IN GOOD COMPANY WITH ICE KING. Riga's best public outdoor spots for winter needs and deeds.

O winter! My winter! Thou have been fiercely messed up by climate change lately. Thou have been loosing your February permafrost to soon-becoming national sports in January - pavement-skating. Thou snowfall and temperature swings have become as infrequent as performances by Nicolas Cage.
Albeit the winter climate is more unpredictable than ever, this year is somehow promising. For that reason CAPITAL R still recommends 5 peculiar and spectrally distinct spots one needs to visit in Riga to enjoy everything ice and snow can offer. Here are 5 extraordinary outdoor locations for fun, fray, fitness and fix.

capital riga, rīga ziemā, vecrīga, oldt town, morning in riga, 2019

Dozens of square kilometres of ex-dune forests with light change of terrain for your Nordic skiing. Dozens of square kilometres of frozen water surfaces. Get your own skis or skates, and follow where the public transport takes you - Riga is actually full of locations for a light winter exercise.

Although the weather can sometimes be a downer, any of the given five options can be used from late November to even late-March. Many recall -18°C before December comes and hurry up to try the first cross-country. Many again try to catch the last frozen countryside puddles in mid forests or bogs, where the temperatures are still around or below zero Celsius. So, the range is wide. The most crucial is how fast can you react to the weather change and be ready to take that one crispy cold day for a nice downhill some 50 kilometres from Riga.

But if time is of the essence, here are the promised 5 locations one can reach, say, in 30 minutes max from the city centre. Decent, civilized and with satisfying infrastructure:

 CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING AND ICE SKATING
slēpēšanas trase, āgenskalns, pārdaugava,
Where: Uzvaras parks
When: daily; from 10:00 - 21:00
How much: 1,5h - 4,5 € per hour (depends on skis or skates/child or adult)
Cross-country skiing trail in Victory park was the first proper sports-based activity one could visit in present-day Rīga already some dozen years ago. Through the years the loipe has been redesigned, adding some augmented terrain, and joined with a proper ice skating rink for some proper ice hockey game, if you'd like.
Web (in Latvian)


 SLEDDING AND ICE SKATING
Where: Grīziņkalna parks
When: daily 15:00(11:00) - 21:00
How much: The park is free and open, the ski field has 2 € entrance fee + ice skate rental
Grīziņkalns park is legendary for multiple reasons. It was hosting Latvia's largest workers' demonstration in 1905 during the Revolution in Imperial Russia. Then it was one of the first whimsically designed modern public parks before WWI, that got upgraded during the 1930's. Some 10 years ago it became a home for a local street pop culture event series "Ghetto Games" with streetball, slam dunks, MC battles and other urban pop culture activities. Finally, it was renovated in recent years to become a frequently visited ice skating field (literally, a field) and, possibly, the best family-friendly downhill. The shallow slope is perfect for kids, and when the weather gets much warmer by the end of winter - it turns into nothing but ice! NB. No sled rental available, so BYOB or borrow a tight plastic bag for a ride with extra speed and no safety guarantees.
Web


 ICE GO-KARTING
CAPITAL R, ledus kartings, vecaķos, riga, 2019
Where: Vecāķu jahtklubs
When: book in advance any time
How much: 15 € per 10 minute ride
What does a yacht club do, when the sailing season ends? Ice go-karting would be one of the least popular guesses for Vecāķi office. Yet, oh, yet, no doubt, this go-kart is on every default list to all winter adrenaline seekers and competitive souls. Located pretty far from the centre, the racing track can still be reached regularly, and this far no one can hear you scream.
Web (in Latvian)


 ICE PILE-UPS
Where: Gulf of Riga. West coast
When: March
How much: free for all
There are dozens of kilometres of seashore attached to Rīga that become more popular than ever during the last weeks of winter. For starters, if you want to witness ice banks around 3 m high in short time and safe distance - head to the West up until Engure coastal town. If you are up for something more spectacular - rent a car or carpool with locals in order to get up along the beach from Mērsrags until Roja. This piece of shore, though out of Rīga, will double the height of ice hills easily and will impress the most straight-edge only-in-Riga evangelists. Besides, we promise to cover "Ice watching" in one of our future posts, so do whatever it takes to follow us!

 WINTER WALK
mangaļsala, winter walk, taka, pastaiga
Where: Mangaļsala
When: daily
How much: free for all (forever, we hope)
Although there has been a brand new walking trail opened in Mangaļsala lately, keep in mind, the beach line of Riga has a lot more to offer. There are several other beautiful forest, backshore and dune lee-side footpaths, trails and wooden infrastructure everybody can approach any time in Daugavgrīva or right on the boarder of Rīga - in Kalngale. A large majority of citizens also leave the metropolitan area for Saulkrasti "White dune foothpath". So, whenever there's a chance to visit our Mother of the Sea, one should follow the lead of locals and stroll by the coast area anytime, anywhere - for that mental, spiritual fix.

MORE INFO
Find: for other cross-country skiing fields there is a web page you can browse. Sadly "Rīga skis" is only in Latvian, but you can try using Google Chrome for automatic translation.
NB: Don't be an imbecile, be safe.

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