Travel guide to Latvia

Latvia, together with Lithuania and Estonia, is one of the Baltic States. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Empire they have attracted many thousands of European tourists. Though still bearing the scars of those years as a Soviet satellite Latvia is a fascinating travel destination, both culturally and historically.


Local name
Latvijas Republika
Riga (850,000)
64,589 sq. km
Principal Languages
Principal Religion
Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Orthodox
2.259.400 (2009)
Latvia is a flat country with large areas of grasslands. The country is intersected by seventeen rivers and also boasts many lakes.

Travel preparation


Best time to visit

Latvia benefits from warm summers and cold winters. The snow starts around October and snowdrifts are not an uncommon sight as late as May. In the summertime, however, it can get very hot. You can visit Latvia any time of the year, but the real high season is from May to October.


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Local conditions


Net cafes

There are a few Internet cafés in the capital of Riga.

In case of emergency

To call for help in Latvia you dial the following numbers: Police: 02 Ambulance: 03 Fire: 01


Tipping is customary in Latvia. A service charge is often added to the bill in restaurants, but you are still expected to reward good service with a small amount. For example, it would be good form to round up to an even figure.


Latvia is two hours ahead of GMT. When it's noon in the UK, it's 2 pm in Latvia.

Weight and Measures

Latvia uses the metric system.


If you avoid taking pictures of public buildings and exhibit general courtesy by asking people's permission before photographing them you shouldn't have any problems.

Drinking water

Don't use Latvian tap water for drinking or for brushing your teeth.


220 Volts AC/50Hz

Business Hours

Banks are open from 9:00 am to 12:30 pm Monday to Friday, and some banks open for business again for a few hours in the afternoon as well. Shops are open from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday to Friday and from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm Saturdays. Some shops will close for lunch. Offices are open from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and again from 2.00 pm to 6:00 pm Monday to Friday. Government offices are open from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Food and drink

The menus in Latvian restaurants are mainly inspired by Russian and Slavic cuisine, so varieties of flesh dishes are the dominant fare. In the drink department there is local Latvian vodka, local bitters, and the country's excellent beer.


New Year's Day: January 1 Labour Day: May 1 Midsummer: June 23 and 24 Independence Day: November 18 Christmas: December 25 and 26

Accommodation / Hotel



There are a number of camping grounds in Latvia of varying standards. In fact, some of them are just that: a piece of bare ground! Most of the camping is situated near the main roads, and especially the area around Jurmala has quite a few grounds.


After the fall of Communism the Latvians have worked hard to bring the hotels up to Western standards - and with some success, it must be said. The invasion of the international hotel chains has been particularly inspirational. You still run into the odd ultra low quality hotel, but then the price will be accordingly low.

Other Accommodation

It is also possible to stay on a Latvian farm; information is available from the national tourist office.

Local transport



Latvia's main international airport is at Jurmala near Riga and easily accessible from the capital. Latvia also has a number of smaller airports that cater to domestic air travel.


The preferred form of transport for the average Latvian is the country's extensive network of buses. You will come across everything from the country mail-bus to luxurious express liners.


The Latvian railway lines connect most major cities, but if you're going out in the country, you should probably opt for the bus, even though there are some small regional rail lines in operation.


A number of private taxi companies operate in the Latvian cities. They're usually cheap, but drivers charge extra at night.

Car rental

You can rent both cars and chauffeurs in Latvia through your hotel or directly from a rental company. The Latvian road system is generally not bad, but many small roads are unpaved, and you will come across the occasional hole in the road.

Special conditions

Latvian Office of Tourism 4 Pils sq. Riga LV-1050 Telefon: +371-7-229945 Fax: +371-7-229945 E-mail:
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