Let Riga reinvigorate you: after a long day of work, this city is packed with unique leisure experiences to help you make the most of your business trip.
It’s easy to let a city pass you by when you’re travelling on business, but beautiful Riga really comes to life after dark. We’ve rounded up the top five ways to spend a night in the Latvian capital when you’re short on time.
Nouveau stomping grounds
With over a third of buildings in the central district classified as Art Nouveau, Riga has Europe’s largest collection architecture in this particular style. The buildings are easy to identify from their steep roofs, heavy building materials, and use of ethnographic ornamental motifs. The most impressive examples sit along streets like Alberta, Strelnieku and Elizabetes (where you’ll find our Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija, Riga facing Esplanade Park). Līvu Laukums, one of Riga’s largest and prettiest squares, should also be included on your evening stroll; it’s a medley of charming mediaeval cottages sitting alongside Guild houses, sure to delight any explorer.
Soviet time warp
An eclectic cross between museum and bar, Gauja has hardly changed since the 1970s. With a seriously retro style – think furniture, beer mugs, vintage magazines and a charmingly antiquated hi-fi – it’s a great place to visit for an authentic taste of Soviet living. No visit is complete without a sip of traditional Russian vodka!
You’ll love the old world features beyond the panelled entryway of this historic cafe-bar. With its exposed stone and brick walls and red taper candles flickering after dark, Black Magic is committed to the story of its signature Riga Black Balsam liqueur, a 250-year old “cure” thought to alleviate all maladies when added to coffee or cocoa. Order a decadent Riga Black Magic Hot Chocolate, the cafe’s signature drink, and pull up a plush armchair by the window to hide away from a chilly evening.
Futuristic fine dining
Martins Ritins is one of Latvia’s most celebrated chefs, showcasing local ingredients sourced directly from organic farmers at his restaurant Vincents. Dishes range from Seja Muscovy duck breast – served with hemp seeds, sweet potato and shaved foie gras – to the grilled saddle of wild Ventspils venison served with pumpkin, hazelnuts and beetroot. Just a stone’s throw from the Old Town centre, the dining room is a surprisingly modern expression of white leather and mood lighting. There’s no better place to entertain clients, but be sure to book well in advance.
A night at the opera
The Latvian National Opera resides in a beautifully restored mid-19th century building in central Riga. With an impressive heritage – Richard Wagner was musical director decades before the historic Opera House was constructed – the company is well known on the world stage for its outstanding programme. Check for performances available during your stay – Tosca, La Traviata and Carmen are all on this year’s calendar. Fans of choral music might opt instead for a performance at Riga Doms (the Riga Cathedral), renowned for its acoustics and its famous organ. Evening performances are held regularly, usually starting from 7pm, showcasing local and visiting talent.