Riga

Weekend Flights

Weekend flights from Manchester can set you back between £140-£170, while flying from London will cost around £100 in the summer and as little as £60 in autumn.

Airport to Centre

As I arrived in Riga by bus I can’t really help you on this but the relevant information can be found here.

Accommodation

We stayed at the Mosaic hotel, booking a triple room for 2 nights which cost less than £40 each. The hotel is extremely modern and the free breakfast in the morning is nice and varied. Mosaic is very much a hotel, rather than a hostel and the communal area was barely used by anyone, in fact the place was eerily quiet in general.

The shower/ bathroom facilities are very good and the people working on reception are friendly and helpful. The hotel is a 10 minute walk from the centre, although there are a handful of bars and restaurants across the road.

Things to Do

The Cornerhouse (KGB Building) is a former prison and museum detailing the Soviet occupation of Riga. Entry to the exhibition is free and a guided tour of the prison is around €5 – the tour lasts the best part of an hour so is great value for money.

The prison is pretty sobering as you can imagine but gives you great insight into the secretive and irrational world of the Soviet Union. A must do for anyone visiting Riga, in my opinion.

Places to Eat

Plenty of choice in the centre, all the usual fastfood chains, plus Hesburger (the Finish, cheaper McDonalds with burgers drowned in mayonaise). For a quick lunch, Wok to Walk, not far from the Freedom Monument was a good shout.

There are a number of outdoor restaurant/ bars in the heart of the tourism centre, the name of the one I visited escapes me but I had a nice Rabbit Cacciatore and the live music was good. I know that doesn’t help anyone but I thought i’d make people aware its not all burgers and noodles.

Bars/ Pubs/ Clubs

As a stag-do hotspot the nightlife in Riga is very good as you would expect, plenty of groups of males marching around, both British and Russian. There are plenty of seedy lap dancing places to cater for stags but there is a good mix of bars if you venture away from the main strip.

Armoury Bar is definitely a novelty, a great range of beer while you mess around with rocket launchers, AK-47s and pistols (unloaded obviously).

We visited an alternative club called Depo which sometimes has live music. However, our visit coincided with a bizarre, industrial night which involved topless blokes, some wearing steam punk goggles and zombified goth girls throwing out laughable dance moves to deafening noise.

It’s a good job we were hammered, helped by the cheap drinks at the upstairs bar. Ordering double vodkas is not advised here unless you want a tall glass of 95% vodka, 5% coke.

Summary

Riga is great for both a booze up and a sight-seeing trip, although the influx of stag parties over the last decade has increased prices and I found it quite expensive compared to Tallinn and especially Vilnius; prices in the old town are more what you would expect to pay back in the UK.

I found the locals to be quite unfriendly in general and the service at bars left a lot to be desired. I got the impression that Latvians don’t particularly like tourists but that’s not to say I felt uncomfortable at any point.

It’s a place I would definitely re-visit for a rowdy drinking weekend and for that reason you will always have to expect loud groups of ‘lads’ being a general annoyance.

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