10 reasons why you should visit Riga and the surrounding area in winter
Winter doesn’t mean that you have to stay at home – not even if the temperature falls way
below zero. Latvia is a place where you can learn how to enjoy yourselves during the coldest
part of the year, whether that’s with a day in the capital city or a day out of town to
reconnect with nature. Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Christmas markets. You will find them in Riga Old Town as well as in other parts of
the city, and each one of them has a different design and atmosphere. They are
perfect for shopping for local goods and Christmas gifts or to warm yourself up with
the seasonal dishes and drinks: soups, mulled wine, sauerkraut, sausages, potatoes,
hot chocolate and other local products. Don’t forget to try “Karstais Balzams”, which
is a drink that helps us get through the winter.
2. Concerts. Riga is a delight during the summer but one thing that’s missing is the
opera and theatre season. Did you know that Mikhail Baryshnikov comes from Riga?
We are particularly proud of the Latvian National Opera, which offers amazing shows
for very accessible prices but there is a vast choice of events for all tastes.
3. Museums. In winter there is no excuse for not visiting Riga’s amazing museums. One
Latvian artist, Vilhelms Purvitis, was once considered the most talented painter of
snow in the Western world. To see his work for yourself, head to the Latvian
National Museum of Art. But don’t limit yourself with that – there are dozens of
museums in Riga, offering entertainment for all ages and interests.
4. Gastronomic tourism. The winter is the best time to enjoy yourself at the table. The
weather is cold, the bikini season is still far away, and the warm restaurants and
cafes are so inviting. Riga has a lot to offer for gourmets: local cuisine, world cuisine,
the amazing Riga Central Market, cooking classes, beer tours, tasting menus and
5. Outdoor activities in Riga. When it gets cold, we dress like onions (meaning layers
and layers) and head outside to go cross-country skiing in Uzvaras Park, or skiing on
one of the skating rinks or on lakes or rivers. For those looking for the ultimate local
experience, we can suggest ice fishing – but be sure to do it together with an
experienced local professional.
6. Outdoor activities outside the city. There are many things you can do in the
countryside in the winter, and one of the most amazing is a dog-sledding trip. It is
most magical in a snowy forest, but you can do it even if there is no snow as sleighs
with wheels are also available. If you are able to ski or snowboard, you can also try
skijoring with dogs or horses.
7. Bobsleigh track. Sigulda Bobsleigh track is where Latvian Olympic champions have
trained since 1986. It is one of the few bobsleigh tracks in the world that is open to
the public. You can either just pay a visit to the site or go for a ride in a real bobsleigh
8. Visit a deer farm. Do you want to know where Santa’s fantastic helpers hang out
when not on duty? Take a trip to a deer park, where a local guide will tell you about
the animals and let you feed them, and where you’ll have a chance to take
unforgettable pictures with them.
9. Sauna. Latvians believe the perfect end to any day is a sauna. Once every Latvian
homestead had one and they are still an important part of our culture.
10. Low season advantages. When you go somewhere in the low season, you will be
rewarded with many pleasant surprises, including the lack of crowds and lower
costs. This is also a more sustainable way to travel and often makes for a more