Good news for runners! Downtown Riga boasts a beautiful Baroque center and awesome Art Nouveau neighborhood that, conveniently, are linked by a great garden network. If staying in central Riga, expend your energy exploring the area’s mini-parks - Vermanes, Esplanade, Bastejkains, and Kronvalda – which run between the Pilsetas Canal and the city walls. If you really crave a longer running alternative, Mežaparks is a bit of a tram ride but worth the expedition.
Outside the old town but not to be missed is Riga’s fantastic Centraltirgus, or Central Market. It is located just across 13 Janvara Iela near the bus station, south of the Old City on the Daugava River. The delicious produce and lively atmosphere make this the perfect stop for a post-run pick-me-up.
- Terrain: Forget about running in the city center, where the cobblestones make walking a high-impact sport (the impact being you tripping and falling on said rocks). Beyond the walls, pedestrian walkways are mostly concrete and brick – and missing brick at that. You’ll go through a bit of this to get from one park to the next on the Garden Circuit, so watch your step!
- British Blokes: Riga is a popular destination for stag parties from the UK. Bands of drinking buddies jet in on weekends for the sole purpose of going on the piss. Their rowdiness has gotten so bad that the mayor of Riga has publicly protested their presence. If you’re running early and run into them as they’re leaving the bars, you’ll start complaining too.
- Absurd Art Nouveau: Question: is that a dude’s head coming out of that woman’s chest, right between her breasts? Answer: yes. This is a common example of what some of the Art Nouveau edifices in town look like. They will make you do a double-take.
Did you know? Little Latvia may not be known for imperialism, but at one point during the 17th century this country’s predecessor, the Duchy of Couland, laid its claim to the Caribbean island Tobago.