Riga is great port of call aboard a Baltic cruise; this fascinating destination provides the opportunity to explore a wealth of cultural extravagance not to mention superb surroundings and a charming atmosphere. Riga is the capital of Latvia and the largest city of the Baltic Republics that dates right back to the 1100’s. The locals have, over the many years faced long periods of occupation of the land from many differing influences. The Polish, Swedish and Russians have all occupied this area but in recent times their independence has been regained and the city of Riga has rapidly embraced its new found freedom. This is hugely evident in the tourism industry with cruise passengers continuously rising. It’s not difficult to see why; this enchanting city is absolutely beautiful from the moment you arrive. The modern day Riga glistens with charisma however it is the unique historic heart and soul of this destination that remains unchanged. The combination of past and present architecture is truly magnificent.
To experience the historic charms of the city, head for the Old Town and take in such pleasurable delights as the famous organ with more than 6,000 pipes and the captivating Dome Cathedral. There are many excursion opportunities with cruise lines to explore this wonderful area but the best-selling tours are always the ones that provide a full scale experience of the city highlights. It is usually the case here that full city tours can be experienced on two levels. The first being a full spectrum, in-depth insight and the second being at a more relaxing pace, often revolving around a panoramic coach trip. Occasionally but not with all cruise operators, there may be the chance to enjoy a walking tour as a third option. The guided tours often commence with the sightseeing opportunities of St Peter’s, St George’s and St John’s churches, which then tends to lead into the enchanting Theatre Square before the sight of the dwelling houses often referred to as the ‘Three Brothers’. The Old City combines Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and contemporary architectural creativity to present a unique experience and the city centre continues the architectural extravagance but this time in the form of art nouveau from the early 20th century. Additionally, the Freedom Monument is definitely worth visiting to see the symbol of Latvian independence. This fascinating monument was erected in 1935 but is more famous for taking centre stage during the freedom movement in the 1980’s.
Cruise operators understand the charming nature of this port of call more than any other method of travel and therefore away from the historical influences, offer a range of excursions to promote relaxation. One of the most iconic is the chance to soak up the city atmosphere from one of the many sublime restaurants that line the streets and are complimented by vibrant bars and divine cafes. Afterwards, you can take a stroll down the city’s narrow walkways and discover a fantastic range of shopping opportunities, keeping your eye out for remarkable amber jewellery, beautiful hand-crafted wooden toys and fine linens.
The many exciting monuments throughout the city are spectacular but one of the hidden gems of the area is the War Museum. This point of interest is presented through an 18th century defence tower and provides cruise passengers with the chance to learn more about the country’s distressing and uneasy past.
Away from the city of Riga, there will be chances to head further afield and uncover the popular tourist destination of Sigulda often referred to as the Latvian Switzerland’ or even the Baltic Sea spa-resort of Jūrmala.
There is so much to see and do here, the opportunities in Riga are endless. Riga is a wonderful port of call and one not to be missed aboard a Baltic cruise, where you can learn all about the fascinating world of Latvian culture and the city’s troubled past.