Gay Guide • RIGA | What to See, Where to Stay, Best Gay Bars and Restaurants | LGBT Guide
Discover this City with our Quick and Practical Guide to Visit the Best Attractions, Savor Typical Dishes and Have Fun in the Best Gay Bars. All this through the Rainbow Eyes of the World Mappers
What to See, Best Places to Sleep, Where to Eat and to Have Fun in RIGA?
Find it out with the World Mappers !
WHAT TO SEE in RIGA?
10 THINGS TO SEE in RIGA
Town Hall Square (Rātslaukums) & House of the Blackheads (Melngalvju Nams)
The hub of Riga's Old Town; a square where the huge Town Hall and the spectacular House of the Blackheads dominate the scene. In reality, what we can see today, the seat of the Tourist Office, is a reconstruction from 1999 since the building was razed to the ground in the 1940s. The name derives from the guild of merchants (Confraternita delle Teste Nere) which had their headquarters here. It is said that the tradition of decorating the Christmas tree originated in this building and then spread throughout the world.
Riga Cathedral (Rīgas Doms)
Impossible not to find it since at least seven streets of the city lead to it. It is considered among the largest medieval churches in the Baltic area.
St. Peter's Church
Emblem of the Gothic architecture of the Baltic States, it is located not far from the Town Hall Square. Even if the interior isn't particularly interesting, go inside to climb the bell tower (one of the tallest in Europe) and see the old town and the Daugava River from above.
Inside the Bastejkalna Park, a charming park crossed by a canal, stands this huge 42 m high obelisk. The Freedom Monument is a tribute to freedom and is a symbol of the independence of the Republic of Latvia. A short distance away, we also recommend visiting the Esplanāde Park and the beautiful Orthodox Cathedral of the Nativity (keep in mind that you cannot enter with shorts and women must have their heads covered).
Centrs & Art Nouveau District
Many tourists are convinced that this is the historical center of the Latvian capital. In reality, the Centrs (Centre) was only built in the mid-1800s, a period in which Riga distinguished itself as one of the most prosperous cities in the Russian Empire and during which more than 800 Art Nouveau or Liberty buildings were erected. The most popular street to see this type of architecture is Alberta iela (Albert Street), with 8 listed buildings. Prepare to be enchanted by decorations, statues, floral motifs and majolica. Also of considerable importance are the National Art Museum, the gigantic university complex and the National Theater with interiors entirely decorated in Jugendstil.
The Three Brothers (Trīs brāļi)
The buildings located at numbers 17, 19 and 21 on Mazā Pils Street in the heart of the old city are nicknamed the "Three Brothers" even though they belong to different eras. The building at number 17 dates back to the 15th century and is the oldest of the three.
Walls of Riga
Today there are few remains of the city walls dating back to the 13th century. Walk along the beautiful Troksnu street (perhaps the most beautiful in the city) and admire the Swedish Gate, the only surviving passage of the walls. Just outside the Swedish Gate we recommend a visit to the Jacob Barracks, old military barracks converted into restaurants, boutiques and souvenir shops. Even the Powder Tower, now home to the War Museum, was part of the ancient city wall.
Little Moscow & Riga Central Market
Along the Daugava river to the left of the Old City it seems to be catapulted directly into the 80s and into another country. We are in the area known as Little Moscow (Maskavas Forštate), a district historically inhabited by Russians, which looks more like a Soviet city than Riga. Here you will find low wooden houses, cobbled streets, decadence but also shops and small restaurants full of authenticity . Be careful because in the evening, you will also find some crime. Above the neighborhood stands the silhouette of the "Stalin's Birthday Cake", the building of the Academy of Sciences built for the Russian dictator. The inhabitants of Riga have never particularly loved this building which, however, offers a terrace with a magnificent view of the neighborhood and the entire capital. If you love junk you are in the right place because in the local Flea Market (Latgale Market) you can find everything from gas masks to watches of the Russian Army, from shells for tanks to many other things of Soviet origin. If you like markets, don't miss the Riga Central Market housed in 5 old hangars where Zeppelin airships were once built. Also in the Russian quarter are what remains of the Old Synagogue of Riga and the Ghetto Museum.
Another place not to be missed in Riga is the lively Līvu square, full of terraces, restaurants and craft stalls. A very photogenic place. The square is surrounded by several unique buildings, such as the Art Nouveau Cat House with two black cats on the roof, the Little Guild (Mazā ģilde), the Big Guild (Lielā ģilde) and the Mikhail Chekhov Riga Russian Theater , the largest Russian theater outside Russia.
Victory Park (Uzvaras Parks)
The last place we suggest is a huge park where it is also possible to practice winter sports, such as cross-country skiing. The particular thing is that in the park there is the gigantic Victory Monument, erected by the USSR to commemorate the victory over the Nazis but considered by many inhabitants of Riga as the symbol of the beginning of a new occupation in Latvia.
Visiting this city at its best depends essentially on how long you have to fully enjoy it. Here is a solution based on the number of days available to you:
Day 1 - Ancient Riga & Centrs Liberty District - Google Maps
Day 2 - Alternative Riga - Google Maps
Extra - Jurmala ((from Riga Central Station) - Google Maps
Extra - Kipsala (from Riga Old Town) - Google Maps
(By opening the Maps with Google, you can easily follow our path)
5 BEST EXCURSIONS from RIGA
Bauska Castle, Rundale Palace & Hill of Crosses
Cēsis, Sigulda & Turaida Castle
Click'n'Go - Click on Hotels, Restaurants, Bars & Clubs
to find them on the Map or visit their Website
WHERE TO SLEEP in RIGA?
5 BEST GAY FRIENDLY HOTELS in RIGA
Wellton Centrum Hotel & SPA **** ® Tested by World Mappers
WHERE TO EAT in RIGA?
5 BEST RESTAURANTS in RIGA Quality / Price
€€€ - Muusu (Typical Latvian)
€€€ - 3 Pavāru Restorāns "Tam labam būs augt" (Typical Latvian)
€€ - Key of Riga (Typical Latvian) ® Tested by World Mappers
€€ - Rozengrāls (Typical Latvian & Medieval) ® Tested by World Mappers
€€ - AKA Latvian Cuisine (Typical Latvian)
GAY NIGHTLIFE in RIGA
3 BEST GAY PLACES, BARS & CLUBS in RIGA
TOP Club (Gay Club) ® Tested by World Mappers
Skyline Bar (Gay Friendly Bar) ® Tested by World Mappers
Herbārijs (Gay Friendly Bar) ® Tested by World Mappers
TRAVEL TIPS about RIGA by World Mappers
Although most tourists to Riga visit its Old Town, Centrs and Little Russia district, there is another part of the capital that deserves a visit: Kipsala. It is an island connected to the mainland by some bridges with a wonderful town characterized by cobbled streets, old houses overlooking the sea, greenery and tranquility. For some years now, design houses have been popping up here and there for those who have chosen this area to build a home away from the chaos of the center with an alternative style. On this island you can visit the memorial house of the Zanis Lipke family, who saved 60 Jews from deportation during the Nazism. Admission is free but you have to ring the intercom to enter.
Shall we go to the sea? Yes yes, you read that right, even in Riga you go to the beach. Or rather, you go to the Baltic with not exactly pleasant temperatures but you just need to get used to it. Jurmala, about 25 km from the center of Riga, is the favorite town and beach for the inhabitants of the Latvian capital. This location had a very strong success as the oligarchs of the Soviet Union loved to spend their holidays there and turned it into a kind of Côte d'Azur of Latvia.
Unusual and Particular Places to See in Riga
Outside the classic places to visit of the city, there is a "Secret Riga" that has simply bewitched us. Here are the 6 Things and Places to See in Secret Riga:
House of the Cat - Even if it is no longer such a "secret" place, it still deserves to be seen. In reality we had a little trouble finding it without knowing where it was, when in reality we hadn't agreed that it was right under our noses, actually above it being on the roof of a magnificent Art Nouveau building. Legend has it that the owner of the building, a well-known merchant from Riga, as a sign of contempt had the cat placed with its butt facing the Greater Chamber of Commerce and only after a lawsuit did he decide to have the cat turn to another direction.
The Corner House - In the center of the Latvian capital in a beautiful Art Nouveau building hides a former headquarters of the KGB (State Security Committee and supreme security body of the USSR), known as The Corner House, where political prisoners would be been subjected to torture. Many of those captured by the KGB were executed right in the basement of the Corner House, while others were crammed into overcrowded cells and left to die of heat or thirst. Today part of the building is used as a museum.
Kalnciema District - You will almost seem to be in Sweden more than in Latvia. For Simone who loves old wooden houses with pastel colors it was impossible to stop photographing the shops with organic products, small pastry shops, boutiques of young designers and artists and bars with live music. We also recommend the Saturday morning farmers' market, with products arriving from outside Riga.
Castle of Light - In Latvian culture the Castle of Light indicates the metaphor of lost wisdom which can only be found after overcoming the darkness of war, invasion and occupation. The extraordinary structure of the National Library of Latvia is known by this name, a sort of Castle or Mountain on the banks of the Daugava River with a large glass flame on top. Right from here, on the 11th and 12th floors, you can enjoy a magnificent panorama of the old city.
Jauniela - You know the headquarters in Baker Street of Sherlock Holmes? You will never imagine how this very famous street is actually strongly linked to Riga. Jauniela, literally New Street, is a narrow street in the heart of the historic center of Riga, the scene of some filming for the film about the most famous detective in the world. The Baltic states, and Riga in particular, were popular filming destinations for Soviet films set in Western European cities. In fact, it is right here that part of the television series The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson was filmed, a series of Soviet television films that portray the English detective.
Cat's Hostel - One of the other unusual things we found in Riga are the Cat Hostels scattered around the city (one was right next to our hotel). Really cute idea!
GAY FRIENDLY TOURS
Do you want to discover the city more deeply through Riga's Best Gay Tours? We recommend the following local operators:
Gaily Tour - Tour Operator offering tours and excursions dedicated to the LGBT + community throughout Europe. Special Tours and Gay & Lesbian Friendly Guides ready to make you discover the beauties of this destination. Info & Booking: info@GailyTour.com
Riga • Gay Friendly Tour & Old City's Secrets
Start your incredible LGBT Friendly walking tour of Riga from its amazing Cathedral with one of the biggest organs in Europe. Proceed towards Riga Castle, which also houses the offices of the Latvian president. Admire St. James Church and the parliament. Continue to the James' Barracks where you will find many trendy shops and cafés and remnants of the Old City Walls. Reach the red brick Powder Tower and the Museum of War next door. Afterwards continue to the Freedom Monument on the edge of Old Riga and then proceed to Sky bar at Radisson Latvia Hotel where you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the city. Included: * Gay or Lesbian Friendly Tour Guide for City Tour (3 hours) * Entrance Fee - Dom Cathedral * Sky bar at Radisson Latvia Hotel
Riga by Night • Gay Tour
Enjoy an enlightened Riga and an amazing walking tour through Riga's gay & lesbian bars and clubs to live on your skin the magic atmosphere and LGBT scene of the city. Enjoy your included drink (also alcohol free drink available) and own the night ! Included: * Gay or Lesbian Friendly Tour Guide for Night Tour (2 hours) * Drink in Gay Bar (1 Drink)
What to See near Riga ?