A Travel Price Comparison for Families, Couples, and Backpackers Riga vs. Zurich for Nightlife, Old Town, Backpackers, and Attractions

Should you visit Riga or Zurich?

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

Should I visit Riga or Zurich? 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 high energy, off-the-beaten-path, and charming 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. And you can't forget about the nightlife, food, and shopping.

Zurich

Zurich is a beautiful, historic, and liberal city. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. And you can't forget about the food, shopping, and museums.

Riga and Zurich: Pros and Cons

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


Is there more to do in Riga or Zurich?

You'll generally find more things to do in Riga than Zurich. Riga is bigger than Zurich, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Riga is better known for its nightlife and big city activities, while Zurich is more popular for its music, historical sights, and shopping. Zurich is more touristy than Riga and is known for its beautiful setting on Lake Zurich as well as its cafes, restaurants, and high prices. 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 Zurich?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Zurich 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 Zurich?

Riga
Zurich

Plenty of people visit the superb sights and museums in both Riga and Zurich.

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 Zurich specifically to visit some of its top-rated museums and other sights. Make sure you check out the Museum of Fine Arts, the Fraum√ľnster, as well as the Swiss National Museum.


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

Riga
Zurich

Both Riga and Zurich offer a number of superb restaurants to choose from.

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Riga. 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.

Zurich has a number of nationally recognized food spots and restaurants. Many restaurants have a strong German influence, but you'll also find traditional Swiss dishes such as cheese and chocolate fondue. There are also several Michelin star restaurants in town.

Is Riga or Zurich Better for Nightlife?

Riga
Zurich

Riga is a must-visit destination for nightlife and partying. Also, Zurich is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its evening party scene.

Riga is a world class party destination. 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.

Zurich has a large number of nightlife venues. The city has some of the best nightlife in Switzerland. There are a high concentration of bars and clubs around town, or you could check out one of the badis, which are pools that also act as bars during the summer months. They're usually located by the lake.

Is Riga or Zurich Better for Music?

Riga
Zurich

Zurich is notable for its live music scene. However, Riga is not a live music destination.

If you love music, you'll find something to enjoy in Zurich. There are many nightclubs that offer a variety of music types including electronic music, rock, and even reggae.

Riga is not a live music destination.


Is Riga or Zurich Better for its Old Town?

Riga
Zurich

Zurich is a must-visit destination for its old town. Also, Riga is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its historic old town charm.

The rich history of Zurich can be explored in its historical center. The city has an old town that is split into two parts on each side of the Limmat River. The historic districts are filled with churches, squares, and charming areas that are fun to explore. Walking tours are the best way to explore the old town.

There is a nice variety of sights in the old town of Riga. 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.

Is the Shopping Better in Riga or Zurich?

Riga
Zurich

Zurich is a must-visit destination for its shopping opportunities. Also, Riga is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its shopping areas.

The abundance of shops in Zurich make it a world-class shopping destination. Visitors often buy chocolate, watches, and jewelry in this city. You'll find brand names and luxury items that are of high quality. Each neighborhood has its own character with stores ranging from traditional to international.

Many visitors explore the shopping areas in Riga. 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.

Is Riga or Zurich Better for Families?

Riga
Zurich

Zurich 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.

Zurich is a very kid-friendly city. It's a surprisingly mellow city with a relaxing vibe that makes it easy to explore with kids. Popular family-friendly activities include swimming in the Limmat River, sailing on Lake Zurich, and visiting Josefwiese park, which has a large playground.

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 Zurich Better for Couples?

Riga
Zurich

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

Zurich is a very popular place to visit for couples. One of the most romantic experiences you can have in town is visiting the Zurich Thermal Baths and Spa. There's an outdoor rooftop thermal pool as well as many ways that you can pamper yourselves.

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 Zurich Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Riga
Zurich

Riga is a must-visit destination for backpackers. Also, Zurich is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for backpackers and budget travelers.

Backpackers and budget travelers come from all over the world to visit Riga. 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 budget travelers visit Zurich. The city has a number of hostels to choose from, but, like most of Switzerland, the city is expensive in general.

Is Riga or Zurich Better for Students?

Riga
Zurich

Zurich is a must-visit destination for students. Also, Riga is not as famous, but is still a good city to visit for its student-friendly activities.

Many students frequent Zurich. The city offers a number of unique experiences for international students. The academics are good and the university campuses are nice.

Riga is very popular with students. 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.


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

Riga
Zurich

Both Riga and Zurich offer superb public transit options.

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

The public transit in Zurich can get you to most places easily. The system is made up of streetcars and buses.

Is Riga or Zurich a more walkable city?

Riga
Zurich

Riga and Zurich both are superb when exploring on foot.

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

Zurich is a very walkable destination. There are paths that lead along the rivers and the lake connecting the old town areas to other parts of the city.

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

Should I spend more time in Zurich or Riga?

How long in Riga or Zurich?

In either Riga or Zurich, you'll find plenty of activities to fill your time. Most visitors tend to spend more time in Zurich than Riga because of the overall number of sights and activities. Usually, 2-4 days is a good amount of time for Riga, and 2-5 days is enough time in Zurich.

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

Couples should spend more time in Zurich than Riga. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Zurich that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Riga than Zurich 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 Zurich? Ideal Length of Stay
    Riga 2-4 
    Zurich 2-5

One day in Riga or Zurich?

Many travelers enjoy the museums and nightlife when visiting the destination of Riga. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

Visitors enjoy the nightlife and live music when visiting the destination of Zurich. Visiting the old town is also a must. 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 Zurich?

Riga is a great place to explore. It is common to spend a weekend here. Don't miss the nightlife, as that's what most people do. With all of its activities, you can easily fill a weekend here. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

Zurich is a fun place to experience. Most people visit for the shopping. If you have a weekend, this is a great place to go. The old town is one of the main draws for visitors. 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 Zurich?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Riga. Don't miss the nightlife, as that's what most people do. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Visitors enjoy the food and shopping when visiting the beautiful destination of Zurich. This city offers something for everyone. Exploring the old town is a popular activity. Plenty of people spend five days in the area when traveling. Five days is often enough time to do most activities.

A week in Riga or Zurich?

Travelers enjoy the shopping and museums when visiting the off-the-beaten-path destination of Riga. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Most visitors spend time around the old town while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

The historic city of Zurich offers shopping and museums. Make sure you visit the old town while you're here. 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 Sightseeing Tours in Switzerland, and The Best Romantic Tours for Couples in Switzerland.


Which place is cheaper, Zurich 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 Zurich is €251. 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 Zurich in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Riga 53
    Zurich 159
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Riga 106
    Zurich 318
Compare Hotels in Riga and Zurich

Looking for a hotel in Riga or Zurich? 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 Zurich


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 Zurich Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Riga 15
    Zurich 33

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Riga

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Riga:

  • Private Transfer from Riga Airport (RIX) to Riga Cruise Port: $26
  • Riga Airport to Hotel Transfer: $27
  • Private Transfer from Riga City Center to Riga Airport RIX: $31
  • Riga Airport Transfer: $33
  • Riga Airport: Bus Transfer to/from Klaipeda: $38
  • Riga Airport: Bus Transfer to/from Klaipeda: $38
  • Private Transfer From Riga City Center To Riga Airport: $43
  • Riga City to Riga Airport - Private Transfer: $52
  • Riga Airport to Riga City - Private Transfer: $52
  • Private Transfer from Riga Airport to Hotel with English speaking driver: $53
  • Riga Airport to City Center Private Transfers: $59
  • Private Transfer from Riga City to Riga Airport RIX by Car or Van: $69

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Zurich

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Zurich:


  • City Pass (2)
    27

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Zurich

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Zurich:

  • Zurich Airport (ZRH) to Zurich - Arrival Private Transfer: $41
  • Private Transfer From Hotel To Zurich Airport or Vice Versa: $56
  • Noumea Cruise Port to Noumea hotels - Arrival Private Transfer : $71
  • Private Transfer from Zurich Airport (ZRH) to Zurich City Center: $76
  • Private Transfer: Zurich Airport ZRH to Zurich in Business Car: $82
  • Private Transfer From Hotel in Zurich To Zurich Airport: $88
  • Private Transfer From Zurich Airport To Hotel in Zurich: $88
  • Private Zurich Transfer: $90
  • Private Transfer: Zurich Airport ZRH to Zurich in Luxury Van: $91
  • Private Transfer: Zurich to Zurich Airport ZRH in Luxury Van: $91
  • Departure Transfer: Zurich to Zurich Airport ZRH in Luxury Van: $91
  • Arrival Transfer: Zurich Airport ZRH to Zurich in Luxury Van: $91

Is it cheaper to fly into Riga or Zurich?

Prices for flights to both Zurich 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
    Zurich 58
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: $52
  • Medieval Guided Tour & Three-Course Dinner Experience: $96
  • Medieval Dinner on the 12th Century at Rozengrals: $118
  • Private Cooking Master Class In The Latvian Family : $130
  • Cooking Experience with Chef: Learn & Dine: $139
  • Latvian Food: Cooking Masterclass with a Chef: $151

Typical Food Prices in Zurich

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


  • Breakfast for 2
    13

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Riga 21
    Zurich 33

Tours and Activities in Riga

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

  • First Discovery Walk and Reading Walking Tour: $3.20
  • City Exploration Game and Tour on your Phone: $6.38
  • City Exploration Game and Tour: $6.39
  • Self-Guided Highlights Scavenger Hunt & Walking Tour: $6.93
  • Riga Old Town Legends Audio Tour on Your Phone (ENG): $7.39
  • Entrance Ticket - House of the Black Heads: $7.46
  • Complete Self-guided Audio Tour on your Phone: $8.42
  • Riga Self-Guided Audio Tour: $9.00
  • Boat tour in Canal and Daugava: $9.59
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: $11
  • Riga Nightlife Ticket: $11
  • Canal Boat Sightseeing Tour: $13

Tours and Activities in Zurich

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

  • First Discovery Walk and Reading Walking Tour: $3.20
  • Zurich in the Mirror of the Past: Self-Guided Reading Tour: $5.49
  • City Exploration Game and Tour on your Phone: $6.34
  • Escape Game and Tour: $6.39
  • Zurich Highlights Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt and Tour: $6.39
  • Fun adventure tour of Outdoor Escape Game: $8.51
  • Self-Guided Audio Tour: $11
  • The Dark Side of Self-Guided Audio City Tour: $11
  • Zürich: Swiss Finance Museum Admission Ticket: $11
  • Zurich in the Mirror of the Past: Self-Guided Audio Tour: $11
  • Highlights Walking Tour with a Local Guide: $14
  • Zurich Old Town Walking Tour: 2-Hours: $14

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Riga 20
    Zurich 27

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: $15
  • Riga Pub Crawl Nightlife Experience: $17
  • Riga Evening Adventure: Pub Crawl & Games Night: $37
  • Riga's Old Town Beer Bike Tour & Guided Pub Crawl: $37
  • Riga Happy Hour Pub Crawl: $53
  • Riga Beer Killer Bar Crawl: $54
  • Latvian Wine Tasting & Monk Show: $75
  • Old Town Sightseeing & Latvian Wine Tasting with Show: $96
  • Riga Wine Tasting Session: $102
  • Riga Pub Crawl & Party Bus Tour: $521
  • Yacht Tour with Medieval Banquet and Wine Tasting: $3,308

Sample the Local Flavors in Zurich

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

  • Pub Crawl Nightlife Tour with Shots and Snacks: $31
  • eTukTuk Hot Stone BBQ and Wine Tour Zürich: $129
  • Informative wine tasting with Italian appetizers in the secure wine cellar: $156


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Riga and Zurich, we can see that Zurich 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 Zurich would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Zurich 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 Zurich Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Riga or Zurich?

Riga has a larger population, and is about 2 times larger than the population of Zurich. When comparing the sizes of Riga and Zurich, 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 Zurich?

Both destinations experience a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. And since both cities are in the northern hemisphere, summer is in July and winter is in January.

Should I visit Riga or Zurich in the Summer?

Both Zurich and Riga are popular destinations to visit in the summer with plenty of activities. Most visitors come to Riga for the city activities and the family-friendly experiences during these months. Also, the summer months attract visitors to Zurich because of the music scene and the family-friendly experiences.

Riga is cooler than Zurich in the summer. The daily temperature in Riga averages around 17°C (63°F) in July, and Zurich fluctuates around 21°C (70°F).

In July, Riga usually receives less rain than Zurich. Riga gets 79 mm (3.1 in) of rain, while Zurich receives 89 mm (3.5 in) of rain each month for the summer.


  • Summer Average Temperatures July
    Riga 17°C (63°F) 
    Zurich 21°C (70°F)

Should I visit Riga or Zurich in the Autumn?

Both Zurich and Riga during the autumn are popular places to visit. The autumn months attract visitors to Riga because of the city's sights and attractions, the shopping scene, and the natural beauty of the area. Furthermore, the shopping scene, the music scene, and the natural beauty of the area are the main draw to Zurich this time of year.

In the autumn, Riga is much colder than Zurich. Typically, the autumn temperatures in Riga in October average around 7°C (45°F), and Zurich averages at about 13°C (56°F).

Riga usually gets less rain in October than Zurich. Riga gets 60 mm (2.4 in) of rain, while Zurich receives 70 mm (2.8 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Autumn Average Temperatures October
    Riga 7°C (45°F) 
    Zurich 13°C (56°F)

Should I visit Riga or Zurich in the Winter?

The winter attracts plenty of travelers to both Riga and Zurich. The museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine are the main draw to Riga this time of year. Furthermore, many travelers come to Zurich for the museums, the shopping scene, and the cuisine.

Be prepared for some very cold days in Zurich. It's quite cold in Riga in the winter. In January, Riga is generally much colder than Zurich. Daily temperatures in Riga average around -5°C (23°F), and Zurich fluctuates around 3°C (37°F).

In January, Riga usually receives less rain than Zurich. Riga gets 33 mm (1.3 in) of rain, while Zurich receives 77 mm (3 in) of rain each month for the winter.


  • Winter Average Temperatures January
    Riga -5°C (23°F) 
    Zurich 3°C (37°F)

Should I visit Riga or Zurich in the Spring?

The spring brings many poeple to Riga as well as Zurich. Many travelers come to Riga for the activities around the city and the natural beauty. Additionally, many visitors come to Zurich in the spring for the natural beauty.

Riga is much colder than Zurich in the spring. The daily temperature in Riga averages around 5°C (42°F) in April, and Zurich fluctuates around 12°C (53°F).

Riga usually gets less rain in April than Zurich. Riga gets 39 mm (1.5 in) of rain, while Zurich receives 79 mm (3.1 in) of rain this time of the year.


  • Spring Average Temperatures April
    Riga 5°C (42°F) 
    Zurich 12°C (53°F)

Typical Weather for Zurich and Riga

Riga Zurich
Temp (°C) Rain (mm) Temp (°C) Rain (mm)
Jan -5°C (23°F) 33 mm (1.3 in) 3°C (37°F) 77 mm (3 in)
Feb -4°C (24°F) 25 mm (1 in) 5°C (40°F) 70 mm (2.8 in)
Mar -0°C (31°F) 31 mm (1.2 in) 8°C (46°F) 72 mm (2.8 in)
Apr 5°C (42°F) 39 mm (1.5 in) 12°C (53°F) 79 mm (3.1 in)
May 12°C (53°F) 43 mm (1.7 in) 16°C (60°F) 101 mm (4 in)
Jun 15°C (60°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 19°C (66°F) 100 mm (3.9 in)
Jul 17°C (63°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 21°C (70°F) 89 mm (3.5 in)
Aug 16°C (62°F) 79 mm (3.1 in) 21°C (69°F) 104 mm (4.1 in)
Sep 12°C (54°F) 76 mm (3 in) 18°C (64°F) 79 mm (3.1 in)
Oct 7°C (45°F) 60 mm (2.4 in) 13°C (56°F) 70 mm (2.8 in)
Nov 2°C (36°F) 61 mm (2.4 in) 7°C (45°F) 82 mm (3.2 in)
Dec -2°C (28°F) 49 mm (1.9 in) 4°C (39°F) 83 mm (3.3 in)