An Art Nouveau-lovers delight, the Latvian capital of Riga is packed with stunning architecture,and home to golden sands and woodland walks

Pleasure boats on the Riga Canal
Pleasure boats on the Riga Canal

One of the most beautiful of the Baltic capitals, Riga has a stunning Old Town, fabulous Art Nouveau architecture, great music and a long sweep of golden sand with coast and woodland walks at nearby Jurmala.

What to see and do

Every era in Riga’s 810-year history has left its architectural mark. Gothic stands beside baroque, classic by Hanseatic, medieval defences by stolid Soviet museums, plus Europe’s largest collection of Art Nouveau.

Wander the Old Town’s enticing cobbled streets, catch a recital on the famous 6,718-pipe organ in the vast cathedral (Liszt composed choral music in its honour), pay your respects to Milda, the Freedom Monument that’s a

national shrine to Latvians, and stroll the beautifully restored Art Nouveau district and its excellent museum (jugendstils.riga.lv).

Visit the colourful markets housed in old Zeppelin sheds, or linger among the pagodas in Bastion Park and catch up on recent history at the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia (occupationmuseum.lv).

A gentle canal and river cruise will show you the Old Town from the water; take the short train trip to Jurmala for the full seaside experience.

Where to eat

Serving seriously good food, Vincents (restorans.lv) is a culinary institution in Riga. Good for a shopping lunch, the trendy Fazer Café and Restaurant in the Stockmann department store serves up great city views alongside sandwiches, pastas and salads.

On a quiet street near the cathedral in the Old Town, stylish Neiburgs is good value. Reservations are essential at Melnie Muki (melniemuki.lv), housed in the remnants of a medieval Dominican cloister.

Where to drink

Leave the Old Town pubs to the stag party crowds and head for the hip wine bar KID (winebar-shop.lv), where there’s live piano music on Friday and Saturday evenings.

Designed for the over-25 crowd, Amber Night, the sleek nightclub deep in the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija, hasgold and black couches, a dance floor and expertly poured cocktails. For panoramic city views, take the lift to the hotel’s 26th-floor Skyline Bar (skylinebar.lv).

Where to stay

Located in a listed Art Nouveau building in the heart of the Old Town, Hotel Neiburgs (neiburgs.com) mixes heritage with minimalist décor in 55 suites and apartments. It has a spa and one of the city’s favourite restaurants (see above).

A member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, the designer boutique Hotel Bergs (hotelbergs.lv) is in the trendy Bergs Bazaar, a complex of restored historical buildings and upscale shops, and has a gourmet restaurant.

Next to the great cathedral and carved from old buildings that once housed printing presses, the 38-room, totally traditional Hotel Gutenbergs (gutenbergs.eu) is furnished with antiques, and displays wonderful old books and engravings.

Fact File
Population 710,000
Climate Riga has cold, dark winters with snow that usually continues into March; and warm, light summers averaging around 25ºC in July.
Currency Lat (£1 = 0.8 Ls)
Time Zone GMT+2
Dialling Codes +371
Useful Websites rigatourism.lv
latvia.travel/en