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The Perfect Weekend RIGA

Though possessing all the old-world charm of much busier Eastern European cities like Prague, Latvia’s capital has a fresher, younger feel than its cobbled streets initially suggest. Its restaurants and design shops snap at the heels of Copenhagen, but offer much better value for money for a winter break

@OrlaThomas

@SarahCoghill1

TRAVEL ESSENTIALS AirBaltic, Ryanair and Wizz Air fly to Riga from UK airports including those in London, Glasgow, Liverpool, and Manchester (from £120; airbaltic.com). Find information on Riga at Latvia’s official tourism site (latvia.travel). The Riga Card provides free public transport and many discounts (from £22 for 24 hours; liveriga.com).
MAP ILLUSTRATION: NIK NEVES

The walk

Its red-brick façade adorned with carved saints, a lapiz-blue astronomical clock and gold weather vane, Blackheads House is the standout architecture of Riga’s Old Town. But the building isn’t actually old at all – dating back to 2001, it’s an extremely convincing replica, built using blueprints that survived the 1334 original destroyed by WWII bombs. Once a fraternity house for unmarried German merchants, it was legendary for its raucous feasts, and it’s easy now to imagine fur-clad 14th-century party boys stumbling across the snow-dusted town hall square and disappearing into the cobbled lanes of the city’s Gothic core. Follow in their footsteps past Rozengrāls, an ancient wine vault turned medievalthemed restaurant, and another restaurant named 1221, after its year of construction, but better known as ‘the blue house with cows’. Painted in similarly pastel shades are Riga’s oldest dwellings, nicknamed the Three Brothers.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - January 2017
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