The Latvian city of Riga is considered the gem of the Baltics. It is situated at the mouth of the Daugava, on the shores of the Gulf of Riga on the Baltic. There is rich cultural heritage and ancient history in these parts. This multicultural city has always been located at a juncture of trading routes between east and west. Funky and vibrant, it traps travelers long after they were due to leave with its lavish fusion of old and new. Candlelit bars and winding cobbled streets are all a part of the attraction alongside a glitzy nightlife and thriving restaurant scene. This fairytale city was once dubbed the ‘Paris of the East’. It is rendered the largest tourist centre in Latvia thanks to its great air, rain and road connections.
Even though Riga is in Latvia, only 41.2% of its population is actually Latvian with a whopping 43.7% being Russian. Street and shop talk are a natural blend of Russian and Latvian.
Riga has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to the collection of art nouveau buildings that is one of the larges in the world, as well as a city in whose architecture the whole history from 1201 to present day is reflected.
The cuisine in Latvia is often considered simple and heavy with traits of Soviet dishes but there is a wide range of diverse ingredients and the food here is moving into the 21st Century. Latvian meet dishes make wide use of pork but you will also fin some wild meats such as deer, bison, rabbit, moose and wild boar. A typical dinner dish could include a joint of park, potatoes boiled, fresh vegetables or a cold salad and a glass of homemade wild berry juice. Latvian fish include herring, picked and eaten cold and another popular choice is smoked fish. The butter, cheese and milk products are great here and a bread that you won’t be able to avoid is black bread heavy and hard but full of flavor and great on its own.
If you are a tourist visiting Riga, there are some popular sites which you should make an effort to see. Of course there are so many that one could not be expected to visit them all. They include Old City Riga (Vecriga) – full of small squares where you can drink local beer in the open-air in summer or huddle over a hot bar snack in winter, the Latvian National Opera, the view of Riga from St Peter’s Church Tower, Jugenda Stila Nami and Alberta lela (architectural wonders), Musee Art Nouveau, Riga Motormuseum, Riga Town Hall Square, The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Nativity of Christ Cathedral, House of Blackheads, Freedom Monument, Bikram Yoga Riga, Great Choral Synagogue Memorial, Riga Zoo, Pilsetas Canals, Salaspils Memorial Ensemble, Art Museum Riga Bourse, Sun Musem, St Mary’s Dome Cathedral, Cat House, Pauls Stradins Medicine History Museum, Latvian Academy of Sciences, Latvian National Museum of Art, Latvian War Museum, Riga Aviation Museum and the Riga Radio and TV Tower.