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World Travel Guide > Guides > Europe > Latvia > Riga

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Things to see in Riga

Tourist Offices

LIVE Riga (Riga Tourist Office)

Address: Centra rajons, Rātslaukums 6, Riga, 1050
Telephone: +371 6703 7900
Opening times:

Daily 0900-1900

Website: http://www.liveriga.com

Tourist passes

The Riga Card (tel: 8585, in Latvia only; www.rigacard.lv) gives visitors free use of buses, trolleybuses and trams; free train trips to Vecaki and Jurmala; free or discounted museum admission; and discounts in shops, cafes, restaurants and on car hire. The card can be purchased in 24-, 48- and 72-hour variations, at the Tourism Information Centre, at the airport, at selected hotels or anywhere displaying the RC sign.

Attractions

Latvian War Museum (Latvijas Kara Muzejs)

The Latvian War Museum is simultaneously one of the most interesting museums in the city and the most controversial. Within the redbrick of the 14th-century Powder Tower, there are displays illuminating the various wars that have ravaged the country. There are good sections not only on the War of Liberation (1918-20), when the Latvians fought off the Soviets and the Germans, but also on the Latvian volunteers who served with the German Waffen SS during WWII. There has been much historical debate on their role in atrocities, and the surviving veterans who triumphantly parade through Riga every year are often a source of embarrassment to the government.

Address: , Smilšu 20, Riga, 1050
Telephone: +371 6722 3743.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1800 April-October
1000-1700 November-March

Website: http://www.karamuzejs.lv
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Central Market (Centrāltirgus)

These five hulking 1930s zeppelin hangars are home to Riga's Central Market and is the place to rub shoulders with Riga's locals who come to snap up cheap fruit and vegetables. There is also a throng of stalls outside the main hangars. This is a great place for photography.

Address: , Nēgu 7 (next to the central station), Riga,
Telephone: +371 6722 9985
Opening times:

Open Area: Daily 700-1800; Closed Area: Daily 800-1700

Website: http://www.rct.lv
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museum of the Occupation of Latvia (Latvijas Okupācijas Muzejs)

The Occupation Museum is an essential stop that many tourists tragically miss. Housed in a remarkably ugly Communist-era building, the museum takes visitors on a journey through Latvia's turbulent recent history – from the Soviet and Nazi occupations during WWII, right up to the tumultuous events that led to Latvian independence in 1991. Outside, the statue of the Latvian riflemen remains the subject of much local controversy.

Address: , Raiņa bulvāris 7 , Riga, 1050
Telephone: +371 6721 2715.
Opening times:

Daily 1100-1800 (May-Sep); Tue-Sun 1100-1700 (Oct-Apr)

Website: http://www.okupacijasmuzejs.lv
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Riga's historic town centre

Although fire and war destroyed many of the first buildings, Riga's historic central area boasts fine medieval, Gothic and baroque architecture. But Riga is particularly renowned for its art nouveau structures, which many believe form the finest collection of this architectural style anywhere in Europe. The style (Jugendstil – the German-style art nouveau) is unmistakable, with ornate stucco swirls adorning doorways, human faces embellishing facades and outlandish towers growing from the tops of buildings. The best way for visitors to appreciate this architectural treasure-trove is to wander through the downtown area, staring upwards. One of the best examples of Jugendstil is on and around Elizabetes iela, where many of the buildings are laden with all the tell-tale flourishes of this lavish architectural style.

Address: Centra rajons, Elizabetes iela, Riga, 1050
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees: Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: Yes

House of the Blackheads (Melngalvju Nams)

This stunningly renovated gothic building on the revamped Rātslaukams dates back to 1334 when it was the meeting venue of local unmarried merchants: the Blackheads. It fell into decline during Soviet times, but after years of restoration it now gleams by day and shines at night when floodlit. The building's mighty gable rises dramatically 28m (92ft) above the square. The interior is suitably impressive with a rebuilt hall where the Blackheads once met.

Address: , Rātslaukums 7, Riga, 1050
Telephone: +371 6704 3678
Opening times:

Tue-Sun 1100-1800

Website: http://www.melngalvjunams.lv
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

St Peter's Church (Pētera Baznīca)

The oldest church in Riga is dedicated to the city's patron saint. Originally built in 1209, it was reconstructed a few times, with the most recent one in 1941 after a fire. The 123-metre (403-ft) tower has an elevator taking visitors up to an observation gallery offering sweeping views of the city.

Address: , Reformācijas laukums 1, Riga, 1050
Telephone: +371 6718 1430
Opening times:

Tue-Sat 1000-1800; Sun 1200-1800

Website: http://www.peterbaznica.lv
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes

Riga Cathedral (Rigas Doms)

An intoxicating collage of gothic, art nouveau and Romanesque styles, this holy place is one of Riga's symbols. In the interior museum, there are displays portraying Riga between the World Wars, as well as maps and postcards of Old Riga. One of the highlights is the world-famous organ, crafted in 1884 with almost 7,000 pipes.

Address: Centra rajons, Doma laukums 1, Riga, 1050
Telephone: +371 6722 7573
Opening times:

July 1 – September 30: Daily from 0900-1800, except on Wednesdays and Fridays from 0900-1700, on Thursdays from 0900 - 1730
October 1 – June 30: Daily from 1000-1700

Website: http://www.doms.lv
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: No
UNESCO: Yes

Freedom Monument (Brīvības Piemineklis)

The voluminous Freedom Monument, fondly known as 'Milda', occupies a sacred place in the hearts and minds of every Latvian. In 1935, private donations paid for and erected this potent symbol of the nation, which somehow survived four decades of Soviet rule. During the Communist era, locals often joked that the monument was really a travel agent, since laying flowers at the site guaranteed a one-way ticket to Siberia. Today, the monument is back to its best after a major renovation and still retains its poignancy, doubling as a favourite meeting point for the city's youth.

Address: Bastejkalns Park, Raina bulvāris Brīvības Piemineklis, Riga, 1050
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees:

No.

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Riga churches

Just outside the Old Town walls, the Roman Catholic cathedral of Riga has been reincarnated many times. St Jacob’s Cathedral (Jēkaba Katedrāle) was once a Lutheran parish church, a Jesuit church and even a Swedish garrison church. But now, revelling in layers of history, it is an atmospheric place of Catholic worship. The Church of Jesus (Jēzus Baznīca), Riga's oldest wooden church, has fought an epic battle with fire for centuries. Its survival alone is reason enough to visit. Grebenstchikov Church is another wooden structure, a gold-domed affair dating back to the early 19th century. Alexander Nevsky Church (Aleksandra Nevska Baznīca) is a Russian Orthodox structure dating back to the 1820s. Named after the 13th-century Russian prince celebrated by Riga’s Russian population as a folk hero, the church is bright yellow and hard to miss.

Address: , Jēkaba iela 9 (St Jacob's Church), Riga, 1050
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Latvian Ethnographic Museum (Latvijas Etnogrāfiskais Brīvdabas Muzejs)

Perhaps Riga’s most underrated attraction, the Latvian Ethnographic Museum is situated just outside the capital and offers a glimpse into rural life during the 17th and 18th centuries. Spread over 90 hectares (222 acres) of beautiful Baltic countryside, this open-air museum boasts a stunning collection of impeccably preserved wooden farmsteads, churches and windmills that you can wander around. A traditional tavern sells local cuisine and sometimes traditional craftsmen and women sell their wares around this venue too. Keep your eyes peeled for red squirrels, which you can see leaping between silver birches.

Address: , Brīvidabas iela 21, Riga, 1024
Telephone: +371 6799 4515
Opening times:

Daily 1000-1700; grounds (but not buildings) stay open until 2000 in summer.

Website: http://www.brivdabasmuzejs.lv
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Latvian National Museum of Art (Latvijas Nacionālais Mākslas Muzejs)

The Latvian National Museum of Art is housed in an impressive baroque structure, which was the first building in the Baltics specifically created to be a museum. It is listed as an architectural landmark of national significance, and the top floor is adorned with six decorative paintings by the great Latvian artist Vilhelms Purvītis and the Estonian classical artist Gerhard von Rosen. The permanent exhibitions of the museum trace the development of professional art in the Baltic region from the mid-1700s to the present day. Its Russian art collection is reputed to be the richest in the Baltic countries. Alongside the permanent collections, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions, as well as regular cultural events.

Address: , Janis Rozentāls Square 1, Riga, 1010
Telephone: +371 6732 4461
Opening times:

Tue-Thu 1000-1800; Fri 1000- 2000; Sat-Sun 1000-1700

Website: http://www.lnmm.lv
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Mentzendorff’s House (Mencendorfa Nams)

Mentzendorff’s House is an impeccably restored, late-17th-century merchant's house named after the last residing family. Ornately decorated, this charming residence-turned-museum still boasts original period furniture and various historical artefacts. The house often looks closed and the door at the entrance can be a bit sticky, so be sure to give it a good shove before giving up.

Address: , Grēcinieku 18, Riga, 1050
Telephone: +371 6721 2951
Opening times:

Wed-Sun 1000-1700.

Website: http://www.mencendorfanams.com
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Bastejkalns Park

Two sides of modern Riga are on display in Bastejkalns Park. On warm days, the park fills with gossiping workers, 20-somethings glued to their mobile phones and couples taking lazy strolls along the city canal that runs through the park. In the darker background, however, stand the memorials to the Latvians who were shot dead nearby when the Soviets tried to crush the independence movement on 20 January 1991. The victims included two cameramen and a student.

Address: , Bastejkalns Park, Riga, 1050
Telephone:
Opening times:

Daily 24 hours.

Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No