Have you ever done that awkward thing, where you arrive at a destination to check in and somehow the days have gotten ahead of you and it turns out you have arrived a day early? This is what happened to us during our weekend in Riga.
We’d booked Johnson’s House which is a 20 minute walk from The Old Town of Riga in one of the popular suburbs. We arrived in Riga, Latvia by us and after taking a cab to the ‘self service’ style accommodation we realised we were just a little early for check in.
If you want to spend a weekend or a few days on a city break in the Latvian capital of Riga here’s all yo need to know on accommodation, transport and free things to do during your city break to Riga, Latvia.
A Weekend in Riga
If you are reading this whilst looking for the perfect location for your next European city break you’ll want to know all about spending a weeking in Riga. The Latvian capital is the ideal destination for a long, or short, weekend. And whether you decide to visit Riga for the food, the culture or just the exploration you won’t be disappointed at all the opportunities and adventure available in this city.
How to get to Riga from Vilnius
Arriving in Riga, Latvia with Lux Express
After arriving a night too early in Riga (oops) during our trip through the Baltics we were able to easily stay check in early and book an extra night thanks to our accommodating hosts at Johnson’s House.
Please always check your booking information to avoid looking like an idiot when you arrive in a new country/hostel. We had been travelling the Baltics using Lux Express, a cheap and comfortable bus service that operates through all of the Baltic State Capital Cities.
|The city of Riga, Latvia|
Exploring the city of Riga
The Suburb of Agenskalns
Exploring The Old Town of Riga in the late afternoon sun became the perfect way to start our time in Latvia after leaving the bland bus station behind we were easily able to find The Old Town of Riga. We were joined in our afternoon activity of exploring by every other tourist in Riga all crammed into the busy tourist hot spots.
We soon realised that Riga, like Vilnius was much more expensive than Poland and we began to notice a pattern of high priced dining among the many restaurants throughout The Old Town of Riga.
|Arriving in Riga’s Old Town|
This wasn’t actually a problem for us we were staying in the trendy suburb of Agenskalns where eating and drinking is much easier on your wallet, mainly due to the limited presence of tourists here.
We’d booked to stay in a self service hostel named Johnson’s House located over the river from The Old Town. Johnson’s House is quiet and exceptionally clean, if you don’t want to stay amongst the bustle of The Old Town then check it out.
One of our favourite places to eat in Angensklansand a must try in Riga is Street Burger. With three veggie options (a rarity for a burger restaurant) and everything from Greek style lamb burgers, Venison burgers to the classic Cheeseburger there’s something for everyone. Add a drink and fries to your burger to make a meal deal and still pay under €10.00 to eat. Along with the Agenskalns restaurant there is another Street Burger in Riga’s City Centre. No, that isn’t The Old Town.
The Old Town vs. Riga’s actual City Centre
Centrs is the actual city centre of Riga and cheaper bars and restaurants can be found here. Mostly filled with locals rather than the usual stag weekend you’ll find occupying many of the best places to eat in The Old Town of Riga, Centrs is where you’ll blend in with the locals on a Friday night.
Many tourists find this quite confusing and it’s not uncommon for someone to end up at a hotel in the city centre rather than Riga’s Old Town.
Be sure to leave The Old City of Riga and explore the historic suburbs of Latvia’s capital. For budget travellers Centrs is where you should be eating and drinking for cheap.
How to spend a Weekend in Riga
Things to do in Riga
We found ourselves in Peter’s Brewhouse during the Champions League final and thanks to the football there wasn’t an empty seat in the house. We had picked a less rowdy spot as we were still nursing a hangover from our pub crawl in Vilnius the night before.
At Peter’s Brewhouse €7.50 will buy you a tasting platter of 3 Latvian beers and a small beer snack. Like Lithuania, Latvia is also home to deep fried, garlic covered cheese smothered, beer snacks. Something I can only hope catches on in the UK and the rest of the world. Beer snacks in the Baltics are truly a gift to the world.
|Peter’s Brewhouse, Riga, Latvia|
The nightlife in Riga
Riga, Latvia’s nightlife isn’t as you’d expect. The small walking distances between bars make a pub crawl and bar hopping very simple. Riga stag do tourism is big in Latvia and its not unlikely you’ll catch a bunch of lads wearing wigs, shit shirts or some other attempt at fancy dress enjoying a Riga stag weekend.
Nightlife in Latvia and Riga mainly is what can be expected from most of Europe and the bars and beer flow all night, but there is always an essence of stag do tourism in Riga Old Town.
If you’re planning a Riga stag weekend be cautious of the Old Centre and the impact of large groups of tourists in this area, although in Riga stag do tourism is welcome, not all the locals feel fondly about the behaviour that comes with large groups and excessive drinking.
Riga is home to several popular backpacker hostels and bars, which means the nightlife in Riga can be fun filled. Riga was the only city in the Baltics where we didn’t take part in a pub crawl but I’m almost certain the nightlife in Riga will offer one. If that doesn’t satisfy you why not jump on one of those beer bikes, we saw a few whizzing around the city during our weekend in Riga, Latvia.
If you’re looking for tips on nightlife in Latvia then definitely chat to a local for the top places to go. Local’s knowledge of nightlife within the city is always the most reliable. Explore more on stag do tourism in riga.
If you are looking for where to stay in Riga and you don’t fancy checking out my recommendation of Johnson’s House, try the best cheap hostels in Riga.
Where to eat in Riga
Budget eats in Riga, Latvia
Things to do on a budget in Riga
When spending a weekend in Riga there are a few must do things you’ll want to do and add to your Riga bucket list. Some of these are great free things to do in Riga and others aren’t but I’ve highlighted which in the below list.
Free things to do in Riga
- Riga’s alternative free walking tour is a must and a great way to fill an entire afternoon learning about the history of Riga and Latvia
- Visit Riga’s central market. This is completely free and the strange setting makes a trip to Riga’s market a bucket list item
- Enjoy Riga’s outdoor spaces including the coast and the parks outside the main city centre of Riga – Note that this is a free thing to do in Riga but transport costs may apply
Riga’s Alternative Free Waling Tour
After such an enjoyable free walking tour in Vilnius, Lithuania we decided we’d definitely be up for taking part in another walking tour in Riga. One of the best things to do in Riga and the best way to see the city through the eyes of a local is a free walking tour.
We decided to take the free walking tour in Riga. We arrived at St. Peter’s Church in the Old Town of Riga around 15 minutes early for the walking tour to start at midday. We waited around 25 minutes for the tour to actually start but instantly realised we were in the correct location as small groups of other tourists started to accumulate outside of the church.
Our host showed up a few minutes late but made up for this with a fun and sarcastic introduction. If you plan on taking this tour look out for the battered and beaten yellow suitcase the tour guide holds. Once you spot that then you’ll know you have arrived at Riga’s free ‘alternative’ walking tour.
Europe’s largest market in Riga
|Riga Central Market, Riga, Latvia|
Culture and Pagan Pride in Riga, Latvia
Day trips from Riga
Trips you can take during a weekend in Riga
If you had more time in Riga it may even be nice to spend a night or two here to enjoy the coastal forest backdrop of Jurmala.
|The train from Riga Central Train Station|
How to spend the perfect weekend in Latvia
A 20-something travel blogger based in Liverpool. Covering all things from Latin America to Liverpool local guides and everything in between.