The falls’ cultural programme kicks off with the 12th instalment of the International Contemporary Art Festival Survival Kit (September 3 to October 3), inviting the art aficionados into Riga’s apartment memorial museums for exciting contemporary art exhibitions, discussions and tours shedding light to the concept of collective memory. Apart from that, Riga offers a panoply of contemporary art venues.
See the city from above
From the red-roofed Old Town to the stately Art Nouveau gems of the Quiet Centre and between it all the colourful fall foliage – the tapestry of Riga is better appreciated from above. Riga has a good few vantage points, such as the balcony of the Latvian Academy of Sciences, the rooftop terrace of the Latvian National Museum of Art, St. Peter’s Church tower and Skyline bar at the top of Radisson Blu Hotel Latvia.
Catch a movie
There’s no better place to spend the dreary autumn evening than a cinema. Splendid Palace is not just any cinema – the neo-baroque building with a gilded neo-Rococo interior showcases movies since the 1920s and boasts a well-curated repertoire of European art-house and the best Hollywood can offer. October 14 – 24, the cinema hosts Riga International Film Festival that showcases the most daring contemporary European cinema. This year festival’s credo is There is always time. What sets RIFF apart from other film festivals is its unique film program divided in such categories as Found in Berlinale and Nordic Highlights.
Taste the autumn
When the market stalls abound with apples, pumpkins, mushrooms and other nature’s bounties, it’s the best time to enjoy the native chefs’ creative cookery. Restaurant 3 boasts some of the most inventive cuisines in Riga, while Barents is defined by the excellence of their cold-water seafood. Or pull up a seat at Kolonāde for some modern Latvian fare.
Have a romantic stroll around the parks
Let the leaves rustle under your feet in one of the city’s many parks. Enjoy a picture-perfect stroll at the central Bastejkalns or spacious Kronvalda park or get off the beaten path – have a romantic walk at Viesturdārzs or travel to the left banks of the river, to Arcadia park and the Māras pond.
Consider staying at one of the city’s hotels equipped with an in-house wellness centre, and your trip to Riga will easily turn into a spa getaway. Spoil yourself with a lux treatment at Hedonic SPA housed in Grand Poet Hotel, the SPA of Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga or get lost in the five-star ESPA Riga, spread across six floors on the rights side of Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija.
Go on a day trip
An hour drive away from Riga sits the most precious Baroque pearl in Latvia – the magnificent Rundāles castle, with its gilded interior and manicured park. Half an hour drive from Rundāles castle resides Mežotnes castle. This Classical architectural wonder is surrounded by a vast garden to revel in the autumn nature. Or follow the locals and head North-East to Sigulda and Cēsis – both featuring stately palaces and brimming with nature. Don’t have a car? There are several vehicles scattered around the city streets that can be easily rented via mobile app (Carguru, CityBee, etc.).
Marvel the lights
The white-red flags pinned to the lapel of coats signal that the Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia, celebrated on November 18, is approaching. Another herald is the lustrous installations in the parks, public squares, and on building facades that are a part of the annual festival of lights Staro Riga, happening annually over a weekend in November. Jaunt around the city streets and admire the numerous gleaming artworks created by internationally renowned illumination artists.
Appease your sweet tooth
Bread culture is thriving in Riga, and the city is sprinkled with smart bakeries and traditional pastry shops – perfect for hiding from the autumn rain. Stop by the local’s favourite Kūkotava, appreciate the elegant interior of Mullbery or the warm and bright Mīkla bakery. Opt for such local classics as the hearty honey cake, enticing Napoleon or Vecrīga - the airy choux pastry filled with delicious cottage cheese cream.