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Published Apr 22, 2022

Around one third of all buildings in Latvia's capital city are examples of Art Nouveau architecture, and as a result it looks unlike anywhere else on the planet.

This style came to prominence between 1890 and 1910, and is defined as modern, decorative art or architecture. According to The Tate it "is characterised by sinuous lines and flowing organic shapes based on plant forms"

Riga's streets are lined with buildings in this style, packed full of character. It's a stunning place to explore, and it's really no surprise the city's Old Town has been bestowed with UNESCO World Heritage status.

But there's more to Riga than just the architecture - hipster bars, fantastic food and a thriving cultural scene all call this city home.

We'd argue Riga falls firmly into 'hidden gem' territory - and who doesn't love a hidden gem?

So here's a look at some of the highlights - architecture included - you'll want to experience during a long weekend in Riga.

Explore the magnificent Old Town

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One of the most popular things to do in this city is explore the historic Old Town, and visit the House of the Blackheads in Town Hall Square.

This part of town is packed with that magnificent Art Nouveau architecture. So join up with one of the walking tours which regularly frequent these streets, or explore them in your own time. In the quirky Rozena Street, the narrowest in the city, you can touch opposite walls at the same time.

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Sample the fantastic local cuisine, and nightlife!

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Many of the bars and restaurants operate outdoor terraces meaning you can enjoy a bite or a few refreshments in charming surroundings. The city is famous for its traditional rye bread, while the smoked fish, whether it be Baltic herring or Baltic salmon, is very highly rated.

Head on down to Vecriga which is loaded with great places to stop. There's even a desert named the after the area comprising choux pastry with curd and vanilla cream, dusted with icing sugar. Still wanting more? Riga Central Market is packed with treats to fill up on.

Looking to continue into the night? Make your way to Aristīda Briāna Street where you'll be able to find a bar to suit your taste, whether it's a local beer or a cracking cocktail. And of course there are nightclubs a plenty if you want to continue into the wee hours and see what the party is like!

Visit the museums and galleries, they are a work of art

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The Latvian Museum of National Art holds a collection of no fewer than 52,000 works by significant Baltic painters and sculptors. The building itself is a work of art, and one of the most impressive in the whole city. Don't miss the chance to visit one of the two roof terraces which can be accessed with the all-inclusive museum ticket, or a ticket to the permanent exhibition.

If you're into your art Zuzeum is another excellent option. Along with a fantastic art exhibition there's also a rooftop terrace where you can enjoy a glass of wine. I mean, what's not to like?

Spend some time at the Riga Dome Cathedral - a symbol of Latvia

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The historic Riga Dome Cathedral, the largest place of worship in the Baltics, dates back to the 1200s. For centuries concerts and art exhibitions have also taken place here. A symbol of the city, paying this place a visit is widely regarded as one of the top things to do in Latvia.

Amble around Riga's beautiful green spaces

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Riga is home to numerous parks, with no shortage of glorious greenspaces to explore. A number of these parks sit along the Riga city canal stretch - from the National Opera down to the River Daugava. Great for an afternoon stroll on a bright and breezy afternoon if you're seeking some tranquillity away from the city streets. And if you get the chance take a walk up to the National Opera - it's quite the spectacle.

Visit the coast and watch the sun go down

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There's almost 500km of coastline as Latvia meets the Baltic Sea, with white sandy beaches on the Gulf of Riga. The jetty at Mangaļsala, or ‘eastern jetty’, is a romantic setting for couples, and also a real favourite among birdwatchers.

Also worthwhile is the short journey to the coastal resort town of Jūrmala where you can experience the Kemeri National Park - a stunning place to see the sunset - and Dzintari Forest Park.

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Find the perfect spot to take in that skyline

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Beautiful isn't it? Riga is a gorgeous place to look at so you'll want to find the perfect spot to take it all in from - and get that obligatory selfie of course. One of the best options is to head 72-metres up to the viewing platform at the top of the St Peter's Church tower in the Old Town. Here you'll be greeted with a breathtaking view.

You can fly direct to Riga with airBaltic.

Photos courtesy of airBaltic.