House of blackheads and square, Riga Latvia

Spending A Few Days in Riga, Latvia

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Riga is the capital of Latvia and has a major international airport which connects the Baltics with the rest of Europe. Due to timings, I could only spend a couple of days in Riga and not get the chance to explore it properly. I arrived on Sunday and left on Tuesday afternoon.

Despite still having to squeeze in some work, I managed to still get out and see some cool things in Riga.

When I spend months in one place, I can write complete guides on cities and countries as I know it so well. Riga isn’t like that but I like to keep the narrative going of where I’ve been and what I’ve seen.

After being in Estonia for 2 months, I had to fly back to the UK and the easiest and cheapest way for me to do so was from Riga on British Airways so I could utilise my frequent flyer status.

Getting to Riga

I left Tartu in Estonia by taking a Lux bus from Tartu late on a Sunday evening. The bus had actually come from St Petersburg in Russia so was actually about 30 minutes late because it had been held up at the border.

When I got on, I was asked for my passport as we were crossing a border. Is that another Brexit benefit? Shortly after, we left not too far behind schedule.

Traditional hosues,, Riga Latvia

Driving through the Estonian countryside is similar to what I had experienced before on my road trip around Estonia.

Eventually, I arrived into Riga very late at night on a Sunday evening in late winter/ early spring. It was cold at this time and I had to put my jacket on. But luckily unlike being in Estonia in the depths of winter, it was just a jumper and a coat in 1 degree than anything heavier in negative degrees.

I checked into my hotel, a relatively fancy one compared to my usual choice at the Tallink Hotel Riga. It is in a great location close to the train station and walking distance to the Old Town.

Dan in park, Riga Latvia

Working from a hotel

The room was large and clean and the hotel also had a gym and a sauna which I made use of the following day.

As I was still working, I woke early on the Monday morning to do an hour or twos worth of work. Once that was done, I had a free walking tour booked. I always say that a free walking tour is the best way to experience a city if you’re there for a short amount of time.

In just two hours, I saw a lot and most importantly, I learned a lot.

Riga has a fascinating history and totally different to what I had learned in Estonia in the week previously.

Am I going to pretend to be an expert of everything to do in Riga after one walking tour? Not at all.  For other destinations I spend a lot of time in, I learn a lot more. But for Riga, it was literally a flying visit.

Hosue of blackheads, Riga Latvia
House of the Blackheads

I saw St Peter’s Church, Riga cathedral and most impressively, the House of the Black Heads, a building that has a history that I can’t begin to explain, but one that I found fascinating. Walking back to my hotel, I walked down backstreets that had a number of bars which would make the perfect destination for a stag night. As it had done for a friend of mine some years ago.

But overall what I liked about Riga was it’s authenticity. It wasn’t like Budapest where I felt everything was made for tourists. And it wasn’t like Tallinn where I felt it was a traditional city that hadn’t changed in a number of years.

Riga has modernised and unashamedly so. It is now a capital like the rest of Europe and nothing like its former Soviet past, which other cities have retained.

I spent the rest of my Monday working in my hotel room or in the hotel. That is the life of a digital nomad that many people don’t see. They only see the coconuts on the beach with a laptop, not the uncomfortable stool in an average hotel.

I had a beer in the hotel bar in the evening that was delivered with some olives from a friendly barman that stayed for a chat. he obviously took me as a business traveller that was there alone and I was happy to oblige for a short while. I finished my beer whilst watching the local basketball league on TV and went to bed.

Cesu beer, Riga Latvia
Hotel beers hit different

Day 2 in Riga

I woke early the next morning, again to get ahead for work on my uncomfortable stool.

I check out the hotel before the 10am checkout time and went for a haircut. One of the longest I’ve had. It took over an hour and was average at best and cost €35. Was it worth it. Not at all as it was windy outside so the style had gone within a few minutes.

Dan haircut, Riga Latvia
Fresh trim

I then went to a chain of coffee shops to work, Caffeine is a good place to work in Riga or the rest of Baltics. I found a couple of coworking places but with me working odd hours, they didn’t suit me as a workplace as a digital nomad in Riga.

Just after lunchtime, I returned to my hotel to collect by bag and catch a Bolt to the airport for my flight home.

Bolt is everywhere in the Baltics, as it is in Estonia and a great way to get around.

Heading home

I got to the airport, checked in and found myself in the lounge that got me some food and drinks. For the first time, I saw that this lounge had a Jaegermeister machine. It served ice cold jaeger and I saw a man pour himself a double, down it, then pour himself another. I thought I had seen it all…

Jaeger in lounge, Riga airport, Riga Latvia
The Jaegermeister machine in Riga airport lounge

Summing up a few days in Riga

Riga was a place that pleasantly surprised me. I was only there for a short time and can’t confess to see it all, but it was a place that I felt left a good impression that would make me want to go back again and see some more.

I know it has a reputation as a place for stag nights and cheap drinks, but its also a place for culture and history and a somewhere that I could happily spend more than a few days.

I loved my time in Riga and I look forward to exploring it more in my next visit.

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