Riga has been on Cole’s bucket list since we first moved to Europe. Right before we moved, He read a John Grisham mystery book based out of Riga and Vilnius, which made him desperately want to see the historic cities. I, on the other hand, couldn’t have even told you where Riga was at the time. so while the photos of the town looked beautiful, we had always prioritized other trips. Our plans to visit were also further limited because we didn’t want to visit the city when it was freezing cold, which ruled out half the year haha.
Finally, with our time in Europe slowly running out, we knew we couldn’t leave without visiting the gorgeous capital of Latvia. The city is known for being a hidden gem, virtually untouched by tourists, but full of beautiful architecture, wonderful restaurants and charming cobblestone streets. We flew out Friday night after work, which meant a late arrival in Riga due to the time difference. Fortunately, there’s still a lot going in the city late in the evening so we made the most of our Friday evening.
Our hotel, The Pullman, was located right in Old Town so we just stumbled outside the hotel to find some bars and hopefully a restaurant to grab a late night bite to eat. We were surprised to see that there appeared to be live music almost everywhere in the town (one of my all time favorite things). We first stopped in this cute bar enclosed in glass that was sitting right in the middle of the squares. After a quick drink, we headed over to Ala Folkklub, this incredible restaurant and bar located underground in a former wine cellar dating back to the 13th century! It has a big stage with live music and we were glad to see they were still serving some food from their kitchen despite it being close to midnight. We ordered some simple Latvian appetizers we had and were blown away at how delicious they were – highly recommend the garlic rye bread and a plate of local Latvian cheeses from there! We enjoyed a few drinks before calling it a night.
The next day, we woke up and headed out to wander all throughout Old Town. We enjoyed the beautiful architecture of pastel and ornate buildings. We then headed northwest of the main city center to explore some of the Art Nouveau buildings. We then intended to head over to a restaurant we heard amazing things about called Riist for breakfast, but got sidetracked by The Beer Museum, which we just happened to stumble upon and was such a lucky surprise. This beautiful restaurant and bar is full of beer from all over the world and has this gorgeous decor. We made friends with the bartender and Cole enjoyed a Delirium, one of our favorite beers.
After a quick beer stop, we decided instead of the restaurant, we’d head over to grab lunch at the Riga Central Market, one of the largest markets in Europe. Most of the market is intended for locals to grocery shop for the fresh fruit, vegetables, fish and meats. However, in the first terminal, there’s a trendy area with two dozen stalls of different pop-ups. We grabbed snacks from a handful of different stalls and then explored the rest of the hall.
We then headed back in Old Town to check out St. Peters Basilica, which offers 360 views of the city from the top of its bell tower. While you have to pay to get to the top, the views are well worth it, especially on a beautiful day like we were lucky enough to have.
We spotted a bustling cafe from the top of the tower and decided to head back down to grab a drink from there. We soaked up the sun in the beautiful square and enjoyed people watching for a little bit. Afterwards, we headed to try to find some local boutiques of Riga. While the city isn’t well known for its shopping outside of its large malls, we were hopeful we could find a couple boutiques with some local art and crafts. Turns out, we weren’t too lucky as we only found a couple concept stores. We then headed back to our hotel to freshen up before dinner.
That night, we decided to start the evening at Folkklub, hoping to enjoy some live music and more of their delicious food as appetizers. We usually don’t go to a place twice when visiting a town, especially when we are there for a short period, however, we made a special exception for Folkklub because of their amazing atmosphere and food.
We ordered their delicious garlic bread again (seriously, if you’re ever in Riga, you must go there and try it) and tried some Latvian carrot and potato pancakes, which were to die for. We then headed across the street for dinner at Trompete Taproom. This restaurant offers live music every night, typically centered around jazz. We had a delicious dinner and spent hours listening to the 7 piece band that was performing that night who were fantastic.
Sunday we slept in a bit later than we thought as we forget the time change was taking place overnight. I headed out for a quick run around the Old Town and then we quickly packed up to check out of our hotel. We wandered the beautiful streets of Old Town one more time before heading up to Riits to try the restaurant we’d heard so many great things about. This charming place did not disappoint – it lived up to the hype and we had some of the best Eggs Benedict we’ve ever had in our lives – which were amazing and less than 5 Euros! We also tried a couple local breakfast options – like corn porridge and curd pancakes, both of which were great. We finished off our time in Riga by stopping at a nearby coffee shop – MiiT Coffee – to get some delicious coffee for the road.
Riga was the perfect weekend getaway. It’s small enough to be entirely explored by foot and the beautiful architecture and charming streets will take your breath away. Top it off with an abundance of live music and great restaurants and bars – there seriously is nothing that could make this city break better. We hope you get a chance to one day explore this wonderful city too!