With three days in Riga, you have plenty of time to soak up the city’s atmosphere, see its most famous sights, learn about its turbulent history, and even head into the surrounding countryside. Here are a few ways to experience the best of Riga in 72 hours.
Day 1: See the City’s Sights
On your first morning in Riga, get your bearings on a guided walking or Segway tour that covers the city’s major sights, including Old Riga and and the art nouveau district, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For the flexibility of independent exploration, a hop-on hop-off bus tour allows you to create your own itinerary: Get off anywhere along the route and spend as long as you wish there.
In the afternoon take a closer look at Riga’s most important landmarks, such as the Gothic-style House of the Blackheads, one of Riga’s grandest buildings. Inside you'll find crystal chandeliers and painted ceilings, and you can explore the medieval cellars.
Round out your first day with a tasting tour around Old Riga. Tours typically include samples of Latvian specialties from various businesses, visits to a local brewery and chocolate factory, and a meal at a family-run restaurant.
Day 2: Dive into Riga’s History and Culture
Discover the most tumultuous period in Latvian history with a guided tour focused on Riga’s time under Soviet rule. Along with providing information about residents’ daily life under occupation, guided tours take visitors to sites where reminders of occupation can still be seen—such as the former KGB building and the Latvian Academy of Sciences, a building still often called “Stalin’s birthday cake.”
Having worked up an appetite on the morning’s exploration, spend the afternoon in bustling Riga Central Market, one of the largest covered markets in Europe, now housed in a series of former Zeppelin hangars. Guided tours of the market typically include tastings of local specialties such as smoked meats, cheeses, herring, and hemp butter, and offer insights into local cuisine and food culture. Before saying goodbye, make sure to ask your guide for suggestions for where to eat dinner.
Day 3: Head Out of Town
With a day to spare, you have many options for day trips from Riga. You can soak up the sun in the seaside resort of Jūrmala, known for its wooden houses and Soviet-era sanatoriums; visit Rundale Palace to see baroque and rococo architecture and stroll around Versailles-inspired gardens; head for the town of Sigulda where you can see castles, caves, and views of the Gauja valley; or even travel over the border and as far afield as Vilnius, Lithuania. All are reachable on a full-day tour, which allows you to skip the hassle of renting a car or puzzling over train or bus schedules.
Back inside city limits, spend the evening toasting a great trip with a few local brews. A beer-tasting evening tour can take you to some of Riga’s best beer bars to try different kinds of beers—and many tours include traditional snacks.