Riga holidays

Riga top sights

TravelSavvy guide to city break holidays in Riga, Latvia

Did you know?

Latvia shares borders with Lithuania, Estonia, Russia and Belarus

A good meeting place is at the Laima clock on the edge of the old city

Art Nouveau buildings are concentrated around Elizabetes iela

The highest point for a panorama of Riga is the Television Tower

Top city break sights in Riga

The top sights in Riga are mostly located in the Old Town, east of the river.

Old Riga is a compact maze of cobbled streets, brick churches and crumbling 17th century merchants' houses, all with a fairyland charm about them.

Despite bombing in World War II, and some crass post-war modernisation, Riga has retained the atmosphere of a busy medieval city.

The main Kalku St is a good place to start any walking tour. Duck down any alleyway and you will find something of interest.

Vecriga (Old Riga)

Centuries old buildings are dotted throughout Old Riga and it's like stepping back in time to walk along the narrow cobbled streets. Riga is World Heritage Listed, with well preserved 17th century buildings and soaring church spires.

Most of the streets are traffic free and small shops lie hidden down the warren of side-streets. The best sights are in the maze of crooked alleyways and getting lost is a good way to enjoy yourself.

Dome Cathedral

In summer, cafe tables are strung out across Dome Square, which is dominated by the enormous red-brick Dome Cathedral, the biggest in the Baltics, dating from 1211. It is a wonder, both for its sheer bulk and intricate zigzag brickwork.

The interior is much more austere. The medieval interior was destroyed by Protestants in the Reformation. The main point of interest is the florid pulpit, plastered with saints and angels and some very impressive stained glass windows.

The Dome's most famous feature is the massive organ with 6,718 pipes. When built in 1884 it was the largest in the world. The cloister is considered a Romanesque masterpiece and the square outside has a bright, fun-filled atmosphere with cheap cafes, beer tents and late-night bars throughout the summer.

St Peter's Church

You must not miss the view from the triple tiered spire of St Peter's, Riga's trademark symbol. The church dates from the 1400s but the spire itself has been reconstructed three times, lastly of steel in steel in 1967. It's 124m high and a lift takes you about halfway up.

The interior is not particularly interesting. Rioting protestants destroyed the medieval furnishings in the 1500's but it's an excellent example of Gothic architecture.

House of the Blackheads

It doesn't sound terribly promising but the House of the Blackheads is an astonishing achievement. The original 1344 building was destroyed after World War II but rebuilt in 2000 on the city's 800th anniversary with great attention to exquisite detail.

It's a striking Gothic building with a Dutch Renaissance facade and stands, somewhat ironically, next to the Museum of Occupations in the Town Hall Square. It's now a museum and concert hall. The Blackheads, by the way, were a medieval merchant guild and this was their headquarters.

 

Riga Bicycle Tours - Escape the old town and discover the real city on one of our unique and fun tours.

Europe  •  Amsterdam  •  Barcelona  •  Brussels  •  Budapest  •  Dublin  •  Monaco  •  Nice  •  Paris  •  Prague  •  Riga  •  Seville  •  Venice

© 2012 - 2014 SavvyNetworks, Chester, UK

TravelSavvy city breaks in Riga