As you know, I love a weekend break. You work hard all week and then you pack your bags, scoop up your sunnies and your passport, and scoot off to a different city to relax and enjoy yourself.
A few weeks ago, I went to Riga with a bunch of girlmates. We could have gone to Paris, or Barcelona or Italy but not only was Riga (Latvia) cheaper, but it was also a new city for all of us.
Yes, my friends, this post actually serves two purposes. Oh yes it does. After all, this is a money saving blog about living life to the full! This post shows you a way to SPEND money, because life isn’t all about possessions; it’s also about experiences. And secondly, it shows you how to have a fancy weekend away without breaking the bank. *takes a bow*
So anyway, back to the trip…..
We boarded the early Friday morning flight from Gatwick with at least two stag dos (yes it happens to be a popular stag and hen do destination due to its affordability), and arrived mid afternoon (Latvia is two hours ahead of the UK) to GLORIOUS sunshine. I’m not kidding, it was roasting. If you’re aware of where Latvia is on a map, I’ll forgive you for thinking that it’s a chilly country. It’s really not.
Rather than staying in the centre of Riga in a hotel, we chose to make our money go further and rented an enormous house slightly out of town through Air BnB.
If you want details, it’s called Villa Forest and information can be found here. It sleeps 16 which was perfect for our little party and there was a cook there who prepared a meal for our first night and laid out a lavish breakfast for us each morning.
Another thing to mention about the accommodation is that it’s situated very near to a beautiful lake. None of us were brave enough to swim in it but it looked nice.
Now, it may be a stag do destination but we were keen to fit some sightseeing into our weekend. So, on our first morning, despite a few sore heads (did I mention that the alcohol is very cheap in Riga?), we took part in a tour of one of Riga’s most popular sites – the Central Market. It is the largest market in Europe and comprises several enormous halls, each focusing on a type of food such as meat, fish, dairy or vegetables.
It’s best to visit this as part of an official tour and I’d recommend Eat Riga. Our tour guide, Marcus, taught us all about Latvia’s national dishes and culture and took us to a local restaurant where we sampled the country’s cuisine. This included hemp bread, cottage cheese bread, lots of sausage and pickled cabbage.
That afternoon, we tried our hands at segwaying which is SO MUCH HARDER THAN IT LOOKS.
It’s also exhausting because you end up using all the muscles in your feet and butt to balance. But hey, a butt workout isn’t a bad thing, is it?
The segway experience was part of another tour of the city and was an amazing way of getting around and seeing everything in a short space of time. If you’re planning to visit a new city, wherever you go, try and do a segway tour. It’s fun and you cover so much ground. Literally.
Our tour was with Tours in Riga and the guide was lovely. I can’t recommend this enough.
You may be able to see from the photos that the city is very clean and well maintained. It was beautiful and made the UK look a little shabby in comparison, I’m ashamed to say!
That night we went out-out in the centre of Riga. A fancy dinner first at Valtera. Think fine dining and lots of wine.
Then after dinner, we hit a club. I can’t remember what it was called and I can’t even tell you a lot about it. The music was good.
Yep, the shots were cheap. Basically, the nightlife in Riga is great. Oh and there’s a massive McDonalds open 24 hours too.
The next and final day of our trip was spent on the beach. Yep, Riga lets you do it ALL in a weekend. I would share a pic of the beach but we all look a bit er….fragile.
Jurmala beach is lovely although the water did look a bit grim but it’s fine if you just want to laze on the sand.
Then…..home again. Back to slippers, and cups of tea….and emails.
Until the next holiday. YAY!