Biblioteka №1 is just on the edge of the Vērmanes Garden, offering a charismatic setting for dinner. The sophisticated interiors are filled with books and chef Maris Jansons creates exquisite, seasonal Latvian cuisine. The wine list seems endless, with the majority of varieties coming from Italy and France.
Miera iela, or Peace Street, is the bustling center of a creative, bohemian community. Plenty of charming cafés and shops line the streets. DAD café is a great spot for healthy food — they’re known for their homemade soups and often host live music and art exhibitions. Even better, they’re open 24 hours a day.
In Valdemāra iela 4, the kitsch Leningrad Café is a reminder of the Soviet era with vintage wallpaper, books, paintings and other memorabilia dating back to the Communist days.
Before it became a restaurant, Kolonade was a historical building and a kiosk. Surrounded by the Freedom Monument, the Laima Clock and the National Opera, Kolonade is located right in the heart of Riga’s history and culture. Chef Ainārs Volodka creates Latvian cuisine with fresh, local seasonal ingredients.
The Paviljons concept store stocks a selection of international brands, as well as local designers. Often hand-made or one-of-a-kind pieces prevail here. Latvian fashion and design is often left out by the international creative community. Paviljons breaks the mold and provides a great way to get to know the local talent.
Thanks to its reputation for beautiful white sand beaches and spas, Jūrmala is a popular summer tourist destination. However, during the busy season it can quickly become overpopulated and lose its charm. If you’re looking for a more tranquil escape, head to Vecaki. It may be less picturesque, but it will be nearly devoid of tourists, as only locals seem to know about it.
If you’re looking to escape the city life, rural tourism in Latvia is a great way to meet local farmers and discover small villages in the scenic Gauja river valley. Latvia is equally beautiful in summer and winter. Venture there in the winter for poetic vistas and cross-country skiing. Summers are hot and call for a plunge in the fresh waters of the Baltic Sea. No matter the season, the oft-underrated destination is worth a stop on your travels.
For a luxurious stay, book a stay at another example of the city’s magnificent architecture: the Gallery Park Hotel. It’s a 19th-century mansion turned luxury boutique hotel, and its antique furniture was carefully selected at various auctions in Europe to preserve the spirit of the building.
Those who find Gallery Park a bit too baroque for their taste can travel to Bauska, about an hour outside of Riga and stay at the 16-room hotel in the Mežotne Palace. The 1802 neo-classical palace is located on a historic estate, that was a gift from Tsarina Catherine II to her children’s governess. For something more minimalist, and surrounded by nature, Nitaures Dzirnavas is a guest house isolated from urban noises and worries in a beautiful natural setting, just a couple of hours away from Riga by car.
Written by Kamila Beyssembaeva
Headline image of by krivinis/Shutterstock