In the second of a family ecotourism series entitled Ecotourism in Northern Europe, I invite you to appreciate the splendor of Riga family travel. On the banks of the Daugava River, the capital of Latvia is not only a UNESCO heritage site but is widely considered to be the cleanest city in Europe. In addition to it being one of the few countries that actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions year over year, Riga has the lowest carbon dioxide emission per capita among the EU countries and has the second best (after Sweden) policy related to renewable natural energy sources.
Riga offers very pleasant opportunities to walk its cobblestone streets and woodland areas. With blue zones for waterways and green zones for parks that collectively cover more than 50 percent of the city, Riga is an extraordinarily easy city to walk around. Its main center spans approximately 2 miles in diameter and is pedestrian-friendly with only the occasional car that patiently waits for tourists to pass before proceeding.
Riga Family Travel Ecotourism Activities
- The Riga Zoo, built in 1912, professes to be the oldest zoo in the Baltic region. There are over 400 animal species including 117 endangered species on exhibit all with natural surroundings. The zoo participates in 63 international captive breeding programs for threatened species and displays 84 species that are listed on the IUCN Red Data List. There is an effort by the zoo to educate people, participate in research, and promote nature conservation.
- Each day, there are two main Riga Bicycle Tours available within the limits of the city. The first Funky Bike Cruise takes you through the Old Town, Parks, and Art Nouveau District and the second City Explorer Tour travels through the Moscow suburb and Central district among other areas. A group leader is on hand to answer questions and offer the best places for a much-deserved and delicious pastry and espresso break.
- The Baltic Sea spa resort Jurmala is located on the Gulf of Riga approximately 8 miles west of Riga. Jurmala boasts a mild climate, beautiful sandy beaches, conifer forests that stretch along the coastline as well as curative peat mud and spa mineral waters.