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3 Days in Riga in Autumn: 17 Great Things to Do, See, and Eat

Read about ways to spend 3 days in Riga Latvia in the Autumn. Explore things to do in Riga. Find out why you should spend a weekend in Riga.
Why visit Riga Latvia? That’s one of the advantages of living in Dublin Ireland. 

We had the opportunity to take a low cost flight on Ryanair from Dublin to Riga on a Friday evening after work. 

Why not visit Riga? We discovered that Riga has plenty to offer to fill a 3-day weekend city break. 

Read on to find out more about all the fun things to do in Riga in Autumn.

3 days in Riga Latvia: red and white rifleman statue

1. Riga Nightlife

Even though we arrived in Riga after 10 pm local time, we decided to go out and get our bearings. We stopped into Tinto wine bar for a glass of red wine. 

Afterward, we walked around the Vērmanes Garden near our hotel, the Radisson Blu Elizabete. A night flower market lit up the area with colorful blooms spilling onto the sidewalk. 

We did a lap around the park and admired the wrought iron sculptures. Before turning in for the night, we couldn't resist and stopped to pick up a lovely flower at the market.
Weekend in Riga Latvia: Night flower market in Vērmanes Garden

2. Riga’s Vērmanes Garden By Day

On Saturday morning, we awoke to gray skies but quickly set out to see some of the iconic sights of Riga. We passed through Vērmanes Garden and admired a peaceful fountain. 

Flowers, greenery, and sculpture co-exist in the park. The flower market seems to be open 24/7. 

The most surprising sight of the day was a large inflatable (sinking!) Titanic had been erected for the pleasure of the local children to slide down...a bit morbid, I must say!

3. Step Inside Riga’s Nativity Cathedral

We passed the Russian-Orthodox-looking Nativity Cathedral. I donned a headscarf (provided) and took a look inside. Unfortunately, photos weren't allowed in the church. 
3 days in Riga in Autumn: Nativity Cathedral

4. Latvia’s Freedom Monument and Laima Clock

We continued on to the Freedom Monument honoring soldiers killed in the Latvian War of Independence. 

Just down the street, the Laima clock stands proud. Named after Latvia's famous chocolate purveyor, this spot serves as a popular meeting place for locals. 

5. Riga’s Bastion Hill

A gorgeous wooded park called Bastion Hill rings the old city. We admired the various sculptures and water features. 

We spotted a bridge overloaded with locks (some more than 20 years old!) from couples making a public commitment to their love. We wound our way around the paths past additional statues. 

A vigorous fountain was a striking centerpiece to the pond in the park. We spotted a small pagoda along the banks of the lake. 

A regal looking metal pole peeked out along the path. My favorite statue was what I've affectionately dubbed "My Little Pony". 

We looked back and saw the Freedom Monument in the distance framed by trees. We exited the park and headed toward the iconic Powder Tower. 

Weekend in Riga: My little pony statue on Bastion Hill

6. Weighty Busts on Riga’s Torna Iela

We were surprised to discover some awesome and weighty busts along Riga's Torņa iela. The heads represent various musicians, literary figures, and politicians in Latvian history. 
3 days in Riga in Autumn: a bust along Torņa iela

7. Survey Riga’s Old Town

We continued along the uneven cobbled streets of Riga's Old Town. We emerged on a small square at the convergence of several streets and did a 360 degree survey. 

Our Lady of Sorrows Church anchored the square. We sought out the river and Big Christopher, Riga's protector from floods and natural disasters. 

We walked along the river before turning inland toward the town square.

8. Riga Harvest Festival

Our visit to Riga serendipitously coincided with the annual Fall Harvest Festival. Vendors were set up everywhere and Autumn produce overflowed from large crates. 

An awesome band played traditional Latvian tunes. The accordian player with his passionate expressions couldn't help but make me smile. 

School children dressed in traditional garb waited to take the stage. We walked around the square and checked out the various vendors. 

I loved the colorful heart-shaped cookies for sale. A pile of pumpkins spilled onto the square. It was definitely a popular photo spot.
Weekend in Riga in the Fall: Autumn Harvest Festival pumpkins
We caught a glimpse of a colorful painting on the side of a nearby building. While we were admiring our surroundings, we were approached by 3 college students on a type of scavenger hunt. 

They were tasked with trading something small that they had for bigger and better things from the tourists in the area. I rooted around in my bag but all I could find was 3 American pennies and a wet nap from Yamamori Izakaya in Dublin. 

That was good enough to get me a green pen from their university. I think it was a worthwhile trade! 

We injected more than 3 pennies into the local economy by picking up a pair of metal earrings from a local artist before continuing our exploration around Riga.

9. House of the Blackheads

We left the Autumn Harvest Festival to seek out quieter parts of Riga's Old Town. We discovered the striking House of the Blackheads. 

Much of Riga was destroyed in World War II but has been rebuilt to accurately match its former glory. We passed some colorful planters just outside the local crafts market. 

An abstract metal Christmas tree anchored the square (a bit out of season...). We spotted a lone figure jauntily waving atop a nearby building. 

We noticed a building with Cyrillic writing, a throwback to the time of Soviet occupation. 
Things to see in Riga: House of the Blackheads

10. Lunch at Pelmeni XL

We'd worked up a big appetite at this point and decided to try Pelmeni XL, a pierogi chain restaurant. 

We did our best to figure out what to do: (a) grab a tray (b) pick up a bowl (c) load it up with various kinds of dumplings (d) add seasoning and sauce as desired. 

We were impressed to see vodka on the menu! We opted instead for a blueberry-yogurt drink (delicious!) to go alongside our lunch creation. 
What to eat in Riga: pierogi at Pelmeni XL

11. Get Lost and Have a Treat in Riga

We strolled into a sleepy square. A lovely coffee and dessert place stood in the center. 

We grabbed a seat along the inside window and watched the people outside. The cake we tried was like a chocolate covered cheesecake filled with candied fruit pieces. 

One woman created a bit of a frenzy feeding the birds. We really liked the shock of purple wild flowers just outside. 

We found the famous Cat House in Riga. Black cats sit atop the towers and when the owner of the house was denied access to the local merchants guild, he turned the cats around to 'moon' his enemies.
3 days in Latvia: Wildflowers in Riga

12. Riga’s Museum of Latvian Occupation

We spent an hour exploring Latvia's history at Riga's Museum of Latvian Occupation. Latvia earned independence in the 1920s. 

In 1940, the Soviets launched a military occupation of Latvia. The Nazis followed a year later and occupied Latvia for the duration of World War II. 

The Soviets returned after WWII and Latvia was part of the Soviet Union until 1991 when they earned independence once more. The museum details the trials and atrocities perpetuated on the Latvian people during this period of occupation. 

It's a sobering museum but worth a look to better understand the history of the area. Just outside the museum is a hefty statue honoring the red and white rifleman who died for the country. 
Weekend in Riga: Red and White rifleman statue outside the Museum of Latvia's Occupation

13. Riga’s Central Market

We walked along the river toward Riga's Central Market, one of the best food markets in Europe. The market is centered on four airplane hangers on the outskirts of town. 

Inside, each hangar focuses on particular goods including fish and produce. The market extends outside on nice days. 
Many of the fruit and vegetable vendors had large, old-fashioned manual scales. We tried some excellent and inexpensive red grapes.  

3 days in Riga in Autumn: grapes at Riga Central Market

Latvia is known for various kinds of rye bread. Many different varieties and brands were on offer at the market. Fresh baked sweet and savory treats were on offer as well. 

We concluded our visit to Riga’s Central Market by checking out a stall featuring excellent cheeses and butter. 

14. Folkklubs ALA Pagrabs

On Saturday evening, we sought out good Latvian beer, comfort food, and traditional music. We walked over to Folkklubs ALA Pagrabs situated in a damp basement in Riga's Old Town. 

We quenched our thirst with two different Latvian brews. We sampled a few dishes including chicken drumsticks. Chicken roulade was next up. 

A cod fillet over smashed roast vegetables tasted better than it looked and rounded out the meal. 

We enjoyed a variety of musical acts on two different stages. The musical styles varied widely from acapella to what seemed like a Latvian heavy metal 'hair band' to a less edgy all female string band. 

We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening! We walked up the colorful staircase leading from the club to the street and headed for our hotel.

15. A Day Trip from Riga to Jūrmala

We would never have guessed prior to attending the Latvia v USA beach volleyball match at the 2012 Olympics, but Latvia has beaches! We made our way to the train station on a Sunday morning past ornate buildings housing a variety of businesses. 

The train station facade was a thoroughly modern design and we could see the older sections of Riga reflected in the mirrored windows. In less than an hour, we had arrived in Jūrmala, a Latvian beach town.
Day trip from Riga: Jūrmala beach town

We strolled down the main avenue along with other weekend city-breakers from Riga. We passed striking statues. 

Various kiosks sold an array of gifts. We turned off the shopping street toward the water. 

We spotted an amazing tree soaring toward the blue sky. When we arrived on the sand, clouds began to gather. 

We sat for a few moments on a bench overlooking the Bay of Riga. A man was creating larger-than-life sculptures in the sand not far away. We practically had the place to ourselves.
Day trip from Riga: Jūrmala beach on the Bay of Riga
We watched the waves rolled in as we were buffeted about in the strong gusts of wind. We walked along the beach and then back towards Jūrmala town past the blue flag flying high as a designation of quality. 

We passed an aging concert hall, a living clock, and striking restaurants made from wooden slats. We returned to the shopping street past small souvenir shacks. A modern home hid itself among the trees.

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Latvia is located in the Baltics. Lithuania and Estonia are other Baltic country that I highly recommend. There are so many things to do in Vilnius. Kaunas is also an underrated gem that is definitely worth visiting. Experience Tallinn in the rain.

We came upon a strip of restaurants and looked for a bite to eat. We took a seat outdoors at Cafe 53. After our walk, a Latvian beer was in order. 

We tried lobio (a dish of stewed beans and tomatoes) smothered in sour cream and dill. A creamy barley dish served in a pot rounded out the experience and warmed us up after our walk on the beach. 

We spotted a local fat cat eyeing people's meals. He soon turned his attention to us but we'd lapped up all our food at that point and were ready to move on. Sorry, kitteh!
Things to do near Riga: Observation tower in Dzintari Forest Park

We decided to walk off lunch and hoof it to Dzintari Train Station. En route, we wandered through Dzintari Forest Park. 

A wooden boardwalk snaked through the park. Impressive trees lined the path and in the distance we spotted some kind of tower camouflaged in the foliage. 

We went in for a closer look and discovered an open air structure that visitors could easily climb. We started our way up the stairs. 

Continuing up, we looked out over the trees. Don't look down! The platforms are made of metal grill material. 

Climbing ever further, we eclipsed the tree line. We were rewarded at the top with stunning views of the Bay of Riga. 

Fortunately, there was a bit of fencing to keep us safe. Whew! We made it back to ground level without succumbing to the vertigo. 

Another 15 minute walk and we had arrived at Dzintari Station for our train back to Riga. I love the kind of unexpected surprises like we found in Dzintari Forest Park that day.

16. Riga’s Art Nouveau Architecture

Riga is a lively city with lots of things to do and is especially known for Art Nouveau architecture. 

On our third of 3 days in Riga, we set off down Elizabetes iela to a residential neighborhood with a high concentration of Art Nouveau styling. Giant heads adorned a colorful blue building. 

Unfortunately, we timed our walk poorly and it was lashing rain. We did our best to stay dry in raincoats and umbrellas as we checked out the various buildings on the block. 

More faces emerged from the facades. Whole bodies bore the load of the structures. We looked up at a bay window with a devilish head below. 

A more sedate Art Nouveau building by a Latvian architect was next on the list. We paused to check out a memorial that included a fragment of the Berlin Wall. 

Continuing on, the houses took on a decidedly more French style with squared off roofs and wrought iron railings. The ghoulish details were impressive.
Weekend in Riga Latvia: Art Nouveau architecture

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Ljubljana in Slovenia is another great city break destination in Europe known for Art Nouveau architecture. Spend 3 days in Ljubljana as a great introduction to Slovenia. If you are heading to Norway, don't miss Art Nouveau gem Alesund.

Continuing on, we admired white buildings with gold leaf decoration. More colorful facades emerged. 

An almost Art Deco robot face popped from the building next door. Busty ladies adorned the exterior of another nearby apartment block. 

Grotesque faces stared agog from pillars. We even spotted the Irish Embassy in one of the Art Nouveau buildings! 

Sneering faces framed the door of a building on Alberta iela. Floating heads dotted the structure below. 

Both faces and winged dragons stood in relief from a stark white building. We concluded our tour by admiring two dragons back to back over the door of a nice apartment building. 

Since it was cold and rainy, we decided to call it an afternoon and seek out a drink and a snack.
Weekend in Riga Latvia: Art Nouveau architecture

17. Wine, Food and a Touch of Hockey

We concluded our weekend in Riga with a bit of wine, a lot of food, and a touch of hockey. We enjoyed a glass of red wine and smoked almonds at Vīna Studija. 

The atmosphere was sedate and relaxing. We were surrounded by candles and roses. 

Next, we made our way across the street to Lidojošā varde (Flying Frog). We descended the steps into the cozy cellar. 

We tucked into a corner booth. The decor featured frogs of all sorts. We were served a huge plate of potato pancakes, chicken with roasted vegetables and a fish fillet.
What to eat in Riga Latvia: Potato pancakes
After dinner we popped into the Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija. The sports bar in the basement features a wide range of hockey jerseys. 

We admired a variety of shirts from Russian teams (including a jersey with a charging buffalo which made me think of my Buffalo Sabres). Ice Hockey is my favorite sport which made it a nice way to end the evening. 

Too bad there wasn't a match on while we were in town like there was when we spent 72 hours visa free in St. Petersburg Russia. We enjoyed Riga quite a bit. A hockey match would be a good excuse to come back sometime!

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Do you like ice hockey? If so, I can definitely recommend seeing a hockey game in St. Petersburg Russia.

3 days in Riga Latvia: ice hockey jerseys

Map of Riga Points of Interest for a 3 Day Trip in Autumn

Click on the image of the map below to open up an interactive version in Google Maps to help you plan your three day Riga itinerary.

Map of Riga Latvia Things to Do

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 3 Days in Riga in Autumn: 17 Great Things to Do, See, and Eat
3 Days in Riga in Autumn: 17 Great Things to Do, See, and Eat
Read about ways to spend 3 days in Riga Latvia in the Autumn. Explore things to do in Riga. Find out why you should spend a weekend in Riga.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog