Travellers visiting Riga are first of all attracted to the Old Town and nearby Art Noveau architecture district. They are the real gems of the city. But Riga has many other faces and things to offer. One of the neighbourhoods worth exploring and close to the city centre is Kipsala, firstly because of its stunning views to Old Riga and secondly for beautifully renovated wooden houses. Kipsala is an island located between the Zunda Channel and the Daugava River. Its area is almost 200 hectares. The island is 2,7 kilometres long and 500 metres wide. Historically, fishermen inhabited this area. To go there, you just need to cross Vanšu Bridge on foot or using public transport. Here are 7 things to do in Ķīpsala for your enjoyment.
1) Count towers of Old Riga together with Riga tower counter
To do this after crossing Vanšu Bridge, walk under the bridge along the river until you reach the green area next to Swedbank central building where the sculpture of Riga tower counter is located. Watch a gorgeous Riga panorama across the river. How many towers can you spot?
2) Admire restored wooden buildings
Turn back and walk Balasta Dambis (dam) heading towards the sea. Admire central Riga views on your right and beautifully restored wooden buildings on your left. Balasta dam is unique by itself as a hydro technical building. It’s a steep stack of rocks protecting the coastline, with a little paved street on top of it. Have a closer look at the following houses: number 52, 58, 60a, 66a.
Continue your wooden architecture exploration with buildings at Ogļu iela 6 and 8. It’s interesting that the building now located at Ogļu iela 6 was moved there from Riga city centre.
Leave it for later but don’t forget to visit the gorgeous Laubes house at Zvejnieku Street 5a.
3) Attend Lipkes Memorial
Turn left from Balasta dambis to Mazais Balasta dambis to visit the memorial to brave man Žanis Lipke and his life. During World War II, he saved from death more than 50 Jews by hiding them in a bunker designed exactly for this purpose under his shed.
Address Mazais Balasta dambis 8.
4) Have a meal at trendy Hercogs restaurant
The Hercogs restaurant that you are seeing now until the 20th century was, in fact, a factory producing plaster. “Hercogs” is located in one of the parts of the former factory. Keeping up with the level of an upmarket restaurant, it offers an exquisite menu, with its main focus on seafood that is also priced accordingly. If you are going out for dinner, make sure to reserve a table in advance, especially during summer when a floating terrace is also open for public.
5) Check what Ķīpsala International Exhibition centre has to offer
Continue your way from Fabrika restaurant by Enkuru iela while reaching the gorgeous Laubes house at Zvejnieku Street 5a.Then carry on, turn left on Zvejnieku Street and check what is on offer at Ķīpsala International Exhibition centre, the largest in the Baltics. Among many other exhibitions, the annual Baltic Tour exhibition is held there in February with a wide range of travel companies and offers presented.
6) Notice the renovated campus of Riga Technical University
Riga Technical University (RTU) is the oldest in Latvia, established in 1862. It has nine faculties and almost 15 000 students. This campus appeared in Kipsala in the 70s.
7) Cool off in the Daugava River in the summer time
Getting back to the starting point of your tour at Ķīpsala public transport stop, you can cool off at the nearby River Daugava beach. Changing cabins are available, along with beach football and volleyball courts. Unlike the nearby Baltic Sea beaches, you don’t have to walk half a kilometre to get wet. Just dive right in! A café is also available as well as a playground for kids that looks like a pirate ship.
Ķīpsala is just a twenty-minute walk from the Riga centre. If you are going there on foot, the best way is to cross the River Daugava across Vanšu Bridge. If you take public transport, you have to get off at the stop “Ķīpsala”.
Covering all the sights and having a meal can take half the day. If you skip the meal, a few hours for a visit may be sufficient.
Read this if you are looking to spend a weekend in Riga.
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What did you think? Have you been to Riga and Kipsala? Or perhaps you’re thinking of visiting in the near future? Either way, I’d love to hear from you so please add your comments below.
Author: Anita Sāne
About the author
I love the Baltic states, especially Latvia, Riga is a very beautiful city, I would like to live there always!