How about visiting Riga, in Latvia?

Just like you awesome travel lovers out there, I, too, am always looking for weekend getaways! I think they help rejuvenate and pace up life, and offer new opportunities to feel amused and surprised by different cultures, history, and landscape. Isn’t it? The thought of discovering unseen places and planning an itinerary is an absolutely delightful food for my tiny neurons 🙂 S prefers not to have an agenda, and loves to have the city unfold its wonderful secrets itself. That could be nice too, when the place is not heavily packed with activities to do or things to see. And we thought that Riga, the capital city of Latvia, is one such place!

Living in Stockholm, we are quite close to the countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These are popularly known as the Baltic countries, due to their coastal lining along the Baltic Sea. Ferries, especially the ones run by the company TallinkSilja, are a common and comfortable way of transportation between Riga and the nearby shore cities of Tallinn and Helsinki. For us, this trip was a part of our midsummer weekend holiday to this picturesque town of Tallinn, which I happily shared in my previous post 🙂 So we just took a 50 minutes AirBaltic flight from Tallinn to arrive into Riga, to make the best of our time. You could also read about the Part 1 of our Baltic trip by following the link below 🙂

Read: You wouldn’t want to miss this Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia

With just a day to spend in Riga, we kept it fairly relaxed and flexible. We just strolled around with no aim to reach a destination, and let the place magically draw us into its character and charm. And surprisingly, we met with a number of delightful views! Here are a few shots around the town :

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Railway Bridge on Daugava River, Riga. The river originates in Russia, and flows through Belarus and Latvia, before falling into the Gulf of Riga.
House of Blackheads in the Riga Town Hall Square (Rātslaukums). In medieval times, Blackheads was a Brotherhood of unmarried German merchants in Riga
Musicians performing at the Town Hall Square
Monument of Red Latvian Riflemen, who fought against Germans in the World War I
The Freedom Monument, a symbol of Latvian National Sovereignty

Russian Orthodox Cathedral, with a dome-roof architecture
At Central Market in Riga

St Peters Church in Riga is a great viewing platform to catch a birds’ eye view over the old town, the river, and the rest of the central market. It’s attractive 123 meters high rustic-green soaring spire can be spotted from most directions while browsing through other Old Town attractions. They take you up to the second gallery at a height of 72 meters through an escalator, and charge €9 for it. A little expensive in my opinion, but we were ready to do it hoping for some impressive views. When we arrived, they had unfortunately shut the ticket window for some unexplained reason resulting in long queues of people waiting to buy their ticket. We didn’t have a lot of time on hand, so we just decided to skip it. But I would imagine it is totally worth it on a clear sky day. Don’t miss it if you get a chance!

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St Peter’s Church, Riga. It’s impressively tall tower makes it one of the city’s signature structures.

If we had more time, we would have possibly found more cultural and historical gems in the city. Yet, it was extremely rewarding to explore the highlights of the place and gain knowledge on the history of Latvia.

The Riga Town Hall Square was completely destroyed during the World War II, and was rebuilt later by its citizens. I always wonder how it would have been for people who once lived there, and marvel at the efforts put into resurrecting a city and pumping back life into it. Not easy, I’m sure.

Another Old Town which went through massive destruction during the World War II, but was splendidly re-built later lies in the city of Gdańsk in Poland. You might like to read about it here.

Read: This Old Town in Poland will sweep your ground

How was your experience in Riga?

Happy travels!

You wouldn’t want to miss this Old Town in Tallinn, Estonia

Sweden declares a holiday when the sun shines the longest in the sky – and calls it the midsummer holiday! Darn cool, ain’t it? Believe it or not, living in the Nordics, one gets to discover the true worth of this biggest fireball in the sky. While there are special Swedish traditions and rituals to celebrate a midsummer, it also means an extended weekend to plan a getaway 🙂 This year S & I decided to hop over from Stockholm to the other side of the Baltic Sea, and seep into the midsummer seasons and celebrations of the much talked about Baltic Land 🙂

Tallinn, a port town in the country of Estonia, borders the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland. With the city center just 10-minute drive from the airport, it appeared to me that this Baltic capital has one of Northern Europe’s most beautiful and well- preserved Old Town.

Over a few years of travel, I have come to realize why cities with an old European charm and appeal are the most popular among the travellers. Their ancient and medieval character, coupled with the modern vibrance is absolutely unparalleled. They may bustle with tourists, but you’re never far from a cozy and relaxing corner, where you can sit for hours beholding the sights around, soaking it all in, while holding a cup of your favourite coffee and some delicious cakes.

The characteristic cobblestoned alleys, tall-spired medieval churches, and distinct orange-roofed towers made Tallinn an incredibly photogenic place to set our eyes on.

Even more exciting was to be able to get an aerial view of the town, through some easily accessible viewing platforms, which are free for public to visit. I would definitely recommend to visit the ToompeaHill in the city to get some sweeping views of the town,  because of its positioning on a hilltop.

Some of the popular viewing platforms are :

  • Kohtuotsa 
  • Patkuli 

A few glimpses of the pleasing view from the top 😉

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Kohtuotsa viewing platform

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Patkuli viewing platform

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is another of the popular attractions in the Old Town. Perched upon the Toompea Hill, where the other viewing platforms are, it showcases the Russian Orthodox architecture with its dome-shaped top. Quite a contrast to the soaring spires defining the skyline of the rest of the town.

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Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on Toompea Hill

Town Hall Square (or the Raekoja Plats) is a picturesque market hub, with a blend of traditional and modern sights, buildings, merchant houses, shops and cafes. Being a midsummer weekend, it was swarmed with a lot of other enthusiastic tourists, who found themselves gazing at the exquisiteness of the place. Don’t forget to pick up a piece of beautiful amber jewellery this region is famous for!

Amber jewellery in Tallinn

Do you also enjoy the beauty and charm of an Old Town, just like I do? There is another absolutely splendid and magnificent one in Poland, which I would surely recommend.

Read: This Old Town in Poland will sweep your ground

Have you visited Tallinn, too? Would love to know your experiences!