Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’

Riga; with its stunning historical centre and beautiful architecture it’s no secret as to why Latvia’s capital is dubbed ‘Paris of the North’ and a perfect destination for a short city break. The city centre is relatively compact, so this Riga 3 days itinerary will cover all the highlights at a comfortable pace.

With 3 days in Riga, you’ll have plenty of time to experience the charm of the medieval Old City, explore the labyrinth of cute cobblestones streets and alleyways, admire the intricate architecture of the art nouveau district (Riga is actually the Art Nouveau capital of Europe!), as well as visit a couple of places just outside of the city.

This Riga 3 day itinerary covers everything you’ll need to know, including the top things to do in Riga, where to stay and how to get around. I’ve also included some handy insider tips and information to help you get the best out of your Riga trip.

So, whether you’re planning a quick 3 days in Latvia (of which I highly suggest you spend at least one day in Riga), a romantic city break or you’re visiting Riga as part of a longer trip around the Baltic states, then this Riga city guide is a great place to start.

Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 1
Riga Skyline

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Riga 3 days itinerary – How to use this guide

This three days in Riga itinerary is divided into sections. The first section gives you a glance at the top things to do in Riga including what to see in Riga Old Town. The second section breaks down each day in detail, with timings and location addresses.

In the final section, you’ll find FAQs that answer things like when to visit Riga, the best area in Riga to stay and useful hints on getting around and free stuff to do.

3 days in Riga – At a Glance

No time to read the whole article, but curious about what to see in Riga in 3 days?? Then this section is for you, here’s the low-down of what’s included. You can also download this quick reference guide with a location map and checklist.

Top 10 things to do in Riga

      • House of the Blackheads
      • St Peter’s Church & Tower
      • The Konventa Se
      • Līvu Square
      • Riga Dome Cathedral & Dome Square
      • Art Nouveau District
      • Powder Tower, Jacob’s Barracks & The Swedish Gate
      • The Three Brothers
      • Riga Central Market
      • Freedom Monument

…and of course, drink Riga Black Balsam

3 Days Riga Itinerary - day by day overview

Day 1 – Visit Riga’s most iconic landmarks, including the House of the Blackheads and St Peter’s Church & Tower. Immerse yourself in history as you explore the cobbled streets around The Konventa Se. Discover where the old city walls once stood at Powder Tower, Jacob’s Barracks & The Swedish Gate.

Day 2 – Marvel at the intricate and ornate art nouveau buildings in Riga’s Art Nouveau district. Taste delicious local produce in Europe’s biggest food market. Explore Riga’s green spaces and take a boat ride on the river to see the city from a different perspective. Learn about the city’s history in the Jewish District.

Day 3 – Head just outside the city and discover Gauja National Park and the stunning castles and adventure sports or head to Jurmala Beach and enjoy the white sandy beaches.

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This 36 hours in Riga travel guide will cover everything you need to know. You can download the information covered in this guide to Riga, plus a map and checklist here for offline viewing.

What you can expect in this article...

A bit about Riga, Latvia

Before I set off to Riga as part of a trip around the Baltic states, I was asked by some people ‘is Riga worth visiting?’, I was asked similar questions about the rest of this region. True, Latvia, as a country isn’t as established as other European destinations, this is mostly due to the nation being under soviet rule until 1991. But in answer to that question; yes! Riga is an outstanding city for so many reasons, which you’ll find out about in this article. 

Things have changed a lot since Latvia gained independence, so much so that Riga was voted the European Capital of Culture in 2014. The Latvian capital is quickly creeping up to be one of the must-see cities in northern Europe. 

Although there has been a settlement in this location that dates back to the 2nd century, the official founding of the city of Riga was in 1201. Riga has had a tumultuous history, after initially being under German rule, then during the 16th century, under the reign of the Polish. In the 17th century by the Swedes and then the Russians in the 18th. 

Each of these eras left its mark, which is evident in the medieval old town centre and the surrounding areas. It’s such an important smorgasbord of culture, that Riga’s centre and the surrounds became a designated UNESCO world heritage site in 1997.

How did the name Riga: Paris of the North come about? This was down to a British author called Graham Greene. He affectionately gave Latvia’s capital the name because of the beautiful architecture, its thriving art scene, as well as cafés and eateries, likened to the ones in Paris.

Don’t forget your travel insurance.

Before you set off on your amazing trip to Riga, make sure you have booked your travel insurance.

Two companies I recommend are True Traveller (although they only cover EU citizens) or World Nomads (all nationalities).

Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 3
Riga 'Paris of the North'

Riga in 3 days – Your complete 3 days in Riga itinerary

Day 1

Morning

Town Hall Square – You’ll be starting the first day of your Riga 3 days itinerary in Ratslaukumus, also known as Riga Town Hall Square. This is the birthplace of Riga, and was founded in 1201, and should be on the top of your Riga must-see places list.

Throughout its history, the Ratslaukumus has survived invasions from other countries, the great fire of 1350 and bombings from World War II. The heart of Riga has been rebuilt countless times and is just as important today as it’s always been. 

In the centre of the Town Hall Square, there’s a statue of St Roland wielding a sword, surrounding the square you’ll see the Town Square and the river Daugava. Probably the most prominent of the buildings at the Ratslaukumus is the colourful ‘House of the Blackheads, this is where you’re headed to next. If you’re interested in seeing all the best places in Riga, finding out more about the hisotry and doing it in the most efficient time possible, then you might want to book onto a private guided tour of Riga.

Time: 30 minutes

Address: Rātslaukums, Centra rajons, Rīga

House of the Blackheads – The outside of this building is absolutely beautiful, and one of the top places to see in Riga. Historically, Riga was a port of call for merchants and their ships who travelled from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. These merchants held important meetings as well as elaborate banquets meetings at ornate Baroque style headquarters known as the House of the Blackheads. 

This iconic Riga building dates back to 1334 however, what you see today is a rebuild. It was destroyed during the second world war (except for a 14th-century cellar, that miraculously survived). Between 1995 and 1999 the building went under major reconstruction and renovations. This included the creation of replica furniture and paintings to bring the building back to its former glory. So, although what you see today isn’t technically the original building, it’s tough to believe it.

Today the building also houses Latvia’s silver collection as well as a tourist information centre. It also hosts a range of gigs and concerts! It’s certainly worthwhile checking out if there are any gigs on during your 3 days in Riga.

Honestly, the House of the Blackheads is one of the prettiest buildings in Riga Old Town and one of the most photographed spots in the city.

Time: 1 hour

Address & Opening Times: Rātslaukums 7, Centra rajons, Rīga | Thursday – Sunday 10.00 – 17.00

Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 4
House of the Blackheads (foreground) in Town Hall Square, Riga

St Peter’s Church & Tower – From Town Hall Square, look upwards, you’ll be able to see the iconic bulbous spire of St Peters Church. Head up the hill towards it.

No Riga 3 days itinerary would be complete without visiting this church. St Peter’s Church is the most famous in Riga and if you’ve seen any postcards of the city, this church is sure to feature on it. If you look at the structure of the church, you’ll probably notice it’s in a mish-mash of styles featuring Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque all melded together to create one of Riga’s most instantly recognisable landmarks. Going up this recognisable tower is a must for your Riga bucket list.

The church was originally built in 1209 and was pretty much the only building that remained standing after the great Riga fire in 1350. This also makes it one of the oldest buildings in the city!

The clock tower is over 120metres high and the top can be reached either by the lift or by climbing the stairs. The view from the top looks out over Old Riga and the Daugava river – get your cameras ready – it’s a fabulous view of beautiful Riga!

After vising the inside of St Peter’s Church, and climbing the tower, exit the building and wander around to the side. Here you’ll find a monument called ‘Bremen Town Musicians’. The statue is of four animals; a donkey at the bottom, a dog, a cat and finally a cockerel on top. It’s based on a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm and is one of the most popular monuments in Riga’s Old town.

Wondering why they’ve got shiny noses? It’s supposed to bring good fortune if you rub the noses of each of the animals. You’ll probably see hordes of tourists trying to do this. The amount of rubbing has made the noses go shiny, if you’re feeling super energetic then try to jump up and rub the rooster’s beak, this is supposed to bring a bonus bit of luck!

Time: 1 hour

Address & Opening Times: Reformācijas Laukums 1, Centra rajons, Rīga | Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 – 19.00, Sunday 12.00 – 19.00, closed on Monday

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
St Peter's Church & Tower
This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
The Bremen Town Musicians statue

The Konventa Seta – From the statue, your Riga itinerary continues down a little alley. Not far from the statues, you’ll see a little archway, head through it and it will lead you to the very Insta-worthy enclosure of Konventa Seta, or the Convent Yard.

Like St Peters Church, this little area originates from the 13th century and is another of the oldest parts of Riga.

This courtyard and the alleyways heading off from it make up a super cute area of Riga Old Town. If you have the time and looking for a spontaneous thing to do in Riga, then it’s certainly worthwhile exploring and getting lost in the ancient narrow cobbled streets of the UNESCO World Heritage city. Purposely getting lost as you wander the passages dotted with charming colourful little houses is a must during your 3 days in Riga.

Time: 1 hour

Address & Opening Times: Konventa Seta and the streets surrounding Centra rajons, Rīga | 24 hours

Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 5
Konventa Seta, Riga
Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 6
Old Cobbled Streets of Riga

Līvu Square – From the quaint alleyways meander your way along to Livu Square. This is one of the livelier areas in Riga with a string of restaurants, cafes and bars, as well as well-manicured flower beds and colourful buildings.

You’ll have to use your imagination quite a bit, but this square once was the site of the Riga River up until the 16th century. The river eventually became narrower and was redirected. If you look carefully at the flowers in the summer, you’ll be able to see they form wave shapes to represent the lost river.

The square also used to have more buildings here but these were destroyed in World War II. In the 1950s the area was redeveloped and made into an open public plaza that you see today.

Stop off here for something to eat. There are loads of places to choose from. If you’re a fan of daytime drinking, then I recommend trying the Black Balsam. You can drink it straight or mixed with a cocktail. Livu Square is also one of the best places in Riga to head for lively nightlife.

Time: 30 minutes

Address & Opening Time: Līvu laukums, Centra rajons, Rīga | 24 hours

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Līvu Square, Riga

Riga Black Balsam – While you’re in Riga, I highly recommend you try the local spirit; Riga Black Balsam. Riga Black Balsam dates back to 1752 and is a traditional herbal Latvian liquor. Like all good recipes, the actual mix is top secret, but it’s still traditionally made today. It was invented by Abraham Kunze, who was a pharmacist living in Riga.

The dark brown syrupy mixture is said to be beneficial to health and contains 24 botanical ingredients. It’s a little bit bitter to taste but works well in cocktails. They also do a blackcurrant version of Riga Black Balsam which is delicious! 

Insider Tip: If you like quirky looking bars, then head to The Black Magic Bar in the Old Town. It’s styled to look like an old apothecary and serves all things Riga Black Balsam. It’s a little bit kitsch, but equally fascinating. You’ll know you’re at the right place because, in the windows of the cafe, you’ll see the signature Riga Black Balsam ceramic bottles.

Address: Kaļķu iela 10, Centra rajons, Rīga | 13:00 – 20:00 every day

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Riga Black Balsam
This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Riga Black Balsam

Day 1 - Afternoon

Great & Small Guilds and The Cat House – Not far from Līvu Square you’ll find the Small Guild, Great Guild and Cat House. The Great Guild dates back to the early part of the 14th century and is one of the oldest public buildings in the Baltics. Today it’s home to the Riga Philharmonic Orchestra.

The nearby Small Guild existed for the master craftsmen in Riga. If you get a chance to go inside, it’s one of the most ornate and decorative buildings in the city!

My favourite of the three buildings is the Cat House. It’s named after the cute felines standing on the roof. The building was designed by Friedrich Scheffel and was built in 1909. He was regarded as one of the pioneers of Riga Art Nouveau architecture.

There’s a bit of amusing history surrounding the cats. The building was owned by a wealthy Latvian trader who requested membership to the Great Guild. He wasn’t granted access to the Guild, so as a bit of a middle finger up to the organisation, he had originally positioned the cats with their rear end facing the building of the Great Guild.

Time: 30 minutes

Address & Opening Time: Meistaru iela 10/12, Centra rajons | 24 hours

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
The Cat House, Riga
Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 7
Riga from above

Riga Dome Cathedral & Dome Square – The next stop on this Riga itinerary is the famous Dome Square. Walk to the great open square where Riga Dome Cathedral stands. 

The Cathedral was built in the early 1200s and is one of the oldest churches in the Baltics. It’s miraculously survived wars and fires. Inside the Riga Dome, is one of Europe’s largest Organs consisting of a staggering 6,718 pipes. The Organ is surrounded by stained glass windows which illuminate it. If you time your visit well, you might catch one of the music concerts taking place here.

This open square wasn’t always this vast, take a look at the cobbles on the floor, and you should be able to see a grid-like pattern. This is to make the footprint where buildings, which were destroyed in the war, once stood. Today, you’ll usually find buskers, entertainers and live music playing in the square.

Time: 30 minutes

Address & Opening Time: Herdera laukums 6, Centra rajons, Rīga | 09:00 – 18:00 every day

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Riga Cathedral

Powder Tower, Old City Wall and Jacob’s Barracks – The next stop on your 3-day vacation in Riga are to visit some of the city’s historical military buildings. 

Riga used to be a walled city, and no trip to Riga would be complete without seeing the walls (or the remains of thme) of the ancient city. You can’t miss the large rotund building; this is the old Powder Tower. The building dates back to 1330, and up to the 17th Century was known as the Sand Tower. It was in the 1800s that the building was then used to store gun powder used to defend the city and it was renamed the Powder Tower. This building also used to form part of the Old City Wall of Riga. Today the tower now aptly houses the Museum of War. 

A short distance from the Powder Tower you’ll find the colourful Jacob’s Barracks. The barracks were built in the 18th century and have undergone several makeovers. They were used by the military up until the mid-90s and are one of the longest stretches of buildings in Riga which fill most of Torņa Street. Today they are a far cry from their original use, and house boutique shops, hipster restaurants and beauty salons. 

Time: 30 minutes

Location & Hours: Smilšu iela 20, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia | Powder Tower 10:oo – 19:00, closed Monday & Tuesdays

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
The Powder Tower, Riga
Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 8
Part of the Old City Walls, Riga

The Swedish Gate – Opposite Jacob’s Barracks, you’ll find the adorable Swedish Gate. Out of a total of eight gates, that once formed the entryways to the old city, this is the only remaining gate still standing in the Old City Walls. It was built in 1698 and provided access to the city for the soldiers stationed at the barracks.   

The whole of this area is surrounded by pretty cobbled lanes making it one of the most photographed sites in the city, for the keen Instagrammer, one of the top things to do in Riga’s old town. Depending on when you visit, you might have to wait for the snap-happy tribe to finish posing until you have an opportunity of photographing this pretty gate. If it’s too busy, come back at another point during your 3 days in Riga.

Time: 10 minutes

Location & Hours: Atgriežu iela, Centra rajons | 24 hours

Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 9
The Swedish Gate,Riga

St Jacobs Cathedral & The Three Brothers – From the Swedish Gate make your way to St Jacob’s Cathedral. Although this is one of the smallest of the medieval churches in Riga, its bell tower is the best preserved.

Ironically, at my time of visiting they were doing maintenance on the bell, so I wasn’t able to see the full tower as it was surrounded by scaffolding. Just around the corner, you’ll find your next destination in this Riga 3 day itinerary; the three brothers.

Another one of Riga’s iconic photo spots is the three brothers. The story behind the name is that they were built by three men from the same family (no one knows if they were brothers).

      • The oldest of three houses (number 17) dates back to 1490.
      • The most decorated one, the middle brother was built in 1646.
      • The third brother (number 21) was built during the late 1600s.

You’ll always find a hub of people here trying to find the best angle to fit them all in without anyone walking past the front. If you’re after this shot, you might be waiting for a while, but this is another must-do in Riga.

Today the three buildings are home to the Latvian Museum of Architecture (where you’ll find loads of blueprints and plans for the city’s historical architecture), and the State Inspection for Heritage Protection.

Time: 30 minutes

Location & Hours: Mazā Pils iela 17, Centra rajons, Rīga | 24 hours

Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 10
The Three Brothers, Riga

Riga Castle – In the last part of the afternoon, you’ll visit the castle. From the Three Brothers, head towards the banks of the River Daugava. A castle has stood on this site for over 700 years, although its undergone extensive additions, renovations and repairs. Today Riga Castle is the residence of the president of Latvia.

It’s difficult to see the full castle from close up and put it into any context, so my suggestion for a better view is to cross over the river and take a photo from there. If you have the time and are tired of walking, you could also book one of the river cruises to see the castle from the water. 

Location: Pils laukums 3, Centra rajons, Rīga

Cross the Vanšu Bridge and the Stone Bridge – For the final part of day one, you’re going to cross over the river. If you’ve followed this Riga itinerary, the closest bridge to you now will be the Vanšu bridge. Cross over to the other side of the River Daugava. There are numerous places on the river bank to photograph the Riga skyline, in particular, you’ll get a much better view of Riga Castle from this side. 

Cross back over the river taking the Stone Bridge.

Insider Info: Make an additional stop at Holy Trinity Church. If you have time (and the energy for more walking) then this side of the river is home to an absolute gem. You’ll find not only cute and colourful houses but also the vibrant Holy Trinity Church. The candy pink coloured and photogenic Russian Orthodox church sits in a leafy suburb. Because it’s out of the way, it’s not really visited by tourists. You’ll probably have the place to yourself.

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Holy Trinity Church, Riga

Day 2

Morning

Riga’s Iconic Art Nouveau District – It would be sacrilege for any Riga itinerary to skip this stunning district. Riga is the Art Nouveau capital of the World because about a third of all the buildings in Riga are built in the Art Nouveau style. Most of the buildings date from 1904 to 1914. 

Just outside of Riga Old Town, you’ll notice that the architecture starts to change, this is the start of the Riga Art Nouveau district. Everything becomes much more ornate and regal. The style of art nouveau architecture in Riga is also called Jugendstil.

The whole area is pretty much an open-air museum filled with extravagant buildings adorned with scenes from nature, growing vines, flowers and leaves, geometric ornaments as well as mythical creatures including dragons and gargoyles.

The main streets you’ll want to spend your time around and get trigger happy with the camera are;

      • Alberta Street 
      • Elizabetes Street 
      • Strelniku
Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 11
Art Nouveau in Riga

Most of the buildings have undergone extensive restoration to bring them back to their full glory, and wow, they are stunning! It’s easy enough to wander about the streets yourself, however, there are also loads of Riga Art Nouveau tours which will give you loads more details on them and point out lots of hidden little quirks. You can find out more about Riga’s Art Nouveau district including a Riga art nouveau district map here.

There are several reasons why there was an influx in Art Nouveau construction at the start of the 20th Century. Firstly, the economic boom meant there was money to create such extravagant buildings. Their construction also coincided with the industrial revolution with people looking for something new and innovative. Finally, there was plenty of space outside of the Old City of Riga (which was overcrowded) and also an abundance of cheap labour readily available to work on the construction.

Time: 2-3 hours

Location: Alberta iela, Riga | 24 hours

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Art Nouveau in Riga
Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 12
Art Nouveau in Riga

The Art Nouveau Museum – This is one of Riga’s best museums. The Art Nouveau Museum is located on a corner just off Alberta Street. It was originally the home of one of Latvia’s most famous architects. 

The museum has been restored to show what a typical house would have looked like during the Art Nouveau era and includes furniture, wall decorations and appliances, some of which are original pieces. The is also home to top things to see in Riga; one of the most photographed staircases in Europe!

Insider Tip: Interested in pretty places to see Riga, for free? The stunning spiral staircase is just inside the foyer of the museum, so even if you don’t fancy going inside the actual museum, at least enter the building to take a peek at the staircase – you won’t regret it!

Time: Approx 1 hour

Location and Opening Times: Alberta iela 12, Centra rajons, Rīg | 10:00 – 18:00 Tuesday – Sunday

Riga 3 Days Itinerary: Exploring the ‘Paris of the North’ 13
The Art Nouveau Museum, Riga

Day 2 - Afternoon

Riga Central Market – Your Riga 3 days itinerary continues at the central market. This is one of the best places to visit in Riga to try local and authentic food and also where I suggest picking up a delicious lunch for today. After exploring Riga’s stunning Art Nouveau district, head towards Riga’s Central Market. It’s located near to the bus station and the Daugava River.

Take a look at the exterior, Riga’s Central Market is located inside a series of huge aeroplane hangars. These were built in the 1920s to house Zeppelins. The Latvians bought the 4 of them off the Germans cheaply after the war. It was opened as a food market in 1930 and is now the largest city market in Europe. One statistic says it attracts a whopping 80 thousand shoppers who come here every day, so this is a must-do when you visit Riga!

Today, the air hangers are filled with stalls selling fresh vegetables, smoked meat, cheeses, cheap clothes and locally made handicrafts. It’s a great place for souvenir shopping, but more importantly; lunch. To try even a tiny fraction of what’s on offer here, you’d need to visit every day for several weeks.

The Central Market is popular with both locals and tourists and where you’ll find some of the best (and cheapest) fresh food in the city. 

Time: 1 hour

Location & Opening Hours: Nēģu iela 7, Latgales priekšpilsēta, Rīga | 07:30 – 18:00 Monday – Saturday, 07:30 – 17:00 Sunday

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Riga Central Market
This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Riga Central Market

Jewish District – After sampling the delights that Riga’s Central Market has to offer, head out to Riga’s Jewish District. If you’re interested in finding out more about the lives of Latvia’s Jewish Community, then the Riga Ghetto Museum is a great place to start. Amongst other things, it tells of the harrowing history of the 70,000 Jews who lost their lives during the holocaust.

Insider Tip: While you’re in this area you’d be hard pushed to miss the omnipresent building that houses the Academy of Sciences. It was built in 1956. You can go inside and up to the 17th floor to the viewing platform for a panoramic view over the city as well as the Daugava River.

For even more insight into Riga’s dark history, check out these tours

Prebook now:  Behind the Iron Curtain 3.5-Hour Communism Tour

Prebook now: 3-Hour Soviet Walking Tour

Museum of Occupation of Latvia – If you only plan for one museum during your 3 days in Riga, then this is it. After exploring the Old City, Art Nouveau and Jewish Districts, you’ll have some understanding of how diverse and often turbulent the city’s past has been. To gain more understanding and see how the pieces of the puzzle really fit together, then I recommend the Museum of Occupation.

This Museum of Occupation will help piece together some more of Riga’s recent history and focuses on Riga’s history from World War II up to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and tells the story of how Riga is the way it is today.

The museum is filled with artefacts, photographs documents, exhibits as well as testimonies and stories from survivors spanning the 51 years that Latvia was occupied by Russia and Nazi Germany.

The purpose of the Museum of Occupation is to preserve the memory of the war-torn country. You’ll also find out about the fascinating peaceful protest, where millions of people from the Baltic states joined hands to make a chain of people that stretched 675 kilometres from Tallinn to Riga to Vilnius in opposition of the Russian rule.

Time: 1 – 2 hours

Location & Opening hours: Raiņa bulvāris 7, Centra rajons, Rīga | 11:00 – 18:00 every day

If you have an interest in Sovient hisotry, there are plenty of walking tours that also focus on the topic of Riga’s dark past. Take a look at these tours:

Laime Clock & Freedom Monument – From the museum, head towards the more modern town centre to see two of the most famous places in Riga. Located close to Bastejkalna Park, you’ll find the slightly strange looking tower clock called the Laime Clock. It was originally built in 1924 and named after a famous Latvian chocolate brand. It has a very Art Deco look to it.

Close the to the Laime Clock, at the end of Brivibas Street, you will see the Freedom Monument. This was built to symbolise Latvia’s freedom and independence. It commemorates the lives of the soldiers who lost their lives during the Latvian War of Independence between 1918 and 1920. The 42-metre-high monument was built in 1935 from granite and copper and survived the Soviet occupation of Riga. You can often see a guard at The Freedom Monument and you can watch the changing of the guard on the hour each day.

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The Freedom Monument, Riga

The Russian Orthodox Church – Nativity of Christ Cathedral – Head towards Esplanade Park. This is where you’ll find the visually stunning Russian Orthodox church, the Nativity of Christ Cathedral. It was built between 1876 and 1883. If you’ve read my article about Tallinn (which you can also visit on a day trip from Riga) you’ll see similarities between this church and the one there.

This is the biggest Roman Orthodox church in the Baltics but was closed as a church during the Soviet reign and then oddly, repurposed into a planetarium. After Latvia regained independence, it returned to being a Russian Orthodox Church.

If you’re in Riga on a sunny day, the gold onion-shaped roofs are blinding to look at.

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The russian Orthodox Church, Riga

Relax in Vermanes, Esplanade, Kronvalda or Bastejkalna Park – Finish off the afternoon in one of Riga’s city parks. There are 4 large parks just outside Riga Old Town to choose from. The one closest to you and the Russian Orthodox Church is Esplanade park. You could stay in this one, or head to one of the others, they are all within close walking distance. Each of the parks has vendors in them selling anything from coffee and sweet treats.

      • Vermanes – This is the smallest of the gardens in Riga but also one of the prettiest.
      • Esplanade – This is the one in which the stunning Russian Orthodox cathedral is situated. The park isn’t quite as pretty as the other three but it’s still a nice big green space to get away from the crowds.
      • Kronvalda – The Pilsētas Canal runs through two parks in Riga, this is one of them. Boat trips go along the Canal and out into the Daugava River which will give you some great panoramic shots of the Old Town from a different perspective. This is a very pretty park and a bit quieter than the others. This is also where you can book on to a canal boat tour of Riga.
      • Bastejkalna – This is one of the oldest green spaces in Riga, and is located just outside of Riga town, which also makes it one of the busiest. The Pilsētas Canal runs through this park, so you can pick up the river tour here also.

Prebook now: Riga Sightseeing Tour by Canal Boat

This incredible Riga 3 days guide, tells you everything you need to know about visiting 'Paris of the North'. A perfect 3 Days Riga itinerary in the Latvian capital. Including the best things to see in Riga, what to do in Riga and day trips from Riga. A trip to Riga is a must for your Latvia Itinerary or your Baltic itinerary. #Riga #Latvia #EasternEurope #Baltics
Kronvalda Park, Riga

Day 3

Gauja National Park or Jurmala Beach – On the final day of your Riga 3 days itinerary, there are options. If you didn’t manage to see everything that was covered in this Riga city guide, you could spend the morning doing that, before taking a half-day trip outside of the city.

If you’re eager to escape the city, then you could take a full day trip to either of these destinations. Or do a half-day at each like on this Gauja National Park and Jurmala Beach itinerary.

Jurmala Beach – Riga is located next to the Baltic Sea and within just a 30-minute train journey you can be at Jurmala Beach.

The white sandy beach of Jurmala gets busy in the summer with a mix of residents and tourists looking to escape the city. If the beach is too crowded, then you can hire bikes to cycle along this stretch of coast and explore some of the quieter districts and pretty tree-lined avenues or some of the nature trails.

Take note though, because Jumala is located on the Baltic Sea, the water can be chilly even in the summer months. So brace yourself if you’re not good with the cold.

Insider Info: If you decide to take a day trip to Jurmala by train, then as a heads up, there is no actual train station called ‘Jurmala’. The sea will be visible for a lot of the train journey, so you’ll know you’re getting close. There are two stops you could get off. If you want to see some cute traditional wooden villas there are plenty between the two stops of Majori and Dzintari, these are also where you’ll find a livelier vibe and more options like restaurants, shops and facilities. If you want a slightly quieter spot with fewer facilities, then Dubulti is the better option. If you don’t want to faff with the train, then you could always book a tour with transportation included.

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An easy day trip from Riga - Jurmala Beach

Sigulda – If beaches aren’t your thing, then the alternative option is to head out to one of Latvia’s most beautiful national parks. In around about an hour by train or bus, you can be at Sigulda which is the gateway to Gauja National Park.

The 90,000 hectares of Gauja National Park and River offer loads of things to do on a day trip (if you have longer, then even better!).

The area is full of medieval castles, caves and ruins as well as a great place for hiking through the beautiful countryside. You could explore the area yourself, or take the brain-work out of it and book one to a Gauja National Park Full-Day Hike.

If you’re desperate to find some adrenalin sports, then check out the zip lining 55 m above the river or bungee jumping. There is also a bobsleigh run during the summer months. If you visit in the winter, then you can also ski! You might also like going to the Gutmanis Caves to drink the ‘holy water’ or the cable car to Krimulda.

If you want to visit castles (let’s face it, who doesn’t love a medieval fairy tale castle) then there are two options here. Either, Sigulda Castle is located in the town that both, the train or bus from Riga arrives at. The other is to take the connecting bus to nearby Turaida Castle. From the tower of Turaida Castle, you get stunning views looking back over Gauja National Park.

It’s easy to get to the national park using public transport, however, if you prefer someone else to do the work, then several tours include transportation.

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Turaida Castle in Guuja National Park, Sigulda

Other Riga experiences

There are so many things to do in Riga – too many things in just three days. If you have a bit longer than 3 days in Riga, you might like these other great things to do in the city.

FAQs for this 3 Days Riga Itinerary

Getting to Riga: Travel Options

The closest airport is Riga International Airport (RIX). It’s located about 15km outside of the centre of Riga. The easiest way to visit Riga is to fly directly here. Unless you’re on an extended trip around the Baltic states then the easiest way to get to Riga is to fly directly

Getting from the Riga Airport to Riga City

There are several options to get from Riga International Airport to the centre. One of the most efficient is by taking the public bus. The bus runs every three hours and takes 24 minutes. Get this from the station from the airport.

Alternatively, you can book your airport transfer directly to your hotel in advance. Booking in advance saves you both the hassle and avoids the hefty inflated fees from the taxi firms at the airport.

Where to stay in Riga 

There’s no shortage of accommodation in Riga for every budget for 3 days Riga trip. Regardless of your travel style, you’ll easily find something to suit. However, I highly recommend, because you’ll be doing so much sightseeing, for your best area to stay in Riga will be central, so that everything is within walking distance. 

Budget

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Tree House Hostel

    • Centrally located in the Old Town
    • Lockers in rooms
    • Nightly activities & well stocked onsite bar

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Boutique

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The Romantic Stylish Studio

    • Entire apartment
    • Self-catering units filled
    • Modern design 
    • Centrally located

CHECK AVAILBILITY

Luxury

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Dome Hotel

    • Centrally located on Dome Square
    • 5-star rated hotel
    • Large rooms
    • Onsite spa & Turkish bath

CHECK AVAILABILITY

Best time to visit Riga

With regards to the weather, the best season for Riga is from late May through to October, with the warmest months being July – August. However, the peak time for crowds and prices coincide with the school summer holidays (late July-August).

If you want to enjoy the better weather and avoid the crowds, then the perfect time to visit Riga making is during shoulder season, which is late May to June and then September to October.

During the winter, you can pick up some very good deals at the hotels. If you’re wondering what to do in Riga in winter, you’ll find plenty happening around the festive season, with traditional Christmas markets and also nearby husky sledge riding.

What to pack for Riga

Although there are plenty of bright and sunny days, even in the peak of summer, the weather can still be chilly. Especially in the evenings. It can rain at any time of the year, so whatever you plan to do on your Riga itinerary, even in July and August, take a warm jumper and waterproof jacket.

Overall, it’s best to pack layers of clothing. Another thing to remember is to pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes. The centre of the old town is cobbled, and it can get slippery in the rain.

How many days do you need in Riga?

You might be wondering how long to stay in Riga, you could see the highlights at a push on a Riga one day itinerary. However, this would involve darting from one location to the next, and not give you any time to explore the city. On a Riga weekend trip across two days, you would get to see everything at a much more leisurely pace as well as have time to enjoy perusing the old town.  

If you’re wondering how long to spend in Riga to have a balance of seeing all the highlights at a leisurely pace, as well as having time to get lots in the pretty cobbled streets, enjoy looking at the stunning architecture as well as having the option to explore a few places outside of the centre, then I’d recommend at least 3 days in Riga. 

What are the top 10 Riga attractions?

There is a summary of the top things to see in Riga at the start of this article. If you missed it, but are intrigued about the must-see Riga sites, then you can jump to it here. Alternatively, you can download this checklist, map and information sheet that gives you the low-down on everything covered in this article for offline viewing. 

What’s the best way to get around Riga? 

Getting around Riga is relatively straightforward. The centre is mostly pedestrianised which makes it a very walkable city. The city has so much to offer and I can guarantee that you’ll love your trip to Riga. It’s best to get around Riga on foot to fully experience the history and culture of the city. There are so many little alleyways and courtyards, all steeped in history, waiting to be explored and you’ll find yourself stumbling on so many little gems.

However, it’s useful to know that Riga is a sprawling city, and although when I visited, I did everything on foot, if you aren’t able to walk far, then the public bus is one option. The more convenient option is the Riga sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus tour which stops off at all the essential landmarks. 

Where can I find a Riga tourist map?

Of course, you can pick one up at the Riga tourism information centre, but if you’re wanting to plan your trip before you get there, then the map below shows all the areas covered in this Riga 3 days itinerary. You can download it straight to your inbox for offline viewing, along with an interactive map, information sheet and checklist. 

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Click to access the fully interactive map

Final notes on this Riga 3 Days Itinerary

If you were in any doubts and wondered is Riga worth visiting, I hope this article has answered that question.

Riga doesn’t half pack a punch when it comes to city breaks. As you’ve read, there is an abundance of places to visit in Riga, from the old UNESCO listed historical centre, to the jaw-droppingly stunning art nouveau in Riga.

If you do have longer or some flexibility in your itinerary, then it’s also worth checking out more day tours from Riga and even heading towards some of the neighbouring Baltic states.

Riga, like many other beautiful eastern European cities, makes for such a diverse short break. Because of their turbulent histories, stunning architecture and historical centres, there is plenty to keep every type of traveller satisfied.

Travelling around the Baltic States? Here are some other great articles to help plan your trip.

Save it for later

I hope after reading this Riga travel article you’re super excited about spending 3 days in Riga. If you loved this post, or know someone that will, then please like and share.

If you’re planning a trip to Latvia or the Baltic States, then why not pin it for future reference?

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Becki from Meet Me In Departures

Adventure travel blogger with a big addiction to the World. An ex-rat-racer who was fed up with sleep-work-eat-repeat materialistic mentality that plagues modern living. I love anything to do with off-beat travel, abandoned places, temples & ruins, street art, wildlife in its natural habitat, adventure sport.....basically anything but the 9-5!

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