Riga Opera House Tour and More
November is a good month to travel, before the Thanksgiving holiday, before the holiday season really kicks into full gear. Flights and hotels are inexpensive when compared with other times of the year along with fewer travelers clogging up the sights. Over-tourism is a real thing and can really impact your overall vacation experience. Traveling during the down times is ideal. But for the best travel experiences, travel in the off-season and to lesser-known locales like Riga, Latvia.
I did not choose Riga per se, the Women in Travel Summit was being held there in November. I added a few days onto the beginning of the conference to give myself some time to explore this small Baltic city.
(view from my hotel room)
The conference hotel, Radisson Riga Blu, had the best views of Nativity of Christ Cathedral. Located in the newer side of the city, the Cathedral was surprisingly not torn down during Communist times but was converted to a planetarium, cinema, and and café. Eventually with the fall of the Iron Curtain it was changed back. It was a great sight to wake up to everyday, even when it was a rainy day.
A few blocks away from the hotel, across the Daugava River was Old Town Riga. The architecture, paint colors, revenge cat decorations were unreal.
Prices in Riga were very reasonable after spending a few days in Vienna and Prague so I did a bit of shopping, eating out, and had random afternoon beers.
Best yet, all the churches, museums, and the opera house were devoid of tourists in November. Apparently, people steer clear of the Baltics this time of year because of the weather. It was a bit gloomy and I did wear my winter coat a few times but it wasn’t too bad.
My favorite sight in Riga was the magnificent Latvian National Opera House. I went on a tour with the Women in Travel Summit ladies inside the opera house where we got a backstage tour.
There was even a performance that night so we were sort of interfering with the setup for the evening.
Opera tickets in Riga start around 5 Euro. The opera is state run so it is made to be accessible to all citizens. Therefore, performances are sold out every night. It would have been very cool to go. And it had to have been better than the awful opera I saw in Vienna! (More on that later!)
Fantastic booties to protect the opera house stage floor.
The backstage tour was excellent!
If you are ever in Riga, try to get a tour of the opera house or at least see a performance there. It is the home theater of Mikhail Baryshnikov during his teenage years (he’s Latvian).
I could have taken pictures inside the opera house for hours.
But the group split up and some of us went to dinner but the rest of us finished the Riga Museum tour at the Latvian National Museum of Art.
We had 30 minutes before closing time to run through as fast as we could. It was actually really fun to try to cram it all in all while the women over the loudspeaker was announcing that everyone should start heading to the exits. I really could have spent another hour or so inside but a quick jaunt through was all we had time for. I’m glad I made the effort to go to the museum because I didn’t end up having any time later on in the trip to come back.
Dinner was essential following all this touring and walking. Latvian fare seems to me like a mix of Baltic, Russian, and Eastern European influences. A lot of meat, potatoes, fish, root veggies, etc. But many of the restaurants in Old Town are new, non-traditional and full of eclectic fare. I 100% ordered a delicious burger, my first in months. And beer. Always order a beer here!
More from Riga- Old Town, a food tour, and the market coming soon!