So you’re considering going to Riga? Or are you fortunate enough to have already arrived here?
Either way, there’s a very specific reason I made this article. Let me tell you why.
After living in Riga for 3 years, my family and friends often ask me for recommendations on what to do.
Since it got a little monotonous repeating myself after a while. I then decided to create this list. This includes my absolute 9 top recommended things to do in Riga.
There is might a thing or two that will surprise you.
So buckle up my friend. Have your pen and paper ready. And feel free to pick the things most appealing to you.
📖 Table of Contents
- 1. Visit an Authentic Barbershop for a Fresh Cut and a Glass of Scotch
- 2. Enjoy the Great View at the Top of St. Peters Church in Old Riga
- 3. Riga Central Market – Europe’s Largest Outdoor Market and Bazaar
- 4. Enjoy Some Hot Caramel Popcorn While Watching a Movie at Forum Cinemas
- 5. The KGB Building Also Known as “The Corner House”
- 6. Visit Līvu Akvaparks and Hit Up to 44 mph (70 km/h) On the Red Water Slide
- 7. Shooting Ranges – “Grenade Launchers and an Army of Midgets”
- 8. Extreme and Immersive Escape Rooms
- 9. The Olympic Voodoo Casino
- Bonus: Specific Things to Do in Riga During Summer or Winter
- Things To Do in Riga (Map)
1. Visit an Authentic Barbershop for a Fresh Cut and a Glass of Scotch
Adrenaline score: 0 out of 5
No adrenaline. Calm before the storm.
This one is for the guys. Sorry ladies, but I have zero knowledge when it comes to the fine art of female hairdressing.
So if you’re a dude, and your hair hasn’t fallen off from headbanging the night before. Or from ordering drinks with fire. Then you might consider getting a fresh-cut haircut at one of Riga’s barbershops.
This way you’ll look even sharper than the night before, and have a cool experience at the same time.
Along with a free scotch or beer of course.
I recommend giving my friend Mr. Trukšāns a visit (Dāvis Trukšāns). He’s the Master Barber Stylist at the Barbers HUB on Tērbatas iela 6/8 in the center (including opening hours).
And the prices are cheap, but the quality is high-end (ranging from €20/$24 for shaving to €25/$30 for a haircut).
Dāvis was my barber when I used to live in Riga, and he’s super skilled and passionate about what he does. And a genuinely great guy too.
You can check out his Instagram here and judge for yourself.
📌 TIP: In case you decide to visit, feel free to say hi from me!
2. Enjoy the Great View at the Top of St. Peters Church in Old Riga
Adrenaline score: 0.236 out of 5
I’ve based the score on 0.01 for each foot you’ll be up in the air.
Back in 1209, the first part of the church was built. The tower was added at the end of the 15th century.
However, due to what I assume was the experimental nature of construction work at the time, it collapsed in 1666.
But got struck by lightning and burned down in 1721.
And at least but not last, it burned down in 1941 during 2. world war.
But despite its tough history, it’s still standing today.
While the church itself has an impressive height of 404 feet/123 meters for a church. Visitors get to enjoy the view outside from 236 feet/72 meters.
Both experiencing the church and the rise to the top of the tower cost €9/person ($11).
You’ll find the church at Reformācijas Laukums 1 in the heart of Old Riga (including opening hours).
📌 TIP: If you're visiting during summer, you can get to shoot bows not far from the entrance to the church.
3. Riga Central Market – Europe’s Largest Outdoor Market and Bazaar
Adrenaline score: 0.5 out of 5
The 0.5 point goes to the famous Babushkas diversified armory. Broom for short-range. Flippers for long-range. It’s highly adaptable.
It deserves its spot not only for babushkas but also for its authenticity.
Local farmers and traders from all over Latvia meet up to offer you their goods. Which totals over 3000 trade stands.
The main part of the market consists of five pavilions. Which is built on reused old German Zeppelin hangars.
You’ll find the market at Nēģu iela 7 only a few hundred meters from Old Riga (including opening hours).
📌 TIP: If fresh fruit straight from a local farm isn't enough to get you going. I can tell that I once scored a Russian horse calendar for my mate. Thrilled he was. This might be the place to buy a less typical souvenir.
4. Enjoy Some Hot Caramel Popcorn While Watching a Movie at Forum Cinemas
Adrenaline score: 1 out of 5
If you need to chill for a bit, watching a movie at the cinema is ideal.
You don’t want to miss their hot caramel popcorn. They’re as delicious as they sound.
Or their normal popcorn with their tasty powder buffet. It’s not salty. Only tasty. But sticky as hell if you get greedy. And being greedy isn’t cool.
The price for a ticket is usually between €7.7-12.7 ($9-15) depending on the date, time, and type of movie. You can book tickets here.
📌 TIP: Remember to make sure the movie is in English. If that's your language of choice. Except if you're up for a challenge reading the Russian and Latvian subtitles of course. I have some mates that learned that from experience.
5. The KGB Building Also Known as “The Corner House”
Adrenaline score: 2 out of 5
If you’ve guessed that “KGB” stands for “Killer Gummy Bears”, then you’re wrong.
It’s something a bit scarier.
The Soviet Union founded the place in 1917. The goal was to house “The All-Russian Special Commission”. Which worked against anti-revolutionary activities and sabotage against the state.
Russian KGB (security agency) unfortunately didn’t only use the place for interrogation. But also imprisonment, torture, and killing of thousands of people.
This took place from 1940 to 1941, and from 1944 to 1991 before the agency got dissolved.
If Soviet history is right down your alley, you might consider a visit.
You’ll find the museum on Brīvības iela 61 (including opening hours).
The museum offers a guided tour of basement prison cells. Along with an exhibition about the history of KGB during the Soviet occupation.
There’s no entrance fee, though volunteer donations are endorsed.
For a guided tour the price is €10 ($12) and €4 ($5) if you’re a student.
📌 TIP: If you decide to visit. Then please keep in mind the history of the place and treat it with equal respect. A lot of people, unfortunately, took their last breath here under brutal circumstances.
6. Visit Līvu Akvaparks and Hit Up to 44 mph (70 km/h) On the Red Water Slide
Adrenaline score: 3 out of 5
Going that fast in a tube full of water, only wearing swimming clothes, is the antonym of friction.
And it works as an alarm clock for the hibernating butterflies in your belly.
They offer several worthwhile slides and attractions, which you can check out here.
Including the “Kamikaze” waterslide. The name pretty much speaks for itself, since it’s all about gaining speed and doing a sharp right turn.
My sister unfortunately wasn’t ready for that and hit her head a bit on that slide when we visited together. She took the experience a little too literally.
Though do notice that this particular slide is outdoors, and only open during summer.
The price ranges from €20.5-29.9 ($25-36) depending on the season and how long you’d like to stay. You can see the prices here.
Besides the mentioned above, there’s also a spa area, café, indoor pool bar, etc.
You’ll find the waterpark on Viestura iela 24 (including opening hours). It’s around 25 min. from the center.
7. Shooting Ranges – “Grenade Launchers and an Army of Midgets”
Adrenaline score: 4 out of 5
If shooting grenade launchers, and miniguns, and throwing hand grenades with the company of an army of midgets or strippers is your thing. Along with a complimentary bottle of vodka.
Then feel free to book an appointment of your liking here at King of Shooting.
But if you’re looking into something more subtle and budget-friendly.
I recommend you to go shooting at Riga Shooting Range.
With this package, you get a lot of actual bang for your buck. And with a wide variety of weapon types like the famous Glock-17, Magnum Revolver, and AK.
The price includes the ride to and from your accommodation.
If you make a deal with them, you might get the chance to try out their Desert Eagle too. It’s good fun.
You’ll get to compete with your friends too. This invites the great option of making a bet and letting the loser face deep regret somehow.
📌 TIP: I once saw Teletubies costumes for sale in Old Riga. And why not add some extra safety padding around the abdominals and cheeks before your next big night out.
8. Extreme and Immersive Escape Rooms
Adrenaline score: 6 out of 5
The Saw Simulator
Most people have an idea of what an escape room is if you ask them.
But what about a simulated escape room? Like in the actual movie “Saw”.
You pay for one game at a time (2-4 persons), which costs €60-65 ($72-78) depending on the time of the day.
Without spoiling anything, let me tell you, that you’ll first get a bag over your head. Then you and your team will get hand-cuffed in a room. Sounds familiar?
That’s because it’s exactly what happens in a certain part of the movie. Except the getting a bag over your head. But it’s a more civilized alternative to getting drugged.
If that’s not enough for you, I recommend trying their “Madness” escape room. Where real actors will join you. But not the pleasant of the kind.
You have to be 18 years old to attend and have to sign a wager before entering.
We also got told that if we wanted to quit, we had to sit in the middle of the room with our hands crossed to stop the game.
It was bloody hilarious!
You pay for one game at a time as well (1-4 persons), which costs €45 ($54).
I like the fact that they assume anyone would do it alone. Do you think it’s a cheap way for the government to diagnose sociopaths?
You’ll find this escape room on Lāčplēša iela 43 on the outskirt of the center.
They also have quite a selection of other awesome rooms for great prices, that you can check out here.
📌 TIP: Their games variate in difficulty. Some which I've completed, and some which I've failed. It should be a good challenge for most people.
9. The Olympic Voodoo Casino
Adrenaline score: X out of 5
The adrenaline score is up for you to decide on this one.
While I don’t endorse gambling, it can be fun in the right settings.
Like going to an actual casino with friends, and having a good time as an experience. And only spend what you’re willing to lose.
Here are a few good tips for a bulletproof casino experience:
1. Decide the amount of money to play beforehand.
2. Decide on a fixed amount of playing time. For example 45 min.
And then don’t exceed either the amount of money or time no matter the outcome.
Either way, I recommend the Olympic Voodoo Casino.
It’s a casino with a little bit of everything. You’ll even get free beers and drinks as long as you’re playing.
And hey, who doesn’t say playing €1 round of roulette isn’t being a big baller?
On top of that, there’s no entrance fee.
📌 TIP: We all perform better with stable blood sugar levels. For that, there's a Japanese restaurant at the entrance, with some decent food if needed. Mmm... Sushi.
Bonus: Specific Things to Do in Riga During Summer or Winter
Both are only 30-45 min. away from the center of Riga and right next to each other.
📌 TIP: Going for a hike early in the day, followed by a rest at the beach could be a plan.
Cozy Winter Wonderland
In the winter Riga turns into one large Christmas decoration during – you guessed it – December.
Especially Old Riga. Where not only your eyes can indulge in the beauty of Christmas lights and decorations.
But also your tastebuds can experience homemade pancakes in a shameful amount.
When you’ve had enough pancakes to feed the whole Russian Olympic powerlifting team.
You can then go skiing in Riekstukalns and put the excess calories to good use.
You’ll find it on Baldones lauku teritorija. A 45 min. drive from the center.
Don’t expect mountains though, but it’s fun as a day trip.
If you have never tried either snowboarding or skiing. Then consider picking the one that’s new to you to stay challenged.
Or skiing backward. I once did that. Though it got me off track once or twice.
And if you still hunger for more challenges, you can always visit their snowpark.
You can rent everything you need there except for clothes (€56/$67 for all equipment and a lift card for 4 hours).
And even hire an instructor (€25/$30 for 50 min). You can see all their prices here.
📌 TIP: Do notice that they (Riekstukalns) offer outdoor activities during summer too.
Things To Do in Riga (Map)
Top 9 Best Bars And Clubs in Riga + Bonus And Secrets
- The must-experience bars and clubs (unique stuff)
- The epic DIY pub crawl in Old Riga (6 stops + map route)
- Techno clubs (like in real Techno – not EDM)
- And more…
Riga Nightlife: The Complete Weekend Guide + Bonus
- Getting the right accommodation for the right price (more money for all the fun stuff)
- How to get the “Uber” of Latvia and save on your transport costs (and avoid getting scammed by taxi drivers)
- Experience the best and most unique food and restaurants (how about a medieval restaurant?)
- And more…