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Riga Travel Guide

Aug 17, 2007
The charming city of Riga is the capital of Latvia. The official language is Latvian, but since Latvia was a constituent republic of the USSR between 1940 and 1991, a significant minority is Russian speaking. English & German is also widely understood in regularly visited areas, although you might want to take a phrase book with you if you're visiting areas off the beaten track.

Getting around in Riga is relatively easy and inexpensive. Taxis are cheap but will often try to take advantage, so be prepared for a journy round the houses before reaching your intended location! Trams, buses and trolleys are also available and easy to use. Ticket prices cost between 20 to 25 Latvian cents for a single journey. There is a train service extending to all parts of the country, as well as some other big cities including St. Petersburg.

Riga is divided into several districts, the most popular and most visited amongst travellers being the Old Town (Vecriga). Here you'll find many of the city's most interesting attractions, including the magnificent Doma Catherdral, The Three Brothers (the oldest houses in Riga) and The Occupation Museum. At Christmas there is a delightful festive market where you'll be able to buy a wide selection of native seasonal fare.

To relax, take a wander into Riga's Mezaparks. This pleasant park area can be found on the outskirts of Riga, and features an attraction park and Riga Zoo. Ride the elevator to the top of St. Peters Basilica to get a bird's eye view of Riga.

There are markets next to International Bus Terminal full off people selling various wares at inside and outside stalls. This area is great for picking up souvenirs, but you'll probably find a whole lot more to tickle your interest! While not always customary, many stall holders in Riga will be prepared to haggle to get a sale, so you may pick up a bargain! For for historically-minded shopper there is also a market held on weekend mornings in Sadovnika iela where you'll be able to buy soviet union era items such as hats, medals, pins or even complete uniforms.

Latvian food tends to be very dense and filling, using a lot of potato, cabbage, beef, pork and fish. There are many restaurants dotted around the city where you'll be able to sample the cuisine at exceptionally reasonable prices, many of which continue to serve until midnight - some later!

Latvia is famed for it's beers (alus to the locals), and they are widely available throughout Riga. You must also try Riga's other specialty tipple - "Riga Balsam". It's available almost everywhere and is guaranteed to "warm your cockles"!

Riga is a charming, pretty town with so much to see and do - a must visit for any traveller!
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