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The Local’s Guide to Riga: Read This Before You Go

Riga from above

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Are you thinking about traveling to Riga? If the answer is yes – then you are at the right place, because here I am going to share with you some of the most important and at the same time basic things that you should know before going on this trip.

Riga is the capital of Latvia. And as you probably know – you are reading these lines on a blog We Are From Latvia. Yes, we two, founders of this blog, are from Latvia. How obvious! Una is from Riga. But I was born in a small town at the East of Latvia, not far from the border between Latvia and Russia. But then I moved to Riga to study there. And for the last 8 years, before we two started to travel extensively, I called Riga my home.

Riga is also Latvia’s largest city both by population and territory. About one third of Latvia’s population – more than 600 000 people – is living in Riga. And by territory Riga is three times larger than Paris.

RELATED: Why You Should Visit Riga? These Travel Bloggers Will Tell You

Riga International Airport Is the Only International Airport in Latvia

If you are traveling to Riga/Latvia by plane Riga International Airport is where you will arrive. It’s the only international airport in Latvia. Anyway it’s modern, nice and clean airport. Not too big, but not tiny either. In total at the end of summer 2016 20 airlines were operating from Riga International Airport. And several budget airlines, like Ryanair, WizzAir, Vueling and Norwegian are operating from here as well.

Getting from Riga International Airport to Riga city center is possible by public bus, number 22. It has a stop few hundred meters away from the airport’s entrance. Once you are out of the airport, go to the right!

Bus ticket in Riga costs 1,15 EUR, if you purchase it in advance from a ticket vending machine, and 2 EUR- if you buy it from the driver.

At the airport there is ticket vending machine just at the bus stop. And you can pay with your bank card there as well. Another option is to buy a ticket from a shop called Narvesen, which you can find inside the Riga International airport.

For up to date information about tickets and fees check out the website of Riga public transport company!

Many People in Riga Speak English

More than half of Latvians speak 3 languages – Latvian, English and Russian. These numbers are even higher in Riga. Even though many people in Latvia, especially in Riga, speak English, there are many situations possible where you will find information only in Latvian. For example, in public transport they announce the next stop only in Latvian.

But don’t worry, if there will be such a necessity, in Riga it’s not a problem to find some English speaking person and ask for a help or advice.

TRAVEL INSURANCE: For travelers to Latvia we recommend World Nomads Explorer Package!

Tram in Riga - Read This Before Traveling to Riga, Latvia

Tram in Riga, Latvia – Read This Before Traveling to Riga, Latvia

Public Transportation in Riga: Trams Are the Fastest

In Riga there are buses, trams, trolleybuses and minibuses. Fastest ones usually are trams, because they are running on the rails and so mostly they aren’t affected by the traffic on the roads.

There is one type of ticket for all public transports in Riga, and it’s called “e-talons”. If you buy a ticket in advance, single journey on a public transport in Riga costs 1,15 EUR. 2 EUR – if you buy it from a driver. But remember, that one ticket can be used only for one transport (one vehicle). Which means, if you need to travel 3 stops by one bus and then 2 stops by another, then you will need to buy 2 tickets. There is no such thing as an option to use the same ticket for different transports within some time frame.

If you plan to travel around Riga by public transport, buy a 24 hour ticket. 24 hour public transport ticket in Riga costs only 5 EUR. And with it you can travel with all buses, trams, trolleybuses and also minibuses (but only ones operated by Riga public transport company – Rīgas Satiksme).

Old Town of Riga (Vecrīga) Is the Most Central Part of Riga

And the most convenient one from where to go everywhere.

Old town of Riga is packed with hotels, hostels, bars and restaurants. It’s the most beautiful and also most central part of the city, which makes it the best choice as where to stay while you are in Riga. Especially if you are coming just for few days and you want to be in the best possible location. Central train station and central bus station of Riga are both only 5-10 minute walk away from there.

Bus number 22, going from Riga city center to airport and vice versa, stops near old town of Riga.

To find a hotel or hostel in Riga go to and

Do check out also Airbnb, if you want to stay in an apartment instead and live like a local in Riga! Register using my Airbnb link and you will get a discount for your next booking. We will get a discount, too. We use Airbnb since 2012.

food in Latvia - Read This Before Traveling to Riga, Latvia

Food in Latvia – Read This Before Traveling to Riga, Latvia

Latvian Food is Quite Heavy

Few of the places where to try a Latvian cuisine when you are traveling to Riga include Ala Folk Club, Lido restaurants and Silkites & Dillites. They are serving mostly, if not only, Latvian dishes. So you can’t go wrong ordering just anything.

Few of Latvian dishes that I can recommend you to try – mashed potatoes with cottage cheese and herring (kartupeļu biezenis ar biezpienu un siļķi), cold beet root soup (aukstā biešu zupa) or any other cold soup, if you are traveling to Riga in summer, grey peas and speck (pelēkie zirņi ar speķi) and pork in aspic (cūkgaļas galerts).

From drinks try Latvian beer, Riga Black balsam and kvass! Valmiermuiža and Brenguļu are two of the best of Latvian beers.

Where to Go and What to Do in Riga

When searching for beautiful architecture head to old town of Riga (Vecrīga) or wander the streets not far from it, but on the same coast of river Daugava. You can’t cross Daugava without noticing it, don’t worry!

For beautiful wooden architecture head to Agenskalns (Āgenskalns) on the other side of Daugava river.

Walking the narrow streets of old town of Riga, passing big churches and countless old looking buildings it’s easy to start feeling like you have traveled back in time. Old town of Riga is also the place where the nightlife happens.

Looking for some more peaceful place and not far from the city center, go to Lucavsala. It’s an island in river Daugava, few bus stops from the old town. A little bit further from the Riga city center, but still easily accessible, is Mežaparks. It’s a big park by the lake, which is perfect place for longer walks. Take a tram number 11 – its route starts close to old town of Riga – and go  until the very last stop, which is called Mežaparks.

Riga is close to the sea.

Nearest beaches are at Vecāķi and Vakarbuļļi. To get to Vecāķi you will need to take a bus number 24, and get out either at Vecāķu prospekts or at the last stop – Mangaļsala. Vakarbuļļi can be reached by bus number 3, following a route Pļavnieki – Daugavgrīva – Vakarbuļļi. You need to get out at the last stop.

Are you looking for some more things to do in Riga? Need a guide? Check out these tours and this list of activities!

Riga from above - Read This Before Traveling to Riga, Latvia

Riga from above | Photo by Tony Hodkinson, – Traveling to Riga, Latvia

If you still have some questions about traveling in Latvia, contact us!

Disclosure: some of the links on this page are affiliate links. This means – if you choose to book accommodation through these links, we may earn a small commission. This has no effect on the price for you.


11 thoughts on “The Local’s Guide to Riga: Read This Before You Go”

  1. I am looking for someone to spend about six hours with me and three adult grandchildren in Riga on Monday June 18. We would like to see the city and the surrounding area. Let me know if you are available to guide us and what the cost of your services would be.

    1. Hi, Tom! I’ll send your email to good friend of mine, a tour guide. If he will be available he will get back to you in next 3-5 days.

  2. This is excellent to know about and full of some of the questions I have first! My husband and I may be coming to live there for three years, so it is nice to have a point of contact to be given ideas of who would be a helpful reference depending on what we may need. Thanks Kaspars and Una, simple enough for the basic content everyone needs to get started :)

    1. When you’ll have some more questions, you can get in touch with us :) We ourseles mostly aren’t in Riga lately, but we may give you some contacts

  3. Guys, thank you so much for putting all this information together. We visited Riga recently and we had the most amazing time due to the fact that we followed your advice. Keep up the good work guys. ❤?

  4. Looking forward to visiting this year and thanks for this post as it is so informative. We love walking to see the sights of a city and this guide will help planning our trip.

  5. Be warned that, even if you are pleasant and respectful people, other less pleasant and respectful people have been here before you and so you will be judged according to the locals’ experiences with them.  Any large groups who are drunk and loud are going to run the risk of being ‘tarred with the same brush’.  Unfortunately you will have to prove that you are harmless and ‘come in peace’ – the people who you meet are not going to assume this from the outset. Try to avoid drawing attention to yourself unnecessarily.  Matching T-shirts saying something like ‘Brits on the P*** – Riga 2007’, fancy dress, kilts, comedy hats, wigs, etc. are less likely to perceived as being a sign of your wit and originality, but rather more as a sign of disrespect to the city and its inhabitants and that you 00004000 are going to behave in the same fashion as the other people wearing similar outfits who have been coming to Riga for the past three years.

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