I'm traveling to Riga in November and would like to hire a local guide or join a group walking tour on at least one of the days I'm there. I'm interested in architecture, art, and history (including Jewish history). Any recommendations?
My husband and I were in Riga in September. We toured for two days with Santa Ogrina from Riga-Sightseeing.com. One day in Riga and the other to Bikernieki Forest and Jurmala. She is a superb guide, very knowledgeable and easy to be with. She easily adjusted our schedule when I wanted to visit a different site or we were tired. She also suggested wonderful, local restaurants and helped with the reservations. She was everything we want in a guide. We would return to Riga just to see her again. She also arranged a driver to take us to Vilnius, with stops along the way, and suggested a great guide for Vilnius.
Her email is book@Riga-Sightseeing.com.
I used Santa for 2 days in July. I agree with Ellen. She is an excellent guide, and prices are very reasonable. I would highly, highly recommend her.
Thanks! For some reason, I didn't get your replies by email and happened to find Santa on my own. I did an Art Nouveau architecture tour with her, which I liked very much. Unfortunately, I found her on a website other than the one mentioned here and she charged me twice the price. She did go longer than the estimated time and was working on the country's 100th birthday when others were celebrating, so I can't complain.
Hi, Ellen. I did the art nouveau tour with Santa, too, and very much enjoyed it. I'm glad you enjoyed your time with Santa. Websites like Tours by Locals and Viator charge the guides substantial finder's fees, which get passed on to the customer. Here are a few strategies for finding guides on their own websites...
Trip Advisor recently changed the layout of its website, prioritizing selling tours over giving meaningful info about guides/tour companies. It's a bit of a task now to find the private guide ratings and their personal websites. For private tours, search for "Things to Do" in the city you want. Do NOT click on "Tours and Tickets" on the resulting page -- this is just for selling things. Instead, scroll to the bottom of the page. Find "Types of Things to Do in [city]." Click on "Tours" under that heading. On the Tours page, go to the column on the left and check the "Private Tours" box. Scroll to the bottom of the resulting page, and you will see the actual private tour operators. You can generally click on their names and there will be a website where you can reach them directly.
Tours by Locals gives first name and last initial of the guide. I will sometimes look up a city there, find a guide, and google the name + "guide" + the city. Googling "Sant O guide Riga" yields her Tours by Locals website, some Trip Advisor reviews of people who did tours with Santa, and Santa's business website. The more unique the guide's name, the more successful the search.
Rick Steves usually has recommended local guides in his books. I've used his recommendations twice. One was amazingly awesome (Leipzig); one was one was marginal at best (no warmth, no enthusiasm for her topic, ended a scheduled 3-hour tour at 2 hours).