I recently had a 6 hour layover (which turned into 5 because of delays) in Riga and couldn’t decide if I wanted to explore the city in the short time I had or just chill at the airport and watch Game of Thrones. But instead of choosing, I decided to do both! Here’s how you make the most of your layover in Riga:
Do your research beforehand to save time
I did some quick research about Riga and how to get to the old city, where literally all the main attractions are. I pinned all the places I wanted to go to so I could see it in my offline maps. I checked on my Google Maps that there were two buses that went to the Old Town and remembered the numbers “22” and “322”. It was by far the easiest and quickest journey I’ve taken from an airport to the city. I only had to walk outside, cross the road and there was the bus stop. Bus number 322 came within 5 minutes and I was on my way. On my maps it said it would take me about 30 minutes, but it only took about 20 (my bus driver was a bit cray cray though). The bus ride cost 2€ one way, but you can apparently get it cheaper if you buy it somewhere else. When I arrived, I looked at all my pinned places and decided to start furthest away from the bus stop so I could work my way back.
You won’t have fun if you’re just going to stress about it and run around like a crazy person. If you only have a very short layover, it might not be worth it. But if you’re like me and had 5-6 hours, you can definitely go to Riga without feeling the pressure! Although I won’t lie and say that I stopped at every building to look at it in fascination for 15 minutes, I did get to see everything I wanted to see. Riga’s old city is small, which is great if you’re only there for a couple of hours. Some people will say you can see it all, some people won’t. I say you can! The main attractions that I think you mustn’t miss are:
House of the Blackheads
Okey, so the name doesn’t sound so… nice, but it is beautiful. It was built in 1334 for upper class merchant who used it as a venue for meetings and banquets.
The Three Brothers
Honestly, it was so frustrating trying to take a good photo of the three buildings but I tried nonetheless. They are the oldest complex of dwelling houses in Riga.
The Swedish Gate
Okey, so I didn’t even know this existed until I walked past a walking tour group and the tour guide told them about the cobblestones that were Swedish. Since I’m from Sweden, I thought it was very interesting and therefore, I’ll put it on the list of things you should see. To be fair, the entire area was really gorgeous and it is an important part of Riga’s old city.
There’s a lot more to see in Riga, but instead of pinning ten places, I decided to select the ones I really wanted to see and then just walk around and enjoy the incredible architecture.
Make sure you get back on time!
The buses stop operating at 21:00 or something, so just make sure that you get back on time! Just take the bus 22 or 322 back the other way to the airport. If the buses stopped operating, you can also download the app “Bolt – Taxify”. When I looked at the app, it said I’d only need to pay between 5-10€ to get to the airport. Not too bad! So if you by chance missed the last bus or your flight is later and you want to enjoy Riga, you can always grab a cab! You don’t want to be missing that flight of yours…
There you have it! It was a quick layover, but so worth it. I got to see a beautiful city, eat some yummy food (I ate at “Fat Pumpkin” which is a vegetarian restaurant), learn more about Riga and then go back to the airport in time to see the latest episode of Game of Thrones before my take off. Would I go back to Riga for more? Hmm.. Probably not. It wasn’t super exciting to be honest, but I’m really glad I got to see it. Who knows, maybe one day our paths will cross again.