If you think about spending a weekend away from Stockholm, you should certainly consider Riga. The capital of Latvia is relatively small, but has many historical affiliations, which have their reflection mainly in the city architecure, making it a really diverse and charming place to visit.
You can get there by taking a Tallink Silja ferry, which operates on the route from Stockholm to Riga. Tickets for cabin for 4 people (as well as the other types) can be purchased on the company’s webpage. Afterwards it’s enough to print your confirmation and come aboard. Beware that the journey takes approximatey 15 hours, but on the board you can entertain yourself by participating in various activities, such as karaoke, or going to the dance club and many others pubs and restaurants.
As lucky as we were, after two weeks in beautiful and sunny Stockholm, we disembarked at a freezing and snowy harbour. Then, after rejecting several taxi drivers’ offers, we decided to head to the centre on foot. It wasn’t more than a quarter until we reach the old town, filled with brick roads and colourful small buildings.
I would say that, to me, the city centre resembles German architectonic style a bit, since the city belonged for a long time to Livonian Order (a branch of Teutonic one). In one of the photos above, you can find a Swiss Alpenrose restaraunt, for instance. Just above the front door there is a painted label saying ‘1221’, what suggest it could be the year of construction, but better check it yourselves if you want to be sure!
The most recognizable object of the Latvian capital is called House of the Blackheads, erected by German merchants living in the city in the XIV century. It’s really impressive, and nowadays, as every tourist destination in the city, is surrounded by plenty of cosy restaurants and souvenir shops. The photo of the building you can find down below:
After spending some time in the centre and eating lunch, we decided to continue our walk just around the old town. Mind you, the prices in Riga are significantly lower than in Stockholm (like in any European country to the South and East of Sweden I guess) and for a coffee you will pay 0.30 – 0.50 euro, what, including a piece of cake or some other snack, will result in the sum equal to 1.40 euro, approximately. Anyway, just after leaving the brick roads, we spotted a magnificent façade of the National Opera and an enormous Orthodox Nativity of Christ Cathedral, built during the Russian rule over the city.
The city absorbed a lot from culture and traditions of the countries that it belonged to before becoming the Latvian capital, and it is still a homeland to many minorities, most notably Russians, thus sometimes it may be easier to communicate in this language (wikipedia tells me now that, as for 2006, 42,6% of Riga population was represented by this nationality, what is clearly hearable in many places).
Overall, I can really recommend visiting Riga, as the city proudly presents its beauties and, with the admirable and diverse historic centre’s structure (at UNESCO World Heritage Sites list), it’s a place that nobody should hesitate to visit.