With its collection of art nouveau architecture, Gothic spires, and striking monuments, Latvia’s capital city Riga is one of eastern Europe’s prettiest cities. It’s also blessed by a creative arts and food culture. With only one day in town you’ll want to experience as much as possible, so here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in Riga.
Morning: See the Sights
Riga’s network of cobblestone streets and atmospheric squares makes it a delight to explore on foot. To catch the city’s top sights, join a walking tour that leads you through the main areas of interest, such as the jewel box of an Art Nouveau district and Old Riga (Vecrīga), home to such landmarks as House of Blackheads and St. Peters’ Church. Alternatively, taking a guided Segway tour allows you to cover more ground, and a hop-on hop-off bus tour offers more flexibility: Get off at any stop along the route and spend as long as you like there.
Afternoon: Savor Local Flavors
Explore Riga Central Market, which is home to more than 3,000 vendors and is one of the largest in Europe. The market sprawls across five pavilions—old Zeppelin hangars now listed by UNESCO—so seek out a guide who can share information about Latvian cuisine and food and cultural traditions. Private and group guided tours of the market typically include tastings of a variety of local specialties, such as smoked meats, cheeses, herring, wild berries, and hemp butter. Having whetted your appetite, your guide can offer suggestions for where to have a late lunch afterward.
Night: Cruise and Dine
Round out a perfect day in Riga with an early-evening cruise on the River Daugava and Riga Canal encircling Old Riga. As the sun sets, get a new perspective on some of the city landmarks—the Freedom Monument, Latvian National Opera, Latvian National Theater, and Riga Castle. Afterward, head back to Old Riga for your pick of restaurants, from casual pubs to those serving contemporary Latvian cuisine. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even try a “dining in the dark” experience in which a 4-course meal is served, in the dark, by blind waiters.