If you’re an avid-reader of my blog you’ll know how much I love exploring ex-Soviet states. Latvia has been on my list for quite a while, these days unfortunately it’s mostly known as a cheap destination for a stag party.
Thankfully that wasn’t the reason I visited, so what did I discover on my Latvian tour?
I purposely didn’t research this trip beforehand; therefore I arrived waiting to be either surprised or disappointed. Thankfully for me, it wasn’t the latter.
Riga became a member of the European Union in 2004 and replaced it’s own currency the Lat with the Euro in early 2014. These changes have brought huge economic benefits for the small Baltic state, however wealth is desperately needed to help the Government restore some of the crumbling capital city.
I’d ditched the guidebook and was using my iPhone just to help me figure out where I was using Google Maps. A highly recommended thing to do is if you don’t want to use mobile data whilst abroad make sure you preload the map before leaving your hotel, zooming in around areas you know you’ll be walking around and this way you can still follow the map.
Probably the most visited part of Riga is of course the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Old Town, a relatively unmodernised centre for a capital city in Europe.
This is perfect for me, I genuinely felt like I’d stepped back in time.
If like me you love visiting the highest viewing point of any city then you’ll absolutely love seeing Riga’s.
You’ll have to shell out €9 to visit St Peter’s Church, so although rather expensive for Latvia, if you compare it to paying £30 to clamber up the Shard in London then it’s an absolute bargain. The Church dates back to approximately 1209 but has been destroyed by fire several times, the last reconstruction occurred after the second World War.
In 2014 Riga was chosen as the European Capital of Culture, although the country may not have a well-known landmark there’s definitely some fascinating history just waiting to be discovered.
One of these places must be the KGB Building. An incredible look back in time when anyone could be arrested and anyone could be found guilty.
The building itself holds some rather gruesome history, rather than me explain this I’ll let the photos do the talking and simply say that entry is only €5 and can be purchased via the Latvia Tourism Office in central Riga or booked online.
Although this part of my visit would officially be classed as “Dark Tourism”, it’s a part of history which needs to be heard and discovered by adventurous traveller’s like me.
On a more lighter note, across the city you’ll find a huge number of bars and clubs who are eager to entice young travellers, or at the very least they’ll offer you some “young ladies”. Thankfully I declined on the fact it’d be the wrong sex I was interested in.
The worst thing about my trip…
…there wasn’t enough time to fit everything in!
Which can mean only one thing, I shall just have to go back and uncover more incredible hidden gems.
Visit Riga for yourself
I highly recommend a visit, to book your stay go to Booking.com and search for Riga.
If you’d like to discover more photographs and information from this trip or any others please feel free to ask me any questions. You can visit my Facebook page and please don’t forget to ‘Like’ Travel Geek UK.