Riga nightlife options are perhaps a little more eclectic than in some cities. Yes, there’s the classic holiday destination bar – with the coveted panoramic views over the city. But there are also spots where you can launch yourself headlong into Riga bar culture. Pubs aren’t just for drinking in. Comedy nights are expected the world over. But foosball, poetry and board games can be a little harder to find – especially in an unfamiliar place. The ultimate night? You’ll find that singing with your own live band and backing vocals in the city’s karaoke bar…
Makonis Cocktail & Design
Starting life as possibly one of the smallest slices of Riga nightlife, Makonis has flourished into a chic and celebrated bar with more than a few options. Previously, drinkers wedged themselves into the bars cramped space to sip on their flavour-filled cocktails, dine at the thinnest of tables and check out the design inspo. Now, all grown up, Makonis welcomes diners, drinkers and the cocktail-curious to its Stabu Street premises. The interior design still ranks highly, and makes a nice backdrop to the colourful drinks on the tables. The food menu runs the gamut from burgers to beef tartare – with a few gourmet stops on route. The drinks options lean heavily towards cocktails and whiskeys. Few would come here specifically for a romp through the wine list. You might however be interested in their rum, whiskey or cocktail masterclasses.
You can grab a big brand Latvian beer in just about any bar in the city. But if you’re in the market for the picks of the local craft beer scene? You head to Taka. It’s easy enough to skip by any of the pubs and bars on Miera Iela – each one looking more tempting than the last. But Taka draws a faithful crowd of regulars thanks to their board game nights, comedy gigs and … their poetry readings. Whether there’s entertainment laid on or not, the bar staff can talk you through their ales, ports, stouts and IPAs until you find the Latvian brew that really hits the spot. Microbrewery small batches find their way on to Taka’s shelves – and supporting local businesses always leaves you with that feel good factor.
Make your way up to the Radisson Blu’s stunning Skyline Bar for panoramic views of Riga. From the moment you set foot in the glass lift, you’re treated to various sights of the city. At the top, floor to ceiling glass keeps your eyes on the skies – and cityscape. The hotel does charge a cheeky admission fee, depending on the time you drop by. Understandable given the chic and sleek vibe they’re going for. Whether it’s that or the sky high location that keeps the numbers low here is hard to judge. The cocktail menu is made for explorers looking to learn more about Riga, Latvia and the country’s culture. A nice touch if you like a little backstory with your cocktails. If not, there’s plenty of classics to choose from. And a respectable champagne selection.
Orbzii tip: The drinks menu here is huge. Vodka, tequila and Latvian beer are all on the menu. There’s also a decent coffee selection if you’re easing off the heavy stuff after trying the Black Balsam. The views nearly landed Skyline a spot in our best coffee shops in Riga rundown.
Few realise that, underneath the sleek and chic decor of the Kalku Vārti restaurant, there’s a buzzing club in the cellars. Which is odd considering Kalku Vārti’s dancefloor has been around for over a decade. It’s not the largest space in the city, but it’s where you’ll find locals in the know. Also known as Club KV, the entire building makes a great one stop shop for days when you want to grab a bite before partying the night away. Though you’ll want to while at least a little time away in the bar, as things don’t really pick up until the early hours. In summer, the rooftop terrace delivers on fresh air and al fresco vibes. The cocktails are worth the money on every floor.
If you’re looking for a karaoke bar in Riga, we’ll point you firmly in the direction of Club Friends. This definitely isn’t a space that’s cobbled together some karaoke kit for a laugh on a quiet Thursday. Their rig delivers 45,000 songs. So no need to worry too much about being stuck with a Mariah Carey number if you just can’t reach that high, high range. You can also choose different languages, though it’s probably best to crack on in English. Away from the slick tech, Club Friends has another karaoke ace up its showy sleeves. Live musicians. Yes, this Riga stage is where you can live your singing dreams. With backing vocalists. Oh and the karaoke and entry is free. The Riga gift that keeps on giving.
Something a little bit different…
It’s really not that difficult to find quirky venues across Riga. Entertainment, bars and restaurants in this city approach life from an entirely different perspective. And if all that sounds just your kind of scene, you’ll love Tim’s Mints. Imagine popping for a drink in a mate’s living room. That’s Tim’s Mints to its very core. There’s also a Foosball table. Which delivers high on Friends vibes – but also seems to be very much a through theme for Riga nightlife. Laid back, fun and extremely casual. The best kind of bar, really.