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Riga Christmas Market in Latvia: Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting

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The Riga Christmas Market is one of the best things to do in December in Riga, Latvia, and is a must visit if you’re traveling through the city throughout December.

Riga is the capital of Latvia and is located right on the Baltic Sea. The city has what I consider to be one of the best Christmas Markets in Europe.

Whether you’re coming from the U.S. to Europe for the Christmas Markets or traveling from a nearby European country, this guide will help you navigate the Riga Christmas Market.

I just returned from an incredible trip through the Baltic capitals of Riga, Vilnius, and Tallinn to see the Christmas Markets, so I’m here to give you all the tips and tricks to make your visit as exciting and magical as possible.

Location of the Riga Christmas Market

The main Christmas Market, otherwise known as the Old Riga Christmas Market, is located in Dome Square, right in the heart of Riga.

Dome Square is the largest square in Old Town of Riga. The building of this square began in the late 1800s, before construction completed in 1936.

The square is surrounded by the charming, old buildings you can expect throughout much of Europe. Riga Cathedral is also located in Dome Square and makes for a great backdrop to the Christmas Market.

There are a few other Christmas Markets in Riga, including the Esplanade Market, Kalnciems Market, and Līvu Square Market. However, the Dome Square Market is the main market, so I’ll only be talking about this one.

Address: Doma laukums, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050, Latvia (see on Google Maps)

Christmas Market in Riga, Lativa set up in city's Dome Square, with festively decorated stalls with red and white striped roofs and colorful European buildings in the background

Dates and Times of the Christmas Market in Riga, Lativa

Riga’s Christmas Markets happen every December and run through early January.

The 2023 dates of the Riga Christmas Market are from December 3, 2023 through January 7, 2024.

The market hours differ depending on the day of the week, as detailed below.

  • Monday to Thursday — 11:00 AM-9:00 PM
  • Friday to Saturday — 10:00 AM-10:00 PM
  • Sunday — 10:00 AM-8:00 PM

On the first day of the Christmas Market every year, they do a ceremony to light the Christmas Tree. Unfortunately, I wasn’t around to see the Christmas Tree lighting this year.

While this is a cool experience, I wouldn’t go out of my way to schedule my dates around this. Instead, let it be a nice coincidence if you happen to be visiting when this happens.

Best Things to Buy and Eat at the Christmas Market in Riga

Two of the best things about European Christmas Markets are all the amazing shopping and the festive, delicious food.

Make sure to come with an empty bag and belly so you can spend that hard-earned money on the best the Riga Christmas Market has to offer!

Things to Buy

  • Amber jewelry
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Knitted scarves, mittens, and hats
  • Magnets
  • Toys and games

Things to Eat/Drink

  • Gingerbread cookies
  • Hot mulled wine or hot Black Balsam
  • Smoked sausages
  • Sauerkraut
  • Potatoes

One major tip I’ll give you is that while a lot of the stalls accept credit cards (Visa/Mastercard only), some only accept cash. Because of this, I recommend having some cash on hand.

If you’re like me and never seem to have enough cash on hand, the closest ATM to the market is the BluOr Bank a half block away from Dome Square (Google Maps location here).

Where to Stay in Riga

December in Riga is extremely cold, so staying in a central location near the Christmas Market is super important.

During my trip, I stayed at the Pullman Riga Old Town and would highly recommend it. The hotel is located a short 5-minute walk away from the Christmas Market, so it couldn’t be more convenient.

Anywhere in Old Town is a great place to stay, but below is a list of some other hotels that came highly recommended in Riga.

What to Wear at Riga’s Christmas Market

Talking about what to wear during the Christmas season in Riga might seem silly, but hear me out.

It is so cold in Riga in the month of December, when the Christmas Market is running and it’s super important to be prepared so you don’t freeze.

Layers, layers, layers! Layers will be your best friend when traveling through the Baltic states this time of year. When you’re standing still, you might be much colder than if you’re walking around, so having the option to shed a layer if you get a bit warmer is vital.

Below is a list of what I would recommend wearing this time of year in Riga.

close up of the Christmas Tree at the Riga Christmas Market at blue hour with the tower or Riga Cathedral in the backdrop

Other Things to Do in Riga

While your likely motivation for visiting Riga in December is to see the Christmas Market, there are a lot of other really wonderful things to do in Riga.

One of the best things I recommend doing to maximize your stay in Riga is to do a walking tour.

While you could opt for a free walking tour, I recommend doing an affordable walking tour instead.

The reason I say this is because free walking tours tend to become overcrowded and aren’t actually free (you’re supposed to tip/pay what you think it’s worth). By paying for the tour up front, you’ll likely end up with a much more reasonably sized group and get more out of the experience.

  • Husky sledding tour. A super fun winter experience in Riga would be to do a sledding tour with adorable husky dogs.
  • House of the Black Heads. This building is one of the most unique in all of Riga. It was originally built in 1334 before being destroyed in WWII and rebuilt in 1999. This also happens to be the location of the first decorated Christmas Tree!
  • Riga Cathedral. The cathedral is located in Dome Square, right next to the Christmas Market. It costs 5 EUR to enter.
  • Three Brothers. The Three Brothers are three colorful buildings standing next to each other. These houses make up the oldest housing complex in the whole city.
  • St. Peter’s Church. St. Peter’s is the tallest church in Riga. The viewing platform here has one of the best views of the city.
  • Riga Central Market. This market is the largest in all of Europe. It is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with Old Town Riga.
uniquely shaped brick building called House of the Black Heads in Riga, Latvia

Getting to Riga, Latvia

There are several different ways to get to Riga and it all depends on where you’re coming from.

As mentioned before, I recommend visiting Riga as part of a larger visit to the three Baltic countries, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia.

By Air ✈️: To get to Riga by air, you’ll need to fly into the Riga International Airport (airport code: RIX). Budget airlines AirBaltic and Ryanair have several routes from other cities in Europe to Riga, so this is a great option.

By Bus 🚌: Traveling by bus is super common in this area of Europe, as the train routes aren’t quite as well connected as Western and Central Europe. You can easily get to Riga via bus from cities such as Tallinn, Vilnius, and more. I recommend booking with Lux Express over FlixBus, as I’ve heard some not great reviews of FlixBus.

By Train 🚊: I don’t recommend traveling to Riga by train, unless you’re coming from within Latvia. The trains don’t connect well with other countries, making it a pretty inefficient way of travel to Riga.

By Car 🚗: Renting a car and doing a Baltic road trip, including Riga, is a great idea during the summer months. However, I wouldn’t recommend doing this during the winter as the roads are full of snow.

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