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flag Latvia Latvia: Travelling

In this page: Entry Requirements | Organizing Your Trip | Visiting | Living Conditions | Eating | Paying | Speaking | Useful Resources

 

Entry Requirements

Passport and Visa Service
Entry of foreigners into Latvia by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Visa HQ
Diplomatic Representations
List of Latvian Embassies abroad
 
IATA Travel Center
 

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Organizing Your Trip

Means of Transport Recommended in Town

Recommendation
A car is not necessary if you are in the center of a big city like Riga. During office hours, traffic jams are common; the fastest means of public transport are the minibus and the tram.
Maps of Urban Networks
Maporama
Mapblast
UT Library on line
Map of Latvia

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Transportation From Airport to City Centre:


Airport

Distance

Taxi

Bus

Train

Car Rental
Riga (RIX) 11 km / 7 miles EUR 8-15 / 15-25 min EUR 0.60 / 30 min - Available

Means of Transport Recommended in the Rest of the Country

Recommendation
If you need to travel inside the country, a car can be useful. Public transport is quite well developed but it lacks quality and speed.
Rail Companies
Trains in Latvia

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Airlines

Name Type Domestic Flights International Flights
Air Baltic airline company Low cost
Ryanair airline company Low cost No

You Can Consult the List of Airlines Banned Within the EU. Look Also at the rating of the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

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Traveling By Yourself

Recommendation
The main freeways are well maintained, secondary roads are in bad condition, often not asphalted. Frequent police controls; speed is limited to 50 km/h in cities, 90 km/h on roads. It is compulsory to turn your headlights on, day and night all year long. Supplies of fuel are hard to find in the country, but not on the main roads. The civil liability insurance is compulsory with a local insurer (the "green card" is not recognized yet in Latvia). It is possible to rent cars.
Road Maps
Traveling by train
Public transport in Riga
Find an Itinerary
Itineraries in Riga

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Visiting

Different Forms of Tourism

Historical
In Riga, in the historic center (the old town), there is a collection of Art Nouveau buildings realized between 1895 and 1912 by Mikhail Eisenstein. Thanks to this greatest concentration of buildings in this style, the historic center of Riga was included, in 1997, in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The monuments to visit are: Riga Cathedral, the Church of St Peter in Riga, The House of the Blackheads, the Nativity of Christ Cathedral in Riga.
Cultural
Once every five years the choirs of all the villages and all the towns gather in Riga to sing at the Festival of Song. They are not professional musicians but Latvians of different ages, education and convictions who sing together. Thirteen thousand people get up at half past five in the morning for the final rehearsal. In 2003, the Festival of Song and Dance was awarded UNESCO Unique World Cultural Heritage status.
Nature
The protection of nature is a current preoccupation, and, together with fortunate circumstances, it has produced good results - Latvia is recognized as a country with greater biological diversity than most other European countries. The country has unpolluted rivers and lakes, which in turn enclose prairies and forests; it also has fine sandy beaches which are clean and isolated, where you can walk for kilometers, without seeing any human beings or any trace of civilization. Latvia has three national parks: Gauja National Park (1973), Kemeri National Park (1997) and Slitere National Park (1999). There are other natural parks such as: Daugavas ieleja, Vecumu mezi, Bauska etc. The National Parks have an extraordinary variety of habitats, and many historical and cultural monuments. They play a fundamental role not only in the protection of nature, but also in research, education and recreation.
Religious
Because of its advantageous geographical situation, Latvia was invaded by neighboring countries and this largely determined the destiny of the country and its people. In the 13th century, a confederation of feudal nations by the name of Livonia, was set up under Germanic domination, which explains the strong presence of evangelical Lutheran churches. In Riga: the magnificent red brick gothic Cathedral of St Mary, the Church of St Peter, the Dome Cathedral in the center of the old town. There are several castles and palaces in Latvia such as Biron Castle in Jelgava, Rundale Palace, Bauska Palace etc.
Thermal
Not so long ago, the spas and well-being activities were reserved for a rich and famous clientele. Today they are open to everyone.
Beach
Jurmala is a Latvian town very popular with tourists, as it is located on the Bay of Riga, 25 km from Riga, 20 minutes' drive away. This city has 16 beaches.
The most well-known seaside resort is Majori, with Jomas Street, its main street, lined with small cafés and friendly restaurants, night clubs and shops. There are also beaches on the Baltic Sea, such as Ventspils.
Winter Sports
The town of Sigulda is a rest center, a place for tourism and winter sports. There are ski slopes and ski jumps. The town has sports facilities such as a toboggan slope which can hold official international bobsleigh competitions, or sledge or skeleton. The national sport is ice hockey.
Outdoor Activities
There are many possibilities for outdoor activities: Tomo Tour  proposes classic, romantic and extreme activities for those who like risk.
Shopping
Latvia is not considered as a center for shopping, but you can find almost all you need. The best place for shopping is Riga. Besides the markets, there are boutiques and shopping malls like the Central Gallery or Mols, with restaurants, pubs and night clubs.
Tourism Organizations
Information portal on tourism in Latvia

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Living Conditions

Health and Safety

Health Precautions
There are no vaccination requirements, but vaccination against tick-borne encephalitis is advisable if you are staying in the forest. Hepatitis A and B and typhoid vaccinations are also advisable.
For Further Information on Sanitary Conditions
International guide for travelers - Latvia.
 

Emergency Numbers

Firemen 01
Police 02
Medical assistance 03
 

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Time Difference and Climate

Time and Time Difference
It is %T:%M %A In Riga (GMT+2 in winter, GMT+3 in summer)
Summer Time Period
Summer time from March to October
 

Map of the Time Zone

Time zone

Type of Climate
The country has a continental climate, tempered by the influence of the sea. Summers are often hot, with daytime temperatures of 25° C. Winters are relatively cold (-6° on average in January).
For Further Information
The climate in Latvia
 

Average Annual Temperatures and Rainfall

Climate

 

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Eating

Food Specialties
In Latvia, the best part of the meal is usually the starter. Indeed, there is a large variety of appetizers.
Among Latvian specialties:
Kotletes: lamb chops
Skabu kapostu zupa: vegetable soup
Smoked fish: salmon, trout.
Drinks
People drink tea, coffee, fruit juice, still and sparkling water and other non-alcoholic drinks. Favorite alcoholic drinks are beer and cider.
Dietary Restrictions
There are no dietary restrictions in the country.

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Paying

Domestic Currency
Euro
ISO Code
EUR
To Obtain Domestic Currency
The currency is the EUR. You can change currency in banks, or in bureaux de change which are numerous and located everywhere in the city center. Credit cards can be used in most restaurants, cafés and bars in the city center. ATMs can also be found in the city center.
Possible Means of Payment
It is most common to pay in cash, but today people are using credit cards more and more, Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Traveler's checks are not well known in Latvia.

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Speaking

Official Language
Latvian
Other Languages Spoken
This country, with 2.5 million inhabitants is home to several linguistic communities. 33.5% of the citizens speak Russian and 4.1% speak Belarusian. Ukrainian is spoken by 3% of the population, Polish by 2.2%, Lithuanian by 1.7%.
Business Language
Russian and English
Getting Some Knowledge
Language Helper Latvian   
Free Translation Tools
Latvian Dictionary : Free English-Latvian-English dictionary
Ectaco : Free English-Latvian-English dictionary

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Useful Resources

To Find an Apartment
List of rental agencies for apartments in Riga.

Renting an apartment in Riga
To Find a Job
List of recruitment websites in Latvia.

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Last Updates: October 2014