A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Riga vs. Helsinki for Nightlife, Backpackers, Attractions, and Food

Should you visit Riga or Helsinki?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Should I visit Riga or Helsinki? This is a common question asked by many travelers. By figuring out which city has activities that align with your interests along with knowing which is more affordable, you'll understand where you can get more bang for your buck. So, let's dive into the details and the data, which all comes from actual travelers.

Riga

Riga is a vibrant, fun, and high energy city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. Visitors also love the food, shopping, and museums.

Helsinki

Helsinki is a environmentally conscious, waterfront, and active city. You'll find world class beauty here as well. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Riga and Helsinki: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Scenic old town
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less popular for nightlife
  • Less popular with backpackers


Is there more to do in Riga or Helsinki?

You'll generally find more things to do in Riga than Helsinki. Riga is bigger than Helsinki, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Riga is better known for its food, nightlife, historical sights, and big city activities, while Helsinki is more popular for its impressive beauty. Helsinki is more touristy than Riga and is popular for its rich culture that includes traditional elements as well as an active subculture scene. Riga is well known for its vibrant nightlife scene, busy old town, and beautiful architecture. Also, Riga is famous for Riga St. Peter's Church.

How is Riga different from Helsinki?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Helsinki and Riga. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Riga or Helsinki?

Riga
Helsinki

Plenty of people visit the excellent sights and museums in both Riga and Helsinki.

Riga offers many unique museums, sights, and landmarks that will make for a memorable trip. As a capital city with a diverse history, you'll find a number of museums and landmarks in the area. Visitors frequently visit The Freedom Monument, St. Peters Church, the Riga Cathedral, The House of the Black Heads, and any of the many museums around town.

Many visitors head to Helsinki specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. Many of the city's sights and attractions center around nature and the water. Major hightlights of the city include the Fortress of Sveaborg, Seurasaari open-Air Museum, and Temppeliaukio Rock Church. The city is also home to The National Museum of Finland.


Is the Food Better in Riga or Helsinki? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Riga
Helsinki

Riga is a very popular place for its restaurants. Also, Helsinki is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

Riga has a huge number of terrific restaurants. The city offers a great opportunity to try many Latvian specialties including rasol (a potato salad), pelmeni (a Latvian dumpling), and karbonade (kind of like schnitzel). The cuisine is hearty and filling with lots of bread, dumpling, and meats. Riga is also where you'll find the largest food market in Europe, which is the perfect place to wander and pick up some local items.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Helsinki area. Food in town is all about local flavors and simple ingredients. The dishes let the flavor speak for itself without fancy cooking techniques or complex flavor combinations. Many of the restaurants are locally sourced with traditional ingredients. You'll find a lot of seafood, herring, grilled sausages, pancakes, and desserts.

Is Riga or Helsinki Better for Nightlife?

Riga
Helsinki

Riga is a world-class destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Helsinki is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its evening party scene.

People head to Riga just to party. Despite being a small city, this capital has gained a reputation for its party atmosphere. The historic center comes to life in the evenings, particularly between Wednesdays and Saturdays. The area is compact enough that you can walk from club to club and prices are reasonable.

Helsinki has an active nightlife scene for those who seek it out. The nightlife scene is at its best on weekends when the city center comes to life with parties, dance clubs, and student activities. Many of the best clubs and bars are concentrated in the city center. Weekends are a bit calmer and things quiet down a lot.

Is Riga or Helsinki Better for its Old Town?

Riga
Helsinki

Riga is a very popular place for its old town. However, Helsinki does not have a historic old town.

Riga is an extremely popular place to visit the historic old town area. The old town is filled with cobblestone streets and charming architecture. The city is less touristy than many places in Europe so you can usually avoid the large crowds and enjoy a peaceful walk. During the evening you'll find the area turns into an entertainment district with many clubs and bars.

Helsinki does not have a historic old town.


Is the Shopping Better in Riga or Helsinki?

Riga
Helsinki

Both Riga and Helsinki are excellent shopping destinations.

Riga is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. Some of the most interesting shopping in the city is in the old town. Prices might be a little more expensive than you expect but it's possible to find some unique items. The city also has many markets, including the largest food market in Europe, which is a must-see.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Helsinki. The city is great for shopping, with many brands focused on sustainability. There are local boutiques as well as name brands. Flea markets and vintage shops are also popular.

Is Riga or Helsinki Better for Families?

Riga
Helsinki

Helsinki is notable for its family-friendly activities. Also, Riga is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Helsinki is a very kid-friendly city. The coastal setting offers many activities that kids and adults alike will enjoy. This capital city has a calm atmosphere with plenty of parkland to explore. The shoreline is dotted by islands where you'll also find a zoo and a fort. Kids will also enjoy exploring the islands by boat.

Riga is a family-friendly city. During the winter months, there are a number of museums that are fun to explore with kids including the Nature Museum, the Railroad Museum, the Aviation Technology Museum, and the Riga Firefighter Museum. There are also several indoor play areas. When the weather is warmer there are a number of outdoor parks and playgrounds to explore.

Is Riga or Helsinki Better for Couples?

Riga
Helsinki

Helsinki is notable for its romantic activities. Also, Riga is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for couples.

Helsinki is a very popular place to visit for couples. The city's many parks offer the perfect setting for a picnic or a walk. There are also botanical gardens, evening boat rides, and saunas that will help you enjoy a romantic trip away.

Riga is a good city for couples to visit. The city has a charming old town that you can explore, taking time to relax in the city squares or sip coffee at a cafe. There are also many nice restaurants that will make for a romantic date night.


Is Riga or Helsinki Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Riga
Helsinki

Riga is a world-class destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Helsinki is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for backpackers.

With so many budget-friendly offerings, Riga is extremely popular for backpackers. There are many affordable hostels around town as well as restaurants where you can grab a cheap meal. The city offers a great European experience at a fraction of the price of many cities.

Plenty of backpackers visit Helsinki. With its active nightlife scene, vibrant atmosphere, and inclusive personality, this city is a fun place for backpackers, but you should expect to pay a premium for the experience. Many backpackers avoid the city because they have heard how expensive it is. There are a few hostels around that will help you keep costs a bit more manageable.

Is Riga or Helsinki Better for Students?

Riga
Helsinki

Riga and Helsinki are both excellent destinations for students and younger travelers.

Riga is a very popular city for students and younger travelers. The city's affordability and vibrant atmosphere make it a great spot for international students. There are many places to hang out and a lively nightlife scene that appeals to young travelers.

Helsinki is very popular with students. The city has an active student life with plenty of culture and nature. It's active nightlife scene and beautiful natural areas make it a wonderful place to study.

Is Riga or Helsinki Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Riga
Helsinki

Both Riga and Helsinki offer excellent public transit options.

Riga has some very good public transit options. Transportation options include buses, trolleybuses, and trams.

The public transit in Helsinki can get you to most places easily. Transit options include bus, tram, metro, commuter train and ferry services.


Is Riga or Helsinki a more walkable city?

Riga
Helsinki

Riga is a very popular place for its high level of walkability. Also, Helsinki is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its ease of walking around.

Riga is a very walkable city. The city is small enough that most areas can be explored on foot.

Helsinki is a somewhat walkable city. Many neighborhoods are easy to explore on foot. The air is also clean and the setting is refreshing.

For even more information, also check out Is Riga Worth Visiting? and Is Helsinki Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Helsinki or Riga?

How long in Riga or Helsinki?

It's fun to spend time in either Riga or Helsinki. In our opinion, Riga has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Riga than Helsinki. However, 2-4 days is a good amount of time to spend in either destination.

Families should spend more time in Helsinki than Riga. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Helsinki, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Riga than Helsinki if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Riga.


  • How many days in Riga or Helsinki? Ideal Length of Stay
    Riga 2-4 
    Helsinki 2-4

One day in Riga or Helsinki?

The beautiful city of Riga offers food and shopping. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the destination of Helsinki. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

A weekend in Riga or Helsinki?

Riga is a popular place that is full of things to see and experience. If you have a weekend, this city makes for a great vacation. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Riga, a weekend is sufficent for most. Take your pick from the many activities offered here.

Helsinki is a fun place to experience. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. A weekend is often enough time to do most activities. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.


Five days in Riga or Helsinki?

Riga is a popular choice for travelers. It's no surprise that nightlife is why people visit. Five days is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the environmentally conscious destination of Helsinki. This city offers something for everyone. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

A week in Riga or Helsinki?

Riga is a great place to explore. It's no surprise that nightlife is why people visit. Visiting the old town is also a must. One week is more than enough time to enjoy everything. Take some day trips to nearby places to fill the extra days. This city offers something for everyone.

The nature-focused city of Helsinki offers nightlife and food. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Budget Tours to Finland, and The Best Tours for Seniors to Finland.


Which place is cheaper, Helsinki or Riga?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Riga is €104, while the average daily cost in Helsinki is €139. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Riga and Helsinki in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Riga 53
    Helsinki 73
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Riga 106
    Helsinki 146
Compare Hotels in Riga and Helsinki

Looking for a hotel in Riga or Helsinki? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Riga


Hotels in Helsinki


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Riga Hotel Prices and Helsinki Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Riga 15
    Helsinki 22

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Riga

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Riga:

  • Riga Private Mercedes Benz Airport Transfer: $140
  • Riga Private Mercedes Benz Airport Transfer: $109
  • Riga Gun Experience: Roundtrip Transfer and 4 Firearms: $97
  • Riga City to Riga Airport - Private Transfer: $53
  • Riga Airport: Bus Transfer to/from Klaipeda: $39
  • Riga Airport: Bus Transfer to/from Klaipeda: $39
  • Riga Airport to Riga City - Private Transfer: $53
  • Riga Airport to Hotel Transfer: $27
  • Riga Airport to City Center Private Transfers: $60
  • Riga Airport Transfer: $33
  • Riga - Tallin: Transfer and Tour through beautiful landmarks: $493
  • Private transfer Riga - Hill of Crosses - Riga: $105

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Helsinki

Also for Helsinki, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Helsinki Hotels to West Harbour Cruise Terminal - Deparure Private Transfer: $32
  • Helsinki West Harbour Terminal to Helsinki hotels - Arrival Private Transfer: $32
  • Private Transfer from Helsinki Airport (HEL) to Helsinki Port : $41
  • Helsinki Airport (HEL) to Helsinki West Terminal - Arrival Private Transfer: $41
  • Helsinki Airport (HEL) to Helsinki City hotels - Arrival Transfer: $42
  • Vantaa Airport (HEL) to Helsinki hotels-Arrival Private Transfer : $42
  • Departure Private Transfer from Helsinki City to Helsinki Port by business car: $45
  • Arrival Private Transfer from Helsinki Port to Helsinki City by luxury van: $57
  • Departure Private Transfer Helsinki City to Helsinki Airport HEL by business car: $58
  • Helsinki West Harbour Terminal to Helsinki hotels - Round-Trip Private Transfer: $64
  • Private Transfer from Helsinki City Hotels to Kotka Cruise Port: $65
  • Departure Private Transfer Helsinki City to Helsinki Airport HEL by luxury van: $69

Is it cheaper to fly into Riga or Helsinki?

Prices for flights to both Helsinki and Riga change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Riga 33
    Helsinki 34
Typical Food Prices in Riga

Some typical examples of dining costs in Riga are as follows:


  • Fast Food Lunch
    5.77

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Riga

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Riga.

  • Central Market Latvian Food Tour: $42
  • Unique Food Tour: $53
  • Medieval Guided Tour & Three-Course Dinner Experience: $98
  • Private Cooking Master Class In The Latvian Family : $132
  • Cooking Experience with Chef: Learn & Dine: $141

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Helsinki

For Helsinki, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • FOOD Tour with Rooftop Bar Visit in Helsinki: $107
  • Helsinki Food Tour Including Tastings: $166

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Riga 21
    Helsinki 27

Tours and Activities in Riga

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Riga are as follows:

  • 2 Hours Walking Tour in Legends and Secret of Riga's Old Town : $72
  • 2.5-Hour Riga Cruiser Bike Tour: $41
  • 3-Hour Private Paintball Game Experience in Zīles: $87
  • 5 Hour Shared Tour to Hill of Crosses from Riga: $83
  • ATV Quad Off Road or City Tour in Riga: $143
  • Beer Bike Experience : $36
  • Best of Riga Walking Tour: $183
  • Best of Riga Walking Tour - Highlights and Hidden Gems: $66
  • Crafted Cocktails: A Masterclass Experience: $81
  • Daily Bike Tour in Riga with Professional Guide: $44
  • Explore Riga's Art Nouveau District & Medical Museum Tour: $27
  • Explore Riga's Old Town on a Bubbly Bike Tour: $49

Tours and Activities in Helsinki

For Helsinki, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • Tip-Based City Highlights Guided Walking Tour: $2.17
  • First Discovery Walk and Reading Walking Tour: $3.25
  • Tip-based Free Walking Tour Helsinki - RED UMBRELLA TOURS: $3.31
  • Escape Game and Tour: $7.04
  • Helsinki Highlights Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt and City Tour: $7.04
  • Temppeliaukio Church Entrance Ticket: $8.67
  • From Round-Trip Ferry Ticket to Suomenlinna: $8.76
  • Suomenlinna Museum Ticket: $9.75
  • Historical Highlights Self-Guided Audio Tour: $9.99
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: $11
  • Self-Guided City Highlights Audio Tour: $14
  • 4D Flying Cinema Tour of Helsinki Tickets: $14

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Riga 20
    Helsinki 16

Sample the Local Flavors in Riga

Also in Riga, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Old town pub & bar crawl, hidden gems, and local party: $20
  • Pub Crawl in Riga: $33
  • Riga Pub Crawl Nightlife Experience: $35
  • Riga's Old Town Beer Bike Tour & Guided Pub Crawl: $38
  • Riga Happy Hour Pub Crawl: $54
  • Riga Beer Killer Bar Crawl: $55
  • Riga Brewery Tour: $71
  • Riga Wine Tasting Session: $104
  • Riga Pub Crawl & Party Bus Tour: $530
  • Yacht Tour with Medieval Banquet and Wine Tasting: $3,364


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Riga and Helsinki, we can see that Helsinki is more expensive. And not only is Riga much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Riga would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Riga and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Helsinki would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Helsinki than you might in Riga.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Riga Expensive? and Is Helsinki Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Riga or Helsinki?

Riga has a larger population, and is about 33% larger than the population of Helsinki. When comparing the sizes of Riga and Helsinki, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.


When is the best time to visit Riga or Helsinki?

Both places have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. As both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Riga or Helsinki in the Summer?

Both Helsinki and Riga during the summer are popular places to visit. Many visitors come to Riga in the summer for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences. Furthermore, most visitors come to Helsinki for the family-friendly experiences during these months.

Riga is around the same temperature as Helsinki in the summer. The daily temperature in Riga averages around 17°C (63°F) in July, and Helsinki fluctuates around 17°C (62°F).

Riga usually gets more rain in July than Helsinki. Riga gets 79 mm (3.1 in) of rain, while Helsinki receives 58 mm (2.3 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Riga 17°C (63°F) 
    Helsinki 17°C (62°F)

Should I visit Riga or Helsinki in the Autumn?

The autumn attracts plenty of travelers to both Riga and Helsinki. Most visitors come to Riga for the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area during these months. Furthermore, the autumn months attract visitors to Helsinki because of the shopping scene and the natural beauty of the area.

In the autumn, Riga is a little warmer than Helsinki. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Riga in October average around 7°C (45°F), and Helsinki averages at about 6°C (42°F).

In October, Riga usually receives less rain than Helsinki. Riga gets 60 mm (2.4 in) of rain, while Helsinki receives 71 mm (2.8 in) of rain each month for the autumn.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Riga 7°C (45°F) 
    Helsinki 6°C (42°F)

Should I visit Riga or Helsinki in the Winter?

The winter brings many poeple to Riga as well as Helsinki. The winter months attract visitors to Riga because of the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine. Additionally, the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Helsinki this time of year.

It's quite cold in Helsinki in the winter. The weather in Riga can be very cold. In January, Riga is generally a little warmer than Helsinki. Daily temperatures in Riga average around -5°C (23°F), and Helsinki fluctuates around -6°C (21°F).

Riga usually gets less rain in January than Helsinki. Riga gets 33 mm (1.3 in) of rain, while Helsinki receives 40 mm (1.6 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Riga -5°C (23°F) 
    Helsinki -6°C (21°F)

Should I visit Riga or Helsinki in the Spring?

Both Helsinki and Riga are popular destinations to visit in the spring with plenty of activities. The activities around the city and the natural beauty are the main draw to Riga this time of year. Also, many travelers come to Helsinki for the natural beauty.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Helsinki. Riga is much warmer than Helsinki in the spring. The daily temperature in Riga averages around 5°C (42°F) in April, and Helsinki fluctuates around 3°C (37°F).

In April, Riga usually receives around the same amount of rain as Helsinki. Riga gets 39 mm (1.5 in) of rain, while Helsinki receives 41 mm (1.6 in) of rain each month for the spring.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Riga 5°C (42°F) 
    Helsinki 3°C (37°F)

Typical Weather for Helsinki and Riga

Riga Helsinki
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan -5°C (23°F) 33 mm (1.3 in) -6°C (21°F) 40 mm (1.6 in)
Feb -4°C (24°F) 25 mm (1 in) -7°C (20°F) 31 mm (1.2 in)
Mar -0°C (31°F) 31 mm (1.2 in) -3°C (27°F) 34 mm (1.4 in)
Apr 5°C (42°F) 39 mm (1.5 in) 3°C (37°F) 41 mm (1.6 in)
May 12°C (53°F) 43 mm (1.7 in) 9°C (49°F) 31 mm (1.2 in)
Jun 15°C (60°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 15°C (59°F) 40 mm (1.6 in)
Jul 17°C (63°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 17°C (62°F) 58 mm (2.3 in)
Aug 16°C (62°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 16°C (60°F) 72 mm (2.8 in)
Sep 12°C (54°F) 76 mm (3 in) 11°C (51°F) 74 mm (2.9 in)
Oct 7°C (45°F) 60 mm (2.4 in) 6°C (42°F) 71 mm (2.8 in)
Nov 2°C (36°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 1°C (33°F) 70 mm (2.8 in)
Dec -2°C (28°F) 49 mm (1.9 in) -4°C (26°F) 58 mm (2.3 in)