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Travel Guide Budget and Itinerary for Riga

I included Riga in my itinerary because I found the Baltics an intriguing region to visit (and I already planned on visiting Vilnius and Tallinn as well). 

Riga The Wandering Juan

Riga is an interesting city which you can consider including in your itinerary.

Travel Guide Budget Itinerary for Riga

Riga is the capital of Latvia. In the 12th century, it became a trading post. The city was founded in 1201. in 1282, Riga joined the Hanseatic League. Riga was under different countries such as Poland, Sweden, and Russia throughout the centuries. Latvia declared independence in Riga in 1918. The Soviets and the Nazis occupied the country in the 1940s. The Soviet Union gained control by 1944 until Latvia once again regained their independence in the early 1990s. 

Get a Visa

Latvia is part of the Schengen zone which means that if you get a visa for one of the countries in it, you can enter all the countries in the zone. Depending on your citizenship, you'll need to apply for a visa. I use a Filipino passport so I had to apply for a visa first. I got visas from different countries such as Austria, Czechia, and Poland.

These are the basic requirements:

  1. Valid passport
  2. Photo (35x45mm)
  3. Itinerary
  4. Accommodation confirmation
  5. Application form
  6. Proof of occupation or business registration
  7. Proof of funds (bank certificate, credit card statements, bank statements, etc.)

You can read more about my experience here: how to get a Schengen visa for Filipinos

How to Get to Riga

Riga has an airport that serves flights from different parts of Europe. If you don't have much time, you can directly fly to Riga and do the rest of the Baltics some other time. 

Alternatively, it's easy to travel to Riga from Tallinn, Vilnius, or as far as Warsaw. You can take the overnight bus to reach Latvia's capital. I often take FlixBus because of their affordable rates and extensive routes. The bus is an ideal option when you plan yout budget and itinerary for Riga.

You can book tickets here: www.flixbus.com

Things to Do in Riga

There are a number of things to do and places to visit when you plan your budget and itinerary for Riga

Vecriga (Old Town)

Riga The Wandering Juan

Like many cities in Europe, Riga has a charming old town full of historic buildings and structures. It's a tourist destination with many places to eat, museums, churches, and whatnot. Grab something to eat or drink after exploring. Vecriga is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Town Hall Square

Riga The Wandering Juan

This square is one of the prettiest spots in town (in my opinion at least). You'll see two of the most striking buildings in the city, one of which is the House of the Blackheads. What you see now are reconstructions of the original. These were seamlessly made that's why it's difficult to tell the structures are relatively new. 

House of the Blackheads

Riga The Wandering Juan

The House of the Blackheads is the centerpiece (in my opinion at least) of the Town Hall Square. An association of bachelors comprised of business and ship owners had this building built in the 14th century. It experienced the hustle and bustle of trade in the city during the Hanseatic years. The Blackheads weren't just known for their business savvy, but also their celebrations and parties. The structure underwent renovations over the centuries

Entrance fee: €7

Art Nouveau Architecture

Riga The Wandering Juan

Riga is home to hundreds of Art Nouveau buildings dating frmo the start of the 20th century. The city underwent a financial upswing and it just so happens that this design aesthetic was a fashionable choice for the city's bourgeoisie. The location of some of the buildings isn't too far from the old town.

Three Brothers

Riga The Wandering Juan

This building here is one of the three centuries old houses in the city. The one in the photo Renaissance and Gothic design. You can catch a glimpse of the different architectural influences in the city with a quick visit to the Three Brothers.

Freedom Monument

Riga The Wandering Juan

This monument towers over the city and commemorates the soldiers who fought for the country's independence. It stands just over 40m high and has different sculptural groups that showcase Latvia's cultural heritage and history. 

Riga Central Market

Riga The Wandering Juan

This market sees thousands of shoppers everyday. Here you'll find all sorts of things and local food. You can try a dish at one of the food stalls inside or buy something to remember your trip to Riga. 

Riga Cathedral

Riga The Wandering Juan

This magnificent cathedral dates to the beginning of the 13th century and is a recognizable city landmark. It's also the Archbishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia's seat. Like many centuries old building's in the city, the cathedral has undergone renovations.

St. Peter's Church

Riga The Wandering Juan

The church's tower is an integral part of Riga's cityscape. The church dates to the 13th century. The tower has undergone many reconstructions because of a natural disaster and a fire. 

Nativity of Christ Cathedral

Riga The Wandering Juan

This neo-Byzantine Orthodox Church is a reminder of Latvia's Russian past and heritage. Construction begain in the 1870s. Its most striking feature is the golden dome. During Soviet times, the cathedral was turned into the Republic House of Knowledge. It's now a cathedral again.

Swedish Gate

Riga The Wandering Juan

Riga used to have a wall to protect it from invaders. The Swedish Gate is the last surviving gate of that wall. 

Other attractions you might want to visit in Riga include:

  • Bastejkalna Parks
  • Latvian National Opera and Ballet
  • Art Nouveau Museum
  • Riga Motor Museum
  • Cat House
  • VÄ“rmanes Garden
  • Museum of the Occupation

Getting around Riga

You can easily explore Riga on foot. However, the city also has an efficient public transportation system. You can ride the bus, tram, or trolleybus to get around. You can buy a 90-minute ticket or a multi-day one depending on how long you'll be staying.

Where to Stay in Riga

You have options when you look for accommodation in Riga. Like any other capital, you'll have budget to luxury options. I often stay at hostels because I'm out most of the day anyway. I recommend checking out www.booking.com for places to stay in Riga.

Budget for Riga

Riga The Wandering Juan

Riga, like the other cities in the Baltics, is an affordable destination. With a budget of around €55 a day, you'll be staying in a hostel dorm, eating budget meals or supermarket food, pay for a couple of attractions, and take public transportation. You can add to your budget depending on your travel style. 

You might also want to read:

Itinerary for Riga

If you're staying near the old city, it's possible to breeze through Riga's highlights in a day, especially if you don't enter the museums. However, you can go at a relaxed space and cover attractions in two days. Add more days to your itinerary if you plan to go on day trips from the city.

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