In deciding where to go on a cruise, look north towards the Baltic Sea for a more off-the-beaten path experience. Take a cruise to Riga where you’ll have cooler temperatures in the summer and no crowds. Riga, the capital of Latvia, offers a great cultural experience. A variety of northern European influences combined with a cutting edge ambiance; it won’t disappoint as a port of call. Riga is a city that was at the crossroads of international trade long before globalization was coined. Here are some must-do activities in Riga:
Reasons to Take a Cruise to Riga
Explore Riga’s Historic Center
According to UNESCO, Riga is a living illustration of European history. The city was established in the Middle Ages and thrived when Riga was part of the German merchant’s Hanseatic League. When you take a cruise to Riga and visit its historic center today, you’ll find remnants of its thriving past with beautiful buildings that line its cobblestoned streets. One of them is St. Peter’s Church. Climb up the church for great views of old and new Riga. The gothic spires tower over the medieval center and give travelers a bird’s eye view of this city’s rich Baltic architecture. The House of the Brotherhood of Blackheads on the other hand is one of the center’s most colorful buildings. Built in 1334, it was used as a foreign merchants’ guild. Finally, the former Stock Exchange building, that’s now home to the Art Museum Riga Bourse is an architectural gem.
Stunning Art Nouveau buildings
Did you know that Riga has the highest concentration of Art Nouveau buildings in Europe? Referred to as Jugendstil after a Munich publication that popularized this new modern art movement, Art Nouveau in Riga can be seen when you walk around or simply look up. Alberta iela is the best-known street featuring Art Nouveau buildings in Riga. Here you will find numerous buildings, doors, windows, and gargoyles that are highly “Instragrammable.”
Indulge at Riga Central Market
Travelers who take a cruise to Riga shouldn’t miss the Riga Central Market. It offers an authentic culinary shopping experience with four hangars filled with local food and produce vendors. You could also find traditional crafts and souvenirs from key chains to fine embroidery, wooden butter knives, and exquisite wool socks. However, if you want to pick up a truly fun souvenir to share with folks back home, get a small bottle of Riga black balzams or balsam. Equal parts witches’ brew and Jaegermeister-like bitterness, the power of balzams is its 40% proof. For the faint-hearted, chase it down with soda or put a little vanilla ice cream to take the edge off. Supposedly invented by a pharmacist, balzams’ secret formula is made up of common roots, essential oils, and botanicals.
Have you been to Riga? Share your own reasons below on why others should take a cruise this Baltic capital too.
Written by Lillibeth A. and edited by Iris A.