The capital of Latvia comes to life in summer, with an average temperatures of 19° Celsius it makes for the perfect location for a summer city break, though temperatures can rise up to 30°. When you are visiting Riga in summer you can look forward to long evenings in this easy-going and historic city.
At the heart of Latvia's capital city you'll find the oldest part of the city, Old Town locally known as Vecrīga. The historic city centre was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997 and lends itself beautifully to relaxed sightseeing with its maze of lanes, churches, squares, bars and restaurants.
The Old Town is home to many of the city's historic sights, including St. Peter's Church, the House of the Blackheads, Riga Cathedral and Dome Square in front of it. While Riga's Old Town only covers about 1 square kilometre there is plenty to see and do there.
Old Town is separated from the rest of the city of Riga by a canal that loops round to the river Daugava. Taking a cruise along the canal is a must-do on your visit to Riga in summer as it will take you by several of the city's sights. The cruise starts near tram stop Stacijas laukums at the southern end of the parks that surround the canal.
From there you'll cruise in the direction of Stockmann, one of the city's largest department stores, and Riga's Central Market, Europe's largest marketplace. The cruise continues onto the Daugava river, passing underneath the city's three main bridges and sailing around Riga's Passenger Terminal to get back onto the canal in Kronvalda Park. As the cruise continues on to Bastejkalna park, you'll pass by the Latvian National Theatre, the Freedom Monument and the Latvian National Opera.
If there is any time of year to visit Riga's city beach, summer is it. When you cross Vanšu Bridge from Old Town, there is a viewpoint on the left and a proper beach on the right hand side. The beach has changing rooms, portable toilets and even a beach volleyball court. It is one of the view places in the city proper where you can cool off on hot summer days.
The Riga City Festival is one of the main annual event in the city. It has music, artists, theatre, dance, sports and attractions. During three days each summer, usually the third weekend in August, the festival takes place in venues and locations all over the city. It is a great time to see Riga at its best, with its flamboyant architecture and up and coming bars and restaurants, whilst experiencing true Latvian celebrations from and for all generations.
Over a third of all buildings in Riga are examples of the Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil, style of design. This makes Riga the city with the highest concentration of art nouveau architecture in the world. The main reason for this abundance is that the style was at the height of its popularity when Riga went through an unprecedented financial boom.
Art Nouveau was often inspired by natural forms such as the sinuous curves of plants and flowers. Albert Street especially is a gem for Riga art nouveau sightings. Each building there is unique and eight of the buildings on the street have officially been designated as architectural landmarks.