With a population of nearly 650,000 residents, Riga is not only Latvia’s capital and most populous city, but it’s home to almost a third of the country’s population as well.
The city was founded around 800 years ago and features an alluring mix of the old-world history and contemporary attractions that most guests find fascinating.
A variety of tours are available for those who’d like to explore the city and surrounding areas with a guide. They run the gamut from stunning natural attractions and historical sites to modern museums and trendy restaurants featuring vibrant fusion cuisine.
Below are 15 of the best tours of Riga.
1. Food Tasting Tour of Central Market
Riga’s Central Market is usually abuzz with browsing tourists, with shoppers and vendors haggling over the things they use in their everyday lives.
It’s also one of the city’s architectural wonders and was built in the 1920s and ‘30s in the neoclassical and art deco styles.
Along with their guide, tour guests will explore the market’s narrow paths, learn about Latvian history, culture, and cuisine, and sample a variety of traditional fresh and prepared food items like cured meats, fruit, and cheese.
Tours last about two hours and are available at multiple times to accommodate those with different schedules.
2. Old Town Private Walking Tour
Walking tours may be the best way to experience a new area for the first time because they allow guests to get up close and personal with local residents and attractions.
Riga’s Old Town area is the city’s historic centerpiece. It’s full of impressive architecture, distinct neighborhoods, and a variety of monuments that have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Tours meet in a central location, are available in English, Russian, and German, and include stops at iconic attractions like St. Peter’s Cathedral and Town Hall Square, to name just a few.
Don’t forget to ask your guide for tips on additional things to see and do when the tour is over.
3. Jewish Heritage Private Guided Tour
Though it’s not so well known as other European cities like Krakow, Poland, Riga lost more than 60,000 Jews during World War II.
This history and culture tour focuses on the plight of the Jews in Riga and Latvia during the Holocaust. The highlights include the Museum of Jews in Latvia, the Zanis Lipke Memorial, and the Great Choral Synagogue Memorial.
Guests will benefit from their guide’s insight and historical perspective as they take in the museum’s poignant exhibits, including photographs, first-hand accounts, and other paraphernalia discovered after the Nazi occupation came to an end.
Transportation and entrance fees are included.
4. Half-Day Natural Ecosystems Hike from Riga
In addition to being a hotspot for history, architecture, culture, and food, Riga and the surrounding areas are home to a variety of ecosystems and large tracts of relatively undisturbed natural areas.
After pick-up from their accommodations in Riga, guests and their guide will make their way to Piejūra Nature Park, where they’ll spend the day hiking amongst lakes, forests, river deltas, and some amazingly beautiful and pristine stretches of Baltic coastline.
It’s common to see a variety of wildlife along the way. Though the tour covers nearly ten miles, it proceeds at a relatively slow pace, making it appropriate for families.
5. 3-Hour Soviet Walking Tour
First off, you don’t need to be a closet commie sympathizer or wear a hammer and sickle pin on your lapel during this tour.
But for those who prefer to see and experience attractions that are slightly off the beaten path while learning about a particularly interesting segment of local history, this three-hour Soviet walking tour would probably be a great fit.
Tours begin mid-afternoon, include the services of a knowledgeable local guide, and visit a number of premier attractions left over from the Soviet era.
Guests will learn about the grassroots movements that eventually led to Latvian independence, and enjoy a traditional Soviet buffet lunch as well.
6. Beer or Cider Bike Tour
Imbibing beer and hard cider before a long bike ride isn’t usually a good idea, but when the bike has 15 seats and is piloted by a sober professional, it’s perfectly safe.
On this unique and spirited tour, guests will explore the Old Town area while drinking beer, wine, and Prosecco, and seeing many of the city’s most significant sites from a truly unique perspective.
Depending on the ages and interests of guests, tours can range from a music-filled party on wheels, to a relatively relaxed sightseeing tour.
Each trip lasts about two hours and includes a meal at the end.
7. Latvian Palaces and Medieval Castles Private Tour
Just a short drive from Riga’s city center, the country opens up, and the rural landscape becomes dotted with numerous castles and palaces from eras long past.
This eight-hour tour includes round-trip transportation to and from your hotel in Riga. It focuses on several palaces and castles known for their impressive architecture and historical significance.
Rundāle Palace and Jelgava Castle were built in the 1700s. As the home of royalty, they were among the most opulent royal residences in the country.
Guests will have ample time to explore on foot, ask questions, and take photographs during the tour, but entrance fees and meals aren’t included.
8. Ghost Walking Tour and Balsam Tasting
For those who get a kick out of the eerie, macabre, and ghoulish, after-dark tours are great ways to get a good scare at the end of a long day.
On this two-hour ghost walk and balsam tasting combo tour, guests will follow their guide to parts of the city where most sane travelers prefer not to tread.
Tour highlights include a centuries-old prison, narrow streets in dark neighborhoods, and various sites along the city’s imposing wall that are purportedly home to ghosts of lost souls killed in ages past.
Oh, and every tour ends with a lovely balsam tasting.
9. Art Nouveau Architecture Walking Tour
In the latter years of the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s, the art nouveau movement swept across the continent.
Now, more than a century later, many of the city’s most prominent attractions are prime examples of art nouveau architecture that are convenient to view together on this relatively short tour.
From their guide, guests will learn about the history of the movement, why it took such hold in Riga, and see some of the city’s most impressive buildings.
Tours last two hours, are available in both English and German and include pick-up from your hotel if you’re staying in Old Town.
10. Turaida Reserve and Deer Safari Winter Tour
Departing from Riga’s city center, guests and their guide will travel to the Turaida Reserve in Vidzeme.
Located in one of the country’s most beautiful and historic regions, during the winter, the landscape is characterized by snow-laden pine trees, crisp winds, and an abundance of stately reindeer.
Tour participants will be able to touch and feed the deer, learn about their lives in the wild, and experience Latvia’s great outdoors like never before.
The weather can be downright frigid on winter Safaris, so it’s important to wear warm shoes and dress in layers.
Everything is included except lunch.
11. 3-Hour Old town and Farmers Market Detective Tour
For those who fancy themselves amateur sleuths like Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, there’s one clear standout among Riga’s tours.
Starting at Liberty Monument, participants and their guild will set out on a fascinating exploration of the city’s most notable attractions, like Fat Powder Tower, Riga Castle, and the Palace of Peter the Great.
Along the way, they’ll use their grey matter to answer riddles and decipher clues, each of which will lead them to the next site and give unique insights in the city’s history, legends, and culture.
Tours of this nature are a great fit for activity minded visitors traveling with inquisitive kids.
12. Sigulda Hiking Tour in the Switzerland of Latvia
The area around Sigulda is often referred to as the Switzerland of Latvia because it’s full of valleys, cliffs, forests, and mountains – like the country after which it’s named.
On this full-day hiking tour, fit guests will delve into the amazingly picturesque region on a nine-mile hike and explore a variety of impressive natural landscapes and features.
The tour’s pace can be adjusted to fit the abilities and interests of the guests. Since there’s more than enough time to cover the route, there will be plenty of time for breaks and sightseeing along the way.
Everything is included except tips, food, and drinks.
13. Self-Guided Old Town Tour
Professional tour guides can add gobs of extra value for travelers looking to make the most of their limited vacation resources, but self-guided tours are popular options for those who prefer to see things on their own terms.
Using a smartphone as a guide, guests will be able to begin their tour whenever they’d like and spend time seeing things that interest them while ignoring those that don’t.
The app provides a list of possible attractions, brief descriptions of each, and directions on how to get to them.
Self-guided tours are also much less expensive than traditional tours and are big hits with families.
14. Latvian Genealogical Ancestry Tour
Have 12 hours to spare? Want to research the genealogy of your Latvian ancestors?
If so, then this guided ancestry tour would be a fun and educational way to learn about the country and its culture with the help of an experienced local guide and genealogist.
Tours may include visits to a number of towns depending on guests’ knowledge of their family lineage. They also include stops at museums, cemeteries, and the opportunity to interview locals and check various directories and official historical records.
Fear not if research of this kind isn’t your forte; your guide is trained in research and can speak and read multiple languages.
15. Kemeri National Park Nature Trail from Riga
Kemeri National Park is Latvia’s 3rd largest park. For those who’ve tired of Riga’s historic attractions and urban hustle and bustle, it’s a great place to spend a day in nature away from the crowds.
Though it’s full of rugged natural areas, much of the park is easy to explore by the elevated boardwalk that winds its way for a few miles through a variety of idyllic environments.
Along the way, guests will benefit from their guide’s insights and take in ponds, streams, bogs, and forests that are home to a variety of commonly seen animals.
Tours require moderate amounts of exertion but are appropriate for those of most ages.