Riga: 10 Bars, Pubs & Clubs Locals Love

With it’s fairytale medieval Old Town enveloped in the largest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the world, the 2014 European Capital of Culture has an unquestionable reputation as a premier city break destination.

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Snow-covered river Daugava, by @yul.i.am.

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Over the last 10 years dirt cheap flights from all over Europe have made the Baltics largest city increasingly accesible, however budget airtravel has linked Riga to a darker side of tourism. Way back in 2009 Riga’s mayor singled out British tourists for critism –

“If we also had other tourists, then British visitors who piss about all the time would not be as noticeable. Let’s not be politically correct – unfortunately, this is thier speciality”

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RIGA SONY A6300 50MM 1.8

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In contrast to the stags, scams and sex tourists, a homegrown scene focused on the eclectic tastes of local Latvians is gaining momentum.

From intimate afterparties to cavernous 13th-century wine cellers and former aristocrats mansions to renovated 19th-century brewery complexes – here’s my pick of where to head afterdark in the Latvian Capital.


Named after the famous American polymath, Chomsky is a short walk out of Old Riga. It’s spacious interior is scruffy and cosy, with original ceiling paintings that date back to the 1920’s. Local beers and good prices for central Riga ensure the bar has a week round atmosphere.

Folkklubs Ala Pagrabs

Located in a 13th century wine cellar, the vaulted caverns of Ala have live music at least 5 nights a week – with a focus on Latvian folk. With a selection of 27 draft beers, range of homebrewed moonshine and central Old Town location, it’s the perfect place to chill after exploring and immerse yourself in the traditional tavern aesthetic.

Aussie Pub

Not your standard Aussie pub – with its central location, weekround warm atmosphere, 14 local draft beers, daily events and bargain price happy hours this Aussie owned establishment has fast become a local Old Town favourite.

Kaņepes Kultūras centrs

With its terrace unmissable in the warmer months, this multiuse space is host to various exhibitions, performances and markets so its always worth checking the programme. Home to affordable drinks prices and a laidback atmosphere, this former Russian aristocrats mansion’s terrace is the spot to chill before heading out to bigger things.


Launching in 2016, Authentika has rapidly become a local favourite for those after house and techno. Located in a former brewery complex dating back to the 1880’s, the founders are sucessful in thier aim to create an, opportunity to disconnect from the everyday hustle, bustle and stress, and enjoy an Authentic atmosphere.”


Launched in 2009 in a renovated 19th century brewery complex, Piens is well known as central pillar in Riga’s nightlife – Wine Wednesday’s here is a local institition, with discounts on wine and a rammed dancefloor till dawn. Littered with an abundance of sofas and two large terraces, it’s also great place to meet and chill by day.

Alus darbnīca Labietis

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Bar crawling

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Tucked away beneath Piens, this cosy brewpub has a range of 12 craft beers brewed on site, with a relaxed pub atmosphere both inside and the terrace outside. Notoriously some of the best beer in Riga, their homebrews have fast become popular staples on tap throughout the Baltics.


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Found in the same complex as Piens and Labietis, this venue has a reputation as the one for underground sound in Riga. Regularly hosting international names alongside homegrown talent, ONE ONE has a strong and growing reputation.

The Armoury Bar

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#happycolour 🏴 #sistersbdayparty

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Found in the former warehouse district of the Old Town, Armoury has a calm exposed wood and stone interior, alongside the deactivated firearms the bar dervies it’s name from. With a solid whiskey and beer selection, Old Town location and happy hour prices it’s busy throughout the week.


Launching in late 2016, Teritorijā has rapidly gained local popularity with its intimate space and enveloping atmosphere. With house, techno and disco focused sounds its perfect for late night after parties.

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Now part of Northern Europe by UN designation – #Riga

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Exploring Skrunda – 1 – abandoned Soviet secret city

Despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in late 1991 and the end of the Cold War,  skeletal relics from the era of mutally assured apocalyptic nuclear destruction lurk throughout the former USSR.

The Skrunda-1 Radar installation – Credit: Latvian History

A few hours drive out of the Latvian capital Riga, obscured deep in a forest of silver birch,  the secret Soviet military research facility of Skrunda-1 was a key component in the Evil Empire’s confrontation with the free world.

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Big L #MygunsgoBOOMBOOMandyogunsgopowpow

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Known to Latvian locals simply as “Complex“, a series of early warning radar installations were constructed on the site from the 1950’s onwards. Aiming west, the last of these was the second tallest building in Latvia when it was demolished in 1995, a monumental 19 stories high. 

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Summer strolls

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As a closed city all Soviet military and scientific personnel and families were restricted from leaving the site, with further restrictions on those who could enter.

The amenities for 5000 inhabitants were on site, including a nursery, theatre, gym and even nightclub, alongside uniform apartment blocks, soldiers barracks and prison cells.

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Abandoned Soviet officers theatre

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Following the sites total abandonment in 1998, all materials of value were stripped and removed to Russia ,the Latvian government has yet to find a viable way to regenerate the concrete shells of the 60 buildings that remain.

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After unsuccessful auctioning to private investors, the property has passed from the Latvian military to the local Skrunda municipality who charge a 4 entry fee.


Former occupants


Gym + rotten wooden floor











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Abandoned Soviet Prison Yard

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Entering Skrunda

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Shabby Chic

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Pastel Tones



Inside the barracks

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Abandoned Soviet nursery

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Creepy murals





Nature returning