Via Baltica – Riga

Aug 2, 2012

From Tallinn to Riga the road is pretty straightforward and once you reach the Gulf of Riga, the road follows the coastline. All in all it’s a nice drive and depending on the weather you can definitely enjoy the sandy beaches as well. For us though, the reality was a little harsher as it was pouring rain pretty much the entire coastal drive. We did enjoy the scenario- from rural farmhouses and fields to these beautiful sea front forests that somehow still reminded us of Finland.

We got to Riga in the afternoon and looked for the camping ground, which is actually pretty well located just across the river Daugava from the old town. Since my parents were going to occupy the camping car, we planned to sleep in a tent for the next couple of weeks- a pretty decent and cheap alternative for an accommodation during summer time in Europe! Upon arriving to the the camping there is an area called Pārdaugava that has the most gorgeous wooden villas that have remained pretty much untouched for centuries. It is dazzling to see how the architecture was back in the day, and even more unbelievably how it is preserved in its original shape and form till today*. 

After setting up the tent for the night, we were ready to go and explore the largest city in the Baltic region. An interesting fact about Riga is that almost a third of the entire Latvian population resides there- so it really is the one and only cultural and economical center of the country. It is not hard to see why- the old town is very well preserved and has a lot to offer for anyone seeking for activities and things to do. Not only is the old town UNESCO World Heritage Site with its beautiful art nouveau buildings, but it also offers an interesting mix of other styles. The influences from the past when it served as an important Hansa harbor are still there to see, as well as the medieval heritage.

Since we only had such a short time to visit the town, we decided to take upon one of the tours to get a better picture of the downtown. Normally we would try to avoid such a touristy thing to do but sometimes when you have a limited time on your hands, it can be surprisingly helpful! We got to see all the main stuff (the old town is quite small) and from there on out could orientate towards the places we wanted to take a closer look at. There are lots of beautiful churches and monuments to see, but the most intriguing thing about Riga is most definitely the lively street life. The old town is like a network of narrow alleys that brings you eventually to an open square full of restaurants and cafes – and sounds of music are everywhere…

After walking around, we were starving and wanted finally to get some dinner but we certainly had the difficulty of choice- there are just simply too many places to choose from (also, a lot of the restaurants were pretty full and the waiting time was long; we ended up waiting for almost an hour to get our food). We found the prices in Riga pretty similar to any other city in Europe, at least for fine dining, but for example for beers, we saw some really cheap deals in the bars…No wonder people come to Riga for good times!

We got back to the camping with a taxi, and just on a side note, this is another thing to pay attention to- always asking the price in advance to avoid surprises when paying. After all, there is a difference of being a tourist and being an easy target.

The next morning we got up pretty early, knowing we would have a long stretch of road ahead of us; we were going to make it all the way to Warsaw, Poland. And if anything, we knew that the Polish roads are a story of their own…


General Information

*Pārdaugava area:
Latvia travel

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