The 10 Best Bars In Old Town Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia
Riga, Latvia | © Bryan Ledgard/Flickr
Valentine Baldassari

Riga’s Old Town is a treasure trove for travelers thanks to its amazing combination of beautiful architecture, fascinating history and culture, and great nightlife. The latter includes a whole array of bars of every kind, from sophisticated cocktail lounges to sports bars and retro hipster haunts. Read on for a list of the 10 best bars in the Old Town.

Riga’s Art Nouveau Architecture

1. I Love You

Bar, Pub Grub

I Love You is near the Swedish Gate
© J. Sedols/Panoramio
I Love You is one of Riga’s hippest bars and is always packed on a Saturday night if the weather’s not too forbidding (it’s a bit more empty when there’s a snowstorm outside). It’s beloved for its great music choices and is probably one of Riga’s best spots for small, local gigs. There’s also the occasional DJ set, which is perfect for those who want to dance a little without going to a club. Despite how busy it gets at weekends, I Love You still manages to feel cozy and intimate, thanks to its unpretentious decoration and comfortable nooks and crannies.

2. Cuba Café

Bar, Cafe, Cuban

Cuba Café interior
© Courtesy of Cuba Café
Riga might seem like an odd location for a Cuban-themed bar but Cuba Café is a success. The key lies in it not overdoing its theme by relying on Cuban cliches; there are pictures of Fidel Castro, for example, but they are just one element in an eclectic decor full of quirky items like a stuffed fox and old lamps. There’s always something to look at. It’s an ideal spot for a few mojitos and some salsa dancing.

3. Rock Café

Cafe, Pub, Restaurant, Pub Grub, Coffee

4. Aussie Backpackers' Pub

Pub, Australian, Pub Grub, Beer

Owned by the nearby Riga Old Town Hostel, this Australianpub offers a down-to-earth, laid-back atmosphere. It’s a hotspot for tourists and expats, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; more often than not they’re happy to talk to just about anyone who speaks English, so it’s a good place to meet people. The Australian aspect is not overdone, opting for drinking games and Australian craft brews instead of cheesy stuffed koalas or kangaroos.

5. Folkklubs ALA Pagrabs

Pub, Restaurant, Bar, Pub Grub, European, Beer

For an authentic Latvian experience in the middle of Old Riga, head to Folkklubs ALA Pagrabs, a bar and restaurant in a surprisingly big basement full of rustic wooden tables and cozy nooks and crannies. The atmosphere strives to recreate an old, rustic Latvia, complete with Eastern European dishes, folk concerts, and dancing evenings. This also means there’s a great selection of beer, both local and international; 28 on tap, the largest selection in Riga. ALA is often crowded at weekends, but it’s so big there’s always a free table somewhere.

6. Omas Briljants

Bar, Pub, Beer, Pub Grub

Live music
© Courtesy of Kanepes Kulturas Centrs
Not far from Aussie Backpackers’ Pub, Omas Briljants, literally ‘Grandma’s Diamonds’, is a seamless blend of retro kitsch (think ceramic chandeliers) with contemporary hipster cool. It’s a great cocktail place, with excellent drinks served in glasses or very reasonably priced jugs. There’s even a second floor – with a second bar- if the first one’s full.

7. Shot Café

Bar, Cafe, European

Shots!
© Mediengestalter/Pixabay
If it’s shots you’re after, don’t hesitate to try out Shot Café, at the edge of the Old Town. There are over a hundred kinds of shots served here, from the typical Jagerbomb to the more original ‘Sex in a Wolkswagen’. Another great aspect of Shot Café is the playlist, sure to make anyone want to dance.

8. Kiwi Bar

Bar, Oceanian

St. Peters Church, Riga
© Harvey Barrison/Flickr
Though it bills itself as a New Zealander bar, the Kiwi Bar is better-known as one of the Old Town’s best sports bar. Tucked away in a corner just opposite Saint Peter’s church, it can be quite difficult to find despite its central location. It is nevertheless absolutely packed on Friday and Saturday nights. Like the Aussie Backpackers’ Pub, it’s a favorite for expats and it’s not rare to hear more English than Latvian here. The main draw is the high number of TV screens with great visibility from just about anywhere in the bar and the friendly enthusiasm of sports fans during matches. It’s a popular spot for Latvian rugby fans in particular.

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