I had an amazing time taking a Segway tour in Riga. Here are 5 reasons why you should too!
Riga, the Latvian capital, is now officially one of my favourite destinations. I fell in love with Riga more or less on the day I arrived there for the first time.
I was pretty tired, my bus from Estonia was running late and as we approached the city it started raining quite heavily. But none of that mattered – I felt right away that I was going to love this place.
I spent the next few days exploring Riga, walking the city streets and discovering its beauty. Browsing flyers at the tourist information centre, I came across the BicycleRental Segway tour and thought it would be a perfect introduction to this city that I was growing so fond of.
What is this Segway thing anyway?
If you’ve never encountered a Segway, here’s what it’s all about. The Segway is an intelligent two-wheeled vehicle powered by an electric battery. What’s unique about it is that it follows your body movements.
Lean forward – and the Segway moves forward. Lean a little bit backwards and it stops. Same with going left and right and turning around.
Watch this little clip to see what it looks like:
Why take a Segway tour? Here are 5 reasons to take the Segway tour in Riga
1. Riga is just wonderful for a Segway tour
Riga is wonderful in general, not just for a Segway tour. But let’s focus on that for a moment. I’ve seen people on Segways in just about every city I’ve been to, and must say that in some it’s pretty annoying for you as a pedestrian where the central square is full of them (memories of Prague come to mind).
In other cities that are larger, I can’t imagine how you can cover enough of the attractions in one tour, and you’d probably have to take several tours of different parts of the city.
As for Riga – its size is a great advantage. It’s simply not too big and not too small. It has an enchanting old town, and once you leave it you reach the canal and the park around it and then the lovely city centre. None of these is overly busy. Even in the old town that’s quite touristy, you still get a sense of space. And space is important when you’re riding a Segway!
2. One of a kind experience
One of the anecdotes our guide told us before the tour started was about her oldest customer to date: an 83 year old man who decided to take a Segway tour simply because it was an experience he didn’t want to miss!
Though it’s been on my wishlist for years, this was my first ever Segway tour, and the first time I ever rode a Segway in my life.
Riding a Segway really is unlike any other experience I’ve ever had. I’m a cyclist and love my bike, but this is something else.
Time flies when you’re having fun, and that’s definitely one thing that I felt very strongly during the tour. The tour was 1.5 hours long and felt much shorter, or rather – left me wanting more.
3. See more in less time
Do you know those parts of a walking tour when you move from one point of interest to the next? Those bits when you follow the guide in silence, or if you’re lucky, chat with some other friendly tourists on the tour.
As much as I love walking tour (and have been on many!), it’s a bit boring when you have to cover some distance without any stories or insights from the guide.
The Segway tour is designed differently. There’s no time wasted. You hear the guide speak throughout the tour, thanks to a headset you receive at the start of the tour. Put the headphones underneath your helmet, adjust the volume, and listen to your guide speak.
It would be very difficult to run this kind of tour otherwise, as participants ride in a row and so there might be quite a distance between you and the guide in a group tour. I used my own earphones and you can do the same if you have yours with you, otherwise you’ll be provided with headphones.
Riding around the city this way allows you to see all the highlights and a bit extra, while listening to descriptions and explanations all along.
We did make a couple of stops on the tour, once to rest our feet (it’s a weird position to hold for very long if you’re not used to it) and other times to look at specific buildings. But the flow of the tour is never interrupted – you get to see a lot of the city, its different parts, the old town, the city centre and some urban nature – while sliding easily from one spot to the next.
We saw the city’s monuments, some main museums, the canal and the park, some impressive architectural gems and of course – rode around the old town with its various tourist attractions.
The guide told us the history of the city and many local anecdotes and pointed out anything worth noticing.
Some tourists come to Riga just for 2-3 days (though I think it deserves at least a week!). If you don’t have much time to spend in the city, a Segway tour will definitely save you time. You’ll also get some ideas and recommendations on what more to see during the rest of your visit.
4. Great guidance
On a Segway tour, you want a professional guide that you can trust. But that isn’t enough. They also have to make the tour interesting! When you’re concentrating on operating this new vehicle, while at the same time listening to stories about the city and looking around, having a good guide is crucial.
After going on so many guided walking tours on my trips all over Europe and Australia, I have high expectations from a tour guide. I’ve see many different guiding styles. All guides are usually knowledgeable, that’s hardly ever an issue, but the question is how do they pass on that knowledge.
There are the ones who just recite facts without any enthusiasm in their voice, as if they’re reading from an encyclopedia. Those are the tours you want to quit within the first 10 minutes… And then there are the ones who really know how to engage an audience.
Our guide, Ilze, was a professional tour guide and it was quite obvious that she really enjoyed her work! Not only was she enthusiastic and engaging, but she was also truly attentive and very friendly and gave us all a great feeling during the tour.
Apart from telling us the story of the city in an interesting way, she took care to see everyone was riding safely. She gave us very detailed instructions on how to tackle any tricky obstacles like roadworks, and generally was very good at inspiring confidence in us.
5. It’s easier than it looks
As it was my first ever Segway experience, the first minute or so was very weird. I felt a bit nervous. How do I get onto the Segway without making it move? What do I do if it just starts going down the street and I can’t control it?
About 5 minutes later I was riding up and down the street like a pro! Yes, it’s not hard to ride a Segway.
The staff at BicycleRental were super professional and you could easily see they were experienced in instructing new riders.
Before the tour, we did a short orientation, with clear instructions from Gints, the owner, and Ilze, our guide. Everybody in the group got to take a little test ride on a small side street and we didn’t leave for the tour until everyone felt comfortable.
The training doesn’t last long, but just enough time to make sure everything is clear. They pay a lot of attention to safety instructions. You’ll be given a helmet and a safety vest and everything is explained slowly and in simple terms.
As we started the tour, we were going quite slowly at first. That’s partly because of the cobblestone streets and partly so that we could get used to riding in the city, among people, bicycles and cars. We were riding in a row behind the guide who made sure everyone was safe.
Later on, we went a bit faster as we started to feel more confident. It happens naturally and it really is quite easy and intuitive. You start to feel you’re in control fairly quickly and it frees you to look around, see the sights and listen to the guide’s stories.
I highly recommend this experience to anyone visiting Riga. I was riding with a smile on my face and once the tour ended all I wanted to do was go on another one!
Find all the details you need about the tours on BicycleRental’s website (also in English). There’s a 10% discount when you book in advance on the site.
If you already know how to ride a Segway, or want to learn and ride it yourself, you can also rent one and go around the city. without a guide. I personally loved the guided tour experience, so it’s up to you and your travel style.
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I’d like to thank BicycleRental for inviting me on the Segway Tour. All opinions are mine.