Weekend Getaway: Riga, Latvia

Last Monday I was feeling quite down to be honest. I didn’t have much of holidays over Christmas and suddenly I just felt overwhelmed with stuff. And I desperately wanted to come up with something fun to do. Fortunately Jesper thought of a good idea: let’s go to Riga! We had to be quite spontaneous with the planning, as the weather is not a reliable factor this time of the year. So, we waited for the storm to pass and on Friday after work the winds were calm enough for us to go to Riga, the Latvian capital.

How about that storm? We were quite happy that it passed quickly. Two nights before our trip there had been measurements of waves up to 14,2 meters high, a new record for the Baltic Sea. Our ferry MS Romantika, operated by Tallink Silja, was lightly damaged during the crossing that night. To our luck, the ship was not damaged seriously enough to risk our short adventure, once on the ship we could actually not spot any effects of the storm.

Riga, Latvia

On Our Way to Riga

There are two ways to cross the Baltic Sea. You can hop on a plane or you can get on a ferry. Tallink Silja operates a daily ferry to Latvia. As the journey takes a good 18 hours, you spend quite a bit of time on the ferry. Flying is quicker of course, but sometimes it’s relaxing to travel by boat. Especially when it’s not windy!

On our way to Riga we decided to have a nice dinner in the restaurant. There are some to choose from, we decided that the buffet was not for us this time. Instead we enjoyed some steak and salmon in a calm environment. In the evening we listened to the band and watched the dance show in the nightclub. The cruises on the Baltic Sea can be fairly wild, with a lot of people partying and drinking. We are a bit “too old” for that stuff and fortunately most party animals had decided to spend their weekend somewhere else. We also had some time for shopping – if you’re going to treat yourself to a luxury lipstick, then this is the place to be.

On Saturday morning we had a delicious breakfast with such delicacies as Baltic dark bread, salmon, Carelian pies, fruit salad, croissants, pancakes, orange juice, and coffee. And then we suddenly found ourselves in Riga.

Grill House, MS Romantika, Tallink, Riga, Latvia, 2017 Grill House, MS Romantika, Tallink, Riga, Latvia, 2017 Dance Factory, MS Romantika, Tallink, Riga, Latvia, 2017

6 Hours In Riga

We had decided beforehand that we didn’t really need to do anything special in Riga. We had both visited the city before, so this time we just wanted to get away from Stockholm for a while. Further explorations have to wait until sunnier days. The whole city was covered in snow and it felt almost ghostly.

Tallink, MS Romantika, Riga, Latvia, 2017 Riga, Latvia, 2017 Latvian National Museum of Art, Riga, Latvia, 2017 Rīgas Kristus Piedzimšanas pareizticīgo katedrāle, Riga, Latvia, 2017

Riga is in fact famous for having the finest collection of art nouveau buildings in Europe. So, even though we didn’t have any specific plans for the day, I wanted to see Alberta iela (Albert Street). This street is especially famous for its art nouveau buildings.

Riga, Latvia, 2017

Another point to tick off on our non-existent list was Georgian wine. It’s very difficult to find Georgian wine in Sweden, so we wanted to take the chance and find some of it in Riga. And we were lucky! Now we have some of that at home as well. I also bought some of that black rye bread, rupjmaize.

The Old Town in Riga is a very beautiful place – both in winter and summer. For us it was enough to just stroll around among all the old and picturesque buildings dating back as far as to the times of the Hanseatic League in the 13th–15th centuries. During our walk I started dreaming about a whole week – or even two weeks – in the Latvian capital. I could spend days in the cozy cafes and bookshops. Maybe some day!

We managed to squeeze in a quick and late lunch at TGI Friday’s before it was time to walk back to the boat. The lunch was OK, the walk back was better. We followed the City Canal, Pilsētas kanāls, the city’s old moat, back to the harbor. Our six hours in Riga had flown by!

Rīgas Kristus Piedzimšanas pareizticīgo katedrāle, Riga, Latvia, 2017 Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly, Riga, Latvia, 2017 House of Blackheads, St. Peter's Church, Riga, Latvia, 2017 Three Brothers, Trīs brāļi, Riga, Latvia, 2017 Daugava River, Frozen, Riga, Latvia, 2017

Back to Stockholm

After a Saturday in Riga it was again time to embark the ferry. I had a facial treatment booked for the evening and it felt so good to be pampered. Not all the cruise ships on the Baltic Sea have spas, but some do. There were also saunas and a jacuzzi. I think it’s good that there are ways to entertain oneself and keep occupied on the ferries.

In the evening we watched the band and a couple of dance shows again before it was time to get a good night’s sleep. It’s funny how there was no trace of the storm that had been so strong only two days before.

The Freedom Monument, Brīvības piemineklis, Riga, Latvia, 2017 Daugava River, Lettland, Riga, Latvia, 2017 Dance Factory, MS Romantika, Tallink, Riga, Latvia, 2017

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33 Comments

    1. Susann

      Hi Carrie! The ferries on the Baltic Sea also allow cars. You should definitely visit Riga (and the rest of Latvia) if you get the chance. All the Baltic countries are real gems and the perfect destination for a road trip. We have been thinking about doing a road trip as well someday 🙂

  1. Before I read the end, I was like, this looks like the perfect place to cozy up in a robe and get pampered since the snow made it hard to explore more! Then, you read my mind haha! Wow this place was truly a winter wonderland! I can’t believe how you got lucky missing the storm and there was almost no trace of it…just like there seemed to be no trace of people either! Those roads were totally ghostly. Glad you had a great getaway. My holidays were overwhelming and not very cheery either so I get where you’re coming from for sure!

  2. I love that you decided to make such a short trip for the sake of getting out and traveling. The city looked magical under all that snow. I had no idea that a ferry could be so nice with great food, shows, and a spa. I wouldn’t mind being on there for 18 hours either! This looked like a beautiful, short get-a-way. Loved all of the pictures you used. Great writing!

    1. Susann

      Hi Jennifer! The ferry was not so expensive as it’s low season. You pay for the ticket + the cabin. The good thing about traveling by ferry is that you don’t need to book a hotel. There should also be cheap flights, as Air Baltic (a low-cost airline) is Latvian. Services are cheaper than in Western Europe (including restaurants), while products are about the same. I hope this helps! 🙂

  3. I adore art nouveau, so I guess I’ll be going to Riga as soon as I can, even if it’s not as simple to reach as from Stockholm! I’m really curious about the city, that part of Europe for me is practically unknown, and it’s a pity considering how close it is from Italy.

    1. Susann

      The Georgian wine might be more of a sentimental thing, but we like it. And it’s not as common as the French and the Italian wines most people drink around here 🙂 Georgia is also one of the oldest wine regions in the world. You should try it 🙂

  4. We have a friend from Latvia and she says lots of good things about visiting Latvia. We also met a Danish girl at the airport one time and she was absolutely raving about Latvia. This cruise reminds me of the Newcastle to Amsterdam cruise where you get 8 hours in Amsterdam before heading back.

    1. Susann

      I didn’t know there was a cruise from Newcastle to Amsterdam – that could be fun 🙂 Riga and Latvia are definitely worth a visit, I recommend it.

  5. I didn’t know you could take a cruise from Sweden to Riga. Riga looks so pretty covered in the snow. Looks like you spent more time on the cruise than in Riga. In spite of that you managed to see a lot in 6 hours.

  6. What a lovely getaway! I am glad your ship wasn’t damaged and you could make your trip safely, and enjoy the gorgeous sights of Riga. By the way, I simply loved the shot of the snow covered dome with a little bit of snow…

  7. The architecture of the buildings of Riga looks stunning and the colors of the buildings look strikingly beautiful dusted with snow. Agree its bit convenient roaming around exploring a city snowed down. But we believe the city under snow has a different charm to behold. The dance band on the ferry sounds amazing. Looked like you had a great time.

  8. I love spontaneous trips and yours seem to be a really nice way of relaxing. The boat seems to have a lot of options to entertain yourself for 18 hours! The longest I’ve been on a ferry was 4 hours only. How did you like the Georgian wine? I have tried it at the World Travel Market and didn’t really like it.

    1. Hello Joanna, we grew quite fond of the Georgian wine when visiting the country some months ago. It has since been one of our favorites, probably due to the memories it brings back. 🙂

    1. Like most countries in Northern Europe, it is hard to visit the same city during both summer and winter. Everything looks so different and if you are lucky during the winter and it is sufficient with snow, then most cities will really look amazing. Regarding the cold, it is much easier to dress for cold weather than to undress for the heat. 🙂

  9. Gerry

    I have the pleasure of living in Riga 6 months of the year and it is a beautiful place. The Jurmala region in summer is amazing,sunshine,cafes restaurants and beautiful beaches.Very well written article,good job.Please come back in summer.

    1. Hello Gerry, Latvia and especially Riga is a place we really like to return to. It was our third visit to Riga and there will, of course, be more. Jurmala is a town that we hope to visit actually, so far we have only been to Riga and Sigulda. 🙂

  10. What a cool idea for a spontaneous weekend getaway. I think just walking around and soaking up the atmosphere is the best way to spend the day, especially if you only have limited time. I’ve been wanting to see Riga for quite some time now and your pictures of the capital covered in snow have convinced me that winter might just be the perfect time to go for me.

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