Latvia, alternative, expansive, beautiful, and full of nature. Who better to give a first-hand account of what to do, than someone who was born there?
Riga is the biggest city in the Baltics and known by some as the 'Paris of the East' due to its lavish Nouveau architecture. While not many have been there (yet), it's definitely worth a visit if you want to see something different.
Besides the beautiful parks that can be found on almost every corner, the cheap but incredible beer, and the beautiful nature that surrounds the city, there has been an ever-expanding alternative scene that has grown over the past decade. What’s more, the Poetry, comedy, live gigs, art exhibitions, and abundance of unique venues are just the beginning.
Food is always on my mind, so let me share this gem with you. Indian inspired, with an eccentric menu with a lot of vegan options all available for ridiculously low prices at the stock pot.
Last time I went there, I got the chickpea soup, delicious falafel with hummus and rice with seitan, all for about 8 quid. They also have a great range of spicy food, so no matter what you like, whether it's meat, fish, veg, mild or hot, you'll find something you'll love.
Do you want to meet local artists, musicians, and actors? All while enjoying a range of incredible Latvian beers? This is the place to be.
KKC stands for Kaņepes Kultūras Centrs, meaning the Cannabis Cultural Centre but don't giggle, Kaņepe is the owner's surname! The bar can be found standing in what used to be one of Riga's many music schools. While the inside decor can best be described as Soviet Chic, with high ceilings and art scattered all over the place.
They host everything from drum circles in their massive beer yard during the summer, to swing dance lessons, film showings, comedy nights, and a ton of live gigs. Did I mention the beer is spectacular? £2.50 and up for their alcohol selection.
Of course, it's not just food and alcohol that makes Latvia worth visiting. We have some crazy stuff going on as well!
Baltā Nakts (White Night)
Baltā Nakts is a yearly event of performances and light installations all over the city that go on until the early hours. This year I had the pleasure of riding on trams that had been converted into clubs, with their own light installations.
But that’s not all, live DJ's, body painting workshops going on till late, art gallery visits, a huge moon installation chilling above our central canal, there was so much to see you could hardly take it all in.
This happens every year early in September, and everything is free!
Jāņi (Midsummer Solstice)
Midsummer Solstice, an excuse to stay up all night, drink, eat, and jump over bonfires, what more do you need? Jāņi is every Latvian's favourite holiday, on the 22nd and 23rd of June, we celebrate the shortest nights of the year. The festival is very pagan in essence, but if you like to dance and tradition, this one is unmissable!
Flights to Riga are cheap, and you won't regret coming down for a week, or even just a weekend! And I didn’t even mention all the nature outside the city so don't forget about that!