Peruse anyone’s travel bucket list, and you’ll likely see familiar names such as Paris, Prague and Rome.
Riga? Maybe not so much.
It’s a shame that this Latvian city, tucked away in Northern Europe, doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves. Sure, it might not be on the same weight class as with the previously mentioned juggernauts, but it has enough perks to make it a must-see for any travel junkie.
1. Exploring Is Inexpensive (and takes less than a day)
Due to it’s small size, everything worth seeing in Riga are all conveniently bunched up together. You can reach these sites on foot, with the farthest (Alberta Iela) being only 19 minutes away if you’re coming from Old Riga.
Of course, nothing beats a whole day tour, but if you’re in a hurry (e.g you’re on a European cruise), a 6 hour stroll is enough to visit all of Riga’s notable attractions.
In short, touring Riga is convenient and inexpensive, which is a god-send, since European cities are generally the most expensive holiday-destinations in the world.
2. Gorgeous (Art-Nouveau) Buildings
Truth be told, I had no idea what in the world an “Art-Nouveau” was before I visited Riga. I’m not going to pretend that I’m an art whiz, or that I somehow found the meaning of life while looking at an abstract painting.
But even with a distinct lack of artistic experience, I do appreciate beauty when I see it, and boy does Riga deliver.
Art-Nouveau, as it turns out, is a style of architecture influenced by nature, resulting in floral and plant-inspired motifs. Majority of Riga’s buildings are designed as such, and the results are gorgeous.
Although Art-Nouveau buildings can be found across Europe, there are over 800 similar structures in Riga alone, making it one of the biggest galleries of this distinct style. It’s also the main reason as to why the whole city was basically declared as one huge UNESCO Heritage Site.
3. Love Letter To Nature
Riga’s parks are just as stunning as its buildings, and you’ll lose yourself in their allure for hours. My only regret was that I didn’t have enough time to appreciate the beauty of it all.
4. Crowds are Rare (And Sometimes Non-Existent)
As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s a joy to visit places like Prague, but my one common complaint is that it sometimes feels like you have to traverse through a battlefield just to get to where you want to go. There are just way too many people!
Thankfully, the same can’t be said with Riga. In 2016, the Latvian City only recorded a total of 2.6 million visitors, compared to Prague’s 7.07 million. Less tourists equals less noise, commotion and chaos. You have endless opportunities to enjoy the sights and capture those Instagram-worthy pics – without a million heads blocking your view.
My Final Take:
Riga might not exactly be a priority on your travel wishlist, but once you give this Latvian city a try, you’ll discover a a gorgeous, hassle-free and inexpensive way to satisfy your travel itch – as well as the unique distinction of having visited Northern Europe’s hidden gem.
Follow The Reader’s Buffet for unusual adventures, travel tips and more. I would like to thank my sister at Trvl_Dscvr for lending me her photos. For more stunning shots from Riga and beyond, you can visit her Instagram here.