o please

Latvia’s postcard-pretty capital deserves a visit any time of year, but when is it at its best? David Whitley weighs up summer and winter


revelation for anyone partial to a short city break. But it feels very different depending on when you visit, so a summer trip and a winter break require separate strategies. If you’re looking to brush up on


short-haul destinations to sell next year, the Latvian capital should be on the list whatever the season.

WINTER We use the word ‘Baltic’ to describe weather for a good reason – if you’re visiting Riga in winter, don’t forget your coat and hat. But that can mean cosiness as well as cold, especially before Christmas, when the festive markets are in full swing. The main one is held on Dome Square, although it spills into the surrounding streets too. The giant Christmas tree is a tribute to what is believed to be the first-ever Christmas tree, erected in Riga in 1510. If it’s markets you’re after, however, the Riga Central Market is supposedly the biggest in Europe. It’s spread across five enormous pavilions, which were originally designed to be Zeppelin hangars, and in the more traditional sectors, it’s the sheer scale that provides the appeal. But the Gastronomic Pavilion is more intriguing. Part of it acts like a food hall, while the other

iga, with its adorably pretty Old Town and surprising range of heritage attractions, is a

end is full of distinctly local goodies – from traditional pastries to smoked meats and dried fruits foraged in the forests. One of the city’s several ice rinks can also be found in close proximity to the market during winter. Elsewhere, the hulking Latvian Academy of Sciences building – nicknamed Stalin’s Wedding Cake and sticking out like a sore thumb on the skyline – is well worth a look-in if you’re keen to shelter from the cold, with a concert venue on the ground floor and panoramic views from the 17th (there’s a small entry fee). The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia

also deserves a visit. It’s well presented and traces the horrors of Nazi and Soviet occupation. Particularly jarring is realising that some families were split three ways: some regarding the Germans as the least- worst bet, some seeing the Soviets the same way, and others fighting for the resistance.


With the long evenings and palatably warm temperatures, Riga’s Old Town is an absolute pleasure to stroll around in the summer months with its maze of lanes, churches, squares, bars and restaurants. Brevings on the edge of the large Dome

Square is a good example of the sort of easy-going charm on offer. A restaurant and bar serving hearty meaty dishes, a

² 19 NOVEMBER 2020 33

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40