The quiet and quaint city of Riga is often overlooked when visiting the Baltic region. Most visitors head to the more popular capital of Estonia and bypass Latvia all together. While the city may appear to be small, it is actually the largest city in the Baltics! Be sure to add a \stop here during your visit to this region in Europe.
There are many things to see and do in Riga and most of them can be found within the old town walls. Give yourself at least a full day to wander the cobblestone streets and relax at one of the many charming cafes.
Many of the must see sights are in Vecrīga, also known as Riga’s Old Town. Since this section of the city is pedestrian only, it will be easy for you to stroll the streets and explore the area. Some of the top highlights are the Art Nouveau inspired architecture and the elaborately ornate buildings.
The House of the Blackheads
The House of the Blackheads is undeniably the most recognizable building in Riga. It was originally built as a space for unmarried men to get together for events and parties, eventually becoming known as the Brotherhood of Blackheads.
Unfortunately the original structure had to be rebuilt after WWII but the distinguishable features were not lost during the re-build. The ornate structure is highlighted with beautiful ornamentations and a bright orange facade.
St. Peter’s Church
Its pointed steeple towers above the city skyline and is the tallest point in Riga. Due to its extreme height, the tiered spire can easily be seen from multiple locations around Vecrīga. This makes it a good reference point for your location should you find yourself lost.
On the backside of the church is a strange bronze statue from the Brothers Grimm Fairytale. Designed as the Bremen Town Musicians statue, it is good luck to touch the faces of all the animals in sequential order.
This is also the only place in the Old Town where you can get a view from above by paying €11 to climb the church tower.
With its exterior covered in red brick, the Dome Catheral is one of the largest Medieval churches to still exist in the Baltic region. The Cathedral is still in use today, carrying out daily services and also provides a space for concerts due to its perfect acoustics.
The Three Brothers Houses
Located at Mazā Pils vela 17, the three dwelling houses are some of the oldest in Riga. Constructed from members of the same family in the 15th century, these building are very charming with their pastel exteriors.
The Freedom Monument
Just outside the main walls of Old Town and across the river you will find the Freedom Monument. As an important symbol of Latvia’s freedom, it was built to honor the soldiers who passed during the Latvian War of Independence. Built in 1935 the monument stands tall and features three stars and a sculpture of liberty at the top.
The Cat House
Rightfully named after the two black cats that guard the building, the Cat House was built in 1909 by an architect named Friedrich Scheffel. This Art Nouveau inspired stucture is painted in a bright yellow facade and is located just around the corner from the Powder Tower.
The Powder Tower and the Swedish Gate
Covered in naturally growing vines, the Powder Tower was once an important structure used to defend Riga during Medieval times. Used as an addition to the defensive walls around the city, this tower now houses the free Latvian War Museum which is open daily for visitors.
Also used to defend the city during the Medieval time was the Swedish Gate. This particular gate was one of eight and is the only one still remaining today.