Latvia

Riga Old Town in pictures

Riga Old Town
(Last Updated On: 02/07/2019)

It took me three visits (well, three and a half) to finally warm up to Riga. I used to think it’s pretty much soulless and kind of fake, now I believe it’s the coolest one of all the Baltic capitals. As it turned out my timing was always wrong – I was there either on the weekends when Riga Old Town was crowded (majority of tourists were stag parties and we all know what that means) or with the terrible weather. And I always limited myself only to the old part of Riga while most of the best things can be found beyond it. But during my latest visit I’ve also slightly changed my mind about Riga Old Town itself, it’s not that bad after all!


Before we continue can I have few announcements, please?

Thank you! And now on to the post!


History of Riga Old Town

Riga Old Town is the historic and geographical center of the city. It was founded at the very beginning of 13th century and very quickly it gained the importance due to the Hanseatic League. Riga has become one of the main cities in the area, center of trade and transit. The location played an important role for Riga too – where Daugava river comes to the Baltic Sea. The city has been under Swedish, Polish or Russian rule and this diversity can be seen in the Riga Old Town very well. There are some 500 buildings in this area and they represent various architecture styles, from Gothic to Art Nouveau and Modernism.

Probably the most famous and most photographed buildings in Riga Old Town is the House of the Blackheads, dating back to the 14th century. What we can admire now, however, is just the rebuilt version as the building, together with neighboring and equally beautiful Schwab House, was destroyed during the World War 2. These days the House of the Blackheads is the (temporary) residence of the president of Latvia. It’s a nice starting point to explore the Riga Old Town, especially that’s the tourist information is located in the Schwab House.

My visit in Riga Old Town

I’ve learnt from my previous mistakes and this time I left exploring the Old Town for the end of my weekend in Riga. I stormed twice through it but without stopping to admire a narrow cobbled lane or an interesting piece of architecture. It all had to wait till Monday noon. And it was the best decision ever! Over the weekend I’ve managed to enjoy other cool spots in the city and finally really liking it so when I returned to the Old Town I didn’t have to try hard to like it, I’ve already known Riga is a great place to visit. Also my timing was so much better now: after a gloomy weekend the weather was again really good and the weekend crowds were gone. There were still some tourists around but their number didn’t overwhelm not spoil the place.

I still think Riga is the last one of all the Baltic capitals when it comes to the historic center but it definitely has its moments. While in Tallinn I felt like I was transformed to the medieval times and in Vilnius I always enjoy how the Old Town is a mix of past and present I appreciated Riga Old Town for the blend of architecture, the cobbled lanes and the charming corners. But still I couldn’t feel any kind of vibe in the Riga Old Town, it seemed to be superficial in a way – could be due to too many stag parties and the place changing for their needs (the problem we also deal with in Cracow, Poland). It surely was pretty but still kind of soulless. Perfect for couple of hours of wandering around and falling for the charming corners but Riga has so much more to offer and all the best things can be found outside of the Old Town.

Below you have couple of pictures of Riga Old Town so you can see it really looks lovely. This city itself is already a good reason to visit Baltic countries!

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Riga Old Town
Have you been to Riga? Did you like it? What’s the prettiest Old Town you’ve visited?


In Riga I stayed in Hotel Skanste and while the place itself was ok the service was really terrible and for that reason I’d suggest avoiding it (they tried to overcharge me and Booking had to get involved – kudos for their customer service). However there’re many other accommodation options in Riga, you can book a place for yourself here!


If you think of visiting Latvia or just want to read more about the country take a look what else I wrote about it:

If you’re looking for articles about any place in particular this map with posts might be useful for you. Or just take a look at the “destinations” page.


love, kami 2

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Aleksandra Makulska
    04/05/2016 at 19:56

    I prefer Riga to Vilnius when it comes to the Old Town. Maybe because of all the trafic we’ve encountered in Vilnius, even in the smallest streets. And I am still looking forward to visit Tallin! Maybe this year :)

    • Reply
      Hamak Life
      09/05/2016 at 22:42

      I must say I’m not a big fan of that part of Europe, though I wouldn’t mind hanging around the streets of Tallinn…and actually I have no idea why ;) Lots of pics, Kamila! I have no doubt you enjoyed that place :)

      • Reply
        kami
        03/06/2016 at 21:17

        maybe you should give the area another chance, sometimes it happens that we need couple of visit to fully appreciate the place. That was my story with Riga too!

    • Reply
      kami
      03/06/2016 at 21:16

      True about the traffic, there’re hardly any cars in Riga Old Town. but Vilnius felt much more authentic to me. I’m really curious how you’re gonna like Tallinn once you get there. It’s crazy beautiful!

  • Reply
    balkanyrudej
    06/05/2016 at 20:55

    Not so long ago I was doing research for my work about Riga. I came to the conclusion that it is a really interesting city. The only problem is that this city is not on our travel routs.
    Old Town on Your photos looks nice, just for a short walk.
    And maybe You know if Riga has some good viewpoints?

    • Reply
      kami
      03/06/2016 at 21:20

      Baltic countries are so close that it shouldn’t be difficult to go there even for the long weekend, you should step out of your travel routes every once in a while! And in fact I do know about good viewpoints! I can recommend you at least three but I’m sure there’re even more of them!

  • Reply
    Dee
    09/05/2016 at 12:17

    Oh jakie superowe zdjęcia! Art Noveau to jest to, co tygrysy lubią najbardziej. Ryga jest na mojej liście, już od dawna, ale zawsze coś wypada… Dobrze jest zatem poczytać i na pewno wrócę do twojego wpisu, gdy juz się zdecyduję tam pojechać

    • Reply
      kami
      03/06/2016 at 21:21

      Dziękuję! I trzymam kciuki, żeby szybko się udało pojechac, bo to naprawdę przyjemne miasto!

  • Reply
    łukasz kędzierski: podróże i fotografia
    10/05/2016 at 00:15

    I’ve never been in Riga so I need to go there to find out if the city has an atmosphere or not. I do not like big cities but sometimes we can find there nice architecture. You showed us a lot of nice photos but still I’m not sure if this destination is for me. The only solution is to go there and try :)

    • Reply
      kami
      03/06/2016 at 21:22

      Then you definitely need to go and find out for yourself ;) I’m sure you’d enjoy it too!

  • Reply
    Magdalena Nieścierowicz
    10/05/2016 at 21:30

    Nie byłam jeszcze w Rydze, ale widzę, że pięknie jest i warto się wybrać. Moim ulubionym jest toruńskie stare miasto, byłam tam kilka razy i za każdym razem odkrywam coś nowego. U mnie ciągle Polska, więc może dla kogoś nudy, ale wychodzę z założenia, że wolę poznać lepiej kraj w którym mieszkam, co nie znaczy, że ograniczam się tylko do Polski ;)

    • Reply
      kami
      03/06/2016 at 21:25

      E tam nudy, Polska jest fantastyczna! i zdecydowanie warto ją poznać, bo mamy się czym pochwalić! Toruńskie stare miasto też bardzo lubię, ostatnio przy -20C zwiedzałam i też było fajnie! a Rygę polecam jak tylko się okazja nadarzy!

  • Reply
    Taizé Riga | Packing list for the winter Taizé European Meeting
    10/01/2017 at 09:14

    […] If it’s going to be your first Taizé European Meeting, don’t worry too much. You’ll be surrounded by people willing to help you with any problem. And for sure you will never feel alone there, as the participants of the Taizé European Meeting are very warm, open and welcoming. So cheer up and get ready for your amazing adventure! If you are curious how Riga looks like, take a look at my friend’s blog – Kami and the rest of the world ? […]

    • Reply
      Gary R
      24/04/2019 at 23:06

      The Baltic States are a wonderful place to visit or live. I would recommend it to everyone. Use Airbnb over Booking..com. The later note pricey in my opinion. Good luck and enjoy

      • Reply
        kami
        27/04/2019 at 13:28

        Thank you for the comment and your tip. All the best!

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