Riga - the capital of Latvia in the winter
Riga - the capital of Latvia in the winter

Riga

The capital of Latvia in the winter

LATVIA

Europe

Latvia Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Riga

Location:

Eastern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Estonia and Lithuania

Currency:

euros (EUR)

Area:

64,589 sq km

Population:

1,862,687 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Latvian (official) 56.3%, Russian 33.8%, other 0.6% (includes Polish, Ukrainian, and Belarusian), unspecified 9.4%; note - data represent language usually spoken at home (2011 est.)

Religion:

Lutheran 36.2%, Roman Catholic 19.5%, Orthodox 19.1%, other Christian 1.6%, other 0.1%, unspecified/none 23.5% (2017 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+2

Tel Code:

+371

Weather

Climate

Latvia has a temperate climate, with four distinct seasons. The summers are warm with long days, while the winters are cold with short days. The warmest months are June to August, with temperatures averaging around 20°C (68°F). The coldest months are December to February, with temperatures averaging around -5°C (23°F).

Best Time to Visit

The best time to visit Latvia is in the summer, from June to August, when the weather is warm and pleasant, and the days are long. During this time, visitors can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and swimming. The winter season, from December to February, can be quite cold and snowy, and visitors should come prepared for the weather if they plan to visit during this time. Spring and autumn have mild temperatures and can be a good time to visit if you want to avoid the summer crowds.

Transportation

Latvia offers a variety of transportation options for visitors to choose from, including air, train, bus, and car rental.

Air

Riga International Airport is the main airport in Latvia and offers flights to destinations across Europe and beyond. Visitors can fly to Riga from major cities in Europe, as well as from other parts of the world.

Train

Latvia has a well-developed train network connecting the major cities and towns. Visitors can take the train to travel between Riga and other major cities such as Daugavpils, Liepaja, and Sigulda. Train travel is a convenient and comfortable way to explore Latvia.

Bus

Latvia also has a well-developed bus network, connecting major cities and towns. Buses run frequently and are a good option for budget-conscious travelers. They are also a good option for reaching small towns and villages that are not served by train.

Car Rental

Car rental is a popular option for visitors who want to explore Latvia at their own pace. Visitors can rent a car at Riga International Airport or in major cities such as Riga and Jurmala. Visitors should be aware that some rural roads may be in poor condition and some areas may have limited access.

Taxis

Taxis are widely available in Latvia, and can be hailed on the street or ordered by phone. Visitors should be aware that prices can vary greatly depending on the time of day and location, and it's recommended to agree on the fare with the driver before starting the trip.

Bicycles

Bicycling is a popular way to explore Latvia and many cities have bike rental services. It's a good way to explore the small towns, countryside and national parks.

Given the variety of options, visitors should plan ahead and consider factors such as cost, convenience, and accessibility when choosing a mode of transportation.

Accommodation

Latvia offers a variety of accommodation options for visitors to choose from, including hotels, guesthouses, and apartments.

Hotels

Latvia has a wide range of hotels, from budget-friendly options to luxury resorts. Visitors can find hotels in major cities such as Riga and Jurmala, as well as in smaller towns and villages. Many hotels also offer additional amenities such as spas, restaurants, and fitness centers.

Guesthouses

Guesthouses are a popular option for visitors looking for a more authentic and local experience. These accommodations are usually family-run and offer a cozy and comfortable atmosphere. Guesthouses are widely available across Latvia, especially in the countryside and small towns.

Apartments

Apartments are also a popular option for visitors. Visitors can rent apartments in major cities such as Riga and Jurmala, as well as in smaller towns and villages. Some apartments offer additional amenities such as kitchenettes, making them a great option for longer stays or for families.

Hostels

Hostels are another popular and budget-friendly option for visitors, with many hostels located in major cities such as Riga and Jurmala, as well as in smaller towns and villages. They offer dormitory style accommodation and shared facilities.

Campsites

Latvia also has a number of campsites, which are located in the countryside and offer visitors the opportunity to camp among beautiful natural landscapes. They offer basic facilities, such as toilets and showers, and many have areas for campfires or barbecues.

It's worth noting that the availability and standards of the above-mentioned options can change, so it's better to inquire in advance and make your bookings accordingly.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Latvia Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Latvia is a small country located in Northern Europe, which offers a unique blend of natural beauty, rich history and culture. With its beautiful forests, charming towns, and picturesque coastline, Latvia is a great destination for travelers looking for an off-the-beaten-path experience. Here are some of the top things to do in Latvia:

      1. Explore Riga Old Town

      Riga Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved medieval towns in Europe. Visitors can stroll through the charming streets, admire the colorful architecture, and visit the many museums and art galleries.

      2. Visit Riga Castle

      The Riga Castle is a beautiful medieval fortress that sits on the banks of the Daugava River. Visitors can take a tour of the castle and learn about Latvia's history, art, and culture.

      3. Explore the Latvian countryside

      Latvia is known for its beautiful natural landscapes, and visitors can explore the countryside by hiking, biking, or horseback riding. Some popular spots include the Gauja National Park, which is home to many hiking trails and the Rundāle Palace, a Baroque palace located in the countryside.

      4. Take a Boat trip on the Daugava River

      The Daugava River is one of the most important waterways in Latvia and offers a great way to explore the country's natural beauty. Visitors can take a boat trip on the river and admire the stunning landscapes, including the famous sand dunes.

      5. Visit the Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum

      The Latvian Ethnographic Open-Air Museum is an open-air museum that showcases traditional Latvian folk architecture, including farmhouses, windmills, and churches, from different regions of Latvia.

      6. Visit Jūrmala beach

      Jūrmala is a popular beach town located on the Latvian coast and is known for its beautiful white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can relax on the beach, swim in the sea, and enjoy the local seafood.

      7. Visit Sigulda Castle

      The Sigulda Castle is a beautiful medieval castle located in the Gauja National Park. Visitors can take a tour of the castle and learn about the history of the castle and the surrounding area.

      8. Visit Liepaja beach

      Liepaja is a popular beach town located on the Latvian coast and is known for its beautiful white-sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Visitors can relax on the beach, swim in the sea, and enjoy the local seafood.

      9. Visit Riga Central Market

      The Riga Central Market is one of the largest markets in Europe, and visitors can find a wide range of Latvian products such as fresh produce, meat, fish, and handicrafts.

      10. Visit the Latvian National Opera

      The Latvian National Opera is one of the most important cultural institutions in Latvia and offers a wide range of operas and ballets throughout the year. Visitors can enjoy a performance and admire the beautiful architecture of the theater.

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