In the capital of Latvia, spring starts in april, after a long, cold winter. Throughout spring the days become longer until there are almost 18 hours of daylight in mid June. As the city emerges from the winter cold, it comes back to life with blue skies and park full of colourful flowers. And there is plenty to see and do both in and outside of the city centre.
The Botanical gardens in Riga are part of the University of Latvia. They have several different greenhouses dedicated to different plants. One of their extraordinary collection can be found in the Greenhouse of Azaleas or Rhododendrons. It is the biggest collection of these plants in the Baltic countries.
When they bloom the greenhouse is filled with a rainbow of colours, reaching well above your head. The plants bloom in two stages, with the early plants flowering between February and April and the late varieties blooming from the end of May.
The Botanical gardens also have a Tropical Butterfly House, where you can wander among the free-flying butterflies. Here you can find butterflies from South America, Asia and Africa.
This park on the west bank of the Daugava river holds the city's most vivid reminder of the Soviet era in the form of the Monument to Soviet Army Soldiers. In early May, the park's sakura or cherry blossom trees bloom, delighting both locals and tourists alike. The trees were given to the city by Japan in 2012. A few months later, you can rent roller skating equipment in the park to try your skills.
On 4 May, Latvia celebrates the Restoration of the Latvian Republic with a national holiday and event. On this day in 1990, the country declared it was once again an independent nation after five decades of occupation by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. In Riga you can observe the celebrations at the Freedom Monument. Here speeches are given, marching bands perform and a parade of people leave flowers ar the base of the monument, slowly filling in a map of Latvia with flowers.
This park, also known as Bastion Hill, is a spacious park on the eastern edge of Riga's Old town. It surrounds the City (Pilsētas) Canal and was first formed in the 19th century. The park includes benches to bask in the sun, picturesque bridges over the canal and memorials to those who died there in Latvia's struggle for freedom in the 1990s.
On the west bank of the city canal, Bastejkalna surrounds the Latvian National Opera and Ballet. During the day, you can take a behind the scenes guided tour of the building and learn more about the 19th century building's past. The Opera's spring season culminates in June with the two week long Riga Opera Festival. The festival showcases some of the best productions from the company's repertoire and often features award-winning singers from around the world.