There are no visa entry requirements for EU citizens wishing to Latvia. Citizens of the USA and Australia can stay in the country for up to 90 days without a visa. All other nationalities should check the entry requirements with their nearest Latvian embassy before travel.
The Latvian currency is the Lat (Ls), which can be divided into 100 santims. Banknotes come in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500. Coins are available in 1 and 2 Lats, as well as in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 santims.
The language spoken in Riga is Latvian. Russian and English are also widely spoken.
Riga has what is known as a maritime continental climate. This means it sees warm, humid summers, while winters are generally cold and snowy. In autumn, Riga often gets a lot of rain and fog. July and August tend to be the hottest months, with temperatures averaging out at around 16.5ºC. August is usually also the wettest month, with September also getting quite a bit of rain. January and February are by far the coldest months and temperatures for January dropping to around -7ºC.
Visitors from EU countries are entitled to medical treatment under the EU Reciprocal Medical Treatment agreement. Before you travel you should collect an E111 form from your local social security office. This form may also be obtained in post offices also.
Riga is located in the Eastern European Time Zone (EET) which is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).
Shops in Riga are generally open between 9am-6pm, with late night shopping on a Thursday. The larger shopping centres and department stores are open until 9pm or 10pm.
The city’s main tourist office is the Rigas Turisma koordinacijas un informacijas centrs. It’s located on Ratslaukums 6 and opens daily from 9am-7pm.
When you shop in places marked with tax-free stickers in Latvia, you can reclaim the tax paid on any goods purchased there. This can be done at the customs point in Riga International Airport.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted in the city’s banks and currency can be exchanged here too. Banks tend to offer the best exchange rates and commission is sometimes charged for cashing travellers’ cheques in foreign currencies.
There are a huge number of cash points throughout the city too and all major credit cards are widely accepted. These can also be used to obtain cash advances from ATMs or banks. You can also use regular bankcards which are members of the bigger international networks including Cirrus, Plus and Link in machines which bear the symbol.
The electrical current used in Riga is 230V AC/50 Hz. A 2-pin round plug will have to be used while in Latvia.
The international code for Latvia is +371. There’s no specific city code for Riga.
The main post office is located at Stacijas laukums 2.
Most restaurants in Riga include a service charge in the bill and if that’s the case a tip isn’t necessary. However, if it’s not, you should leave a tip of at least 10% unless you were unhappy with the service.
It is worth noting what the public holidays are before you travel there as the majority of businesses, banks and shops usually shut for the day.
In Latvia they take place on January 1st (New Year’s Day), Good Friday, Easter Monday, May 1st (Labour Day), May 4th (Declaration of Independence Day), June 23rd (Ligo), June 24th (Jani), November 18th (Latvian National Day), December 25th (Christmas Day), December 26th (Boxing Day) and December 31st (New Year’s Eve).