As we all wait with baited breath to find out when we can start to explore the world again I’m travelling virtually by visiting some of my favourite travel blogs and planning my next escape. I am hopeful that very soon we will be able to enjoy our world again – albeit with some precautions in place!
The My City (with kids!) series features a different family travel blogger sharing more about their own home town.
As we are all discovering, a stay-cation is a very enjoyable way to travel with babies, toddlers and kids and the family travel bloggers that I feature in this series have all been enjoying their own home towns in a brand new way! And who better to ask about the best thing to do in a place than a local!
Today’s guest post is by Ana who loves moving around the world. She was born in Latvia and left the country when she was 21 spending eight years expatriating in China and exploring South-east Asia, followed by an adventure to South America where she based herself in Buenos Aires and became a Chinese teacher at the university. She then moved to the Czech Republic. In just under three years, their family have moved to five different countries and lived in three continents, including England and Mexico! But her home town is still Riga.
Here Ana shares all the best things to do in Riga with kids. I hope those of you planning a holiday to Riga or an emigration to Latvia will find this article helpful!
My City (With Kids)
Visiting Riga With Kids
Riga is the capital of Latvia and considered to be the main place for tourists. In the former USSR, Riga was one of the most famous resorts where all the major stars used to come giving concerts and seeking retreats.
As a country, Latvia is full of fantastic places and hidden gems to explore with kids. Sigulda which is only an hour away from Riga is a paradise for kids. It is all about retreats, activity sports, such as hiking, biking, kayaking, boating, and it offers one of the best adventure parks for kids in entire Europe. So, this city is incredibly family-friendly. There are three adventure parks that offer tons of activities for your kids, such as bike and boat tours, skiing and snowboarding, there are bungee trampolines, tube sliding, toboggan track, flying chair, crazy rotor, kids’ driving school and more.
However, among all these gorgeous Latvian cities and towns, Riga is still the one that attracts a huge number of tourists every year, more than 3.5 million per year. The best about it that it is growing exponentially too.
Riga – My Home town
Riga is the capital of Latvia and considered to be the main place for tourists. It is a cultural center and home to many museums and concert halls. The city is also known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture, and medieval Old Town. The pedestrian-only Old Town has many shops and restaurants and is home to busy Livu Square, with family-friendly restaurants, cafés, and even pubs.
Riga is also the city I was born and lived for 21 years, so when it comes to traveling to Riga with kids, my expertise is guaranteed.
Favorite Places to Visit in Riga With Kids
Our favorite spot to visit as a family in our home town is Lido Leisure Center at Krasta iela 76. Your kids will love the place and stay there for the whole day guaranteed, as there are so many shows and entertainment going on for your little ones.
This is also the best place to visit under any weather circumstances. Lido Leisure Center is full of fun indoor and outdoor activities both for parents and kids. If you know nothing about Latvia and Latvian cuisine, this place is definitely for you.
On the ground floor, you will find an incredible variety of food and drinks. Just one friendly tip: make sure you walk through all options before you start grabbing Latvian morsels. There are some delicious pancakes in the end too. We have paid around 30 Euro for three main courses (huge portions!), including salads, soups, pancakes, desserts, and drinks. Can it be this cheap?!
Don’t forget to check out downstairs. This area is purely dedicated to local draft beer, home-made beer snacks, and traditional Latvian food, such as grey peas. You don’t want to miss it!
In winter, this is the most popular place for ice skating too.
It is very easy to get to Lido Leisure Centre by car or tram. If you drive, there is offered a spacious parking lot on the premises, so everything is well-organized for you.
In summer, there is no better place to visit but Livu Akvaparks. It is a waterpark located on the border between Riga and one of the most popular beach resorts in Latvia, Jurmala. This activity is for a day.
Tip: If you visit Livu Akvaparks, consider getting a full-day ticket rather than paying an hourly rate. Somehow, it gets more expensive for a 3-hour visit than for the whole day.
I, myself, used to live near this park area, and can’t stress out more what a wonderful activity it is for both, parents and kids. This is also the only waterpark where our Baltic neighbors do not mind driving the whole way from Lithuania or Estonia.
It has numerous slides of different types, forms, and difficulty levels; pirate theme, SPA, jacuzzi, 3-4 swimming pools with a bar on the water, various saunas, swimming pool for babies, fountains and so much more. We have been visiting the waterpark with my eight-month-old son and twelve-year-old sister. While my baby was splashing in the pools, taking boat rides, and having fun at the outdoor fountains, my sister was trying out all those fearful rides, and I was enjoying saunas, jacuzzi, and indoor minibar inside the pool. This place is also well-planned for all types of weather as it is filled both with indoor and outdoor fun activities for everyone.
Top Things to do in Riga with kids
In addition to the two incredibly fun family places, such as Lido Leisure Center and Livu Akvaparks, it is worth considering the following sights:
Mežakakis Adventure Park
Located in Mežaparks, which is a huge forest area in the heart of Riga, this park will be a fantastic addition to your trip to Latvia.
This park features Latvian Zoo. It also is famous for walking, biking, and roller-skating. You can easily reach it by taking a fast tram-ride. On your wait out you will face a wide lane that leads to the walking and playground area. Or you can choose the zoo next to it.
In the beginning, you will see a lot of kiosks selling huge candy flosses and balloons, and a café/restaurant where you can get famous Latvian Shashliks (a traditional skew kebab). Keep walking, and you will pass the lake walking area, bike trails, and numerous playgrounds for kids of all ages.
Get deeper in the woods and you will reach Mežakakis Adventure Park, which is personally my favorite activity of all times. You will have to convert yourself into a monkey and climb on trees with the help of ropes, nets, and other wooden attributes that will make you stay up high. There are 8 routes designed in Riga’s Park. This park is also located in Sigulda in case if you decided to stay there.
Laima Chocolate Museum
I remember my little sister was all over the Laima Chocolate Museum after their school trip. Indeed, this is one of the most popular tours for kids in Riga. Not only you visit the museum and learn a lot about the origin of cacao beans, chocolate invention, history of Laima chocolate – one of the most famous brands across post-Soviet countries; but the museum also offers a series of chocolate workshops and chocolate making classes, which is an absolute blast for kids.
Latvia Puppet Theatre (Latvijas Leļļu teātris)
Theatre is a great way to boost your kids’ imagination and creativity. The Latvia Puppet Theatre is an amazing opportunity to introduce both Latvian and Russian cultures and traditions. The performers bring fairy tales, Latvian literature, and nursery rhymes to life with enchanting colorful shows. Although theatre is in Latvian or Russian, it is still worth to visit especially for the little kids, as all performances primarily rely on visual storytelling and make your child easy to follow.
The most iconic place in Riga
The most iconic place that can’t be missed is Riga’s Old Town. To be fair, this is the first place most tourists will visit, and the only place that is visited if you have got only one weekend in Riga. It has a lot to offer too. The main purpose of visiting the Old Town is to learn more about the city itself.
Old Town has it all! From the cultural background to medieval history, it offers a variety of museums, castles, and towers. It is surrounded by four parks from one side and a gorgeous riverbank with absolutely stunning views that you can admire in most of the images representing Riga.
You can take a boat ride from here and go to another city too.
This is the place where you can get a thorough understanding of Latvian traditional crafts and arts, get a souvenir for your home and try all kinds of cuisines, including the local one.
It is also the best free family outing activity.
Get Around in Riga With Kids
“Insider” tip for visiting our home town
Most of the tourists don’t realize how much you can do in this city and country. While you need only a few days to see the whole Riga, you can easily spend a week or two in Latvia, enjoying such cities as Sigulda and Jurmala offering the best adventure park and waterpark activities in the entire Baltic States. So, check the guide and plan your trip in advance.
The best family-friendly restaurant
I won’t lie if I say that Latvian food service is one of the top ones. I have not seen a place without offering a high chair for a baby. Everyone is very friendly, and some of the places offer coloring prints with crayons. It is also very common to be given a special kid’s menu with some coloring inside.
Of course, to taste traditional Latvian cuisine Lido Restaurant chain is the one to visit. There are over ten locations across Riga. If you can’t get to Lido Leisure Center explained above, then the one opposite to Vermanis Parks is the best pick because it is located right in the heart of Riga, next to the Cathedral and only 10-minutes’ walk from the Old Town.
The easiest transport in Riga
The easiest way to get around with kids is by walk or tram. Trams are very popular and can get you anywhere you want within the city. You can either get a ticket from a driver or at the nearest kiosk, you find in the city.
The Best Family-Friendly Neighbourhood
The best family-friendly neighborhood to stay in is in the Riga’s City center. Riga is quite small, so you will find that most hotels and apartments for tourists are located within the central area of Riga.
Enjoy your trip to Riga with kids!
About the author
Ana shares her passion for travel & expatriate life on her blog, Parenthood4ever, where she motivates and supports other young families and travelers with kids by sharing parent tips, trip itineraries, expat life, travel resources and crazy stories.
Find her on Social Media here…