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Riga

Restoration projects in Riga are commonplace these days. Founded in the 13th century, this city owes much of its spectacular architecture to the post-Reformation period – that is, the 16th-century and on. After achieving independence from the Soviet Union, locals saw the potential in renovating their once great city. Today it's an industry leader in the Baltic States, with enough ritzy accommodation and glittering nightlife to balance its historic character.

Armed with the Riga Card, tourists can visits several of the main attractions in the old town at a discount. Riga Castle dates to the city's founding, and operates a pair of worthwhile museums. The old city comes off as an open-air museum of architecture. It divides neatly into Gothic, Baroque, Classical and Art Nouveau districts. A great deal of accommodation in Riga is housed in restored heritage buildings.

At the heart of Riga City is Central Market, a collection of food stalls and merchant stands housed in WWI zeppelin hangers. The market provides an authentic window into daily Riga life and should not be missed. Freedom Monument is another site that's tied up in the essence of the city. It memorializes those lost during the Soviet occupation and testifies to the enduring heart of Latvia.

Rising up among the UNESCO-honored old city is an increasing number of hotels, restaurants and night clubs. Bars are open late here, and tourists have taken notice. The scene stays lively well into early morning hours. Riverside hotels in East Riga are close to the city center, with good access to entertainment yet can usually be found at more affordable rates than those in the center of town.

Zealous restoration projects in the city center gradually gave way to outright new construction, resulting in several high-rise hotels in Riga historic center. While this has been a point of concern for UNESCO, it gives tourists an unprecedented level of access to the nostalgic downtown atmosphere. Budget hotels are slightly removed from the city center. Riga is served by Riga International Airport.

For more information on hotels and landmarks in the different areas of Riga, click on the interactive Riga map on the left-hand side of the page.