Christmas Markets in Riga 2022
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Covered in the Article
- Riga - a Pearl of the Baltics
- Old Riga Christmas Market
- Līvu Square Christmas Market
- Esplanade Park Christmas Market
- Good To know about Riga
- How to Travel to Riga?
- Bottom Line
Riga - a Pearl of the Baltics
Riga is the capital city of Latvia. Latvia is one of the Baltic countries located between Estonia and Lithuania. The city can easily be reached from any European city by plane, ferry or car.
Latvia has an interesting but sad history. The country was occupied by the Soviet Union for a long time but it regained its independence in 1991. Since then, the country and its capital Riga have been developing fast. Riga offers much to see and experience and the price level is affordable compared to other bigger European capitals. The city is both a summer and winter destination. December is one of the best times to visit this pearl of the Baltics since the Christmas season makes the city lively.
There are three Christmas markets in Riga and a few smaller Christmas events. Since the city is small, the Christmas markets are located close to each other which makes it possible to visit all of them on the same day. We visited Riga's Christmas markets in 2022 and we enjoyed all of them.
Old Riga Christmas Market
Christmas Market on Dome Square is the main Christmas Market in Riga. It is also often referred to as Old Riga Christmas Market because its location lies in the heart of Riga's Old Town. Medieval Old Town is a lively area offering nice sights, bars, restaurants and beautiful architecture.
Old Riga Christmas Market is located just next to Riga Cathedral. It is easy to find with the aid of Google Maps. First, you need to reach the centre of Riga, for example by bus or tram. Almost all public transport routes go via the central station from where you can walk and reach Riga's Old Town in 10 minutes. From Old Town, you need to walk a few minutes more to reach Christmas Market.
In our point of view, Christmas Market in Old Town has the best Christmas atmosphere in Riga. The alleys of Old Town combined with the tall cathedral next to Christmas Market gives you a feeling of being in a real Medieval Christmas town. The feeling gets even stronger when the dark sets in and you can smell the flavours of Christmas.
Old Riga Christmas Market creates an international atmosphere. Famous Christmas music is played in the background and English is widely spoken. Christmas Market attracts tourists and locals alike - young and old come here to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere of this market.
We visited Old Riga Christmas Market multiple times during our getaway in Riga.
In 2022, Old Riga Christmas Market is open from Nov 27 to Jan 1 from mornings to late evenings. The exact opening times vary every day. From Mondays to Thursdays and Sundays it is open from 11 am to 9 pm while on Fridays and Saturdays, Christmas Market is open from 10 am to 10 pm. There is a program arranged every week, especially on the weekends.
Eating and Drinking
Your visit to Christmas Market would be incomplete without tasting drinks and traditional foods. For example, we tasted mulled wine and traditionally oven-baked cheese bread. We ate also Latvian soup cooked traditionally with a woodfire at the warm Cafe Elizabete in the middle of the market. Even though prices in Old Town are higher, we recommend giving a try to these tasty products of Riga. Warm drinks help you also to stay warm in the cold weather.
In the market, you can buy mulled wine, rum and other alcoholic drinks. Naturally coffee is also available and hot chocolate for children. Market stalls sell also freshly baked Latvian food: for example bread, sausages and potatoes. The market won't leave a visitor hungry.
Cafe Elizabete serves delicious soups with friendly service.
Old Riga Christmas Market is also a recommended place to buy souvenirs. Profits go directly to local producers. You are ensured that you are buying from the market stalls at Christmas Market authentic Latvian goods.
From a few market stalls at Christmas Market, visitors can buy Latvian delicacies like honey, sweets, candies and locally produced cookies. Also, some of the market stalls are selling Latvian wool products. Local handicrafts are a nice Christmas present idea.
Different activities are being organized in Christmas Market for both kids and adults. Activities for kids include:
- Children's carousel every day
- Gingerbread baking on Saturday and Sunday by the house of Ledus Vini from noon to 1 pm
- Sheep petting zoo during the whole month of Christmas market
- Pony rides on weekends and holidays in good weather conditions
- House of Santa Claus visits. Monday - Wednesday: closed, Thursday - Friday from 4 pm to 9 pm, Saturdays from 12 to 8 pm and Sundays from noon to 6 pm
- Performances and games with elves between the shows on weekends and holidays
Every week, there is a free program to enjoy. For example, a DJ will amuse customers every Friday.
Līvu Square Christmas Market
According to multiple sources, there is another Christmas market in Old Town: Līvu Square Christmas Market. We visited the square but found only a glass-covered restaurant. We also asked for advice from a Riga resident but she didn't know the current status of this Christmas Market. It seems that Līvu Square Christmas Market is cancelled in 2022.
Esplanade Park Christmas Market
Outside Old Town, there is another Christmas Market but still in the centre of Riga. The market is located in Esplanade Park 10 minutes walk away from the central station. Buses and trams pass the park, so it can also be reached easily without walking. The Esplanade Park is busy in the middle of downtown.
Even though Esplanade Park Christmas Market does not have the same atmosphere as Old Town can offer, it still has many nice attractions and is unique on its own. Esplanade Park Christmas Market has a rabbit park where children and adults can feed cute rabbits with carrots. They are so tame that they will bite your fingers if you are not careful. Another nice attraction for children is the colourful Ferris wheel.
Esplane Park Christmas Market is surely a place you must visit. Also, it has many stalls selling food, drinks and souvenirs like Old Riga Christmas Market. The park is crowded with people which makes it lively in the evenings. Rabbits, a big Christmas tree and a Ferris wheel make this park a great Christmas attraction in Riga.
Esplanade Park Christmas Market is also open from Nov 27 to Jan 1 from mornings to late evenings.
Eating and Drinking
Like in Old Riga Christmas Market, Esplanade Park Christmas Market stalls sell similar drinks and food.
Market stalls in Esplanade Park Christmas Market sell similar products as in Old Town.
The rabbit park is perhaps the best attraction in Esplanade Park Christmas Market. Energetic and healthy-looking rabbits are moving freely in a fenced area and they are waiting for food from visitors. It is not allowed to feed them with your food but you can buy carrots from a market stall and feed them. These lovely rabbits make children and even adults easily love this market.
The Ferries wheel is another way to make children happy. In addition to its colourful lights, it makes Christmas Market look lively in the evening. There is also Christmas music playing in the background.
Good To know about Riga
If you visiting Riga for the first time in the winter, there are a few things you need to know. Riga is a friendly destination for travellers.
Weather in December
The weather in December is cold. The temperature lies around -1 centigrade or colder. It may be snowing or raining and the streets are often frozen and thus slippery. There is not much snow in Riga but if you are lucky, the city may get huge snowfalls.
The most important advice is to dress up warmly so you will enjoy the whole day outside. This means remembering to wear many layers of clothes.
With enough clothing layers on, you will survive hours in the cold weather.
Riga is a safe city. However, we advise avoiding dark areas where there are no other people. Crimes can happen anywhere. Do not get too drunk in bars because some unethical restaurants may surprise travellers with a huge bill if you get out of yourself.
Where to Stay?
One of the best things about Riga is the low price level for accommodations. Especially in winter, hotels are cheap. We have a few hotel recommendations.
Bellevue Park Hotel Riga is a 4-star hotel and is just 12 minutes tram ride away from the centre. It can be accessed directly from the airport by bus, too. The hotel's location is perfect and the hotel is of high quality. We have stayed in this hotel and got value for the money.
Riga Hotel Islande is an affordable but good-quality hotel on an island on Daugava River. The location is good but the price is still low.
Those who prefer the best quality, should stay in one of the Radisson hotels in the centre. Radisson Blu Hotel Latvija is just next to Esplanade Park so the location is perfect.
How to Travel to Riga?
Flying is the most practical way to travel to Riga. Many low-cost airlines, like Ryanair, Norwegian and airBaltic fly to Riga. Tickets are usually affordable.
Riga Airport is near the city centre and a bus ticket costs only 1.15 euros one way. Taxis are affordable, too but avoid using non-licensed taxis.
Riga can also be reached by bus from Estonia or Lithuania. There are many daily connections between these Baltic capitals.
Sometimes, there are seasonal ferry routes to Riga from Stockholm and Helsinki. An overnight ferry is perhaps the most comfortable way to arrive in Riga. Unfortunately, the routes are not normally available in the winter.
Where to Continue?
After you have enjoyed Christmas markets in Riga, why not continue to Tallinn which is only 279 kilometres away? Tallinn has also a beautiful Old Town with an awesome Christmas Market. Like In Riga, the price level is low.
From Tallinn, you can continue even further to Helsinki by Ferry. The ride takes less than 2 hours. In Helsinki, there are many Christmas markets.
Unfortunately, Helsinki is more expensive than these Baltic destinations but by making wise choices, you can still make the best of your travel budget. For example, use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to/from Helsinki.
- How many Christmas markets are there in Riga in 2022?
- There are two active Christmas markets: One in Old Town and another in Esplanade Park. Also, a few other Christmas events are available.
- What is the best Christmas market in Riga?
- We would say that Christmas Market in Riga Old Town is the best with its perfect location.
- Is mulled wine served in Riga's Christmas markets?
- Sure, you can purchase tasty mulled wine.
- Is there food available in Riga's Christmas market?
- Yes, you can buy local Latvian food like tasty traditional soups and freshly baked cheese bread.
- Do people speak English in Riga?
- Not all people speak but especially, young people do. In Christmas markets, booth merchants speak good English.
- How to travel to Riga?
- We recommend flying with a low-cost airline to Riga. Compare prices on Skyscanner.
- Is it cold in Riga in winter?
- Yes, it is. About -1 centigrade or colder, temperature varies every day.
- Is Riga an expensive city?
- Not at all. Everything is affordable.
If you are a fan of Christmas markets, Riga is a must-destination for you. With a low budget, you can enjoy the high-quality services of the city like good transportation and you will experience the Christmas atmosphere in the markets without breaking the bank. Riga is also easily accessible from Central Europe and Nordic countries.
The weather in December is cold and dark. Riga is still a nice winter destination. Because the city is differently beautiful in the summer, we advise visiting this Baltic pearl at least twice a year: In the winter and summer.
Have you visited Riga's Christmas markets? Share with us your experiences below!