£20 in... Riga
“Ah yeah, isn’t that where we went for Shane’s stag?”
Stop right there. The #lads have moved on.
Stag-friendly generally means cheap pints (score) but Riga's got loads more going for it. It’s a cultural mish-mash of medieval streets and ex-Soviet warehouses, filled with bohemian, arty types.
But how far will £20 get you in this colourful city?
First things first, go for a free wander round the old town and just LOOK how nice it is!
Riga is cutesy-cobbledy-Noddy-in-toytown-quaint, with an extra helping of curly roofs and an extra helping of turrets.
There’s churches to poke around, courtyards to stick your nose in and narrow arched streets opening out into grand squares.
Check out the Swedish Gate, for Medieval architecture, Riga Cathedral ( 3€ ) for Romanesque, Early Gothic, Baroque and Art Nouveau styles) - and the Freedom Monument (built in 1935, just outside the old town).
The Central Market is the best way to get a slice of history, and a slice of actual food at the same time.
It’s a WWI Zeppelin Hangar packed with market stalls selling local delicacies. Like piping hot Uzbeki bread. And eels. The cockneys have given eels a bad rep (wouldn’t most ‘jellied’ things be quite bad?) but in Riga they smoke’em, which is a whole different kettle of fish 👀 (wayoo) and actually nice.
It’s the biggest market of its kind in Europe, and most things are a couple of Euros each. Score.
Riga’s full of multi-tasking places that do food / stuff to look at / stuff to experience / a night out.
Like the The Kanepes culture centre, which’ll do you cinema screenings, art shows, live jazz evenings - you name it. Most of which you pay a donation for. At the weekend it’s where to come for a rave. Plus ‘Kaņepes’ is Latvian for cannabis. Why would you ever leave?
Folk Klub Ala is a restaurant and bar, in a cavern.
You can come here and eat meatballs, or pork and barley stew ( €7- 10 for a main meal).
Stay for cheap beers €2-3 and rowdy folk music, then end with 'Black Balsam’ the Latvian national drink. It tastes a bit like medicine, and being 45% alcohol will generally kill anything in its path. Yum.
For clubbin’ in a nightclub, One One is an underground warehouse spilling out into a courtyard playing electronic music. Come here to catch local resident djs for €5, and stay for a late one.
For a cheap, cultural break, you’d be hard pushed to find somewhere that hits the brief better than Riga.
It’s got all the old culture - buildings to look around, markets to browse, and all the new converted-warehousey-art hub culture thanks to the thriving art community here.
For £20 you can fill your brain, eat yourself silly and drink yourself blind. Go on Riga.