Climate and Weather
Riga can only be described as having real seasons. During the winter the temperature averages around -5C, but can drop below -20C on the coldest days, while in the summer the temperature can exceed 30C, with May through to September enjoying the best of it
Crime in Riga
The biggest problem in Riga stems from a small number of bars which overcharge foreign clientele. In some instances people have been assaulted, threatened or forced to withdraw money from ATMs to pay a ridiculous amount of money for what would normally be a tiny bill. Such venues are well documented, however, and we stay clear of them. Petty theft and pick pocketing can also be a problem for tourists, especially in busy public places.
The rich blend of different cultures and backgrounds hasn’t gone unnoticed and Riga has been awarded the 2014 European Capital of Culture. On a more personal note it should be added that Latvians are fairly conservative and, as with the Polish, loud outlandish behaviour is likely to be frowned upon.
Currency & prices
Latvia has not converted to the Euro and uses its local currency called the Lat. At the moment there are around 0.82 LVL to 1.00 GBP and around 0.7 LVL to 1 EUR. The Lat is available for exchange in some major banks although, rather than pay way over the actual rate, we believe that even with bank charges the ATM is the best way to get your money.
In terms of prices, Riga is slightly more expensive than other eastern cities but cheaper when compared to their Scandinavian neighbours.
Heathcare in Latvia
No health certificates or vaccinations are required to enter Latvia. As a member of the E.U., Latvia provides reciprocal free healthcare on provision of a valid European Health Insurance Card, however it is advised to take out private health insurance.
Languages & Foreign Languages
Riga is a really mixed country with only around 42% of the population (705,500) being Latvian, the rest a mixture of Polish (2%), Ukrainian (3.9%), Belarusian (4.1%) and Russians (41%) making up the bulk. Like all eastern and Baltic countries, people tend to be bilingual and, for obvious reasons, Latvian and Russian are the main languages here. English, while not popular, is often spoken by younger people who will love the chance to practice with you.
On April 1, 2010 Latvia joined the growing list of countries that have adopted a no smoking policy in public places. Smoking outside venues is permitted on condition that you are at least ten metres from the entrance.
Leaving tips isn’t standard practice in Latvia but, if service is acceptable, a tip between 10-15% is welcome as gesture of appreciation.
Traveling around the city
Getting around the city using public transport is easy and relatively cheap at around 0.5Ls per journey. With around 9 different tram routes, 20 trolley-bus routes and over 80 bus routes the city is also very well connected.
There are plenty of taxis but tourists should be wary of overcharging and it is a good idea to check the price before getting in. If the taxi is using a meter then double-check the tariff level.
WiFi Internet Connection
There is usually a strong WiFi connection available and many bars and cafes in Riga, as well as most hotels, offer a service in their rooms, bars or restaurants. Phone booths also act as WiFi hot-spots so check inside for directions on how to get a wireless internet connection up to 100m from the phone.