In spite of their proximity to Eastern Europe, the Baltics are not known as the most budget friendly place.
There are a lot of ways to cut prices when you visit Riga: eat cheap and local, find and compare apartments in Riga to avoid pricey hotels and skip the expensive late night bar scene. You will also want to take advantage of the many free and low cost attractions in the city. Even in a town with high overhead there is plenty here to do on the cheap:
Free Walking Tour
If you’re just arriving in town, take advantage of the free walking tours offered by volunteers who work solely on tips. The tour will take you away from the Old Town to visit other districts like Riga Central, the Moscow District and more. Meets at noon every day in front of Saint Peter’s church. Look for the guide holding the yellow suitcase.
Explore the Old Town
The perfect inexpensive way to spend an afternoon is wandering Riga’s old quarter, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is full of small squares, quant restaurants and museums showcasing Latvian history. There is a lot of creative architecture to enjoy and photograph. Riga is known for it’s creative street performers, the best place to spot them is actually by the McDonalds. Sit at an outdoor restaurant, sip a beer and watch the people go by.
You will recognize this museum by it’s creative and foreboding architecture. It chronicles the country’s experiences under the tyranny of first the Nazis, then the Soviets. This includes detailed explanations and recreations of the gulag experiences. Most of the descriptions are written in English. Admission is free but donations are encouraged.
This one is only free if you have the willpower not to buy anything. Riga can claim the largest central market in all of Europe, and it is as you can guess, absolutely enormous. Here you can find all manner of local cheeses, fruit, meat as well as clothing, handicrafts and much more. Popular local souvenirs include amber, honey and knitted clothing and socks.
The View from St. Peters
Saint Peters Church dates back to the 13th century and is one of the oldest and most famous Lutheran churchs in Latvia. Entrance to the tower costs 3-4 Latvian Lats but is worth it for one of the best views in the city. No need to climb rickety stairs, a new elevator takes visitors up to heights of 72 meters for a 360 degree view of the city below. You can stay as long as you like.