This section includes the main attractions of Latvia with a photo and description, location on the map. From the article you will find out what interesting places are worth visiting in Riga, Sigulda, Daugavpils and other cities, you can choose attractions for children and make your own sightseeing route.
Latvia is one of the countries whose tourist turnover is growing year by year. Here travelers are greeted by the salty Baltic breeze, cool climate, centuries-old cedars, towering along the coast, churches covered with moss necklaces, Catholic and Orthodox churches, synagogues, majestic castles and palaces, fortresses.
The country is dotted with many small towns, lined with streets, lined with lovely painted houses, rustic restaurants, which immerses you in the amazing atmosphere of Latvian home comfort and hospitality.
In Riga alone there are so many things that you will need several days to explore the main attractions of Latvia. And this is not to mention Liepaja, Ventspils, medieval Cesis and Sigulda, spa Jurmala and the famous palaces created about the Rastrelli project - Jelgava (aka Mitava Palace) and Rundalsky.
When planning a vacation in Latvia with children, the Riga Zoo, located in the picturesque Mežaparks district near the lake, the Retro Car Museum, as well as a water park with water attractions for visitors of different ages, can be included in the list of attractions.
What to see in Latvia
The main attractions of Latvia
The main attractions of Latvia in the capital are the architectural ensemble of the Old Town, protected by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site. It includes the Dome Cathedral, so popular with tourists, the Lutheran Church of St. Peter, the only surviving Swedish gate, the house with black cats covered in legends, the Powder Tower, the 4th century Riga castle, the Three Brothers complex and the Town Hall Square.
The symbol of independent Latvia is the Statue of Liberty, established in 1935 on the central square of the capital. At the top of the monument is a sculpture of a woman who holds three stars in her hands, symbolizing the three parts of the country and their unity.
Although the most famous sights of Latvia are located in Riga, in other regions of the country there are many amazing places worth visiting. Castles of Latvia of the 13th-19th centuries are scattered throughout the state, and the Karosta Military Town in Liepaja gained fame as one of the country's most popular historical museums and haunting habitats.
For independent tourists who want to be inspired by the nature of Latvia, two national parks are of most interest: the oldest Gauja park (aka “Livonian Switzerland”) and Kemeri, located near Jurmala. In addition to natural attractions, there are several architectural monuments on the territory of Gauja.
Sights of the cities of Latvia
The list of Riga's attractions is not limited to the already mentioned Old Town. In the capital, there are several dozen museums with exhibits on the history of the country, its natural wealth, painting, photography, and applied art.
It is impossible to visit Riga and pass the monument to the Bremen Town Musicians without taking a picture with him. And the Riga TV Tower is visible from any corner of the city, it is the tallest building in the Baltic. At an altitude of 99 meters, a viewing platform works on the TV tower, from where an impressive panoramic view of the whole of Riga and the surrounding area opens.
In Daugavpils, the second largest city in the country, tourists linger at the Daugavpils fortress - one of the key monuments of urban planning and architecture of national importance. Relatively close to the city is the famous Aglona Basilica - the center of pilgrimage and Catholicism in Latvia.
The town of Sigulda attracts tourists with its centuries-old history and picturesque streets, but the main attractions located in its vicinity are the restored Turaida Castle, which has a museum-reserve, and the Birini castle in the Neo-Gothic style. The only cable car in the Baltic States is located in Sigulda, its length is 1060 meters.
Video review of the main attractions of Latvia in Riga
Sights of Riga: photo, description, map
Over eight hundred years of history, the capital of Latvia has experienced many dramatic events. Riga's convenient strategic and economic location at the mouth of the Daugava River at its confluence with the Baltic Sea made the city a booming trading center of the medieval Baltic. Many sights of Riga are closely connected with the history of the Latvian state, reflect the dramatic and joyful events of the capital's life.
A special art nouveau style stands out in architecture - the nineteenth-twentieth centuries Art Nouveau, a classic example of which are buildings on the streets of Alberta and Elizabeth in Riga. Whereas the building of the Latvian Academy of Sciences is an example of the Stalinist empire. Many historical buildings in Riga were severely destroyed and subsequently restored or completely rebuilt.
What sights of Riga to see first
When planning a tourist trip to the capital of Latvia, leave time to explore the best sights of Riga.
When there is little time and only one day for the traveler, the question becomes acute: which of Riga's sights is better to visit? We suggest you pay attention to this top.
1. The old city
The city of Riga was built at the beginning of the XIII century on the banks of the eponymous shallow river Ridzini - a tributary of the Daugava, which was eventually bombarded. Here the German priest Albert, who arrived from Bremen, laid the foundation for the building of the first stone church, around which a medieval settlement began to be built and expanded. In Latvian, the historical center of Riga is called Old Riga or Old Riga.
In order to get around the whole Old Town in Riga without missing the most important sights, and without losing time whirling along the already completed streets, experienced travelers recommend ahead of time to draw up a plan for their inspection. Old Riga is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List 1997. All its unique historical and architectural monuments are protected by the state.
2. Town Hall and Town Hall Square
Prior to the construction of the City Hall building on the square in the center of Old Riga, there was a market where Riga fishermen and visiting merchants were busy trading fish and handicrafts. In the XIII century, Riga residents achieved urban status for Riga and in 1334 built the Town Hall on the market square. The Torogovets fish had to move outside the city walls to Seldyanaya Street. So the market square became the Town Hall. Here are interesting sights of Riga: the restored House of the Blackheads and the statue of Roland. The tip of his sword fixed the coordinate at which merchant routes of the Baltic Union intersect.
For six centuries, from the balconies of the Town Hall, citizens have been told the decrees and orders of the city hall (magistrate). The Town Hall building was rebuilt many times, restored after fires and destruction. Renovation was carried out in 2003. The building of the Town Hall hosts Riga City Council meetings.
3. House of the Blackheads
On the Town Hall Square in the heart of the Old Town is its business card - House of the Blackheads. The patrons of this medieval fraternity of wealthy merchants were St. George and St. Mauritius. The symbol of Mauritius - the image of a black head - is placed on the coat of arms of this secular organization.
Numerous festivities were held in the building owned by the merchant guild of the Blackheads. It served as the center of cultural life and was rebuilt many times. The residents of Riga gave the modern look to the House of the Blackheads during the reconstruction and reconstruction of 2000 as part of the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the founding of the capital of Latvia. Entrance to it is open on all days except Monday from 11 to 17 hours. Ticket price for adults is 6 euros, for children 3 euros.
4. St. Peter's Church
The construction of the Lutheran Church of St. Peter in 1209 marked the beginning of the history of Riga as an urban entity. After the destruction in the war years, the temple building was restored. During excursions around it, tourists are shown a chapel, an ancient altar, wooden and stone epitaphs, a large bronze candlestick with seven candles. Lutheran services are held here, as well as exhibitions and concert performances.
On the church tower there is a spire more than 64 meters long, decorated with a rotating weather vane in the form of the seventh cockerel with a black and gold barrel. It is visible from everywhere, and is easily recognized by tourists as a symbol of Riga. From the observation deck at an altitude of almost 80 meters, a picturesque panorama of the red-tiled houses of the Old Town, the Gulf of Riga and the port at the mouth of the Daugava opens.
5. Dome Cathedral
The largest medieval cathedral of all the Baltic states is the Riga Dome Cathedral - the most monumental structure of the whole Baltic. It belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia and is called “Domestic” as built as the House of God. The cathedral was built on Dome Square for more than sixty years, mainly with funds from Bishop of Riga Albert von Apeldern. Its appearance harmoniously combines the Romanesque style, the early Gothic, Baroque and the special Riga Art Nouveau - Art Nouveau. Since the 19th century, the appearance of the Dome Cathedral has not changed. For 10 euros you can get to a half-hour concert of organ music of different eras in the premises of the Dome Cathedral.
6. Riga castle
Located on the banks of the Daugava, the Riga Castle was erected by the knights of the Livonian Order in 1330. Its fortification with a courtyard and four towers was restored after complete destruction at the turn of the XV and XVI centuries. After that, already in the XVIII century, many towers and buildings were additionally built and harmoniously blended into the architectural ensemble.
During the time of the Russian Empire, there were governors appointed by the Russian tsars. Now it houses the residence of the head of the Republic of Latvia. By the centenary of the State of Latvia in November 2018, it is planned to complete its major reconstruction, after which the Riga Castle and its expositions can be visited daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
7. Three brothers
The architectural complex on Malaya Zamkova Street in the center of the Old Town near the Dome Cathedral was given the name “Three Brothers” by the residents of Riga similar to the Tallinn “Three Sisters”. Houses of different years of construction are standing next to each other in a single line, tightly touching each other with walls. The “White Brother” was erected at the end of the 15th century, the “Middle Brother” and the most recent “Green Brother” were built in the middle and at the end of the 17th century.
In the middle of the 20th century, the complex was restored and the courtyards of the “three brothers” were combined into one common. According to legend, all three houses were built by descendants of the same kind. Entrance to the buildings is free of charge and is possible on weekdays (except weekends and holidays). They are home to the Lithuanian Monument Protection Inspectorate, the Architectural Museum and the Union of Architects. For tourists, this attraction of Riga is especially popular.
8. Powder tower
Already in the XIII century, when laying the city of Riga and its fortifications, the Sand Tower was built, which was named because of the sand dunes surrounding it. The original horseshoe-shaped form of the tower was transformed in the XIV century into a cylindrical one. The six-story tower is twenty meters in diameter and 26 meters in height. After the destruction of the tower in the war with the Swedes and its restoration, it became known as the Powder Tower. Now it houses part of the expositions of the Latvian War Museum. It opened in 1916 and was dedicated to the history of the division of Latvian riflemen in the tsarist army. It’s easy to find the Powder Tower near the tram tracks at the intersection of Smilshu and Trokshnu Streets. Entrance is open daily, a tour in Russian costs 12 euros per visitor.
9. House with black cats
The legendary Cat House in Old Riga is invariably popular with tourists. Every guest of the Latvian capital should certainly see it, even visiting it on the way. It was erected at the beginning of the 20th century according to the design of Friedrich Scheffel in the style of rational modernity characteristic of Riga. The spiers of two of its round towers are crowned with sculptures of black cats made of iron, which for many years have been the subject of litigation between the merchant-homeowner and the Big Guild, who did not want to accept him into their members. This house now has a jazz restaurant and Black Cat casino.
10. Museum of the Occupation of Latvia
The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia was built in the center of Riga on the Square of Latvian Shooters after the country gained independence in 1993. Numerous documents and exhibits of this museum are called upon to comprehensively and with maximum reliability convey the facts of the totalitarian regimes in power in Lithuania. Visitors can independently comprehend the Soviet and German occupation experienced by the Latvians for half a century.
The entrance to the museum is open daily from 11:00 to 18:00, feasible voluntary donations are made. Exhibitions are constantly held here, history lessons are held for schoolchildren.
11. Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation
The expositions of the oldest in Europe Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation are located in the complex of buildings of the famous Dome Cathedral. For almost four hundred years, a rich collection of exhibits was collected in the fields of natural sciences, medicine, literature and art, documents on the history of Latvia's stay in the Russian Empire. The opportunity to visit by family subscription makes cognitive tours of the Museum of the History of Riga and Navigation more accessible.
12. Monument to the Bremen Town Musicians
To the twin cities of Riga, the German city of Bremen became famous for a fabulous story about unusual medieval minstrel musicians Kote, Petushka and Donkey with a Dog. In 1990, an unusual monument to these fairy-tale heroes was erected in Riga, made by the sculptor Baumgertel Krista and transferred as a sign of friendship to the Latvian capital. It is located near the church of St. Peter, almost at the altar, if you go to the church on Skarnju street.
13. Riga television tower
The television tower in Riga was built on an island in the middle of the Daugava in Soviet times (early eighties of the XX century) and is the tallest building in the whole Baltic. Its height reaches almost 370 meters. At an altitude of ninety-seven meters, there is an observation deck from which, in cloudless weather, a picturesque panorama of the Gulf of Riga and the whole city opens. This corresponds to the height at which the vane cockerel is located.
14. Latvian National Museum of Art
In 1869, a collection of works by painters was removed from the Historical Museum to the capital's art gallery. The newly created National Museum of Art opened in 1905 in a building specially built in the Esplanade area. After the reconstruction carried out in 2016, the works of Russian authors are no longer exhibited.
15. Riga Motor Museum
After a major renovation, which took three years, the museum of old cars reopened in Riga in 2016. It contains the most extensive collection of retro cars, including special, cargo and military equipment. Vintage cars can not only be seen here. A story for visitors is included about each exhibit - about the history of cars, about car designers and racers, about significant events in the world of automotive industry.
Sixteen.Big and Small Guilds
The buildings of the Big (named after St. Mary) merchant guild and the Small (named after St. John) guild of Latvian artisans are located opposite each other across the road not far from Livu laukums Square in Old Riga. Both buildings were rebuilt many times and rebelled from the ruins, they now have a concert hall and a craft school. In the park adjacent to the square, you can buy a variety of handmade medieval souvenirs.
17. Central market
The capital of Latvia boasts the oldest and largest indoor market in all of Europe and America. Its pavilions were built after the First World War and are made in the Art Deco style. The building, unique in its architecture, is equipped with huge underground tunnels with access to moorings, freight elevators and powerful freezers. The central market is integrated with the Old Town and is protected as part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The market can also be visited with an organized tour.
18. Latvian Ethnographic Museum
In 1924, the Latvian Ethnographic Museum was founded in the eastern part of Riga near Lake Juglas. It occupies a vast territory of almost eighty hectares. This is a collection of residential and household buildings from all over Latvia: there is a functioning church (you can even get married in it), a mill, a forge and a bathhouse. Walking around the museum and getting acquainted with the peasant life of Latvians, as if transported into the past. National festivals are constantly held on the territory of the ethnographic museum, in which tourists are invited to participate. They can not only see a wide variety of peasant household items from the 17th-19th centuries, but also buy souvenirs and craft crafts.
19. Alberta Street
In commemoration of the 700th anniversary of Riga, a new city street was laid, which was named after the founder of the city, Albert von Buksgevden. In two years, at the expense of wealthy merchants, fourteen buildings were constructed according to the designs of Mikhail Eisenstein in the art nouveau style. Tourists who want to see the sights of Riga must visit Alberta Street. Each of her houses is distinguished by its architectural delights. In the 11th house by Alberta V.V. Mayakovsky first read his poem “I Love”.
20. Latvian National Opera
In the middle of the 19th century, the German Theater was erected on the embankment of the city canal in the center of Riga according to the design of Ludwig Bonstedt. Having survived many fires and subsequent reconstructions, the theater since 1919, under the direction of Richard Wagner, became the Latvian National Opera and Ballet Theater. To get to the performance, you need to buy tickets for one and a half to two months.
21. Verman park
In the territory of the former quagmire, an extremely generous donation from the widow of the entrepreneur Verman, Anna Gertrude Verman, was laid at the beginning of the 19th century in a park called Vermansky in her honor. Currently, its territory is 5 hectares and is located in the center of the Boulevard Ring of Riga. At any time of the year in a beautiful and well-groomed park it is pleasant to relax.
22. Swedish gate
The only surviving Swedish gate can be seen in the 11th house on Tornia street. In 1698, eight gates were built to connect courtyards with external buildings outside the city walls of Riga. The gates harmoniously betray the medieval spirit of Old Riga. The romantic story of a Latvian girl and a Swedish soldier is connected with the gate. The acoustics in the goal range are unsurpassed, so street musicians often come here.
23. Christ Cathedral
The Cathedral of the Latvian Orthodox Church was founded on the territory of the Esplanade by decree of the Russian Emperor Alexander II in 1877. He also presented 12 bells for the church bell tower. Seven years later, it was built in the Neo-Byzantine style and received the first believers as the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ. Currently, it is reconstructed, the original painting is restored. Services are held daily, entrance is open from 7 hours to 19.
24. Monument of Liberty
The symbol of independence of Latvia - the Freedom Monument - was built of granite, concrete and copper in 1935 on public donations. Its author is the Latvian sculptor Karlis Zale. The monument is located on Freedom Boulevard near the Powder Tower and the Latvian National Opera. At a height of 42 meters is a female figure (named Milda), who holds three stars in her hands. At its base there are thirteen sculptures and bas-reliefs telling about the spirit and trials of the Latvian people.
25. Church of St. John
The medieval Lutheran church of St. John the Baptist was built in the 13th century. After complete destruction at the end of the 15th century, it was rebuilt in an eclectic style. Conducted later reconstruction added to its appearance the stylistic elements of late Gothic, Baroque and mannerism.
Sights of Riga and around on the map
Going to Riga and planning a tour of the most interesting places, use our map of Riga with its attractions in Russian. To draw up a preliminary daily inspection plan, find ahead of time all the important sights of Riga and plan your travel routes.
Reviews of tourists about the sights of Riga
Reviews of tourists about the sights of Riga are very enthusiastic. Many compatriots come to the capital of Latvia in the winter, for the Christmas holidays. At this time, various fairs, sales, winter festivals, a competition of Christmas trees are organized in Riga. Experienced tourists are advised to buy a transport card for travel in public transport directly at the airport, in the Narvesen store, to save money. For walks in the cobblestones of Old Riga, it is worth stocking up with suitable shoes. Plan to visit the most popular sights of Riga in the morning, when it is quiet and crowded to avoid queues.