Travel

Sightseeing in Riga: walking and kayaking

We were looking for ways to fill up our 4 days in Riga when we saw advertising for a free walking tour of Riga.

I love walking tours.  And I’ve taken plenty.

I love that there is usually no commitment.  No upfront payment.

You just show up and enjoy the ride. The guides are usually very motivated to show you their city, share their passion plus they are working for tips and donations.  It’s easy to be generous when the tour is fantastic like the one in Riga.

Since we had explored a lot of Old Town, we opted for the Riga Free Tour that promised to show us the “real city.” It started in Old Town at 12pm in front of St Peter’s Church, soon after spotting the yellow suitcase.

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Despite the large group size of 40 people, we moved quickly and ventured out into the suburbs with our guide Agnes. Along our little loop to the east of Old Town, we walked through the Grand market learning about Latvian cuisine and marveling at all the stands piled high with food.

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We also walked through the warehouse district and the Moscow district, all along learning about Latvian history and culture.  Along the 3 hour tour, our guide entertained us with fun facts and quirky stories about Riga and Latvia.  I have a nice little collection going that I’ll post soon.

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It was a good mix of historical facts and old wives tales. We took enough breaks and had ample time to take in the surroundings.

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After the tour, we continued into the Art Nouveau district on Alberta Street to marvel at the amazing architecture and splendid facades. With over 50 buildings, it has the finest example of art nouveau architecture in Europe.

Talk about getting a pain in your neck from constantly looking up!

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In a very uncharacteristic move for us, that night we joined another tour, Riga at Night Kayak Tour. We met our guide at 10pm, again in front of St Peter’s Church and drove to his kayak garage on the other side of the river. We geared up, learned how to hold a paddle and use said paddle to kayak.  Some last minute safety tips and we were off.

As the last hint of twilight grazed the night sky, we set off toward the Stone Bridge and across the Daugava River.   Crossing the river wasn’t nearly as difficult as I imagined, considering the wind and current we had seen earlier.  Then it was smooth sailing… err kayaking into the mirror glass water of the canal surrounding Old Town.

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The 8km route circled us around Old Town passing 19 bridges and back across the river to our starting point. Some of the bridges were really nicely lit. We passed under a shopping mall and through a tunnel. We saw couples in romantic row boats joining in the fun.  The canal was super still and peaceful. Sadly, we didn’t see any beavers.

For someone who doesn’t kayak like me, 25 euros per person was well worth it.

Our guide drove us back to the church just before 1am thus ending an unforgettable and unique way to see the city.

NOTE:  This is not a sponsored post.  I wish! … then maybe that would mean I could make money and/or get free stuff!  We genuinely just loved the tours and wanted to share.

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