Wondering where are the best photo spots in Riga? You are in the right place! I will help you discover the most beautiful places in Riga and make sure you get some wonderful postcards from your trip.
Riga is one of the most photogenic cities in Latvia with its stunning architecture, historic Old Town, Art Nouveau buildings, and picturesque riverfront views. This is why you want to bring your camera and take some epic photos during your trip.
Also, if you didn’t know, I am originally from Riga and spent most of my life in the capital of Latvia. I moved abroad after getting my bachelor’s degree, however, I still know all the best places and I am here to share them with you.
My guide to the best photo spots in Riga is going to ensure that you don’t miss a single photo opportunity! I will share additional photography tips, the best time to see these places without crowds, and help you pick out the right lens. Let’s get started!
*Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
The overview of the best photo spots in Riga
- House of the Black Heads
- Restorāns “DOM”
- Doma Square
- Views from St. Peter’s Church
- Swedish Gate
- Three Brothers
- Parunāsim kafe’teeka
- Līvu Square
- Freedom Monument
- Laima Clock
- Bastejkalna Park
- Latvian National Opera
- Art Nouveau building
- Art Cafe Sienna
- Art Nouveau Museum
- Riga Panorama
- Views from the Latvian Academy of Sciences
- National Library of Latvia
- Holy Trinity Church
20 most Instagrammable places in Riga and photography tips
The best photo spots in Riga Old Town
House of the Black Heads
In the heart of Riga, you’ll discover a true gem – the House of the Black Heads. Not going to lie, this is my favorite spot in the old town and I am sure that you will understand why as soon as you see it with your own eyes.
This remarkable building stands as one of the most iconic and picturesque spots in the city. With its stunning architecture and rich historical significance, it’s no wonder that this location is celebrated as one of the best photo spots in Riga.
The House of the Black Heads has centuries of history. Originally built in the 14th century, it has witnessed the city’s transformations over time, making it a living monument of Riga’s past.
Its intricate façade, adorned with ornate sculptures and vibrant colors, offers a lot of opportunities for your Riga photos. The building’s elegant design stands out, making it an ideal subject for both wide-angle shots and close-up details.
House of the Black Heads lies in a busy square, so I highly recommend waking up early. You will be able to combine it with other photo spots in Riga Old Town, so you can tick off all these locations during the same day.
A short walk away, you will find another iconic photo spot in Riga – Restorāns “DOM”. The restaurant’s exterior, with its charming and elegant façade, immediately catches the eye. Its classic European architecture is a picture-perfect subject.
You will take the small alley that brings you from the House of the Black Heads to Restorāns “DOM” and notice how perfectly it is framed at the end of the street. If you are lucky, you might find some Latvian flags on the side of the street.
Whether you’re using a smartphone or a professional camera, you’ll find that Restorāns “DOM” provides a delightful backdrop for your photos.
You might see other photo guides suggesting 1221 Restorāns, but it is the same thing. While the restaurant has been sold and changed its name, it kept the original design, which means that you can take the same photos.
Also, if you are looking for fine dining options, this restaurant should on the top of your list.
Around the corner from Restorāns “DOM”, you will find the main square and one of the most beautiful places in Riga – Doma Square.
The focal point of Doma Square is the Riga Cathedral, a majestic structure that dates back to the 13th century. This cathedral is not only a significant religious site but also an architectural masterpiece.
Early morning is a must if you want to find the place empty, however, later in the afternoon you can capture the lively atmosphere of the square.
If you are visiting Latvia during December, you will find this square filled with Christmas markets. You might not be able to capture it the same way, but if you ask me, the winter wonderland in Doma Square is even more picturesque.
St. Peter’s Church
Looking for the best views of Riga? Easy, head to the tower of St. Peter’s Church and thank me later. When it comes to the viewpoints, it doesn’t get better than this, so it is an absolute must when you visit Riga.
The history of St. Peter’s Church can be traced back to the 13th century, making it one of the oldest and most enduring landmarks in Riga. Its architectural style is a stunning example of Brick Gothic, a distinctive characteristic of Baltic architecture.
The church’s towering spire, reaching a height of 123 meters, makes it one of the tallest structures in the city, providing fantastic panoramic views over Riga’s picturesque Old Town.
While it is free to visit the church, you will need to pay an entrance ticket for the tower which is 9 euros. And there is even an elevator that takes you to the best views in Riga.
St. Peter’s Church is open from 10 am to 5 pm and it is closed on Mondays, so plan accordingly.
Another famous Riga Instagram spot located in the old town is Swedish Gate. The gate is a relatively small but well-preserved structure, nestled between cobblestone streets and historic buildings.
The Swedish Gate is one of the remaining fragments of the city’s fortifications from the 17th century, a time when Riga was under Swedish rule. Today, it stands as the only remaining gate of the original 18 gates that once fortified Riga.
This area of the old town does not get very crowded unless there is a big tourist group, so with a bit of patience, you can capture it without the crowds. Earlier in the day is still better so you avoid weird shadows cutting the gate.
The Three Brothers are a trio of well-preserved medieval houses located in the heart of Riga’s Old Town. They represent different architectural styles, providing a glimpse into the city’s evolution over the centuries. And it is one of the most popular Instagram spots in Riga.
The oldest of the three, dating back to the 15th century, is the “White Brother.” This building showcases a simple, yet charming, medieval architectural style with its steep roof and quaint facade.
Next in line is the “Middle Brother,” built in the early 17th century. It displays Dutch Renaissance architecture with its stepped gable and intricate ornamentation.
The youngest of the trio is the “Black Brother,” constructed in the 17th century. This building features a Baroque style and is distinctively adorned with rich stucco decorations.
These three houses are located on a tiny street in the old town, so you will need a very wide angle lens to capture even one of them. Or you can take a photo from the side of the street.
Need a break and looking for the most Instagrammable cafes in Riga Old Town? Parunāsim kafe’teeka is the place to be. While it claims to be the most romantic cafe in Riga, it comes with a lot of picturesque corners and photo opportunities.
It is located in a cozy alley with a few tables out during summer, but the interior inside the cafe is cute and certainly deserves a visit as well.
I am sure you have earned a nice coffee break (or tea considering that you are in Latvia), but snap some last photos before your rest.
Līvu Square is the last photo stop in the Old Town that you shouldn’t miss. A visit to this square is a must for anyone traveling to Riga, and it’s sure to leave a lasting impression.
It has deep historical roots, dating back to medieval times. It has been a central gathering place for merchants, artists, and townsfolk for centuries. The square’s name, “Līvu,” pays homage to the ancient Livonian people.
The square is surrounded by an eclectic mix of buildings, each with its own unique style. Some showcase the elegance of Art Nouveau architecture, while others reflect the classical facades of the 19th century.
And one of the square’s modern-day highlights is its vibrant cafe culture during warm months. So if you are visiting this square later in the afternoon, make sure you stop by and enjoy the lively atmosphere. Or get some souvenirs from the local craftsmen selling in the square.
Other famous photo spots in Riga
Freedom Monument is the most iconic attraction of Riga and while it is hard to capture its beauty, your Riga photos won’t be complete without it.
The Freedom Monument holds a special place in the hearts of Latvians. Erected in 1935, it was unveiled to honor those who fought for Latvia’s independence during and after World War I. This monument represents a crucial chapter in Latvia’s history.
Designed by the Latvian sculptor Kārlis Zāle, the Freedom Monument is a masterpiece of architecture. It features a woman (Milda) holding three stars high above her head, representing the unity of Latvia’s historical regions—Vidzeme, Latgale, and Kurzeme/Zemgale.
If you are looking for a cool angle of the Freedom Monument, head to Brīvības bulvāra liepu aleja and capture it between the trees. Or walk around the part and play with your zoom lens from different spots. Another great spot to see the Freedom Monument is Skyline Bar in Radisson.
Laima Clock is another iconic landmark of Riga and it is located right next to the Freedom Monument. It holds a special place in the hearts of the locals.
Installed in 1924, the clock was a generous gift from the Laima chocolate company, a well-known Latvian confectionery brand. Over the years, it has become a cherished symbol of Riga and a meeting point for residents and tourists.
The phrase “Meet me at the Laima Clock” is a part of the city’s vernacular, and the clock has witnessed countless rendezvous and gatherings over the years.
The clock’s design is simple but distinctive. It features a tall, slender tower with a large clock face that can be seen from a distance. It gets a new facade once the sun goes down and city lights are turned on.
If you ask me, it looks better during the dark hours of the day, but I suggest you play around and find your own preference. Also, this is one of the few places where people in your photo will add a great vibe, after all, it is an important rendezvous place.
On the side of the Freedom Monument, you will find Bastejkalna Park. First of all, it is a perfect place for a slow walk, but also one of the best photo spots in Riga.
The park’s charm lies in its natural beauty. It features winding paths, vibrant flowerbeds, and a gently meandering canal. If you are visiting during the fall, it is one of the best places to see fall foliage in Riga. And in winter, it has a different kind of charm with snow and frozen canals.
Don’t forget to visit Love Bridge and climb up to the highest peak in the middle of the park.
Latvian National Opera
Latvian National Opera is located on the other side of Bastejkalna Park near Freedom Monument.
The Opera House itself is a masterpiece of architecture, with a Neo-Baroque design that exudes elegance and grandeur. Its ornate facades and opulent interior reflect the splendor of the performances held within.
If you are looking for lesser-known Riga Instagram spots, head to Fountain Nymph at Latvian National Opera House and capture it with the opera in the background.
Inside this park, you will find other famous spots like the Statue of George Armitstead, a bridge and the University of Latvia right across the street.
Extra tip! If you are visiting Riga during the opera season, I highly recommend you visit it inside. I am pretty sure that the interior will surprise you.
Art Nouveau in Riga
Riga is renowned for its stunning Art Nouveau architecture, which graces the city’s streets with its elegance and intricate details. According to UNESCO, the world’s largest Art Nouveau building is in Riga.
Approximately one-third of the buildings in Riga’s city center are exemplars of Art Nouveau architecture. However, the focal area of the Riga Art Nouveau district is primarily concentrated along Alberta iela and Elizabetes iela. You will want to include Antonijas Iela as well.
Other impressive Art Nouveau locations in Riga: Audēju iela 7, Smilšu iela 2, Smilšu iela 8, Kalpaka bulvāris 13 (Mākslas akadēmija), Brīvības iela 68, Blaumaņa iela 28, Tērbatas iela 14, Strēlnieku iela 4a.
Basically, you can take a walk from the Freedom Monument and head to Alberta Street. Make sure you keep your eyes open and appreciate the details decorating the houses on your way.
If you are wondering about equipment, I recommend you bring your zoom lens and a wide-angle lens. This way you will get some details of the palaces and capture the entire house with your wide-angle lens.
Art Cafe Sienna
While exploring the district of Art Nouveau in Riga, you should plan a break at the Art Cafe Sienna. It is one of the most aesthetic cafes in Riga and it will match perfectly your artistic vibe of the day.
While the prices are on the steep side considering other places in Riga, this is still one of my favorite cafes in Riga and I really want you to see it as well.
Art Nouveau Museum
And in case you want to know even more about Art Nouveau, head to Art Nouveau Museum. Even if you don’t want to visit the museum, make sure you enter the palace to see the iconic staircase – one of the hidden photo spots in Riga.
Inside the museum, visitors are treated to a rich display of Art Nouveau artifacts, including furniture, decorative objects, and artworks from the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
It is open from 10 am to 6 pm and it is closed on Mondays. You can find all the details about the entrance fee here.
When you arrive to Riga City Center from the Airport, you will be welcomed with panoramic views of Riga as you cross the Daugava River. And that is another epic Riga photography spot, but where to snap the best photos?
If you want to cross the bridge on foot, head to Vanšu Bridge and enjoy the views on your back. Once you pass the bridge, head to Vanšu Bridge Viewpoint located on Google Maps, and play with your zoom lens. Another great location is AB Dambis closer to Akmens Bridge.
These spots offer fantastic vistas over the old town of Riga. Riga Castle is dominating the scenic view but the towers of churches add a unique touch to the skyline. As you can imagine, this is one of the top places in Riga to take pictures at sunset.
360° panoramic views of Riga from the Latvian Academy of Sciences
If you are looking for hidden photography spots in Riga, head to the Latvian Academy of Sciences. While the academy itself is not my favorite place in Riga, it offers amazing views over Riga from the top.
While St. Peter’s Church offers views over the old town, the Latvian Academy of Sciences observation deck welcomes you with views over the Daugava River, the TV tower, iconic bridges, the famous Riga market, and some glimpses of the old town.
If you have a big zoom lens, you can even capture suburban areas of Riga and see the strong Soviet influence on that part of the Latvian capital.
An elevator will transport you to the 15th floor, and from there, you’ll need to walk two flights of stairs to access the 17th floor. It is open from 10 am to 10 pm, so it is another great Instagram spot in Riga for sunset photos.
The entrance fee is 6 euros.
National Library of Latvia
The National Library of Latvia is the newest addition to the best photo spots in Riga and brings you to discover different side of Riga.
The library’s iconic building, inaugurated in 2014, is a blend of contemporary design and timeless elegance. The structure, often referred to as the “Castle of Light,” can be seen from the right bank of the Daugava River.
But the best place for the photos is hidden inside the National Library of Latvia. And there is no entrance fee, which makes it one of the best free things to do in Riga.
The entrance is located on Uzvaras bulvāris. From there head directly to the storage on your right side to leave your stuff inside the lockers. As a visitor, you can only bring your phone and camera. No bags or heavy coats in case you are visiting in winter.
Once you have stored your belongings, go to the reception and they will give you a visitor card to access the library and give a short explanation of accessible areas.
You can start with the top floor and then explore the rest of the library. The top floor has a fantastic view of Riga, but unfortunately, the glass is toned, so you won’t be able to take any photos. But you will find a lot of unique photo opportunities inside the library.
Holy Trinity Church
Holy Trinity Church is truly one of the most Instagrammable places in Riga, however, it is not popular among tourists, so it is often left behind.
The colorful facade with multiple golden domes on the top makes it picture-perfect, so make sure you add it to your Riga photography itinerary.
Considering that the Church is surrounded by busy cars, don’t hesitate to enter inside. With this limited space, you will need a wide-angle lens.
Since there are multiple churches with a similar name, make sure you select the one on Meža iela 2. This is a very residential area of Riga, so there is not much to do around, however, you might want to take a walk until Agenskalns Market since you are nearby.
Recommended gear for photography spots in Riga
- Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR
- Nikon Nikkor AF-S 14-24 mm f/2.8G ED
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G
- Nikon AF Nikkor 50mm f/1.4D
- Tamron SP 70 – 200 mm f/2.8 di VC G2
Useful information for visiting Riga
Is Riga worth visiting?
Riga has a quaint Old Town, a huge collection of Art Nouveau, and the biggest indoor food market in Europe. If you are looking for fun nightlife, you will find a lot of entertainment in the city center. And if you are a foodie, you can try one of the many local spots or explore the flourishing fine dining scene.
On top of that, it is one of the most affordable European destinations, English is widely spoken and it is considered very safe. Riga can be easily combined with Tallinn and Vilnius or it can be a perfect weekend getaway.
So if you are wondering if Riga is worth visiting, my answer is yes. Come and see it for yourself!
When is the best time to visit Riga?
The best time to visit Riga is during the summer months, from June to August. This is when the weather is the most pleasant, with mild temperatures and longer daylight hours. You can enjoy outdoor activities, explore the city, and experience its vibrant cultural scene.
However, if you prefer fewer crowds and lower prices, consider visiting in the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) and early fall (September to October). The weather is still pleasant during these times, and you can enjoy the city without the peak summer crowds.
Fall in Riga is my favorite season and here are some reasons why you should visit Latvia in the fall.
On the other hand, if you’re a fan of winter and the holiday season, Riga is known for its magical Christmas markets and festivities in December. Just be prepared for colder temperatures and shorter days.
What are the best day trips from Riga?
Got an extra day in Riga? No worries, we’ve got you covered with the best day trips from the Latvian capital. Thanks to Riga’s central location and Latvia’s compact size, you can explore stunning places within the country and even venture into neighboring Baltic countries.
This guide of the best day trips from Riga will feature the best destinations that you can easily reach from Riga and visit in one day. Guided tours and best day trips from Riga by train included!
Where to stay in Riga?
Riga is not a big city and you shouldn’t have any problems moving around, but there are some tips to make your weekend in Riga even more sufficient.
The old town (Vecrīga) is the most beautiful area of Riga. But cars are limited, so you have to be prepared to walk. Once again, it is not big, so it shouldn’t be a problem.
The city center (Centrs) is a big area in the heart of Riga, but I don’t advise you to go anywhere after Lāčplēša Street. The area near the Freedom Monument is great and very practical.
If you are looking at the map, you see that Riga is divided by a river called Daugava. And it might look close, but I don’t advise staying on the other side of Daugava. It can be trafficked and not very pleasant to walk.
LUXURY: Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga
If you want to have a luxurious and romantic escape during your Baltic vacation, this is your place to go.
Grand Hotel Kempinski is one of the most popular 5-star hotels in Riga and it offers phenomenal spa facilities to make your stay unforgettable. The location in the Old Town makes it perfect to discover the best photo spots in Riga.
BOUTIQUE: Grand Poet Hotel and SPA by Semarah
Grand Poet Hotel is the best place to stay in Riga with style. This fabulous five-star hotel in Riga’s old town is the best place for relaxing and sightseeing. In fact, guests have free access to the fitness center and spa zone.
The wellness center includes a pool, sauna, hot tub, and hammam. Various massages are offered at a surcharge.
MID-RANGE: Wellton Centrum Hotel & SPA
Wellton stands at the entrance of the old town, in one of the most picturesque streets in the Latvian capital. The hotel is stylish and also offers a great spa to relax after a day visiting Riga.
If you want to have a quality stay, at a reasonable price this is the right spot for you.
AFFORDABLE: Allure Rooms & Coffee
If you are looking for cheap accommodation while you visit Riga without giving up the quality, look no further.
This lovely guest house is conveniently located in the old town and it even offers a romantic view of Riga. It’s the perfect place to pick to get the best of your time in Riga at an affordable price.
Further reading for Latvia
Heading to Estonia next?
- Photography Guide: 15 Best Photo Spots in Tallinn, Estonia
- 10 Best Day Trips from Tallinn, Estonia + Top Rated Tours
- Complete Tallinn Itinerary: How to Spend 2 days in Tallinn
- How to Plan a Day Trip to Helsinki from Tallinn via Ferry
- 40 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Tallinn, Estonia
This is the end of the best photo spots in Riga and I’m sure that after reading this article you are impatient to get to Riga and create some unforgettable postcards. I believe that these photography tips will help you take epic photos and find the exact locations of the best photo spots in Riga.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.