My Experience Flying with Air Baltic from Dubrovnik to Almaty and What To Do on an Overnight Layover in Riga, Latvia
Hello from Riga, Latvia!! This is the start of another 2-month backpacking journey and I’m glad to be able to share it to you once again. As you all know, I have a goal of visiting every country in the world with my Philippines Passport. I’m staying here for an overnight layover and then heading straight to Dushanbe in Tajikistan which will be my Country #125!
This is actually my 2nd time here in Latvia but things are so different and more beautiful now that it’s warmer which inspired me to write this article on what you can do in Riga, Latvia in a single day when you have a quick layover.
MY EXPERIENCE FLYING WITH AIR BALTIC FROM DUBROVNIK TO ALMATY
Because Dubrovnik airport is only a 1-hour drive away from our house in Montenegro, it was really easy to grab an Air Baltic flight to Kazakhstan, via Riga. I don’t have great expectations of some kind of magical experience when I’m flying to anywhere in economy, I know that I’m just there for the ride. I do really appreciate, however, when an airline just gets all the simple stuff right; the check-in, boarding and the flight go smoothly and the staff are all relaxed and friendly throughout the whole process. It’s also a nice bonus when the seat is comfy and there’s plenty of leg room. Thanks, Air Baltic!
ABOUT RIGA, LATVIA
The Republic of Latvia is a country in the Baltic region of Northern Europe and as such, is referred to as one of the Balkan States. Its capital, Riga, is the largest City in the Balkans and was once revered as the “Paris of the North”, a metropolis flaring with its funky vibe.
WHERE TO STAY IN RIGA, LATVIA
1. For the backpacker or for those traveling on a budget, I suggest staying at Mr. Hostel- Since this was just an overnight layover, I didn’t bother looking for a fancy hotel. A clean, comfortable, safe and accessible place to stay is what I needed anyway. I highly recommend this hostel. The sheets smell fresh and the toilet and shower area is clean at all times. Worry not about your valuables as they have lockers where you can store them. Also, it’s right at the center of Riga and is only a 5-minute walk from the Old Town. Not only that, for the price of 11 Euros per night for a bunk bed, you’ll also get a complimentary coffee and tea! Yum!
2. For the luxurious traveler, then Radisson Blu could be your best choice!- If you travel with a little more luxury or you’re a business traveler, then I highly recommend Radisson Blu. The name itself carries the promise of excellent service, beautiful rooms, superb location, and delectable cuisine. It is 1 kilometer from the Old Town but the hotel offers a complimentary service so no worries there! They have an in-house restaurant (which serves delicious food), a health and fitness center, a beauty shop, on-site parking, and 13 meeting rooms.
WHAT TO DO IN RIGA FOR AN OVERNIGHT STAY
1) Walk around the Art Nouveau District- Riga is the Art Nouveau capital of Europe and this architecturally astonishing district is one of the reasons that downtown Riga is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. You’ll easily see its charm by looking closely at the asymmetrical line which often takes the form of flower stalks and buds, vine tendrils, insect wings, and other delicate and natural objects. It is just a breath of fresh air to see the beauty of art right in every alley!
2) Explore the Old Town of Riga- The Old Town is something you can’t miss in every European Capital and it’s not hard to see why. Here, you’ll get to see historical monuments, quaint cafes and restaurants, souvenir shops, as well as beautiful Churches.
Some of the things you have to see are the Town Hall Square, Victory Park, House of Blackheads, St. Peter’s Church, Riga Castle, Freedom Monument, Latvian Academy of Sciences and Observation Deck, and the Riga Dome Square & Cathedral.
3) Buy some stuff from the Riga Central Market- One of the things I totally enjoy when I’m in a new country is visiting their market. That way, I can see their way of life and the atmosphere that surrounds it. The Central Market in Riga is one of my favorites since it’s very much historical (considering that it was Europe’s largest market and bazaar when it opened in 1930), and up until now, it remains to be one of the most notable structures from the 20th Century.
4) Get a bird's eye view of the City by taking the lift up St. Peter’s Church- For 9 Euros, you can get a majestic view of the City. Visit on a clear sunny day or at sunset and enjoy the view even more! Furthermore, a visit to the Church could also mean you’ll get to see an exhibition, choir rehearsal or an organ recital if you’re lucky!