Riga, 'the Paris of the East', is the capital of Latvia and it is divided by the mighty Daugava River. One of Europe's most up-and-coming city break destinations, Riga is the largest city in the Baltic states and it boasts an elegant historic centre. The Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the skyline is dominated by the lofty baroque spire of 800-year-old St Peter's Church. Cobbled streets and regal architecture give the city a fairytale quality, with a medieval castle adding to the charm. Almost half of Riga's population is Russian and the language can be heard as often as Latvian, ringing out across the streets of the city.
Riga International Airport (RIX) is just 10km away from the city centre and it is the largest airport in the Baltic states. It has excellent links to international destinations with direct flights from London Gatwick, London Stansted, London Luton, Bristol, East Midlands, Leeds Bradford, Glasgow and Liverpool. Ryanair, airBaltic and Wizz Air all schedule cheap flights to Riga from the UK. The journey from the airport to the city is straightforward with public transport and takes about 25 minutes. Airbaltic Airport Express minibuses run every 20 minutes and stop at a number of hotels. The number 22 bus runs every 10 minutes to the centre. Riga airport also has excellent links to all of the most popular city break destinations in the Baltic states, so why not extend your stay and fly on to Tallinn, Warsaw or Vilnius?
The medieval Old Town lies to the east of the river and this is where you will find most of the city's attractions. Take a walking tour for insight into the history and politics that have shaped Riga and soak up the city's unique atmosphere. Much of the architecture - built between 1860 and 1914 - is reminiscent of that found in Paris, hence the city's nickname. St Peter's Church is the oldest in the city and an elevator ride up its tower reveals spectacular views. After you've explored the Old Town be sure to visit the Art Nouveau District for striking decorative buildings based on the principles of curved lines and asymmetrical composition. The Freedom Monument is another interesting landmark representing the distinct regions within the city as well as paying homage to Latvia's national independence.
Peak season in Riga is April to September due to the milder weather found at this time. The city is also renowned for its fairytale charm around Christmas and New Year when snow decorates the historic buildings and a traditional Christmas market takes over the streets of the Old Town.
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