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? Well that happened to us on our arrival in Riga for a weekend in Riga, Latvia. 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.
A WEEKEND IN RIGA, LATVIA
ARRIVING IN RIGA LATVIA WITH LUX EXPRESS
Fortunately, our hosts were very accommodating and we were able to easily stay an extra night. 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|
GETTING TO KNOW 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 CITY CENTRE
Let me clear this up. The Old Town of Riga is not Riga’s actual city centre. Which may come as a surprise to you.
|Map of Riga, Latvia – Source: Google Maps|
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.
|Riga’s Old Town|
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.
EXPLORING RIGA, LATVIA – A WEEKEND 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|
LATVIA NIGHTLIFE – RIGA STAG WEEKEND
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.
HACKING RIGA’S EXPENSIVE RESTAURANTS – WHERE TO EAT IN RIGA
|Street Burger – Veggie for me and Meaty for Jamie|
RIGA’S ‘ALTERNATIVE FREE WALKING TOUR – THINGS TO DO IN RIGA
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.
|Riga’s Alternative Free Walking Tour|
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 – RIGA CENTRAL MARKET
|Riga Central Market, Riga, Latvia|
PAGAN PRIDE IN RIGA, LATVIA
DAY TRIPS FROM RIGA
|The train from Riga Central Train Station|
A WEEKEND IN RIGA, LATVIA