Riga might not be the first city you think of when planning a family vacation but the capital of Latvia offers plenty of things to do with kids along with the city’s historic centre and Art Nouveau District. Here are some of our favourite kids activities in Riga that will offer plenty of family fun.
Riga’s greenest district, Mežaparks, has been the home of Riga Zoo since 1912. Only five years later the zoo was closed due to World War I and some of the animals were relocated to Germany and others sold or put down. It wasn’t until 1933 that the zoo reopened in a small part of its former territory. By 1940, the zoo had recovered all its previous land and during World War II the zoo’s staff was able to keep all the animals.
During the country’s Soviet occupation, the zoo was considered as one of the best in the Soviet Union but when Latvia regained its independence, the zoo was in need of plenty of improvements and development. Today the zoo covers over 16 hectares, and features more than 450 animal species, including lions, tigers, giraffes, kangaroos and hippos. The zoo is a great place to explore with kids.
The early beginnings of the Latvian Puppet Theatre, steps away from stop 8 on the Hop-on Hop-off bus route, date back to 1942 when a group of puppeteers came together to perform for evacuated soldiers and Latvians. In 1944, the theatre opened its doors in Riga. Today the theatre has three stages in one building, the Great Hall, Small Hall and the small Puppet Museum.
The Latvian Puppet Theatre performs stories from Latvian culture, fairy tales and nursery rhymes, as well as international classics and contemporary works of literature. Though the performances are in Latvian or Russian, they do rely primarily on visual storytelling, which makes them easy to follow even if you or your child doesn’t speak the language.
The playground of the Central Sports District covers 7000 square meters. It is the largest playground in the city and is a great place for kids of all ages. The visual design of the playground is based on symbols and history of Riga City. The blue colours used on the cobblestones and rubber surfacing symbolize the River Daugava visually dividing the playground. It also has an island with a vertical element for climbing - a pyramid - and a docked ship.
On one bank of the Daugava River there is a stylized Old City with its characteristic elements - a replica of Riga Cathedral's clock, the black cat, church spires of Old Riga, as well as bridges featuring the city's heraldry. Like every old city, this, too, will be guarding its secrets, while the little explorers will be provided with special clues helping them to solve the mysteries.
Virtual Reality allows you to step into a different reality, you can leave your surroundings behind you and travel across the world. Portāls Virtual Reality Arcade offers 50 different VR games and experiences, VR escape rooms and games for kids of all ages.
Up to six people can play in a portal at the same time, which makes it perfect for a family adventure. The studio's experienced instructors will teach you the ropes and advise you on the most suitable games and experiences. Visitors can try any of the 50 available games and experiences, and can change them at any time.
Mežaparks is home to more than just Riga Zoo, the district also features adventure park Mežakaķis. Here you can walk in and among the trees using obstacles such as wire ropes, nets, various kinds of bridges, swings, logs and steps as well as zip lines. There are different obstacle courses to choose from with different levels of difficulty.
Even the youngest in the family can enjoy this activity as there is a special course designed for them. Parents can follow the action closely, moving along the track with their offspring, providing support and assistance if necessary. There are six other courses, ranging from 2 metres above the ground to 10-15 metres above the ground.