Riga, Latvia – A Taste Of The Baltics!

Traveling around the Baltics I found a new part of Europe that fascinated me – I was amazed how I could be brought up in a neighboring country like Sweden, and yet never give these countries a thought, and I know I wasn’t the only one – in fact I knew nobody who had actually been there.

For some reason these little gems of Latvia and Lithuania are forgotten not only by most of the world but even its own neighbors, despite the impact the Swedish people once had in these countries.

In the Baltic countries I found both a new culture and a new cuisine that I didn’t know existed.

Riga was the city in which we found the best examples of traditional Baltic cuisine.

Lido, a network of 8 restaurants in the city, was a great place to sample traditional food for a cheap price.

The food was stable and hearty, but unlike German food there were some surprising spices and flavors to the cuisine.

The Baltic food is no-nonsense kind of food – they put little effort on the presentation, but it tastes damn good and it fills you up, which is what a meal should do.

I was hesitant to try the food at first, but once I got over myself and tried that purple, slushy, cold soup I trusted that the people knew what they were doing and went with it – they even made cabbage and buckwheat actually taste good..!

I found some new favorite foods there, and the home made Kvass drink which we found people selling on every street corner is a drink I will really miss.

The infamous Kvass which we loved so much was once banned for many years but was back on the streets again in 1998 and is today the most preferred drink in the country.

If you ever visit, don’t miss out on trying this so called “bread drink” made from fermented black bread!

When it comes to food, Riga topped all the other Baltic countries in quality, it was cheap, there was an abundance, and it was really good.

But when it comes to attractions and beauty, I have to be honest and say that Riga wasn’t as fortunate as its neighboring capitals Vilnius or Tallinn.

A lot of tourists come to Riga on a cruise ship and the city is great at marketing itself – advertising cheap holidays online and promoting Riga as “a mixture of both Tallinn and Vilnius”.

This is partly true – but to really get the best experience from this area, you must visit all 3 cities and go to Tallinn for the beauty and its friendly people, go to Riga for the great food and visit Vilnius for the interesting attractions.

Have you been to Riga, and if so, what did you think?

11 Responses to Riga, Latvia – A Taste Of The Baltics!

  1. Angela December 10, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Lovely photos, very picturesque, village-like atmosphere :)

  2. Megan December 10, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    i just got back from riga two days ago :)  the baltics have been on my wishlist for some time mainly b/c my great grandmother immigrated to the US from lithuania.  i visited lithuania in july this year and very much fell in love with it.  my biggest frustrations were that not a sole spoke english (well, i loved this, but hated it at times when i had to just go into hotels to ask questions because no one on the streets had any english skills) and the food.  i really didn’t care for lithuanian food.  but riga, on the other hand, was a breath of fresh air in regards to food and language.  people on the streets were willing to help me when i needed it and spoke rather good english.  my stop from riga had been on my way back from a week stay in ukraine…so i think my desire for a little english was in regards to that :) 

    anyways, riga was gorgeous and im excited someone finally gives these places in the baltic area a little credit :)

    • Sofia - As We Travel December 11, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

      I really enjoyed Lithuania as well, but I can see what you mean with the language barrier, it was more difficult there than in Riga. 

      Glad to hear you liked it in the Baltics as well, they really do need some more credit and I think more people should give it a chance.

    • EddieO December 13, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

      I just spent 2 weeks in Lithuania Couch Surfing and certainly had no issues speaking English to anyone under 40 years of age….

  3. mauritius travel December 10, 2011 at 11:22 am #

    I’m not sure what the pink dish is made of but it sure looks tempting enough to eat….Would surely give it a try if ever I’m in Riga…

    • Sofia - As We Travel December 10, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

      That pink dish was actually really tasty, it’s cold beetroot soup with potatoes, definitely worth a try.

  4. Camila Navarro December 10, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    I agree with you, Sofia. Riga is not so interesting as its neighbors. I thought it was more like a big city, you know? There is a good day trip from Riga: Sigulda. I was not very lucky because it rained all day, but it was a beautiful walk!

    • Sofia - As We Travel December 11, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

      Thanks for the tip about Sigulda, we didn’t go there but it seems beautiful.

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