Visit to the Baltic Countries: Part 2 – Riga, Latvia

Rob and Barbara in car with sandwiches
Picnic in the car

Cēsis, Latvia

Medieval castle turrets

We stopped at Cēsis, a small town in northeastern Latvia known for its medieval castle. It looks like a lovely town to explore, if we had more time and if it wasn’t starting to rain hard again.

Our 5-hour drive took us closer to 7 hours with stops for construction. The highway alternated from sections of paved road to dirt and gravel. In many places we were limited to one lane of traffic.

Unpaved road under construction

Riga, Latvia

Arriving in Riga, we followed the SatNav provided in the car, which did a decent job. Unfortunately, with our hotel in sight, right around the corner on a one-way square with parking available out front, we were stopped by the police and told to turn back. Parliament was in session on the same square, and the police were running a tight security.

Charming hotel front

We circled around and found a parking deck, and walked a few minutes to the Pullman Hotel, which is well worth the trouble of reaching it. A 5-star hotel with air conditioning, variety of TV channels, a bar, a cool stone-walled restaurant, an expansive breakfast, and perfect location in Old Town.

Riga’s Old Town is charming, with a lovely, relaxed feel. It welcomes wandering, with a network of neighborhoods connected by small squares. It has been called “the Paris of the North,” and we could see why, the café culture was everywhere.

Square with cafe tables
Old Town Square

It’s an easy walk to all the sights, including going across the bridge to see the views of both the Castle and Old Town from the river.

The Freedom Monument, a symbol of Latvian’s independence, is set in the middle of a beautiful large park, and boat rides are available on the nearby canal.

Just beyond the Freedom Monument, the Nativity of Christ Orthodox Cathedral is a breathtakingly beautiful church, both inside and out.

Gold domed cathedral with multiple turrets
Nativity of Christ Orthodox Cathedral

Heading toward the main railroad station, the Central Market is another attraction, as it is located in old Zeppelin Hangars, previously used by Germany in WWI. The Market is quite large, with over 3000 stalls of foods, household goods, and souvenirs.

We also found Festivals all around Riga, set up across large parks. Many tents were selling pottery, textiles, and woodwork, and everyone was out enjoying the nice weather.

Foods of Latvia

We loved our time in Riga, especially for its charming neighborhoods. In the middle of the day, the crowds swelled with visitors from cruise ships in port. But by the end of the afternoon, a relaxing stroll is possible, with space to admire all the artwork around the city.

Next week, we’ll wrap up our Visit to the Baltic Countries with Part 3 – Vilnius, Lithuania.

Rob and Barbara at dinner in medieval setting in Latvia
Uz veselibu!

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Leave a Reply

4 responses to “Visit to the Baltic Countries: Part 2 – Riga, Latvia”

  1. Jessica L Avatar
    Jessica L

    Each destination you visit seems more magical than the last!

    1. Barbara Skinner Avatar

      Thanks Jessica! We are incredibly grateful to have these opportunities to explore a bit of the world. 😊

  2. stanleyleary Avatar

    Thanks for another virtual tour. Now if I could only taste and smell that food

    1. Barbara Skinner Avatar


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