Old town is full of little streets to wander around and I highly recommend you take the time to explore. I was walking around on an overcast St Patricks day and it was quiet and just want I needed. I loved the architecture of the Old Town, medieval buildings with brightly coloured restaurants and shops. There are some incredible points of interest like the House of the Blackheads. This incredible red brick gothic structure is where you can get walking tours of Old Town. It has such great detail you can’t miss! Riga Castle is the official residence of the president, it has been rebuilt many times over the years, old structures and new bits added on gives this building a unique look, with six towers, all different colours and sizes. It is closed to the public due to a fire and will reopen in 2018. Old Town is small but its is completely charming, nothing is symetrical and there are so many little streets with charming spots. There are also big open squares where events are held and markets are set up. When I was walking around there was a brass band playing to no one, soft music reverberated in the square and it was lovely.There is one thing in European old towns that I love and that is making three building of similar ilk siblings. I have seen a few three brother buildings over Europe and I love finding them. These brothers are awkwardly placed down a small street.
To me Riga was split into three sections. Central was the most interesting to me, it had pretty parks, interesting musuems and a more gritty atmosphere. The most important thing in this area is the freedom monument. Learning Latvia’s history is sad and tough but it is really important to understand the country.The monument is in between a very lovely park which is nice to stroll through. It almost comforts the history to be sandwiched by nature. Another important place you need to go is the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. Looking at history is very important but this museum is a lot easier to go through than other museums out there. There are many buildings that command your attention like the Russian Orthodox church. There is a nativity scene inside but there is a dress code. Women are expected to cover their head and shorts aren’t permitted. One museum I really enjoyed was the modern art museum, there is great painting from historical periods of time. It was really interesting to read the history of Latvia and then to see it expressed through art.
In the basement, there is modern day art after a good long break from modern art it was nice to see it on my terms. I really recommend this museum. Behind the parks and museums is the local shopping area of Riga, charity shops, places to eat, it’s more residential than the area just outside old town. Something I loved about this area was the more gritty elements than the other areas. Whole buildings would be missing from the street, paint was peeling, it was nice to be somewhere that wasn’t just building apartment blocks all over a city. My favourite has to be this tictac ad, you never see ads like this anymore and I just love it. I liked walking around this area, there are lots of places to eat like Big Bad Bagels and Crazy Donuts. Walk around, explore and have a good time not being bombarded with modern architecture.
The Scott Monument is a key piece along Princes Street. The monument is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott a writer in the 1700s. After his death in 1832 a commission was held to design his memorial monument. It is the largest monument to a writer in the world and went way over budget but it is an amazing building that is definitely worth a visit. It’s blackened exterior from smoke damage is an eye catching feature but it’s height really gives it power and as this was my third trip to the city I had to go up. There are 287 spiral steps like with so many towers, it is a tight squeeze and it gets narrower as you get to the top.With the entrance in Princes Street gardens, admission for me was £5. I would recommend you say if you are coming up or down and listening out for other people because there is a lot of visitors. The views on the three platforms are panoramic and beautiful. All of the main attractions can be seen from each level so it’s the prefect place to take in the city. I love a good tower and this is one of my favourites. If you don’t have a crippling fear of heights I recommend!
Kungsträdgården is a really pretty park in central Stockholm. It’s a beautiful tree lined strip with seating, a pretty green areas and fountains. This is a busy area with couples, groups of friends, lots of dog walkers and is generally filled with mirth! Take note during the summer from April 23rd to August 31st there is a military foot parade that happens every day, they walk from the Army museum and will pass the Kungsträdgården at around 12pm. It’s similar to the changing of the guards in London. It is a great thing to see. In other months of the year it only happens on specific days so check before you go to Stockholm or just be surprised like I was. There is a Tbana stop just beside this area and the tram lines are at the top of the park so it’s really easy to get to. It has lots of outdoor eating and cafes so it’s a perfect place to stop at. There is also a stage area where outdoor concerts are held in Summer and in Winter there is an ice rink.
You definitely have to check it out when you go to Stockholm. It was such a pretty area to relax and take in the sunshine!
I got a Stockholm pass in a goodie bag from TBex, thanks TBex, I looked up what it can do and I was really pleasantly surprised. Amongst a lot of other things, you are able to do unlimited Hop On Hop Off Tours, both bus and boat. So I took full advantage. Over my three day stay I took 3 bus tours and 2 boats. (Be careful though, Stockholm VIP pass only lasts for two days) The bus is great, it has a removable roof because of the tram lines above but it means that if it rains you aren’t getting soaked. It has the audio tour and free headphones so you will be able to learn about the city. I have to say though, every time I sat at the window I would have someone reach over me and touch my knee to get to the audio box. I would say to them do you want me to do it but they just ignored me and reached over. Ugh it makes me shiver just thinking about it. Don’t touch people you don’t know. I really recommend it though. You get to go to districts that you wouldn’t normally go to and it gives you lots of information. I wouldn’t know the term brackish water if I didn’t take the bus! (It is said a lot on the tours) The views from the bus are gorgeous, Stockholm is so beautiful and this tour gives you such a nice vantage point! I really think everyone should see Stockholm by boat, any city by the water just has such a gorgeous feel to it. You would see couples on little motor boats, tour boats, sail boats, big ships. Seeing Stockholm by water gives you a different view of the city and gives you more information the bus doesn’t give. It was really nice being a tourist for a change. Usually I get out of cities to explore but it was a lot of fun to just relax and take my time to see Stockholm properly. The boat stops in some great areas like The Vasa museum, The Royal Palace and other wonderful areas you have to explore. I fell in love with the buildings by the water and how the city wasn’t impacted with modern sky scrapers. With the Stockholm Pass you are permitted to go on the green busses and boats. If you don’t have the pass then you can buy a one (€32) or two (€37) day bus ticket. You can also get a bus, boat combo ticket, one day (€42) and two day (€48). If you want more information check it out here.
Do you do hop on hop off tours when you travel? Which one was your favourite?
Deciding where to stay in Stockholm was based on two things, was it cheaper than others and is it easy to get into the centre of Stockholm. I can definitely say I choose the right place! Let me explain.
This area is really really pretty and it’s where you can get a great view of the Karlberg Palace. Which is the home of the Military Academy. With all of the boats docked on the jettys it just makes for the most lovely picture. Take note, you might feel terribly unfit in this area! There is a great walkway that runs all along the water and it is busy with people running, walking and cycling. It’s a really nice walk that finishes just outside the main shopping district of Stockholm. The hotel I stayed at was the Connect City Hotel and I was really pleasantly surprised with my stay. It is so close to the Fridhemsplan T-Bana station. I got a single room with no windows for 4 nights for €228. I thought I was going into a cell but I was very happy. Stockholm gets hot in the Summer so I was worried that I would be sweltering but the fact there isn’t a window, means that it doesn’t get hot or cold. The duvet was really comfortable. The bed is small so tall people might find it difficult.I only had one problem with the hotel. At breakfast there is a tap that dispensed juice and as it was hot weather, there were a swarm of fruit flies, it wasn’t great. Other than that it was a great stay in a lovely area. I definitely recommend a stay here and I would stay here again.