Riga is a very beautiful city. Its Central District has preserved a whole complex of old, very old and very ancient buildings that do not leave anyone indifferent. At the same time, Riga has always been a “big brother” in its small Baltic family. Compared to Tallinn or Vilnius, this city really gives the impression of a metropolis. It rages, has fun, attracts thousands of tourists, imperceptibly makes them fall in love with itself, forcing them, if not to stay for a day or two, then at least to come here again.
Divided by the wide 500-meter river Daugava, Riga will forever remain in the heart with its Art Nouveau facades, large green parks and cozy little bars, where the minutes pass unnoticed by the crackling and flickering of candles.
Surprisingly, this city combines its toy, as if descended from medieval engravings, historical center, vibrant nightlife and a thriving restaurant business. The lavish beauty, timeless elegance and irrepressible fusion of old and new in Riga has such a powerful charm that it can only be perceived to the accompaniment of the famous Black Balsam of Riga.
Communication and Wi-Fi
In Riga, the GSM mobile communication standard is valid, with which our mobile phones are compatible. Russian operators catch well, but roaming can cost a pretty penny. For long trips, it is better to use prepaid cards of local operators, there are 3 of them in the Latvian capital. The highest quality and most expensive communication is offered by the very first cellular company in Latvia – [www.lmt.lv LMT]. Tele 2 and Bite operators have more budgetary tariffs.
To purchase a SIM card, you do not need to present a passport and conclude an agreement. You can connect prepaid tariffs at gas stations, railway stations, communication stores, grocery stores and other points of sale.
The network of free Wi-Fi connection points in Riga is actively developing, every year there are more and more of them. Today you can access the network in most hotels, restaurants and gas stations. Near Lattelecom city payphones, you will have to watch ads before connecting to the Internet.
CityGuideCard и Riga Card
By analogy with other popular tourist centers, there are guest cards in Riga that make holidays in the Latvian capital not only interesting, but also quite budget-friendly. The first of them, CityGuidCard, works in Riga and other cities of Latvia, as well as in many countries around the world. The cardholder can receive discounts at hotels, shops and gas stations.
According to clothesbliss,CityGuidCard completely replaces the e-ticket. Top up your balance and use it to pay for public transport.
Those who want to save money on excursions and travel should pay attention to the Riga Card tourist card. Several attractions its owners can visit for free. Among them are the Ziemelblazma Palace of Culture and the Riga Porcelain Museum. In addition, having a Riga Card in hand, you will not have to pay for a bus sightseeing tour, visiting exhibitions in the Riga Art Space hall and a tour of the Old Town. Some other attractions are discounted up to 50%.
A few more nice bonuses are unlimited free travel in transport and discounts up to 20% in 8 bars and restaurants.
You can buy the Riga Card at the Riga Tourist Information Center or at the Bureau of Riga International Airport, as well as online. In the latter case, the card will cost 10% cheaper. When buying, you can choose a subscription for 24, 48 and 72 hours.
There are many beaches in Riga and its environs – river, sea and lake. The coast is famous for its ecological purity, clear water, excellent level of safety and service. Many beaches proudly fly Blue Flags.
For those who prefer to swim in salt water, there are 3 sea beaches. All of them are within 30 minutes drive from the center. You can get there by bus, and to the most popular among Rigans beach “Vetsaki” – and by suburban train. The other two, “Daugavgriva” and “Vakarbulli”, are located on an island at the mouth of the Daugava. All beaches are sandy, admission is free, there are no special differences in the infrastructure – sports grounds, rental of sun loungers, umbrellas and equipment. The widest range of services is available at Vecaki. There is a separate sanitary complex with a shower, a toilet and a room for mother and child.
Cleanliness and safety are strictly monitored on the beaches – cleaning and sand sifting are carried out daily, and vigilant lifeguards are on duty on the towers.
Several river beaches can be found on both banks of the Daugava. The most popular of them are “Rumbula”, “Lucavsala” and “Kipsala”. The latter is closest to the historical center of the city. The river bank here, unlike the first two, is covered with sand. Neatly trimmed grass grows on the coast of Rumbula and Lucavsala. All beaches are equipped with cabins and toilets, admission is free. Most of the opportunities for outdoor activities are on Lucavsala (picnic area, large playground, fitness equipment and football and volleyball fields), but there is even a small slide for kids and a football field even on the unofficial Kipsala beach.
Despite the fact that Babelite is much smaller than other Riga lakes, it is on its shores that the most comfortable and well-maintained lake beach of the city is located. The unofficial “Kisezers” in Mezhaparks is inferior to it in everything – the infrastructure is better developed on Babelit, the entrance to the water is more comfortable, there is a separate area for bathing babies with a gentle slope and shallow depth. Toilets and cabanas are available on both beaches.
You won’t have to travel far for shopping in Riga – most of the boutiques and large shopping centers are concentrated in the historical center of the city. Right there, on the street. Valnia, Gertrudes, Elizabetes, Terbatas, Brivibas and a number of others, you can find both clothes and shoes of quite democratic youth brands (Mango, Zara, Next, Rieker, etc.), as well as luxury items from famous designers (D&G, Fendi, etc..). It is noteworthy that prices are lower than in Moscow, and during sales seasons this difference becomes even more noticeable.
For shopping tours to Riga, the period from the end of December to the end of March is most suitable, when promotions are held in almost all stores in the city, closer to spring, discounts reach 80-90%. Also, don’t forget about Tax free.
Near the Old Town there are shopping centers “Gallery of Riga”, “Central Gallery”, Origo and Stockmann. Those who want to devote the whole day to shopping should go to one of the malls on the outskirts of the city. The largest shopping centers are located in different areas – Alfa, Domina, Spice, etc. In addition to clothes, shoes and accessories, you can find household goods, as well as cinemas, cafes and restaurants, bowling, casinos and other entertainment.
On Sundays, many shops in the city are closed, except for large supermarkets and shopping centers. The latter are open from 10:00 to 21:00, small shops are open until 18:00-19:00 on weekdays, and until 16:00 on Saturdays.
Those who like to bargain should visit the Riga markets. Of course, you shouldn’t get carried away, but trying to lower the price a little is quite. You should go to the Central Market for fresh products from farmers and Baltic fish, which many people take home. It also sells handmade souvenirs from local craftsmen. The famous Flea Market in Latgalit has almost everything – books, vinyl records, clothes, old appliances and even real rarities and antiques. Every year in December, another market opens – Christmas. You should definitely go there for a festive atmosphere, New Year decorations and traditional treats.
In addition to fish, jewelry and trinkets made of amber, as well as knitwear, linen products and ceramics are usually brought from Riga. They are sold in the markets and in numerous souvenir shops of the city. For the perfumes of the famous Riga brand Dzintars, go to Boheme and Kolonna chain stores. And, of course, don’t forget the Riga Balsam and sweets from the local Laima factory.
Cafes and restaurants in Riga
There are many cafes, restaurants and bars in the Latvian capital, the general price level is quite high, especially in the central part, but inexpensive establishments can also be found.
Many of them have promotions – business lunches, meals of the day, etc. You should take a closer look at them – the savings can be very significant.
For those who want to taste Latvian cuisine, there are authentic restaurants in the Old Town. The cost of lunch or dinner varies from 30 to 60 EUR. The menu includes milk and bread soups, a wide variety of herring dishes, boiled potatoes, gray peas, black pudding and much more. From drinks it is worth paying attention to local beer. However, it is better for beer lovers to go to a beer house, there are also a lot of them in the city – English, Irish pubs and German bars, where you can taste famous foreign and local varieties.
The Lido entertainment complex located in the city center is especially popular among tourists. Decorated in an ethnic style, it attracts attention with its own mill and brewery, as well as entertainment for children and adults. There is a bistro, cafe and restaurant, which are distinguished by a varied menu and quite affordable prices (average bill 5-7 EUR).
For a delicious breakfast and great coffee, head to one of the many coffee shops. A light snack will cost 5 EUR, a rather hearty lunch – 10 EUR. In addition, there are restaurants in Riga that offer guests dishes of Italian, Caucasian, Chinese and other cuisines of the world, as well as inexpensive pizzerias and kebabs.