Hanseatic architecture and a touch of Eastern Europe place Riga somewhere between Stockholm and Prague. Romantic Christmas markets, cozy restaurants and the chance to get lots of snow make the city a perfect winter destination.
New Year’s Eve is not the easiest time for travel in Europe. The weather is suboptimal for seaside holidays, everywhere in the mountains is booked out months in advance and prices in the capitals rise to ridiculous heights. In all the capitals? No. In 2010, I was able to get a great deal on a cheap flight and a lovely hotel in Riga. The boyfriend was easily convinced by “there is some Art Nouveau stuff in Riga, it sounds safe and we have never been there before” and off we went to spend a few days in the capital of Latvia.
Riga features both beautiful streets and a couple of in-door sights, like the Art Nouveau Museum where I took the picture of the signature staircase above. Despite this, there were very few other tourists. Everyone else at our hotel seemed to be Russian and all of them seemed to wear their slippers at the breakfast buffet.To be very clear: yes, it was pretty cold. We did not mind the icicles hanging from every building and the abundant amount of snow since they provided a good excuse to explore the city’s cafés to warm up every now and then.Riga does its best to make up for short and cold winter days. The city was illuminated beautifully with lots of Christmas decoration and the Christmas markets were still open after the 26th of December. A very welcome surprise for me was the warming Latvian alternative to mulled wine: Hot black currant juice with Riga Black Balsam, a traditional liqueur based on herbs and vodka. And to welcome the new year, everyone gathered next to the river to watch the official fireworks.
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This article was published on perelincolors.com in response to the Daily Post’s Photography101 theme “architecture”.