and locations are still closed to the public, Riga has plenty of cool things to keep you busy in these strange times.
We often get asked "what else can we do after visiting the Old town"? The answer is that Old Riga makes up such a tiny percentage of the city, that by just simply leaving the touristic center you will open up so many beautiful districts and sights that you did not even know existed! So what to do?
Cross over one of Riga's bridges!
Akmens (Stone bridge), Vanšu (Suspension bridge), Dienvidu (Southern bridge,) Salu (Island bridge) all cross over from the Right bank of the river Daugava to the Left bank, known as Pārdaugava.
The many districts that can be found on the Left bank are great to explore if you wish to see real life, less tourists, old wooden houses, a slower pace of life than Central Riga and to maybe pop in to the Latvian National Library! You can also discover the islands of Ķīpsala, Lucavsala or Zaķusala (Rabbit island!)
On the island of Ķīpsala you will get the chance to see many interesting wooden and modern houses, have a great view of the Old city that is perfect for panorama shoots. Walk the cobble street along the Daugava river and visit the Žanis Lipke Memorial museum.
This museum for those of you interested in the Holocaust and how a local Latvian helped to hide and save many Jewish residents of Latvia during the Second World War, this will be a particularly important site for you to visit. Reach this by crossing the Suspension bridge (Vanšu tilts)
Monument to Soviet Army Soldiers
The Victory monument, located in the Victory park of Āgenskalns district was built in 1985. Erected to commemorate 40 years since the defeat of Fascism and to mark the end of the Great Patriotic War (2nd World War to many of us), this colossal monument can be seen from many view points across Riga. Many ethnic Latvians see the monument and as sign of the occupation of the Republic of Latvia after the 2nd World War, where as for the Russian speakers of Latvia, this is an important reminder for the sacrifices made by Soviet forces to defeat Nazism in Europe.
Just to show how controversial this monument is, back in 1997 a group of ultra nationalists tried to blow up the monument resulting in two of the bombers blowing themselves up and 6 being arrested and sent to jail. Here on Victory Day, 9th May, thousands of mostly Russian speaking locals gather here to remember the sacrifices made by those who fought against the fascist Nazi regime.
Kalnciema Street Market
The emerging middle class in Latvia has embraced the Left bank of Riga. Renovated wooden houses, new apartment complexes and a more laid back way of life has attracted the younger, more affluent crowd to this side of the river. Along with this crowd has come a regular feature in Riga, the Kalnciema market.
Located on Kalnciema iela and held every Saturday this market is full of all the things you could need to tick your 'I visited Latvia' boxes. From smoked meats, to apple wines, ginger bread to cutting boards, woollen gloves to hemp butter, you will find it all amongst the hip looking local crowd. Be aware it can get busy (pre Covid times) who knows how it will look in the future!
Find out more http://www.kalnciemaiela.lv/en/market/
What ever you chose to do in Riga, think outside of the box and explore! Take care!