TRAVEL and TOURISM

Connoisseur’s Guide to Riga

Riga sight
Written by Aksel Ritenis

Riga sightINTRODUCTION


Someone once described Riga as “the Window of the Baltic.” It is certainly a very pleasant window and much may be seen from it. Whatever the time of the year, it will be Riga – the largest Baltic city, which offers the most… The city, often referred to as the “Paris of the North”, is well-known for its architectural and cultural values and rapidly developing economics.

If you are wondering what to expect – forget, any notion that the journey into the Baltic States of the 21st century is going to be a grim procession of visas, dodgy police, border controls, and street criminals. The Soviets left more than a decade ago… and Latvia is now undergoing a rapid transition to a European Union member state.


Statue of Liberty
KEY FACTS


Riga is the capital of Latvia and has a population of about 800’000 people. It was founded at the beginning of the thirteenth century. In the later Middle Ages the port flourished as a member of the old Hanseatic city League. The centre of the city is for the most part modern. The Russians have left little mark upon the architecture of the city except for the large Russian cathedral. Most of the other buildings are Germanicin style and character. A canal runs through the centre of the city, and on either side is a small but charming park.

TRANSPORT TO AND AROUND THE CITY


Riga international airport (RIX), lies 10 km southwest of the city. Buses 22 (leaving from Abrenes or 13 Janvara street) or 22A (leaving from the Orthodox Cathedral) will take you there in approximately 20 – 30 minutes depending on traffic.
TOP 10 RIGA HIT LIST


1) Radisson Blu Hotel Latvia Cocktail Bar on the
26th Floor – Skyline Bar
2) Summer Garden Domu Square “No Problem”
(Nekādu Problēmu)
3) Gallerie Centre for leisurely shopping, coffee or
a quick Sushi
4) Stockmann Department Store
5) Essential Nightclub

6) Vincents Restaurant for the best Chef in the
Baltics on a parr with some
of the Top English
Chefs
7) Hotel Bergs Restaurant
8) Balsambar – a Black Balsam Cocktail bar in
Domu Square
9) Wine Studio (Vīna studija)

10) Jomas Street in Jurmala for a leisurely summer
stroll or relax at Jurmala which is the beach that
most Rigans go to!

Riga’s public transport system consists of buses, trams and trolley buses. They run daily from 05.30 until about 00.30 but some of the routes stop their service as early as 22.30.

ACCOMODATION – HOTELS


Finding accommodation in Riga is a thankfully painless task, provided you book a little in advance. There are an increasing number of top range hotels mushrooming in and around the Old Town, whilst vast four star hotels are in abundance. And there’s good news for travellers too. The hostel scene is particularly well-developed in Riga with plenty of well-priced digs offering excellent facilities.


HOTEL DE ROME


Hotel de Rome
Hotel de Rome is a five star luxury hotel, located in the city center near most tourist attractions. Hotel offers 88 guest rooms, legendary restaurant Otto Schwarz on the top floor, bar Romas Operas Gelerija and 3 modern well equipped conference and banqueting rooms. Rooms of Hotel de Rome are luxurious, comfortable and practical and suit well for both business and leisure use.

ADDRESS: 28 Kaļķu St, Riga LV 1050, Latvia
TELEPHONE:
+371 67087600
FAX:
+371 67087606
WEBSITE:
www.derome.lv
E-MAIL:
reservation@derome.lv

EUROPA ROYAL HOTEL


Europa Royal HotelThe four-star Europa Royal Riga Hotel is located in the city centre next to the historic and picturesque Verman Park. The historical house of the legendary Benjamins was fully restored in 2006 and became a luxurious hotel.

After a busy working day or sightseeing adventures guests can relax in one of the 60 bedrooms of the hotel, including Deluxe rooms and Suites, where each room features personal touches in furnishing and décor. For complete comfort the hotel guests may relax in Jacuzzi in Royale Sauna.


ADDRESS:
12 Kr. Barona St., Riga LV-1050, Latvia
TELEPHONE:
+371 6 7079444
FAX:
+371 6 7079449
WEBSITE:
http://www.groupeuropa.com/europa_royale/riga_hotel
E-MAIL:
riga@europaroyale.com

Radisson Blu Hotel

RADISSON BLU HOTEL LATVIJA


The Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija is Riga’s main landmark and the largest business and conference hotel in the Baltics. In addition to housing the region’s largest conference and events centre, this hotel boasts a contemporary restaurant with lunch and dinner buffets, three trendy and stylish bars with great city views and vibrant nightclub. This sky-rise hotel also boasts an in-house spa, perfect for relaxing after a day of meetings or sightseeing.

ADDRESS: 55 Elizabetes St, Riga LV-1010, Latvia
TELEPHONE:
+371 677 72222
FAX:
+371 677 72221
WEBSITE:
http://www.radissonblu.com/latvijahotel-riga
E-MAIL:
info.latvija.riga@radissonblu.com

FOOD & DRINKS IN RIGA


Restaurant

The current global financial crisis has sent many a chef packing. On the bright side, you can still find a thin-crust pizza, fresh sushi, hearty pork knuckle and potatoes or an Armenian shashlik without much effort and many cafés now offer cheap lunch specials to lure diners into their establishments. Eat hearty Latvian dishes – pork, beef or fried fish accompanied by potatoes and cream sauce – washed down with beer. Or sidestep that for world cuisine and fine dining. A tip of 10% is expected at most places.


VINCENTS


Vincents dishSince it opened in 1994, Vincents has become the prime destination for all those passionate about good food and fine wine. Vincents is located in one of the most picturesque parts of Riga, a 10 minute walk from the Old City. You will notice that the modern interior forms the backdrop for British-Latvian chef Martins Ritins’ inspired & constantly evolving cuisine. Vincents’ critically acclaimed dinner menu changes every week and provides a delicious journey through the culinary world.

ADDRESS: 19 Elizabetes St, Riga LV-1010, Latvia
TELEPHONE:
+371 6733 2830
FAX:
+371 6783 0206
WEBSITE:
http://www.restorans.lv

E-MAIL:
martins.ritins@restorans.vincents.lv
OPENING HOURS:
Mon – Sat 9pm – 11pm
Sun – closed.

RESTAURANT BERGS


Restaurant  dishRestaurant Bergs, decorated in a contemporary style, has been thoughtfully designed to provide guests with possibilities of calm and intimate retreat in the business centre of one of the most exciting city parts. Restaurant Bergs under the leadership of chef Kaspars Jansons provides their elitary clients with exquisite cuisine and distinguished service. The restaurant menu offers more to the considerate gourmand. The artful presentation of any of the outstanding dishes on offer is yet another chance to feast your eyes as well as stomach.

ADDRESS: Hotel Bergs, Bergs Bazaar,
83/85 Elizabetes Street, Riga, LV-1050, Latvia
TELEPHONE:
+371 67770900
FAX:
+371 67770940
WEBSITE:
http://www.hotelbergs.com

E-MAIL:
hotelbergs@hotelbergs.lv
OPENING HOURS:
Mon – Sun 7.30am – 11am Breakfast a la Carte;
Mon – Sat 12am – 11pm Lunch & Dinner;
Sun – closed.

MONTEROSSO


Restaurant dish 3One of the oldest restaurants in Riga, Monterosso was established in 1913. After re-opening in 2000 it quickly became a favorable dining place for sophisticated locals and international visitors alike. Carrying the heritage of it’s past into today’s glamour, Monterosso brings true Italian cuisine to the heart of Old Riga. The elegant interiors are complemented with a la carte menu created by world renowned chef Patrick Pages.

ADDRESS: 9Valnu St, Riga, LV-1050, Latvia
TELEPHONE:
+371 67507170
FAX:
+371 67222049
WEBSITE:
http://www.monterosso.lv

E-MAIL:
banketi@monterosso.lv
OPENING HOURS:
Daily12am – 12pm

CONNOISSEUR’S SHOPPING GUIDE

Stockmann

STOCKMANN DEPARTMENT STORE


Riga has everything you might want, and the only time you may have to stand in line is when a great sale is taking place at Stockmann. Riga might not have the big fashion houses of New York or Paris, but what it does have is quite distinctive. Discover the unique qualities of Riga in the many outdoor markets, handicraft and antique stores throughout the centre and Old town. Of special significance is the Stockmann Department Store which brings modern Western European shopping culture and civilization to Riga. Stockmann has a great range of imported products beginning with fragrances and cosmetics, gastronomy and leading fashion brands, not to mention homeware products on the top floor. Service is without equal in the Baltics thanks to the Finnish service culture. Credit cards are accepted at most locations, so shop till you drop!
ADDRESS: 13. Janvara Str. 8, LV-1050 Riga
TELEPHONE: +371 6707 1222
FAX: +371 6707 1254
WEBSITE: www.stockmann.lv
BUSINESS HOURS:
1st floor – Mon – Sat 9.00 – 22.00 / Sun 10.00 – 22.00
2nd – 4th floors – Mon – Sun 10.00 – 21.00

ATTRACTIONS IN RIGA


Melngalvju Nams

Riga has a number of interesting old churches. One of these, St. Peter’s, has the largest wooden spire in Europe. Another, Dome now the Lutheran Cathedral, has beautiful stained glass windows and many fine old monuments.

One of the finest old buildings in Riga, and indeed in the whole of the Baltic States, is known as the House of Blackheads. (The Blackheads were a society or club, formed in the fifteenth century, who took as their symbol a negro’s head, the emblem of their patron saint, St. Mauritius).

Latvian  National Opera

If you’re short of time, you can – at a push do tolerable justice to Riga and Latvia in a 3 to 4 day visit. It is advisable that you factor in key attractions for Riga itself – The National Gallery, The Occupation Museum, The Motor Museum, The Central Market and a minimum afternoon stroll through the Old Town (Vecrīga) where Riga plays by far and away its strongest suit, (temporarily overlooking the best nightlife in the Baltics) from the Latvian National Opera to umpteen bars, restaurants, casinos, and nightclubs.

NIGHTLIFE IN RIGA


Cocktail
Riga is the city that never sleeps, and this statement is especially true in the summer, when the sun so briefly sets. The diversity of cultures mingling in this town mix to create an interesting and exciting night out. Dance clubs, bars, casinos and exotic shows can be found on almost every corner and will accommodate almost every taste. Riga nightlife starts around 8-9 PM when people begin to gather in restaurants and cocktail bars. Night-clubs open around 10-11 pm. If you don’t want to go clubbing, just take a walk around Old Riga. On warm nights, the streets are as crowded as during the day and all the outdoor cafes in Dome square are full. We hope you’re lucky enough to find a table!

AMBER NIGHT CLUB


Amber  Night Club“Amber Night” is a club meant for people who wish to relax in a sparkling and unforced atmosphere, cooling off after a hot working week or spending an exciting evening with good friends. The club’s target audience is people aged 25 and over, which means no wild and uncontrollable teenagers. Visitors are able to enjoy an environment that is pleasant and relaxing if that’s what they want.The club has several different areas – the main room, as well as a lounge area. The idea is to offer coziness for those who wish to converse with their friends, as well as a place where visitors can dance to the best music of the 1980s, 1990s and today.

ADDRESS: Radisson BLU Hotel Latvija
TELEPHONE:
+371 29401431
WEBSITE:
http://www.ambernight.lv
E-MAIL:
info@ambernight.lv
WORKING HOURS: Tue – Sat 9pm – 5am
ENTRY FEE:
Tue – Thur free / Fri- Sat Ls 5 (including a drink)

SKYLINE BAR


Look across the Old Town or over the Baltic Sea while you enjoy cocktails or bar snacks in our sophisticated, modern lounge. Chilled music, with live DJs at weekends, draws a cool, urban crowd, and major sports events are shown on our flat screens. Open Monday- Thursday 16.00 – 1.00; Friday – Saturday 15.00 – 2.00; Sunday 15.00 – 1.00

ADDRESS: Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija, 26th floor
55Elizabetes St, LV-1010 Riga, Latvia
TELEPHONE: +371 677 72222
WEBSITE:
http://www.radissonblu.com/latvijahotel-riga
E-MAIL:
info.latvija.riga@radissonblu.com

CLUB ESSENTIAL


Club  EssentialClub Essential is the most attractive and the brightest pearl in the nightclub scene with its superior music, progressive light and sound equipment and also with its cool interior and bars. During a couple of years Club Essential has become a favorite and a top level club not only in Latvia, but also in Baltics. Club Essential is absolutely the most impressive and spectacular nightclub in Riga.

Club Essential has four halls, which provide entertainment for more than 2500 people. Each hall has a special interior, music, public and features.

ADDRESS: 2 Skolas St, Riga, LV1010 Latvia
TELEPHONE: +371 67242289
FAX: +371 67242287
WEBSITE: http://www.essential.lv
E-MAIL: club@essential.lv
WORKING HOURS: Wed – Thur / Sun 10pm – 5am
Fri – Sat 10pm – 6am / 6am – 10am Essential after hours
ENTRY FEE: 10pm – 12pm free / 12pm – 4am Ls 5 / 4am – 6 am Ls 3 / 6am – 10am free


KAĻĶU VĀRTI


Kaļķu  Vārti club
Kaļķu Vārti is without a doubt one of Riga’s most famous entertainment venues. There is a reason for the long lines and big crowds gathering in front of the club entrance every weekend.

The interior of the nightclub will pleasantly surprise you with its mix of Riga’s historical and modern design trends. The club offers first-class light and sound system quality and a top mix of disco, r’n’b, house and mainstream music.

ADDRESS: 11a Kaļķu St, Riga, LV-1050, Latvia
TELEPHONE: +371 67 224 576
FAX: +371 67 212 575
WEBSITE: http://www.kalkuvarti.lv
E-MAIL: info@kalkuvarti.lv
WORKING HOURS: Thur – Sat 10pm – 6am
COVER CHARGE: free
ADMISSION: 21 and over

ACTIVITIES & TOURS IN RIGA


Don’t spend too much time just hanging about the city or idling at hotel. Riga offers a lot of interesting and fun daytime activities. Action, adrenaline, desire for victory, sea of pleasure and unforgettable experience for you and your friends are guaranteed. The most popular daytime activities in Riga are: Indoors Go-Karting, Clay Pigeon Shooting, Paintball, Real Gun Shooting, High Ropes Adventure, Football Match vs Local Team, Laser Labyrinth.

About the author

Aksel Ritenis

Leave a Comment