Relax in SPA. Why not to start a trip with an open air thermal SPA on a rooftop with a glass of champaign?
- ESPA Riga: http://www.espariga.lv/en/
Explore Riga. Visit the old town, go up the St Peter’s Cathedral for the five stars view, stroll through the Elizabetes and Albera Streets for some of the most pompous Art Nouveau examples, and discover the headquarters of hipsters around the Miera Street. If you like books, visit National Library – the wall of books is impressive!
Shop Baltic design. Baltic design boils down to simplicity, functionality and choice of natural materials. I like the muted colour palette and the touch of natural materials, be it washed linen sheets, clay bowls or wooden utensils. Here are some good adresses:
- Galerija Istaba: https://www.facebook.com/galerijaISTABA/
- Rija: https://riija.lv
Hear the Latvians sing. By far the most important event of this summer in Riga’s cultural life is the Song and Dance festival, which takes place every five years. The festival is included into the UNESCO’s list of Oral History and Non-material Cultural Heritage. For a truly Latvian experience attending one of the concerts is a must. Mind-blowing choreography and 12,000 voices singing together.
Enjoy food. If you think Latvian cuisine is comprised of rye bread, potatoes, beans and cabbage, think again. A post on Jamie Oliver’s blog refers to Latvia as “Europe’s hidden culinary gem.” I have to admit I haven’t been on a restaurant tour in Riga for a while, but I hear from my friends that dinning culture has evolved a lot. The new generation of Latvian chefs have revisited local flavours adding contemporary touches. Here are some adresses from the local foodies:
- For good coffee: Rocket Bean Roastery (29 Miera Street)
- For herbal tea and candied fruits: Pienene (7/9 Kungu Street)
- For cantine-style food: Lido (65 Elizabetes Street), Pelmeni XL (7 Kalku Street)
- For refined dining: Easy Wine (4 Audeju Street), Muusu (6 Skarnu Street 6), Domini Cannes (18/20 Skarnu Street)
- For special experience (restaurants run by celebrity chefs): 3 Pavaru Restorans (4 Torna Street), Vincents (19 Elizabetes Street)
Go Rural. Latvians themselves would go berry or mushroom picking, depending on the season. It’s a Latvian way of forest bathing. More than half of the country’s land is covered with forests and there is a large variety of berries, including bilberies, raspberries, cranberries, and wild strawberries.
Not impressed with berry picking? Then try a countryside escape with traditional sauna or milk bathing. Here are some suggestions:
- Milk Manoir: http://www.pienamuiza.lv/en/accomodation
- Countryside SPA: http://www.annashotel.com/#/en/spa/
Shop at a local market. The goodies that you can get at the local markets are just amazing: herbal teas, honey, jams (including cone jam!), pollen, berries, hemp butter, and so much more… A genuine boost to the immune system!
Images: ©2018 Peachtree Alley