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Yes, Riga may not have the tallest buildings in Europe but there are still some great views to be seen from up above. On my recent trip to Latvia, we explored some of the best viewing platforms in the city. Here is my final verdict on the top 4 vantage points in Riga, Latvia…
St Peters Church
St Peters Church, located in the Old Town, is one of the oldest and most beautiful gothic churches in the Baltic states and dominates Riga’s skyline as the tallest spire in the capital.
For €9 (or €7 for students) you can take the lift to the top of the tower and step out onto the outdoor viewing platform with spectacular views over the city. Just make sure you wrap up warm as the wind makes it extremely chilly at the top.
In my opinion, despite being the most expensive, this is the best of the 4 viewing points and deserves a spot on your Riga itinerary. The church’s position in the centre of Old Town gives you a close-up view of some of the beautiful architecture and colourful facades from above, as well as a view across the river to other parts of the city. With entry to the tower, you can also explore the inside of the church and access the regular exhibitions which are held in the main hall.
The National Library
The large oddly shaped glass building facing Old Town from the opposite side of the Daugava River is Riga’s National Library, and it certainly stands out from the rest of the buildings in the city.
Entry to the Library is free (as long as all bags and coats are left in lockers at the entrance – make sure you have €1) and from the top floor you can gaze out at the spires of Old Town from across the river.
Getting to the top of the building and finding the windows proved a little tricky and we took a fair few wrong turns before finding the right room. However, the modern interior of the Library is also an interesting place to explore, with a four-story wall of books and a few exhibitions.
The Skyline Bar
If you want to kill two birds with one stone head to the Skyline Bar on the 26th floor of Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa for cocktails and a view. Entry is free if you’re drinking, just bear in mind drinks are a little pricer than elsewhere in the city.
The bar itself is classy and sophisticated, with a wide selection of cocktails, including many containing traditional Riga Black Balsam. I would definitely recommend popping by for a cocktail, but maybe just stick to the one and don’t go for dinner – food is much better and cheaper elsewhere in the city.
Academy of Sciences
The Academy of Sciences, also known as ‘Stalin’s birthday cake’, is one of the most obvious pieces of physical evidence of the Soviet occupation of the city. Between April and September, for just under €4, you can head up to the 17th-floor balcony and look out over the city skyline. For anyone interested in the Soviet era this is definitely an interesting place to visit.