Riga, Latvia, is the largest capital of the three Baltic states (the other two being Estonia and Lithuania) and contains one-third of Latvia's entire population. Sitting beside the Daugava River and the Gulf of Riga, the city comprises a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a former Hanseatic port. History is rich here, and Riga event venues range from the medieval to the Communist past.
Riga International Airport (RIX) is the busiest airport in Latvia and all three Baltic nations. Approximately six miles west of the city center, the airport serves all Europe, and there is one direct flight to New York City on Uzbekistan Airways.
Largest among convention venues in Riga, Kipsala International Exhibition Center is also the largest such facility in all of the three Baltic nations. The center consists of, among other spaces, two exhibition halls measuring 92,000 and 57,000 square feet, respectively; and two conference rooms for 220 and 500 persons, respectively.
Many hotel venues in Riga carry the flag of Radisson Blu, with its properties spanning the divide between huge and boutique: 571-room Radisson Blu Latvija, which has 15 meeting rooms, the largest able to accommodate 1,500 persons; the 356-room Radisson Blu Daugava, which has 13 meeting rooms and a large riverside garden; the 228-room Radisson Blu Elizabete, which has two meeting rooms; and the 95-room Radisson Blu Ridzene, which has seven meeting rooms, with the largest, Kronvalds, able to host 90 persons. Another choice is the Bellevue Park Hotel Riga, which has eight meeting rooms for up to 1,100 persons.
Due to the city's long, fabled history and modern culture, there is no shortage of wonderful gathering spots. Five selections include Riga Art Space, which has the 17,000-square-foot Large Hall, 1,500-square-foot Intro Hall, and a meeting room; the old, castle-like Small Guild Hall, which is on Livs Square, was built in 1864 and restored in 2000, and has the Grand Hall for 450 persons, Small Hall for 150, and Senior Room for 90; the very impressive (completely re-created in the years up to 1999 following its destruction during World War II) Blackheads House, which is on Town Hall Square, was for centuries a trade guild, and today has several, grand function spots; and Kalnciema Quarter, which consists of five restored wooden buildings surrounding a small apple orchard, which can be used for events along with an exhibition hall and a wine room. One hotel that is also very historical is the Gutenbergs, parts of which date to the 16th century, and which has 38 guest rooms and two function halls, one on the first floor, the other on the second, offering views of the city's cathedral.
Fish is eaten in Riga due to its being beside the sea, although meat dishes often dominate menus. Two classic restaurant options that do both and have ornate, historic interiors are Zila Govs, which has a main dining room of 80 seats and a summer terrace with 40, and Salve, which is in the Blue Guard House, part of the House of Blackheads on Town Hall Square. Three other excellent group choices are Carlstons, which is part Italy, part France, part New York City, with barbecue predominating but sitting among Latvian dishes; Domini Canes, which sits next to St. Peter's Church in the historic district and has a small but excellent menu; and Alus Arsenals, or "Beer Garrison," which is in a building dating to 1750 that supposedly contained Riga's first hotel, has a menu as well as a large selection of beer, as its name would suggest it does, and has a summer terrace overlooking the presidential palace.