A long weekend in Riga

I’ve never been convinced by these bargain holiday websites like Holiday Pirates. I always find that the offers are never quite as good as they seem. But sometimes you can find an absolute gem like I did when I booked a trip to Riga.

I knew very little about Riga but when I found a deal for three nights in a four-star spa hotel including flights from our nearest airport for £115 each I snapped it up.

WHERE WE STAYED

We stayed at the Grand Poet Semora Hotel. The hotel was the perfect base for exploring the city, located centrally just across the road from the park. It also had a beautiful spa in the basement which was free to use during our stay. After a day out in the cold exploring the city it was blissful to return to our hotel to warm up in the spa. Our room was pretty luxe too, with a huge bathroom.

EATING AND DRINKING

We discovered that Riga has a thriving craft beer scene – we found several fantastic brewery pubs that serve great beer and delicious snacks (like chunks of smoked cheese and toasted rye bread). We also enjoyed the local speciality of Black Balsalm, a rather unique and medicinal liqueur. Although this is sold pretty much everywhere in Riga (not just in drinks either – cakes and chocolate are also flavoured with the black stuff) we enjoyed some shots and chocolates at Black Magic bar.

Riga is one of those cities filled with little coffee and cake shops to sit and watch the world go by and we visited several during our stay. We also had a fantastic meal at a local folk bar. Although it was crazy busy we managed to get ourselves a table and enjoyed some traditional Latvia food while watching a folk band.

HIGHLIGHTS

Our trip to Riga was the perfect slow weekend. We didn’t rush anywhere, we walked around the city, stopping off at bars and cafes when it took our fancy before heading back to our hotel to warm up.

We visited the Laima chocolate factory and spent a couple hours enjoying lots of delicious chocolates. Although no longer the factory, the museum is well worth a visit. The staff are incredibly friendly and give you plenty of chocs to try, plus a cup of liquid chocolate when you start the tour. We also signed up for the chocolate making class where we got to create our own little box of filled chocolates.

After the chocolate factory we headed to a traditional sauna. I absolutely loved getting really hot and then plunging straight into a freezing cold pool. But N was less keen – especially as you have to be naked in the sauna (men and women are separate).

We spent most of our time walking around the city taking in the incredible architecture. Riga has the most art nouveau buildings in the world and so it’s worth looking up to see the variety of decoration on the buildings as you walk through the streets. We took a trip to the Academy of Sciences building, a huge soviet-era monolith. Standing in the snow looking up at it felt like stepping back to another time.

I loved taking in the view looking out across the frozen Deguva River, so much that we walk back after dark to see the opposite bank lit up, casting a glow across the ice.

LOWLIGHTS

I’m not going to lie, Riga in February is cold! I slipped on the ice almost as soon as I arrived. The city was covered in snow which was beautiful but quite bleak. I’d love to see Riga in the summer.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the market. Although it’s famous, contained in five huge old aircraft hangers I wasn’t that fussed by it. I’m sure it’s brilliant if you have time to really l for ingredients but I just wasn’t in the right mood for it.

As we had booked a budget trip out was hand luggage only which limited what we could take, but warm clothes were a must. I also managed to forget my underwear so we spent an hour or so on our first morning visiting the mall for me to buy some.

Have you been to Riga? What were the highlights of your trip?

Published by Rebecca

Photographer, explorer, travel and lifestyle blogger

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