Taylor-Riga1

A woman enjoying a Christmas trip in Riga, Latvia

One of the most magical and underrated cities in Europe to visit during Christmas time is Riga, Latvia. During the month of December, the city is a winter wonderland surrounded by festive decorations, Christmas market stalls and magic that fills the air. If you’re wondering what to do during a Riga Christmas in December, there are so many memorable activities to do, museums to visit and landmarks to discover to get you into the holiday spirit!

Visiting Europe during the month of December is magical. Every year, I enjoy doing a Christmas market trip to dreamy European cities. There is something special about all the beautiful wooden stalls that brighten up an Old Town’s square along with the mulled wine and sweet treats that you can get from them; all the happy faces that wander through the charming streets and the heartwarming ambiance it boasts.

Livu Square in a winter wonderland

I started traveling to Europe during the holiday season in December 2017 when I visited Lapland, Finland with Crawford Concierge.

In 2018, I visited Munich and Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria; Salzburg and Hallstatt, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia and Vienna Austria. This was my very first solo trip to Europe!

During December 2019, I started my Christmas trip in Kraków, Poland and then made my way to Prague and Česky Krumlov, Czechia; Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria along with Frankfurt and Cologne in Germany. I also did this trip solo!

The Christmas season of 2020 had me participating in all the magical New York City activities in December.

A woman exploring Riga in the winter

In 2021, I enjoyed the Christmas season in the Baltic’s on a solo adventure. I visited the Christmas markets in Tallinn, Estonia; experienced a winter wonderland in Riga, Latvia and enjoyed the holiday magic in Vilnius, Lithuania.

In this article, discover what to do in Riga, Latvia at Christmas.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like. During my time in Riga, Hestia Hotel Draugi hosted me for two nights.


Pin the Below Image to Keep Handy

A Riga Christmas - What to do in Riga, Latvia in December!

Traveling to Riga in Winter:

Colorful buildings in the Baltic's

Getting to the Baltic’s was easy. I took a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport in Estonia with a layover in Helsinki. You can find affordable flights through Skyscanner!

The best ways to get around the Baltic States is via bus through the Lux Express. (The main bus station in Riga is Rīgas Starptautiskā Autoosta.) Whenever I travel around Europe through public transport, I always use Omio to get the best price for train and bus tickets. If you’re looking to explore beyond the big cities in the Baltic’s, I recommend renting a car. I flew home from Vilnius International Airport back to JFK with a layover in Frankfurt.

A building decorated with Christmas lights in Riga

The city of Riga is not too big and since the hotel I stayed in was situated right in the heart of Old Town, it was easiest for me to get around by walking. (The bus station was also in close walking distance to my hotel in Old Town.)

If, for whatever reason, you cannot walk to your destination in Riga, I recommend downloading the app Bolt. It is the Baltic’s version of Uber and it is fairly cheap to use and get around. Once you’re in the Old Town, you’re going to want to walk everywhere since all the buildings and parks are stunning!

Where to Stay during Riga Christmas:

Hestia Hotel Draugi in Riga, Latvia

One of the best Riga hotels to stay at is Hestia Hotel Draugi. I stayed at this wonderful hotel during my two nights in Riga and I loved how conveniently located it was in the heart of Old Town!

Hestia Hotel Draugi is a cozy hotel that features a great café with an incredible morning breakfast and beautiful views of the romantic streets of Old Town Riga. It is located just steps away from all of Riga’s popular landmarks and restaurants and the hotel is also near the Daugava riverfront.

Staying at Hestia Hotel Draugi:
A woman staying at Hestia Hotel Draugi in Riga during December

During my time at Hestia Hotel Draugi in Riga, I stayed in the Standard Room that included a double bed, en-suite bathroom, fridge and beautiful views of the stunning reformation church across the street.

It was a cozy room where I had a great night’s rest and the hotel also provided me with local Champagne and delicious Latvian chocolates.

In addition to the Standard Room, Hestia Hotel Draugi also has a Double or Twin Superior Room that offers more space and charming views of the city; Luxury Room, which is a decorated room with an 18th Century original tiled stove still in place; Studio Room that features classical furniture and a romantic ambiance and the Family Room, which is great for family and friends looking to stay in one room (there are four single beds).

Dining at Hestia Hotel Draugi:
Staying at Hestia Hotel Draugi during a Riga Christmas

Located at Hestia Hotel Draugi is Restaurant Niklāvs. I loved having breakfast at this cozy spot during my two mornings in Riga. They had the best hot drinks (I loved the cappuccino) and the breakfast buffet was one to remember.

During breakfast at Hestia Hotel Draugi, you can savor typical European breakfast items like croissants, pastries, smoked salmon and local fish, grain and rye bread with berry spreads (lingonberry is popular in the Baltic’s), fresh fruits and veggies, cold cuts, eggs, sausages and more.

Breakfast at Hestia Hotel Draugi

Even though the restaurant wasn’t open for lunch or dinner during my stay, it includes a seasonal menu of simple dishes made into a work of art by Head Chef, Jānis Osis.

Overall, I had a lovely time at Hestia Hotel Draugi and it’s the perfect place to stay at during a Riga winter. It is also situated near Riga’s Christmas market!

Where to Eat in Riga during Christmas Time:

Uncle Vanya Russian restaurant in the month of December

A visit to Riga during Christmas is not complete without eating at local restaurants. There is a plethora of great eateries to check out in the Latvian capital. Some traditional Latvian food staples are rye bread, smoked fish, soups, pelmeni (dumplings), hearty meats and more.

Below are the restaurants I visited in Riga, Latvia:

Uncle Vanya:

Turkey Russian dumplings from Uncle Vanya in Riga, Latvia

One of the best restaurants in Riga is Uncle Vanya. This cozy and lovely restaurant features Russian cuisine and I loved how pretty it was both on the outside and inside. It is a cheerful atmosphere with incredible food!

A Russian lunch from Uncle Vanya in Riga, Latvia

During my lunch at Uncle Vanya, I had a Russian beer with the soft turkey dumplings and they were both amazing! The dumplings melted in my mouth! In addition, the friendly staff members also gave me homemade horseradish vodka with fresh rye bread and herring butter. They went so well together! (Russia is known for its vodka and the entire Baltic’s region is famous for herring.)

Kolonade:

Kolonade in Bastejkalns Park in Latvia

Located in Bastejkalns Park in Riga is Kolonade. Known as a wine restaurant, Kolonade is a beautiful space with gorgeous decorations and eye catching views of the park. It is situated between the city’s Freedom Monument, the Latvian National Opera and the Laima Clock.

Kolonade features an extensive wine list and food menu that boasts delicious salads, soups and appetizers; traditional Latvian meatballs made with duck or beef; pizzas and main courses that include seafood, meat and pasta dishes.

For dinner at Kolonade, I had a white wine with the prosciutto di Parma pizza. It was delicious!

Parunāsim Kafe’teeka:

Most romantic cafe in Riga, Latvia

Recognized as the most romantic hidden café in Riga Old Town, Parunāsim Kafe’teeka is a cozy spot to warm up to during Christmas time in Riga. It is decorated beautifully for the holidays and it features delicious homemade cakes, great wines as well as coffee, tea and hot cocoa!

Mulled wine from Parunāsim Kafe’teeka

I just so happened to stumble upon this beautiful spot and knew I had to go inside to enjoy a warm treat! During my time at Parunāsim Kafe’teeka, I had the mulled wine and it was one of the best I’ve ever had!

What to do in Riga in December

A woman enjoying a Christmas trip to Riga in Livu Square.

Riga is the capital of Latvia. If you’re wondering what to do in December, there are so many great spots to enjoy the city’s winter wonderland and to also cozy up; from enjoying the Christmas market to visiting a museum.

Here are the best things to do in Riga in winter:

Enjoy the Christmas Market in Riga:

The Riga Christmas market
This is a photo I downloaded from Unsplash. I did not get to experience the Christmas market when I visited Riga, Latvia in 2021.

Known as one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, you cannot miss out on experiencing the one in Riga.

Unfortunately, the Riga Christmas market in 2021 only happened on the weekends, so I didn’t get to experience it since I visited during the week. I will admit that I was bummed about it, but it does give me a reason to go back!

The beautiful city of Riga during December

Usually, the Riga Christmas market is situated in Doma Laukums, which is the Cathedral Square. There are normally stands in Līvu Square too. You can find stalls in other parts of the city as well such as in Esplanade Park and Vērmanes Garden!

At these beautiful and authentic wooden Christmas stands in Riga, you can get mulled wine, gingerbread cookies, smoked sausages, crepes and other sweet and savory treats. The Christmas markets in Riga also have wool apparel and accessories, ornaments, trinkets, jewelry and more to purchase as gifts or to treat yourself. It truly is a jolly place!

A beautiful Christmas tree in Riga, Latvia

Situated all around Old Town Riga are beautiful Christmas trees to admire. They are all strikingly beautiful! A cool fact about the city of Riga is that it is the birthplace of the first Christmas tree that was put up and decorated. Christmas traditions in Latvia, such as tree decorating, began in the early 1500’s. To this day, Latvians go all out with decorating their tree! It is what makes Christmas in Latvia so special!

Wander around Riga UNESCO Old Town:

Charming alleyways in Riga, Latvia's Old Town

If you’re wondering what else to do in Riga in December, during the Christmas season, it is best to wander around the Old Town, admire the art nouveau architecture and learn about the city as well as its history.

The Old Town of Riga, Latvia became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. In addition to being the capital of Latvia, Riga holds a lot of history! If you’re looking to learn a lot in depth, I recommend doing a city tour.

Riga was founded in 1201 under the seat of Albert’s bishopric and as a base for conquering the lands of Livonia to the northeast, Courland to the west and Semigallia to the south. It was passed to Poland in 1581 and was captured by Sweden in 1621. Riga was later taken over by Peter the Great and became a city under Russian rule by the Peace of Nystad in 1721.

Riga, Latvia during winter

Latvia gained independence in the city of Riga in November 1918 and it shortly became the country’s capital. It remained under Soviet rule until May 1990. Latvia entered the United Nations in August 1991.

The country of Latvia is also called Lettland because there were variations on the country’s name. Within Romance languages, it was referred to as Letonia; in Latin, it was Lettigallia and Lethia and through Germanic languages, it was called Lettland.

Some of the best spots to explore in Riga are Līvu Square, which features charming and colorful buildings. Most of the buildings in Līvu Square are restaurants and during the month of December, Riga boasts some of its Christmas markets there. Another beautiful landmark to check out is the Holy Trinity Church. It is a breathtaking red Russian Orthodox Church located across the Daugava River.

A woman in front of the Christmas tree at Riga's House of Black Heads

One of the best examples of Medieval architecture in the city of Riga are The Three Brothers. It is beautiful to stroll by and it’s home to the Latvian Museum of Architecture.

Now, the fortified walls of Riga were taken down during the Industrial Age, but one of the few remaining pieces from it is the Swedish Gate. It is admirable to see and the gate is near the trokšnu iela, which is a colorful alleyway in the capital city!

The most beautiful Gothic building I discovered as I made my way around Riga at Christmas was the House of Black Heads that features one of the most beautiful trees! The House of Black Heads is the official government residence that was built after World War II. It also boasts the tourist information center in case you have any questions or need anything during your trip!

Admire Beautiful Views of Riga in Winter:

Views of Riga during December

A Riga, Latvia Christmas trip is not complete without admiring breathtaking winter wonderland views over the orange tiled roofs of the city.

St. Peter’s Church is a Gothic Evangelical Lutheran Church in the heart of Riga Old Town. It dates to 1029 and it is one of the most iconic churches within the Baltic’s. The church has also been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times!

St. Peter's Church in Riga

What is great about paying a visit to St. Peter’s Church in Riga is that you can take an elevator to the tower that overlooks the entire capital city. It costs 9 euros for an adult, 7 euros for a student and it is free for children who are 7 years and younger.

You can visit the church from Tuesday through Sunday. It is open from 10am to 6pm during the weekend in the colder months and 10am to 7pm during the warmer months. On Sundays, you can go to the viewpoint from noon to 6pm in the winter and noon to 7pm in the summer. It is closed on Mondays.

Visit One of the Many Museums in the Latvian Capital:

The Three Brothers of Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia is known to have fascinating museums that you can visit. If you’re wondering what to do in Riga in December, when it is cold, visiting a museum will help warm you up and educate you on the history of Latvia.

Some of the best museums to visit in Riga, Latvia is listed below:

Stroll through Bastejkalns Park in a Winter Wonderland:

Bastejkalns Park in Riga, Latvia

One of the most romantic and dreamy spots to stroll through during a Christmas trip to Riga is Bastejkalns Park that separates the Old Town from the Central District. It boasts the Freedom Monument in the middle of the park, which honors Latvia’s independence.

I suggest visiting Bastejkalns Park at nighttime because it is decorated beautifully for the holiday with Christmas lights in the trees and there is also the Pilsētes Kanāls that is lit up beautifully with swans and doves.


Riga's art nouveau architecture

I hope you all enjoyed discovering what to do in Riga in December and reading about my experience staying at Hestia Hotel Draugi. If you have any questions about my time in Riga, Latvia at Christmas, please email me at [email protected]

Basic Facts of Latvia:

Currency: Euro, Capital: Riga, Time Zone: Eastern European Standard Time

Click here to join my private blog sharing Facebook group.

*Anything could happen during your travels. Always make sure you are insured in case there are unforeseen circumstances such as lost luggage/theft, natural disasters, personal liabilities and more. Click here to get insured for your next trip.

Shop my Riga Look:

Click here to shop my Poshmark closet!

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3 Comments

  1. Trea on December 24, 2021 at 6:44 am

    Such a great read! Thank you for sharing your experience. I love how much snow it gets. I really must visit! Uncle Vanya sounds fab too! I always love trying out places that other people have been… I am such a foodie! Ha.

    • Taylor Deer on December 26, 2021 at 3:59 pm

      Thank you so much Trea! It really was a beautiful winter wonderland! Also yes, I always go to restaurants that people recommend. 🙂

  2. Kim Deer on December 26, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Another wonderful blog on the beautiful European Christmas markets. Latvia is so beautiful ~ love all the colorful buildings and the amazing art nouveau architecture. So pretty ~ the churches/cathedrals are stunning! The Christmas markets and the Park were lit up so beautifully ~ looks like an awesome place to visit during the Christmas season ~ the snow all around just makes the scenery even more breathtaking! Great read and love the photography! Love you, mom👩 xoxo ♥️🎄💚🏡🏘🏠🎅♥️

Leave a Comment





Taylor-Riga1

A woman enjoying a Christmas trip in Riga, Latvia

One of the most magical and underrated cities in Europe to visit during Christmas time is Riga, Latvia. During the month of December, the city is a winter wonderland surrounded by festive decorations, Christmas market stalls and magic that fills the air. If you’re wondering what to do during a Riga Christmas in December, there are so many memorable activities to do, museums to visit and landmarks to discover to get you into the holiday spirit!

Visiting Europe during the month of December is magical. Every year, I enjoy doing a Christmas market trip to dreamy European cities. There is something special about all the beautiful wooden stalls that brighten up an Old Town’s square along with the mulled wine and sweet treats that you can get from them; all the happy faces that wander through the charming streets and the heartwarming ambiance it boasts.

Livu Square in a winter wonderland

I started traveling to Europe during the holiday season in December 2017 when I visited Lapland, Finland with Crawford Concierge.

In 2018, I visited Munich and Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria; Salzburg and Hallstatt, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; Bratislava, Slovakia and Vienna Austria. This was my very first solo trip to Europe!

During December 2019, I started my Christmas trip in Kraków, Poland and then made my way to Prague and Česky Krumlov, Czechia; Nuremberg and Rothenburg ob der Tauber in Bavaria along with Frankfurt and Cologne in Germany. I also did this trip solo!

The Christmas season of 2020 had me participating in all the magical New York City activities in December.

A woman exploring Riga in the winter

In 2021, I enjoyed the Christmas season in the Baltic’s on a solo adventure. I visited the Christmas markets in Tallinn, Estonia; experienced a winter wonderland in Riga, Latvia and enjoyed the holiday magic in Vilnius, Lithuania.

In this article, discover what to do in Riga, Latvia at Christmas.

**Please note that this blog post uses affiliate links meaning that if you make a purchase via my affiliate link, I receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. I only promote and talk about products and services that I have used and like. During my time in Riga, Hestia Hotel Draugi hosted me for two nights.


Pin the Below Image to Keep Handy

A Riga Christmas - What to do in Riga, Latvia in December!

Traveling to Riga in Winter:

Colorful buildings in the Baltic's

Getting to the Baltic’s was easy. I took a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport in Estonia with a layover in Helsinki. You can find affordable flights through Skyscanner!

The best ways to get around the Baltic States is via bus through the Lux Express. (The main bus station in Riga is Rīgas Starptautiskā Autoosta.) Whenever I travel around Europe through public transport, I always use Omio to get the best price for train and bus tickets. If you’re looking to explore beyond the big cities in the Baltic’s, I recommend renting a car. I flew home from Vilnius International Airport back to JFK with a layover in Frankfurt.

A building decorated with Christmas lights in Riga

The city of Riga is not too big and since the hotel I stayed in was situated right in the heart of Old Town, it was easiest for me to get around by walking. (The bus station was also in close walking distance to my hotel in Old Town.)

If, for whatever reason, you cannot walk to your destination in Riga, I recommend downloading the app Bolt. It is the Baltic’s version of Uber and it is fairly cheap to use and get around. Once you’re in the Old Town, you’re going to want to walk everywhere since all the buildings and parks are stunning!

Where to Stay during Riga Christmas:

Hestia Hotel Draugi in Riga, Latvia

One of the best Riga hotels to stay at is Hestia Hotel Draugi. I stayed at this wonderful hotel during my two nights in Riga and I loved how conveniently located it was in the heart of Old Town!

Hestia Hotel Draugi is a cozy hotel that features a great café with an incredible morning breakfast and beautiful views of the romantic streets of Old Town Riga. It is located just steps away from all of Riga’s popular landmarks and restaurants and the hotel is also near the Daugava riverfront.

Staying at Hestia Hotel Draugi:
A woman staying at Hestia Hotel Draugi in Riga during December

During my time at Hestia Hotel Draugi in Riga, I stayed in the Standard Room that included a double bed, en-suite bathroom, fridge and beautiful views of the stunning reformation church across the street.

It was a cozy room where I had a great night’s rest and the hotel also provided me with local Champagne and delicious Latvian chocolates.

In addition to the Standard Room, Hestia Hotel Draugi also has a Double or Twin Superior Room that offers more space and charming views of the city; Luxury Room, which is a decorated room with an 18th Century original tiled stove still in place; Studio Room that features classical furniture and a romantic ambiance and the Family Room, which is great for family and friends looking to stay in one room (there are four single beds).

Dining at Hestia Hotel Draugi:
Staying at Hestia Hotel Draugi during a Riga Christmas

Located at Hestia Hotel Draugi is Restaurant Niklāvs. I loved having breakfast at this cozy spot during my two mornings in Riga. They had the best hot drinks (I loved the cappuccino) and the breakfast buffet was one to remember.

During breakfast at Hestia Hotel Draugi, you can savor typical European breakfast items like croissants, pastries, smoked salmon and local fish, grain and rye bread with berry spreads (lingonberry is popular in the Baltic’s), fresh fruits and veggies, cold cuts, eggs, sausages and more.

Breakfast at Hestia Hotel Draugi

Even though the restaurant wasn’t open for lunch or dinner during my stay, it includes a seasonal menu of simple dishes made into a work of art by Head Chef, Jānis Osis.

Overall, I had a lovely time at Hestia Hotel Draugi and it’s the perfect place to stay at during a Riga winter. It is also situated near Riga’s Christmas market!

Where to Eat in Riga during Christmas Time:

Uncle Vanya Russian restaurant in the month of December

A visit to Riga during Christmas is not complete without eating at local restaurants. There is a plethora of great eateries to check out in the Latvian capital. Some traditional Latvian food staples are rye bread, smoked fish, soups, pelmeni (dumplings), hearty meats and more.

Below are the restaurants I visited in Riga, Latvia:

Uncle Vanya:

Turkey Russian dumplings from Uncle Vanya in Riga, Latvia

One of the best restaurants in Riga is Uncle Vanya. This cozy and lovely restaurant features Russian cuisine and I loved how pretty it was both on the outside and inside. It is a cheerful atmosphere with incredible food!

A Russian lunch from Uncle Vanya in Riga, Latvia

During my lunch at Uncle Vanya, I had a Russian beer with the soft turkey dumplings and they were both amazing! The dumplings melted in my mouth! In addition, the friendly staff members also gave me homemade horseradish vodka with fresh rye bread and herring butter. They went so well together! (Russia is known for its vodka and the entire Baltic’s region is famous for herring.)

Kolonade:

Kolonade in Bastejkalns Park in Latvia

Located in Bastejkalns Park in Riga is Kolonade. Known as a wine restaurant, Kolonade is a beautiful space with gorgeous decorations and eye catching views of the park. It is situated between the city’s Freedom Monument, the Latvian National Opera and the Laima Clock.

Kolonade features an extensive wine list and food menu that boasts delicious salads, soups and appetizers; traditional Latvian meatballs made with duck or beef; pizzas and main courses that include seafood, meat and pasta dishes.

For dinner at Kolonade, I had a white wine with the prosciutto di Parma pizza. It was delicious!

Parunāsim Kafe’teeka:

Most romantic cafe in Riga, Latvia

Recognized as the most romantic hidden café in Riga Old Town, Parunāsim Kafe’teeka is a cozy spot to warm up to during Christmas time in Riga. It is decorated beautifully for the holidays and it features delicious homemade cakes, great wines as well as coffee, tea and hot cocoa!

Mulled wine from Parunāsim Kafe’teeka

I just so happened to stumble upon this beautiful spot and knew I had to go inside to enjoy a warm treat! During my time at Parunāsim Kafe’teeka, I had the mulled wine and it was one of the best I’ve ever had!

What to do in Riga in December

A woman enjoying a Christmas trip to Riga in Livu Square.

Riga is the capital of Latvia. If you’re wondering what to do in December, there are so many great spots to enjoy the city’s winter wonderland and to also cozy up; from enjoying the Christmas market to visiting a museum.

Here are the best things to do in Riga in winter:

Enjoy the Christmas Market in Riga:

The Riga Christmas market
This is a photo I downloaded from Unsplash. I did not get to experience the Christmas market when I visited Riga, Latvia in 2021.

Known as one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Europe, you cannot miss out on experiencing the one in Riga.

Unfortunately, the Riga Christmas market in 2021 only happened on the weekends, so I didn’t get to experience it since I visited during the week. I will admit that I was bummed about it, but it does give me a reason to go back!

The beautiful city of Riga during December

Usually, the Riga Christmas market is situated in Doma Laukums, which is the Cathedral Square. There are normally stands in Līvu Square too. You can find stalls in other parts of the city as well such as in Esplanade Park and Vērmanes Garden!

At these beautiful and authentic wooden Christmas stands in Riga, you can get mulled wine, gingerbread cookies, smoked sausages, crepes and other sweet and savory treats. The Christmas markets in Riga also have wool apparel and accessories, ornaments, trinkets, jewelry and more to purchase as gifts or to treat yourself. It truly is a jolly place!

A beautiful Christmas tree in Riga, Latvia

Situated all around Old Town Riga are beautiful Christmas trees to admire. They are all strikingly beautiful! A cool fact about the city of Riga is that it is the birthplace of the first Christmas tree that was put up and decorated. Christmas traditions in Latvia, such as tree decorating, began in the early 1500’s. To this day, Latvians go all out with decorating their tree! It is what makes Christmas in Latvia so special!

Wander around Riga UNESCO Old Town:

Charming alleyways in Riga, Latvia's Old Town

If you’re wondering what else to do in Riga in December, during the Christmas season, it is best to wander around the Old Town, admire the art nouveau architecture and learn about the city as well as its history.

The Old Town of Riga, Latvia became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. In addition to being the capital of Latvia, Riga holds a lot of history! If you’re looking to learn a lot in depth, I recommend doing a city tour.

Riga was founded in 1201 under the seat of Albert’s bishopric and as a base for conquering the lands of Livonia to the northeast, Courland to the west and Semigallia to the south. It was passed to Poland in 1581 and was captured by Sweden in 1621. Riga was later taken over by Peter the Great and became a city under Russian rule by the Peace of Nystad in 1721.

Riga, Latvia during winter

Latvia gained independence in the city of Riga in November 1918 and it shortly became the country’s capital. It remained under Soviet rule until May 1990. Latvia entered the United Nations in August 1991.

The country of Latvia is also called Lettland because there were variations on the country’s name. Within Romance languages, it was referred to as Letonia; in Latin, it was Lettigallia and Lethia and through Germanic languages, it was called Lettland.

Some of the best spots to explore in Riga are Līvu Square, which features charming and colorful buildings. Most of the buildings in Līvu Square are restaurants and during the month of December, Riga boasts some of its Christmas markets there. Another beautiful landmark to check out is the Holy Trinity Church. It is a breathtaking red Russian Orthodox Church located across the Daugava River.

A woman in front of the Christmas tree at Riga's House of Black Heads

One of the best examples of Medieval architecture in the city of Riga are The Three Brothers. It is beautiful to stroll by and it’s home to the Latvian Museum of Architecture.

Now, the fortified walls of Riga were taken down during the Industrial Age, but one of the few remaining pieces from it is the Swedish Gate. It is admirable to see and the gate is near the trokšnu iela, which is a colorful alleyway in the capital city!

The most beautiful Gothic building I discovered as I made my way around Riga at Christmas was the House of Black Heads that features one of the most beautiful trees! The House of Black Heads is the official government residence that was built after World War II. It also boasts the tourist information center in case you have any questions or need anything during your trip!

Admire Beautiful Views of Riga in Winter:

Views of Riga during December

A Riga, Latvia Christmas trip is not complete without admiring breathtaking winter wonderland views over the orange tiled roofs of the city.

St. Peter’s Church is a Gothic Evangelical Lutheran Church in the heart of Riga Old Town. It dates to 1029 and it is one of the most iconic churches within the Baltic’s. The church has also been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times!

St. Peter's Church in Riga

What is great about paying a visit to St. Peter’s Church in Riga is that you can take an elevator to the tower that overlooks the entire capital city. It costs 9 euros for an adult, 7 euros for a student and it is free for children who are 7 years and younger.

You can visit the church from Tuesday through Sunday. It is open from 10am to 6pm during the weekend in the colder months and 10am to 7pm during the warmer months. On Sundays, you can go to the viewpoint from noon to 6pm in the winter and noon to 7pm in the summer. It is closed on Mondays.

Visit One of the Many Museums in the Latvian Capital:

The Three Brothers of Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia is known to have fascinating museums that you can visit. If you’re wondering what to do in Riga in December, when it is cold, visiting a museum will help warm you up and educate you on the history of Latvia.

Some of the best museums to visit in Riga, Latvia is listed below:

Stroll through Bastejkalns Park in a Winter Wonderland:

Bastejkalns Park in Riga, Latvia

One of the most romantic and dreamy spots to stroll through during a Christmas trip to Riga is Bastejkalns Park that separates the Old Town from the Central District. It boasts the Freedom Monument in the middle of the park, which honors Latvia’s independence.

I suggest visiting Bastejkalns Park at nighttime because it is decorated beautifully for the holiday with Christmas lights in the trees and there is also the Pilsētes Kanāls that is lit up beautifully with swans and doves.


Riga's art nouveau architecture

I hope you all enjoyed discovering what to do in Riga in December and reading about my experience staying at Hestia Hotel Draugi. If you have any questions about my time in Riga, Latvia at Christmas, please email me at [email protected]

Basic Facts of Latvia:

Currency: Euro, Capital: Riga, Time Zone: Eastern European Standard Time

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3 Comments

  1. Trea on December 24, 2021 at 6:44 am

    Such a great read! Thank you for sharing your experience. I love how much snow it gets. I really must visit! Uncle Vanya sounds fab too! I always love trying out places that other people have been… I am such a foodie! Ha.

    • Taylor Deer on December 26, 2021 at 3:59 pm

      Thank you so much Trea! It really was a beautiful winter wonderland! Also yes, I always go to restaurants that people recommend. 🙂

  2. Kim Deer on December 26, 2021 at 7:03 pm

    Another wonderful blog on the beautiful European Christmas markets. Latvia is so beautiful ~ love all the colorful buildings and the amazing art nouveau architecture. So pretty ~ the churches/cathedrals are stunning! The Christmas markets and the Park were lit up so beautifully ~ looks like an awesome place to visit during the Christmas season ~ the snow all around just makes the scenery even more breathtaking! Great read and love the photography! Love you, mom👩 xoxo ♥️🎄💚🏡🏘🏠🎅♥️

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