I have spent in Riga three long winter months. For me, Riga is a place where two worlds – western and eastern come together and create a city with its’ own style and energy. Riga is a modern European city with nice shoppings, dinings and events happening. Russian culture and influence are in Riga very strong – and that’s what makes this place very different from other European capitals and creates its’ particular vibe and city culture – which I loved.
I could describe my time in Riga with two words – cold and dark. Now, this may sound not very welcoming but honestly, this was a very special experience for me.
The darkness, short and grey-ish days, freezing winter with temperature going below 10 degrees, underground and melancholic music scene, seedy buildings on outskirts – this all made me to look for and to see the beauty of every day differently.
What I loved in Riga were long evening walks after the sunset – these were, unlike to the winter day reality, full of colours. Riga’s Old Town has an undeniable charm –, especially at night. It has the largest collection of Art Noveau – style buildings in the world. Strolling night streets of Riga was one of my favourite activities while living there.
Riga has plenty, and I mean plenty of small, cute cafés. My favourite one was located in a Riga Central Market where I used to get my coffee and sweet pastry anytime I did my shopping. Place with one counter, six bar chairs and one coffee machine. I still remember the lady working there – she was focused and precise while working, very effective while doing every small operation – like putting sugar and milk on the side of a coffee plate, she knew that she is in control of the café and everything needs to be smooth and precise. She sincerely cared about the customers and still, she had that amazing (possibly Russian?) attitude and courage to handle old dudes disturbing her at her work and trying have a conversation or a cup of the coffee on the house. She wasn’t a server, she was the Boss. This place with an authentic atmosphere, nothing fancy, mostly serving locals or old friends who had nothing to do but to hang out with a cup of tea all day long, pastries baked a doorstep away and priced as little as 30 cents and the far-from-hipster vibe is probably my most favourite place in Riga. Now, pity is I do not have a single picture from there and I do not remember the name neither (maybe it does not have any). It’s located in a pavilion with pastries and breads – after you enter take left and it’s right there.
Colors of early morning
Riga Central Market – by the way, is the European largest market and it’s running for 90 years. It’s a place where you can still get wholesome food from small farmers. But nothing fancy – it is not a food hall where you overpay for shopping bio and organic (even though it is), but the place where you still can bargain prices (sadly got cheated as well) – simply authentic. Shopping here used to be a highlight of my week. I loved to come and choose from fresh fish, meat, cheese, vegetables, and of course – enjoy my cup of coffee. By the way most of my friends in Riga have never been here or haven’s done shopping here for the longest time – they simply prefer supermarkets (what a pity).
I wanted to mention one more place worth visiting while in Riga – it’s a small Turkish café offering an authentic Turkish coffee and tea, Turkish delicacies and few items for a lunch. Amazing place. I used to eat there a couple of times a week – I found it by a coincidence when I was strolling around the neighbourhood where I used to live – and since then I became a regular customer. You can check it out here
Riga on Christmas is simply charming
As I was living in Riga for some time I want to share with you a few places I was visiting or joining back then, in case you will stay in Riga for a longer time:
- WORK – definitely, the best place to work in the town is TEIKUMS coworking. An amazing place with great energy, inspiring community of the people, with a beautiful interior so you can truly enjoy your work … and with the best coffee
- WORK-OUT – at the time I was working out in the Lemon Gym. It was a very spacious and well-equipped gym with a great value for money,
- SHOP – as I am not a big fan of clothes shopping I only recommend you a place to buy foods – as mentioned in the article, get your fresh groceries on the Central Market
- EAT & DRINK – besides what was mentioned I loved the food and interior at Parunasim Cafe, Apsara Tea House, Fazenda, chain of restaurants Lido and a traditional restaurant with an authentic atmosphere and dances Folkklubs
And that’s all from me. Pack your three jackets, two gloves and one cap and enjoy Riga with all your senses.
Have a great time,