12 Instagrammable places in Riga
Is travel to Latvia already on your to-do list, or are you still browsing? Look no further, and just travel to Riga for the most unique memories and vacay pics! It is the green capital of small Latvian nation where almost everything is within reach of a walk. A buzzing hub of culture, food and not least importantly - a city full of exciting Instagram places and views, that will make your friends and Insta-followers jealous for not being here. The best part is that many globetrotters are still yet to be discovered just like you, meaning it will be easy to find some of those one-of-a-kind perspectives on this city along with the unique photographic angles. In this list, you will get a glimpse of 12 places in Riga that should definitely be on your itinerary. Here I reveal some "classic" must-sees, but also a few Instagrammable places where tourists will be nowhere to be seen. Are you ready for your holiday snaps?
1. Monument of Freedom - a must!
It is almost impossible not to start this long list with Latvia's most iconic landmarks. Built-in 1935 with money donated by the nation and considered an important symbol of the freedom, independence, and sovereignty of Latvia, it stands right in Riga's center and is the warm-up for your Insta-spree in Riga. Easy shooting conditions (there is a huge square in the front of the monument) and some action, too (the changing of the honorary guards).
Best time for pictures: until midday. Just because of the possibility to encounter less of those like-minded Insta-tourists on the spot.
Tip: Don't miss the chance to take a photo of the National Opera house (on the right from the monument) and the beautiful Riga channel with an occasional kayak or stand-up paddlers (SUP) during summer months.
2. In the heart of the Old Town - House of the Blackheads
It is probably the second most popular Instagram place in Riga - perfectly lit for most of the day, colorful, and easy to spot. Historically first built in the 14th century, it used to be a guild for unmarried merchants, shipowners, and foreigners in Riga, but then got bombed in 1941. Rebuilt in the nineties, this beauty now hosts a variety of upscale events and is a very frequent cameo on the Instagram feed of travelers as well as the locals.
Best time for pictures: evenings. The sun will illuminate the building's golden details and the cobblestone, putting you in the best light too (instead of shining from behind).
Tip: Don't forget to get a picture of Roland's statue, a medieval symbol present in all Hanseatic states.
3. The cutest little street of the Old Town
An image of Riga Old Town you will see a lot (and I mean A LOT) are these tiny colorful houses at the end of a short cobblestone street on a grand church's backdrop. The central actor in this scene is the light blue restaurant 1221. As a local and a person working in F&B, I can truly say - I have not heard any reviews about the restaurant (meaning - it is not extraordinary), but I guess that is not the point here. It is definitely one of the most photographed establishments since the beginning of the Instagram era, and you will reach for your 'gram when you get there too, trust me. Even I do it about once a year!
Tip: Just around the corner, you will find one of the oldest bars of modern-day Riga, the name of it is Cuba. Hop in for a drink or two and share some unforgettable Instagram stories from the nightlife in Riga!
4. Views from the top - a tower of St. Peter's Church
This is the spot where you will get access to spectacular open-air bird view shots. Cute orange tile rooftops along with historic churches that all dwindle in a pattern of tiny streets full of character. Life rushing and gushing almost under your feet, but you just stand there in the silence and admire the Instagrammable view over the Old Town and Daugava river with all that comes along - all five bridges, the biggest island in Latvia with an Eiffel-esque landmark (the TV tower) and the National Library building of Latvia, that looks like a mountain from an epic futuristic movie.
Best time for pictures: evenings. Or very early mornings - to get that texture of the building tops on your pics perfectly.
Tip: when done with the visit to the tower, do visit the actual church too. St.Peter's is the biggest church in the Baltics and is a splendid example of the sacral architecture in Latvia.
5. Postcard view cityscape in AB Dambis
Since we started this list with the most iconic postcard views already, it would be a shame not to tell you about the spot where most liked Instagram photos of the cityline are usually made. Coming from the House of the Blackheads, just cross the river on the stone bridge and turn right almost at the end of it. Welcome to the AB Dambis (AB Dam in translation), one of the most popular spots for walks, gym activities, or just enjoying the city's calmness while still being right amidst all the bustle.
Best time for pictures: any time of the day, though in warmer seasons, you will probably see a lot more locals there in the evening.
Tip: Have a breather, enjoy the Instagrammable view and make a million Instagram photos with either of the bridges (Vansu on the left and the Stone bridge on the right, if you are facing the Old Town), the river Daugava or, of course, the Old Town.
6. Photos of unstaged life in the Central Market of Riga
It is housed in formidable hangars that once housed German army zeppelins and is truly a golden well for your photos. From almost any variety of food to epic structures of the hangars themselves, to authentic sellers and charismatic local people. Especially colorful in the summer (because of the produce in season), these five huge buildings hold Europe's largest market and bazaar. It is not an overstatement to say that this will really be one of Riga's top Instagrammable places to fill your phone or camera with!
Best time for pictures: before lunchtime. The stalls will be full of produce, and you will encounter a lot more people shopping.
Tip: definitely buy something delicious to try on the spot or bring home with you!
7. Top of the top in Skyline Bar
This has long been one of the most lavish bars in Riga and with a reason! The name of this place will make much sense once you know that this bar is located on the 26th floor of the Radisson hotel. And it truly embodies everything you want from a bar in the sky - huge windows, exquisite ambiance, and delicious treats on the menu. Yes, it might be a tat more expensive than your average bar in Riga, but who wouldn't want to pay a few bucks more for unforgettable moments and a row of pics literally from heaven?
Best time for pictures: evening sun. With a delicious cocktail in hand!
Tip: Ask to be seated on the side with a view to the Old Town. And take somebody special with you (locals go there for first dates and other special occasions!)
8. Best sunset on the water in Andrejosta
This used to be the top "underground" spot for youngsters to gather and party, but it has been upscaled in the last few years and has an array of wonderful Riga restaurants and cafes to enjoy. Nevertheless, there is one thing that has not changed in this place over the last decades. This industrial port area is an urban oasis and will present the greatest opportunities for most liked Instagram photos spilling over the river.
Best time for pictures: definitely evening!
Tip: if you are into this kind of thing and happen to be in Riga with inappropriate weather conditions, checkout www.rigaslaivas.lv to rent a kayak or SUP and explore Riga from another unique angle (meaning - from water level). Andrejosta is the place where you will pick up your new vehicles!
9. The hippest cocktails at Herbarijs
Located on the top of the Galleria Riga shopping mall, it is one of the best spots for rooftop selfies and the hippest cocktail photos. This light-filled cafe-restaurant is known for great design, well-considered drinks, and above everything - the greenery. Just as the name (Herbarium) suggests, it is full of plants and plant themed attributes just to give you a moment to hide from the rush of the city and transport you in a totally new and transcendent place. And even more importantly - the place has so many unique corners and props for creating your next Insta-hit, why I dare to say that the instagrammability score of this place is 10+!
Best time for pictures: anytime.
Tip: have a stroll around this shopping center's rooftop and enjoy even more of those charismatic surrounding rooftops. Particular angles might even bring some reminiscence of Paris!
10. Colors and street art at Tallinn street courtyard
Riga is considered a hipster paradise for a while now, and if you stroll along the most prominent "hipster area," namely Miera street, you might end up in this super trendy place, where a former emergency car depot has recently been reimagined as a creative district. It hosts a variety of bars and culture venues, is full of funky street art and loads, and loads of colors (and those will definitely look great on your feed, won't they?). Go there to get a leisurely drink with friends or visit a contemporary performance, meanwhile boosting that very valued like-meter with contemporary urbanscape Instagram pictures.
Best time for pictures: any time of the day (opt for an evening if you aim to get pics with loads of locals having fun).
Tip: take a photo with the red-and-white scribble wall hidden in one of the corners of this courtyard. This has now become super trendy with the locals!
11. Epic architecture in photos with The Old St. Gertrude's church
Even though historians and city guides will not agree, this place should be known for its photogenic qualities, rather than the historical value. Truly one of the most Instagrammable views can be observed while strolling on Gertrude street (worth also doing on its own!) during the sunset, looking at the Old St.Gertrude's church located right at the end of it. While the sun sets behind this neo-gothic masterpiece, you will be granted a chance for the most epic pictures of backlit church at the end of this cobblestone street with sunlight playing on those edges street-level stones. Dramatic and pretty!
Best time for pictures: summer sunsets.
Tip: walk around the church and explore the tiny streets around it. Many instaworthy tiny shops and cafes will be another bonus for your visual report of the trip.
12. Chill beachfront pics at Mangalsala jetty
Riga is considered a port city, and that just means one - the sea is close! Besides the fact, that you can grab your swimsuit (in appropriate weather) to enjoy some well-deserved beach time, a mere 20-minute ride from the city center and you will end up at this place where Daugava river meets Baltic sea divided just by the picturesque Mangalsala pier and its landmark - the lighthouse at the end of it. Great spot for walks, a cute picnic on rocks, and of course - a sea of pics, pun intended.
Best time for pictures: anytime except stormy weather (if you are cautious and stay in a safe distance from the water, you might actually get some epic Instashots during those rough winds, but please do stay on the ground and do not attempt walking on the pier).
Tip: make sure you are there around 18.00 - 18.30 to see the cruise ship pass by on its way to Stockholm and get its honking on the Instagram story!
Still not convinced about your travel to Riga? Just look up #rīga (yes, that is how it is spelled in the Latvian language) to see what locals are up to and get a grip on the most unique Instagram places first-hand! See you in Riga!
Ieva Miltina is an activist and entrepreneur of many sorts. By profession project manager of marketing and culture events, in her heart she is a passionate traveler and a cook, soon to become a pastry chef. Deeply rooted in non-formal education she has been involved in youth work since her teenage years and up till nowadays holds a deep interest in innovative approaches to learning and personal development, which she transfers to people from all Europe during various international trainings. Always looking for new discoveries and adventures she happily shares her positive view on the world and the neverending stories with the people who cross her path. While studying hospitality and tourism management she wrote a thesis on home-chefs, which ignited her dream of owning her cozy and heartwarming home restaurant, which will hopefully materialize very soon. Meanwhile writing articles and doing food photography she is working towards another dream of hers - becoming a published author someday.