Despite its cold weather, Riga is the perfect city break in the winter months thanks to its incredible history and festive Christmas markets. Explore the historic old town with a guided walking tour, then peruse the spirited Christmas markets with sweet-smelling mulled wine, roasted almonds, glazed gingerbread, deletable food, and locally-handcrafted goods. Enjoy a change of scenery with an optional day trip to the seaside town of Jūrmala and stroll its 20-mile, white-sand beach while admiring traditional wooden houses.

Highlights

  • Discover Riga from a bird's eye view at the "Panorama Riga" observation deck
  • Warm up with mulled wine while perusing the stalls at the Christmas markets
  • See a show or enjoy a tour of the impressive Latvian National Opera
  • Meander the picturesque streets of Riga's Old Town on a historical walking tour
  • Opt for a day trip to the seaside resort town of Jūrmala

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Riga - Explore Riga
Day 2 Discover the History of Riga Riga
Day 3 Explore Riga's Christmas Markets - Optional Day Trip to Jūrmala Riga
Day 4 Goodbye, Riga Riga

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Riga - Explore

View of Riga from the
View of Riga from the "Panoramic Riga" Observation Deck

Welcome to Riga! Upon arrival at Riga International Airport, make your way to your hotel, the 4-star Wellton Riga Hotel & SPA in the city's old town. If you haven't succumbed to jet lag, enjoy the rest of the day exploring Latvia's popular capital city.

To get a better feel for the city's layout, visit the "Panorama Riga" observation deck in the building of the Latvian Academy of Sciences. Here you'll get a bird's eye view of Riga and witness the buzz of tourists and locals enjoying the city center and the Christmas markets.

Walk off any jet lag with a stroll through the city's main park, Bastejkalna Park. Stop to view the Laima Clock, which dates back to 1924 and serves as a popular meeting point with locals. Then warm up with a tour or a show in the spectacular Latvian National Opera, a 19th-century, neoclassical theater. Enjoy dinner in the picturesque Old Town before heading back to your hotel for the night.

Day 2: Discover the History of Riga

The House of the Black Heads, Riga, Latvia
The House of the Black Heads, Riga, Latvia

Enjoy a leisurely morning and breakfast at your hotel. Then bundle up for a lovely day discovering the historical side of Riga.

You'll begin with a walking tour of the city, starting in the picturesque Old Town. As you stroll the charming, cobblestone streets, don't forget to look up and enjoy the stunning architecture. Step into the Riga Cathedral to warm up and peruse its details, including stained glass windows and an impressive organ. The cathedral features Romanesque, early Gothic, and Baroque architecture. Then wander down to St. Peter's Church, a medieval church from the 15th century.

No trip to Riga is complete without a visit to the famous, red-brick House of the Black Heads. These gothic buildings were rebuilt after WWII and now serve as the home of the president. After taking plenty of photos of the facades, head towards the river to visit Riga Castle.

Other sights worth viewing include:

  • The Swedish Gate
  • St. Jacob’s Church
  • The Parliament House
  • The Old Guild Houses
  • Latvian War Museum
  • The Powder Tower

After the city tour, warm up in a cafe by sipping the traditional Latvian drink, Riga Balsam. Head back to your hotel to relax before dinner in the Old Town. Then return to the House of the Black Heads to view them at night, when they truly sparkle.

Day 3: Explore Riga's Christmas Markets - Optional Day Trip to Jūrmala

Riga's Christmas Market
Riga's Christmas Market

Take your time this morning with breakfast at the hotel. Then get ready to enjoy Riga's most charming winter feature: the Christmas Market. 

Each month before the Christmas holiday, Riga's old town hosts several events and large markets filled with artisanal and hand-crafted goods, delectable food and treats, and steaming cups of mulled wine. White-striped, wooden huts are surrounded by stunning architecture in two of the city's main squares: Doma laukums and Līvu laukums. There are other small markets sprinkled throughout the city, including one at the Central Market and another at Esplanade Park.

You could easily spend all day perusing the markets, but if you'd like to break up the day you can opt for a trip to Jūrmala on the Gulf of Riga. Jūrmala is the largest resort city in the Baltic states, known for its mild climate, clean air, healing mud and mineral water, and a long, white-sand beach.

In Jūrmala you'll discover a combination of charming wooden houses built in the beginning of the 19th century, and modern resort buildings. Take a walk along the central pedestrian Jomas Street with its numerous cafes and souvenir shops.

After returning to Riga, head back to one of the Christmas markets. You'll find that the atmosphere changes from day to night, and you'll enjoy the glistening lights, music, and festive energy.

Day 4: Goodbye, Riga

Winter in Riga
Winter in Riga

It's time to say farewell to beautiful Riga. After breakfast at your hotel, head back to Riga International Airport to catch your flight home, or to continue on to your  next destination.