Going through Riga - by boat! And you're the one at the oars. There aren't many cities in Europe where you can experience something like that.
The people behind the idea for this unique method of transportation through Riga have formed the organization "Lūzumpunkts" (Breaking Point), and their mission is "growth through experience". If the meteorological forecast favors boating and you're in the mood, just head to "Rīgas Laivas" (Riga's Boats): their team will show and tell you how to use the equipment, after which you can go off on your own adventurous tour of the city's waterways.
The starting point for all of the six different routes offered is the Andrejostas Yachting Club, where in a safe, two-person kayak you can go on, for instance, the "Circle of Riga" tour. Passing under all 16 bridges on the Riga Canal, you'll slide past the metropolitan hustle and bustle and get great views of the city's centuries-old architecture. Set your own pace, or just let the current take you along.
On the "Dinner" route, you head from the Andrejostas Yachting Club straight across the Daugava River, to the bank-side restaurant "Ostas skati" (Views of the Harbor).
You'll get a view of the city putting on its nightshirt of bright lights on the route "Riga at Night". This evening trip is kissed by the magic of sunset, which makes everything slow down and heightens the urban enjoyment to be had.
And then there's the tour "Around the Islands", which will bring you back to the time of the classic 1974 Latvian film "An Apple in the River". The film tells the tale of a microcosm right in the middle of Riga and the Daugava River - Zaķusala (Rabbit Island) - where one can still feel the breath of a century gone by. At the center of the film is the encroachment of industrialization onto an environment caught in the middle of a growing metropolis. You can still see it now - on either side is the urban rattle and hum of Riga, but here - the untouched and lush greenery of Zaķusala and Lucavsala.
The route that takes you through the Riga Canal and across the Daugava River, to Āgenskalna Harbor, will then lead you to the little-known waterway known as Zundas Canal, which divides the island of Ķīpsala from the Left Bank of Riga. Once the Zundas Canal opens up again to the Daugava River, you'll have to work a bit harder against the current to make your way back to the starting point, on the island of Andrejsala.
It just happens that the main character in the film "An Apple in the River" lives on the island of Zaķusala, but takes a ferry to his job at the shipyard, which is another stop on one of the tours offered by "Riga's Boats". The trip to the Riga Shipyard (established in 1913), in Riga's district of Vecmīlgrāvis, is the most challenging and interesting of the six routes, and takes you right into the middle of the city's largest industrial district. Beginning with the Riga Canal, followed by the verdant banks of the vast Daugava River and a quick pass-by of the Tallink "floating hotel", you'll come to the territory of the shipyard. You'll feel like you're on a movie set as your kayak floats underneath the humongous hulls of dry-docked ships - natural gas tankers, passenger ships, oil and chemical tankers and fishing vessels; be sure to get a good look at their monstrous propellers.
As you leave the shipyard, you'll enter Ķīšezers Lake, where the urban industrial environment gives way to the expanse of clear blue waters and your last stop - at Cabo Cafe, for a well-deserved beer or meal.
Once you've gone through all of the routes that "Riga's Boats" has to offer, you'll be ready for new challenges - Buļļupe River, the sea... just remember: growth through experience!
Reservations are a must.
Boat rental (10:00 - 20:00): first hour - 6 LVL; every additional hour - 2 LVL
Evening and Night tours (20:00 - 01:00): 14 LVL
Boat rental daily rate - 14 LVL; every additional day - 8 LVL
Keywords: Riga, boats, boat renting, routes, river