Riga is a gorgeous city. It’s small, quirky and very accessible. So you have 24 hours in Riga? Here’s what we’ll do when you come.

  • Story Roy
  • Illustration Roy
  • Soundtrack of the report
  • Daļa Rīgas
  • Astro 'n' Out

First, we’ll start with a free walking tour of Riga, which starts at 12 noon daily. Riga Old Town is small, walkable and full of history. The free walking tours are educational, hilarious and best of all, you only pay what you feel it’s worth.

After the tour, we’ll head to Lido for lunch. This is a cafeteria-style place where you pay only for what you order. The trick here is not to order too much meat, as that’s what costs the most. We’ll heap up on salads and soups and maybe have a beer!

After lunch, we can go for a walk along the canal and then over to Elizabete Street, which is known for some of the most varied styles of Art Nouveau architecture in Europe. After taking in the culture, there’s a nice bar along the Riga Canal called Route 66 to relax in. Alternatively, we can go to Dome Square, which is in the heart of Old Town, for a couple of beers at one of the many beer gardens. (Obviously, these are only open during summer!)

Fun Facts:

  • - Latvians love sauna parties. But it seems like you spend more time drinking than in the sauna.
  • -Riga hosts a Go Blonde parade every summer to raise money to build special playgrounds for disabled children.
  • -It’s pretty easy to hitch-hike from Tallinn or Kaunas, the two closest cities where Ryanair and Easyjet fly to. Or you could take the bus but that’s not as exciting.
  • -More info: Wikitravel

For dinner, let’s hit my favorite pub in Riga, Ala Folk Klub for a traditional lunch of pelēkie zirņi (literally translated as grey peas), which consists of a hearty bowl of peas and bacon. Be prepared to wash it down with a selection of delicious microbrews. Perhaps honey mead or dark ale or something else. We can just ask the bartender for a recommendation or do a bit of beer tasting ourselves!

If you’re coming on a Wednesday, we should stay at Ala for the traditional folk dancing, they have every week. Latvian folk dancing is fun, social and easy to learn. But if it’s Tuesday, we definitely have to go to the Couchsurfing weekly meeting, so we can socialize with some locals.

If it’s any other day, we’ll just go bar hopping! We’ll start at Spot Kafe at 6pm for happy hour, perhaps with an Apple Pie or Black Balsam shot. Next we’ll head to Ezītis miglā (which means Hedgehog) because it has a nice outdoor drinking area. We may also head to the seedy French Bar for 1 Ls Apple Pie shots. The place is a bit rough but there’s a charm to it. Besides, all these bars are walking distance to each other.

At 1am we’ll go over to Shot Café for 2-for-1 cocktails. The Long Island Iced-Teas here are 5 Ls for 2 and are generously loaded with spirits.

Once we are all liquored up, it’s over to Pulkvedis for dancing. Pulkvedis is an unpretentious bar-club, reasonably priced and always good times. There are also posh clubs in Riga like Piens or Just Club (http://www.rigaoutthere.com/BarClub) but you’d need to be prepared to pay higher prices and deal with snooty bouncers. Not my scene, so I won’t be joining you!

Just before 4 am is usually a good time to stumble out because we’ll still have time to get to Pelmenis for dumplings. It’s is a fast-food dumpling cafeteria place, which feels like a throwback from communist times. The Pelmenis menu is best enjoyed when drunk, especially if you are interested in trying out the dubious-looking spam soup. It’s actually not too bad!

So what are you waiting for?


Roy is a perpetual traveler. He’s lived in 7 countries, traveled to 50+ more and right now works on a cruise ship. You can follow his travels on roymarvelous.com and @roymarvelous.