If you’re looking for a great winter escape in 2019 then Riga, Latvia is an exceptional choice. Not only are flights cheaper during the winter months but there’s a huge amount to do. Riga is a place that really enjoys the winter outdoors with a selection of exhilarating seasonal sports. Of course, the culture, art and food of the city is worth seeing any time of the year.
Skiing and Sporty Activities for All
Winter in Latvia is for the real outdoor lovers. Visitors have a surprising amount of choices, whether they wish to go ice skating either at the Riga Congress Center of Victory Park or even go cross-country skiing depending on the amount of snow, which is common.
There’s a few places for going cross-country, and travelling with an SUV is recommended for groups and equipment. Both in the city and just outside it are some great spots, and often ice rinks are right by the trails.
However, if you’d like someone else (who happens to be adorable) to do the work then take a ride in a dog sledge! If being swept across Latvia by Huskies and Alaskan Malamutes sounds good then be sure to check availability in advance.
If that isn’t enough winter activity family and friends can also get together for a snowshoe walking tour in Vienkocu Park. See some of the natural sites as you traverse across blankets of the thickest snow. But if you simply want to stay inside and relax, Riga also has a variety of different spas for you to relax in.
Admire the Riga Culture
iga has much in the way of sites and attractions with many guided tours still available in winter. Just be aware that on Mondays many of the museums are closed. One of the most popular museums is the Latvian National Museum of Art, which holds a permanent display of Latvian Art from the 19th and 20th Century along with two spaces open for temporary contemporary art exhibitions.
Another celebrated museum is Riga’s museum of foreign art – the Riga Bourse Art Museum. Currently, recently there’s been exhibitions on Oriental art and Northern European painting and even a mummy display from ancient Egypt.
Perhaps more somber, but equally important, is a one of the kind educational museum famous to Riga. The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia was established to fully account Latvia’s occupation by the USSR between 1940-1991. Filled with artifacts, accounts, videos and items it’s an incredible way to discover Latvia’s modern history.
A great way to take in the cultural aesthetic of Riga is simply to walk through it’s old town district where many of the galleries and museums are located. Marvel at Saint Peter’s Chruch, one of oldest monuments in Riga dating back to the 15th Century, or look at the unique Hanseatic architecture of the Town Hall Square, or simply sit in one of the quaint coffee shops or pubs and watch life go by amongst Medieval buildings.
Experience the Local Food and Drink
There’s a bunch of specialty foods in Riga worth trying. A great place to sample a bit of everything is the Central Market, which is covered and fun to walk around even in winter. You can find sweet and savoury pastries, craft beers and other local produce.
Latvia is famous though for its rye bread, delicious and thick brown bread eaten in Latvia for centuries. In winter it goes particularly well with home-brewed stews and soups. The bread is so ingrained into culture it’s a known superstition to never place it bottom side up.
Jāņi Cheese is another specialty that goes great with their rye bread, it’s a sour-milk cheese usually eaten in celebration of midsummer solstice. However, if you do find yourself in central market you’ll be sure to find some.
If you’re out for a meal, then be sure to try smoked fish. Taken from the Baltic sea, pollock, salmon, cod and trout are cured and cooked to perfection in Latvia and considered some of the finest fish meals in Europe. Dome, a fish restaurant, is considered one of the best places for this.
For a night out Chomsky bar is a great choice for enjoying cultural vibrancy of the city. Named after Noam Chomsky, famous linguist and political writer, the bar is made up of old furniture and is a meeting point for the city’s musicians, lecturers, and artists. There’s often live music and they have excellent Latvia beers on tap.
Of course, if you’re looking for something a bit more low-key or romantic then there’s a selection of wine bars, many of which nestled by the Daugava river. We can recommend Vieta wine bar or Mirage Wine and Cocktail, both have a soft ambience with a neo-modern interior design.
Explore Riga and its surroundings by car
Sixt offers many rental locations in Riga, including a convenient branch at Riga Airport, the central train station and ferry port. No matter how you arrive in Riga, Sixt’s affordable and reliable car hire services will be on hand to meet your transportation needs, with a large fleet of premium vehicles on offer.