A six-hour layover might be barely enough to go from one terminal to another in such big airports like Newark or JFK. For Riga though six hours is more than enough time to make a brief visit to city center. On top of that, with public transportation running regularly, you don’t even need to shell out a lot of money for a taxi ride. A 20 to 30 minutes bus ride doesn’t rob of money or precious time. You can still explore the major attractions of the city during a six-hour layover in Riga and come back to the airport in time for your connecting flight. With that being said, let’s see how to do a six-hour layover in Riga.
HOW TO DO A SIX-HOUR LAYOVER IN RIGA:
Introduction to Riga
Riga is a capital of Latvia, one of the three Baltic countries. Set in the month of the River Daugava, the city boast broad beaches. However, the natural beauty of Riga doesn’t attract new visitors to the city in the first place. Medieval Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and wooden and art nouveau architecture steal the show during any visit to Riga.
As much as we liked walking down picture-perfect cobblestone streets of the Old Town, Riga is not so uniform in other areas. Our bus ride to the center of the city along with a brief visit to a couple of neighborhoods near the Old Town unveiled different side of Riga. Many beautifully architecture buildings here look pretty ran down with graffiti generously covering their walls.
Getting around during a Short Layover in Riga
You don’t have privilege to explore different areas of Riga with only six hours on your hands. You need to narrow your interests and focus on one or two neighboring parts of the city. The Old Town is undoubtedly one of the best places to start your adventure during a few-hour layover in Riga.
As far as the commute goes, busses number 22 and 322 take you from the airport to the city center in about 30 minutes. You can pay for your ride directly to a bus driver or get your round-trip ticket at Visitor Center at the airport. The Old Town is a mostly pedestrian area with no public transportation. So, prepare to walk a lot.
Exploring the Old Town of Riga
Although, as usual, I had a list of things to do and see in Riga upon our arrival at the Old Town, it hardly came to use. First of all, we had limited time to explore as much as possible within a six-hour layover in Riga. Sticking to a strict itinerary was not very reasonable in this situation. Second, the Old Town of Riga turned out to be such a gem that its every corner deserved full attention. Nevertheless, some places strike you with their unprecedented beauty and architectural style and ask for extra time. So, while I strongly encourage you to let Riga unveil its major attractions as you go, there are some of the places to keep in mind.
House of the Blackheads
The House of the Blackheads simply can’t go unnoticed during even such a short time as a six-hour layover in Riga. Located in the heart of Old Riga, the architectural masterpiece narrates about the Brotherhood of the Black Heads and the long history of the city.
St. Peter’s Church
St. Peter’s Church is another landmark of Riga that hardly escapes your sights during your short layover in the city. Known as Riga’s tallest church, it’s also one of the best places to enjoy iconic view of the red rood of the Old Town.
Three Brothers are three historical houses in the Old Town of Riga. Different in colors, the buildings are located so close to each other that they look like one structure rather than three individual houses.
Apart from its medieval look, the Cat House has little to do with the long history of Riga. The structure was built in the beginning of the 20th century. As suggested, the building received its name on account of wrought-copper cats on the corner turrets of the house.
Home to architectural, cultural and historical heritage of different centuries, Riga Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Latvia.
Once a medieval fortification wall tower, the Powder Tower was added to the Latvian War Museum after its latest reconstruction from 1937 until 1940.
As a history fan, I’d strongly recommend finding the Swedish Gate during your short layover-visit in Riga. Situated in the Old Town, it’s the oldest remaining part of original Riga Wall.