If you are planning to spend a weekend in Riga and you are looking for the coolest things to do, you are in the right place. I have prepared a detailed 2 days Riga itinerary to maximize your time and make the most of your trip.
I was born and raised in Riga, so I want to share my favorite places with you! I moved away more than 5 years ago, but every time I go back, I see it from a new perspective and want to explore it even more.
Riga is the capital of Latvia and it is located in the heart of the Baltic states. It is a little hidden gem in the North of Europe and has endless opportunities for visitors. The old town is filled with cobblestone streets, vibrant buildings, and many medieval churches. It is known as the Art Nouveau metropolis and has a rich history that attracts many history enthusiasts.
In this article, you will find a complete Riga itinerary for 2 days with other things that you should know before visiting Riga.
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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!
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. While the area nearby 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 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. If you want to have a quality stay, at a reasonable price this is the right spot for you. The hotel is stylish and also offers a great spa to relax after a day visiting Riga.
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 weekend in Riga at an affordable price.
When is the best time to visit Riga?
As I mentioned earlier, Latvia is North of Europe, so it gets chilly in the winter. In fact, it even snows most of the time. If you like the sun and warm weather, summer would be the best time to visit Riga. But don’t expect high temperatures and heat.
If you ask me, there is something magical about the fall in Latvia. It gets even better in the countryside and other cities in Latvia, but you can catch unforgettable foliage even in Riga. Check some of the reasons why you should visit Latvia in the fall and maybe I can inspire you to see beyond Riga.
Now let’s get to the itinerary for a weekend in Riga!
2 days in Riga itinerary
I want you to start your day early and visit The Freedom Monument. It symbolizes Latvian statehood, national unity, and independence, and it was built with the money of residents to honor those who died during the Latvian War of Independence. During the day, you will see 2 guards protecting the monument – you can see a little parade at 9 am if the weather is good.
On one side of the monument, you will see Bastejkalna Park. Take a walk on the canal and climb up to Bastion Hill. You will see a bridge covered with locks placed there by lovers. Here you can also rent a small boat and see the parks of Riga from the canal.
On the other side, you will find another park and the Latvian National Opera. As you visit the park, don’t miss Laima Clock. It has been a popular rendezvous place for locals. It’s a clock, so you have no excuse to be late! Oh and Laima is a famous Latvian chocolate brand!
Once you are done with the parks, I want you to visit the Art Nouveau area of Riga. I suggest you head direction of Riga Art Nouveau Center and enjoy the architecture on your way. You can visit Riga Art Nouveau Center or simply see the beautiful staircase without entering the museum.
On your way, you will find another famous attraction – Riga Nativity of Christ Orthodox Cathedral.
Before heading to the Art Nouveau district, you can have breakfast in Kūkotava and spoil yourself with a honey cake. If you are looking for a budget-friendly lunch, visit LIDO Vērmanītis. But if you like fine dining, you will find many great options nearby Elizabetes street – Vincents, Riviera, Rossini, The Catch – these are some of my favorites!
In the afternoon, I want you to take it easy and enjoy a walk in downtown Riga. Visit Brivibas street, St. Alexander Nevsky Church, St. Gertrude Old Church, Splendid Palace and walk Krišjāņa Barona street.
And I suggest you end your first day in Riga with a blast. And I know we all like different things, so I will offer you multiple suggestions. First and my favorite one is Folkklubs ALA. I’m not a person who goes out to party all the time, but for this place, I will make an exception. Great music, traditional Latvian pub, and endless choice of beer – cranberry is their best seller. The second option is the Skyline bar – fancy drinks with beautiful views over Riga. And the last option is Restaurant d’arte on the last floor of Galleria Riga – a delicious meal and sunset over Riga. The choice is yours!
You had a busy day yesterday and another one ahead, so start your day with traditional Latvian pastries. Find the closest GUSTAVbeķereja or Mārtiņa Beķereja. Or Kūkotava if you missed it yesterday. Latvians are not big on coffee, so try some herbal tea instead.
The first attraction of the day is Riga Central Market. Come shopping with locals and become part of the crowd. Oh and don’t forget to get some local souvenirs here. It might include Riga Black Balsam, local Latvian beer, delicious honey, or maybe some local sweets from Laima or Skrīveru saldumi. Including the indoor market and an outdoor market, Riga Central Market is actually considered to be the largest market in Europe. And in 1997 the market was included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
If you are using this itinerary for a weekdays, you can go up Latvian Academy of Sciences for some wonderful views over the market, the old town, and the famous river Daugava. The price is 6 euros.
If not, head to Bergs Bazaar – renovated turn-of-the-century shopping arcade with stylish boutiques, chic dining & terrace cafes. You can have lunch in Andalūzijas Suns, BURZUJS or Garage. Or simply enjoy the walk in the bazaar and visit Vērmane Garden around the corner.
In the afternoon, I want you to explore the old town of Riga. I suggest you start with one of the most beautiful squares that I have ever seen and visit House of the Black Heads. From there head to Riga Cathedral and see Dome Square.
Now it’s time to visit Three Brothers – the oldest residential complex in Riga has survived from the 15th century. It consists of three houses situated side by side on a small cobblestone side street and each house represents a distinct development period in the city of Riga.
Make a quick stop at Torņa iela, Swedish Gate, Powder Tower, and Līvu laukums.
I want you to finish your day with St. Peter’s Church. The entrance fee is 9 euros, but you get to visit the tower that offers the most epic view over Riga.
Also, highly suggest dining at Balzambārs. It’s a great mix of Latvian traditional food and modern dining. On top of that, you have to try Riga Black Balsam when visiting Latvia and this is the best place to do it.
Extra activities? If you have some extra time in Latvia, I can suggest Holy Trinity Church on the other side of Daugava (the first photo of the article), Vanšu Bridge Viewpoint, and The Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia. Or day trips to Jurmala, Sigula, or Cesis.
I’m sure that this guide will help you make the most of your weekend in Riga, visit all the main attractions, and eat your way through Latvian cuisine. I have a special love for Riga and I want to show it to others through the eyes of a local.
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.