Destination Inspiration: Riga, Latvia

The Latvian capital is fast becoming the destination of choice for travellers seeking a design-driven Eastern European escape. We’ve sipped cocktails in decadent drinking dens, feasted on top-notch seasonal fare and rested our heads at a seriously sleek bolthole to bring you the very best that Riga has to offer


Riga, Latvia.

Why now?

Let's get one thing straight: Riga is by no means lesser-known. In recent years, Latvia's capital and largest city has fast become a go-to destination for design lovers looking for a long-weekend getaway. Its colourful streetscape seamlessly blends old with new, with graceful, art nouveau buildings sitting alongside cutting-edge feats of contemporary engineering.

Located on the Gulf of Riga, bordered by the Baltic Sea, the small, verdant, art-filled city is known for its manicured gardens, secret beaches and dystopian Soviet ruins - and a proud and fiercely creative community. Visitors won't have to search very hard for evidence of this being a place that constantly looks to the future while honouring and respecting its past: from a master mixologist conjuring up magic behind a sophisticated bar to a sublime seasonal brunch menu worth setting the alarm for, inspiration is all around.

Don't miss

Behind Riga's newfound reputation as being one of Europe's most-up-and-coming art cities lies RIBOCA - the Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art. Founded in 2016, the biennial sets out to increase artistic engagement between the Baltic region and the rest of the world, with a high percentage of the commissioned artists living and working locally. While the 2022 event has sadly been postponed, there are still virtual exhibitions, online talks and an education hub to check out via its website. Planning your visit before the end of the year? Swing by Putti gallery instead.

A22 Hotel Riga
A22 Hotel, living area

A suite corner, left, and a living space and A22 Hotel. | Photo credit: Marks Litvjakovs

Where to stay?

The cool kid in Riga's architecturally diverse city centre, A22 Hotel fuses 21st-century flair with a traditional touch. Housed in the former US embassy building, the 1930s property underwent a major refurb at the hands of interior gurus CBP Design: the 20 bedrooms are decked out with panelled walls adorned with abstract prints, brass window frames complement views across the surrounding greenery and king-sized beds come dressed in crisp white linens. Fitness bunnies will love the in-house gym and spa space, while others will no doubt make a beeline for in-house restaurant JOHN - no judgement, we know which one we'd opt for.

Where to go for dinner?

Delicious all-day dining and an award-winning wine menu make La Kanna our favourite spot in town. Interiors feature navy walls softly illuminated by matte black pendant lights, round, walnut-wood tables, chalkboard menus and overgrown plants. The seasonal dishes won't disappoint - think crab bisque, creamy risotto, tuna steak and a silky coconut-vanilla panna cotta with praline and berries. Those in search of a five-course culinary feast, however, should skip straight to the grand doors of Vincents.

And for a drink…

Situated on the 26th floor of Riga's Radisson Blu Hotel, the sultry and sophisticated Skyline Bar offers sweeping, bird's-eye views across the city. While the brunch menu is arguably one of the most attractive we've ever set eyes on, we recommend saving your visit for sunset. That way, you can kick back with an exotic cocktail while watching the sky burn blood orange. Prefer something a little quirkier and more laid-back? Local favourite Black Magic has your name scribbled all over it.

Riga city centre, left, and the city's Northern District.

Who to take with you?

A proper city person. Everyone's got that friend who gets withdrawals when venturing outside zone 1 (if you don't, then it's probably you). Bring them to Riga. They'll appreciate its fast-paced, no-frills attitude.

Essentials to pack

Packing for a city break requires a level of organisation that we didn't think possible - and that's seriously saying something. Swerve any spillages by picking up Away's Packing Cubes. Designed with a mesh panel that allows you to easily find what you need without having to fully unpack your suitcase, the water-resistant pouches come in a huge range of sizes and colours, making them perfect for those hellbent on colour coordination.

How to get there

Fly direct from London Gatwick to Riga International Airport in two hours and 40 minutes. From the airport, it's just a 20-minute drive to the city centre.

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