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Latvia travel guide - Travel S helper

Latvia

travel guide

Latvia, formally the Republic of Latvia, is a nation located in Northern Europe’s Baltic area. It is one of three Baltic states. It is bounded on the north by Estonia, on the south by Lithuania, on the east by Russia, and on the southeast by Belarus, as well as on the west by a sea border with Sweden. Latvia has a population of 1,957,200 people and a land area of 64,589 square kilometers (24,938 sq mi). The nation has a year-round moderate climate.

Latvia was founded in 1918 as a democratic parliamentary republic. Riga, the capital city, was named the 2014 European Capital of Culture. The official language of Latvia is Latvian. Latvia is a unitary state comprised of 118 administrative subdivisions, 109 of which are municipalities and nine of which are cities.

Latvians and Livs are Latvia’s indigenous people. Latvian is an Indo-European language; it is one of just two surviving Baltic languages, along with Lithuanian. Throughout the ages, despite foreign control from the 13th to the 20th century, the Latvian people preserved its identity via language and musical traditions. Latvia and Estonia have a long history in common. Both nations have a sizable ethnic Russian population as a result of the Soviet occupation (26.9 percent in Latvia and 25.5 percent in Estonia), some of whom are non-citizens.

Latvia has a mainly Protestant Lutheran history, with the exception of the Latgale area in the southeast, which has a predominantly Roman Catholic history. Additionally, the Russian community has imported a sizable number of Eastern Orthodox Christians.

Latvia was established as a republic on 18 November 1918. However, it lost its de facto independence with the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, the nation was forcefully integrated into the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany attacked and conquered it in 1941, and the Soviets re-took it in 1944, becoming the Latvian SSR for the next fifty years. Beginning in 1987, the nonviolent Singing Revolution agitated for the liberation of the Baltics from Soviet control. It came to an end with the Declaration on the Restoration of the Republic of Latvia’s Independence on 4 May 1990, and de facto independence on 21 August 1991.

Latvia is a democratic and developed nation that is a member of the European Union, NATO, the Council of Europe, the United Nations, the CBSS, the IMF, the NB8, the NIB, the OECD, the OSCE, and the World Trade Organization. Latvia was ranked 46th on the Human Development Index in 2014 and was classified as a high-income nation on 1 July 2014. It utilized the Latvian lats as its currency until 1 January 2014, when it was replaced by the euro.

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Latvia - Info Card

Population

1,907,675

Currency

Euro (€) (EUR)

Time zone

UTC+2 (EET)

Area

64,589 km2 (24,938 sq mi)

Calling code

+371

Official language

Latvian

Latvia | Introduction

Geography Of Latvia

Forests comprise half of Latvia, which are home to a diverse range of species. Many tiny lakes may be found across the nation, particularly in the south-eastern Latgale area. River valleys may be observed, with parts having sand cliffs on their banks. Because heavy industry ceased to exist a long time ago, most areas are now environmentally pristine.

Latvia is mostly flat, with no high mountains like those seen in the Alps. Gaizinkalns, the highest point in Latvia, rises to 312 meters (1,023 feet) above sea level just west of Madona in central Latvia.

Climate

Summer, from June to early September, is the ideal season to visit Latvia since the weather is pleasant (about 15°C to 20°C) and a variety of local cuisine are accessible. While the beginning of December is typically warm, with temperatures above freezing, snowfall may be anticipated in January and February, with temperatures dropping to about -30°C for brief periods of time. The spring and fall seasons are quite warm.

Demographics Of Latvia

In 2013, the total fertility rate (TFR) was projected to be 1.52 children born per woman, lower below the replacement rate of 2.1. Unmarried women accounted for 45.0 percent of births in 2012. In 2013, the average life expectancy was 73.19 years (68.13 years male, 78.53 years female). Latvia is thought to have the lowest male-to-female ratio in the world, with 0.85 men per female, as of 2015.

Ethnic groups

Latvia’s population has been multiethnic for millennia, but owing to World Wars I and II, emigration and deportation of Baltic Germans, the Holocaust, and Soviet rule, the demographics changed significantly in the twentieth century. Latvians made up 68.3 percent of the entire population of 1.93 million people, according to the Russian Empire Census of 1897; Russians made up 12%, Jews 7.4 percent, Germans 6.2 percent, and Poles 3.4 percent.

Latvians account for 62.1 percent of the population, with Russians accounting for 26.9%, Belarusians 3.3 percent, Ukrainians 2.2 percent, Poles 2.2 percent, Lithuanians 1.2 percent, Jews 0.3 percent, Romani people 0.3 percent, Germans 0.1 percent, Estonians 0.1 percent, and others 1.3 percent. Livonians, who are said to be Latvia’s first residents, number less than 400 individuals. In Latvia, there were 290,660 non-citizens, or 14.1 percent of the population, mostly ethnic Russians who came following the 1940 occupation and their descendants.

Ethnic Latvians make up a minority of the population in certain cities, such as Daugavpils and Rzekne. Despite the fact that ethnic Latvians have been gradually growing for more than a decade, ethnic Latvians still account for slightly less than half of the population of Riga, Latvia’s capital.

Ethnic Latvians made about 52 percent of the population in 1989, down from 77 percent (1,467,035) in 1935. Even though there were fewer Latvians in 2011 than in 1989, their population proportion was higher – 1,284,194 people (62.1 percent of the population).

Religion

Christianity is Latvia’s most popular religion (79%) yet only around 7% of the population attends religious services on a regular basis. As of 2011, the following were the most powerful organizations:

  • Evangelical Lutheran Church of Latvia – 708,773
  • Roman Catholic – 500,000
  • Russian Orthodox – 370,000

In a 2010 Eurobarometer poll, 38 percent of Latvian people said that “they believe in God,” while 48 percent said “they believe in some kind of spirit or life force,” and 11 percent said “they do not believe in any form of spirit, God, or life force.”

Due to significant historical connections with the Nordic nations and the influence of the Hansa, and Germany in general, Lutheranism was more prevalent before the Soviet rule, when it was a majority religion. In all three Baltic nations, Lutheranism has fallen to a somewhat larger degree than Roman Catholicism since then. With an estimated 600,000 members in 1956, the Evangelical Lutheran Church was the worst hit. On March 18, 1987, towards the end of Soviet control, an internal document said that active membership in Latvia had fallen to just 25,000, although the religion has since enjoyed a resurgence. Furthermore, contemporary Evangelical Protestant denominations are gaining popularity throughout the globe, including in Latvia. The Latvian Orthodox Church, a semi-autonomous entity within the Russian Orthodox Church, is home to the country’s Orthodox Christians. In 2011, Latvia had 416 Jews and 319 Muslims residing there.

Dievturi (The Godskeepers) are a group of about 600 Latvian neopagans whose religion is based on Latvian mythology. Around 21% of the population is unaffiliated with any particular religion.

Language in Latvia

Latvian (Latvieu valoda) is the country’s sole official language. It is linked to the Lithuanian language and belongs to the Baltic language group of Indo-European languages, although it is distinct enough to be difficult to understand even for native Lithuanian speakers.

With a few exceptions, Latvian utilizes the Latin alphabet in the same way as English does. Some terms, such as restorns, which means restaurant, are acquired from other languages and are relatively simple to understand when spoken, while others, such as veikals, which means shop, have distinct origins and are considerably more difficult, if not impossible, to understand. The grammatical rules in this language are complicated. Minor modifications to a word’s meaning, such as adding a prefix, may entirely transform the meaning of a phrase. For example, the word dzvot means “to live,” while the term izdzvot means “to survive.”

The Latvian language has a very simple pronunciation. The emphasis is nearly always on the first syllable at the beginning of the term. However, certain letters, like as e and o, have complex rules about how they should be pronounced in different words. Words like loks, which may mean a leek or a bow, and zle, which can indicate a hall, grass, or (informally) weed, can have various pronunciations depending on the context.

Only 1.5 million people speak Latvian as a first language, the most of them live in Latvia, although some also live in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Russia, Brazil, and Australia.

Foreign languages

Since Latvia was a part of the Soviet Union, most people speak fluent Russian in addition to Latvian. Due to the greater Russian influence in certain areas of south-eastern Latvia, such as Daugavpils, Russian may still be the predominant language.

Since the country’s independence, English has gradually replaced Russian. It is fair to assume that you will be able to get by speaking just English, particularly when conversing with younger Latvians, since the younger generation has usually stronger English abilities than the older generation as a result of globalization and the impact of Western media and culture.

Internet & Communications in Latvia

Postal

The Latvian Postal Service (Latvijas Pasts) is a dependable and usually secure method of sending mail and packages. They provide a variety of services for different circumstances, including the delivery of bagged items weighing up to 30 kg.

Telephone & Internet

Any GSM phone that works elsewhere in Europe will also function in Latvia. If you intend to remain in Latvia for an extended length of time, it may be more cost effective to get a local SIM card that includes voice, text, and data. Almost all petrol stations, kiosks, and supermarkets sell prepaid SIM cards and separate renewal coupons. In terms of price and services, all operators are roughly equivalent. LMT, Tele2, and Bite are the most popular.

Hotels, cafés, libraries, intercity buses, and the Riga International Airport all provide free WiFi. If there does not seem to be an open network available, feel free to inquire at the cash register or information desk.

Economy Of Latvia

Latvia is a member of both the World Trade Organization and the European Union, having joined both in 1999. (2004). The Euro replaced the Lats as the country’s currency on January 1, 2014. According to data from late 2013, 45 percent of the public favored the euro’s adoption, while 52 percent opposed it. Eurobarometer polls conducted in January 2014 revealed that support for the Euro was about 53%, which was similar to the European average.

Latvia has had one of the greatest (GDP) growth rates in Europe since 2000. However, Latvia’s mostly consumption-driven development culminated in the country’s GDP collapsing in late 2008 and early 2009, worsened by the global economic crisis, credit shortages, and the massive money resources needed to bail out Parex bank. In the first three months of 2009, the Latvian economy shrank by 18 percent, the most in the European Union.

Because it was driven primarily by growth in domestic consumption, financed by a significant increase in private debt, as well as a negative foreign trade balance, the economic crisis of 2009 confirmed earlier predictions that the fast-growing economy was on the verge of imploding the economic bubble. Real estate prices, which were rising at a rate of around 5% per month at one time, were long thought to be too excessive for an economy that mostly produced low-value products and raw materials.

Latvia’s privatization is almost complete. Almost all formerly state-owned small and medium businesses have been privatized, leaving just a few politically sensitive big state-owned businesses. In 2000, the private sector contributed approximately 68 percent of the country’s GDP.

In comparison to the rest of north-central Europe, foreign investment in Latvia is still low. In 1997, a legislation was enacted that broadened the scope of land sales, including to foreigners. In 1999, American businesses spent $127 million in Latvia, accounting for 10.2 percent of the country’s total foreign direct investment. The United States of America exported $58.2 million in products and services to Latvia in the same year, while importing $87.9 million. Latvia signed a Europe Agreement with the EU in 1995, with a four-year transition period, in order to join Western economic organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the OECD, and the European Union. Latvia and the United States have signed treaties on double taxation avoidance, investment, commerce, and intellectual property protection.

Entry Requirements For Latvia

Visa & Passport for Latvia

Latvia is a signatory to the Schengen Treaty.

Between nations that have signed and implemented the pact, there are usually no border restrictions. This covers the majority of the European Union as well as a few additional nations.

Before boarding foreign planes or vessels, identification checks are typically performed. At land boundaries, there are sometimes temporary border restrictions.

A visa issued to a Schengen member is also valid in all other Schengen nations that have signed and implemented the treaty.

How To Travel To Latvia

Get In - By plane

Riga International Airport (RIX) is the sole commercial airport in Latvia, and it is situated 10 kilometers southwest of Riga. Bus 22 runs between the airport and the city center (and vice versa), and other modes of transportation, such as taxis, are available on-site. To learn more about flying to and from the airport, click here.

You may also fly to Kaunas, Lithuania, and then take the Flybus to Riga.

Get In - By train

Latvian Railways (Latvian: Latvijas Dzelzce) runs trains from Russia to Riga, including stops at Rezekne and Jekabpils, as well as trains to and from Valga, Estonia, from whence you may connect to Tallinn. In addition, trains from Saint Petersburg, Russia, go to Daugavpils and Rezekne. Due to track upgrades, service between Latvia and Lithuania has been stopped (February 2016).

If you go by rail to or from Riga through Daugavpils, you may need to spend the night in Daugavpils to make the connection. As a result, while traveling between Riga and Vilnius, you may be better off taking the bus or flying.

Get In - By bus

International bus connections are available to everywhere in Europe, with regular service to Tallinn and Tartu in Estonia, as well as Vilnius and Kaunas in Lithuania.

Operators of well-known bus routes include:

Get In - By boat

  • Tallink Silja runs ferries between Stockholm and Riga, Latvia.
  • Stena Line runs ferries between Travemunde, Germany, and Liepja and Ventspils, as well as between Nynäshamn, Sweden, and Ventspils.

Get In - By car

The Through Baltica route connects Warsaw, Poland, with Tallinn, Estonia, via Kaunas, Lithuania, and Riga.

Driver’s License

If you hold a driver’s license from another European Union nation, you may use it in Latvia indefinitely, just as you do in the country where it was granted. Residents of other countries are required by law to acquire a Latvian driver’s license after living in Latvia for six months; however, this only entails a theoretical test, which may be done in English, German, French, or Russian.

How To Travel Around Latvia

Iela is the Latvian term meaning street (as in street names). Brvbas iela, which translates as Freedom Street, is an example.

Get Around - By car

Headlights must be switched on when driving at all times of the year, according to local regulations. Winter or all-season tyres are required from December 1 to March 1 throughout the winter season. Many gas stations throughout the nation are self-service and open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There is a lot of diesel fuel and gasoline with octane ratings of 95 and 98 ae. Electric vehicles are not widely used because the charging infrastructure has not yet matured to the point where they can be used on a daily basis.

There are international vehicle rental businesses represented, as well as inexpensive rental providers. Many offices are located around Riga, including some near Riga Airport.

Get Around - By train

Latvia has a good rail network that connects the major cities. It is recommended that you check schedules before leaving, since trains to certain locations may be limited. For schedules and price information, see the websites of Passenger Train (Latvian: Pasaieru vilciens) or 1188 (a Latvian enquiries service).

Trains may be less expensive than other modes of transportation, and you seldom have to worry about them being overcrowded, with the exception of a few peak days during the summer season.

Keep in mind that the name of the station may not always be the same as the name of the town or city. When traveling to Jekabpils, for example, you may need to go to Krustpils station, and when traveling to Jurmala, you may need to go to Majori station (in Jrmala city center) or emeri station (in western Jrmala, to access the national park more easily).

You may purchase a rail ticket at the station before boarding the train or from the train crew while on board. Ticket offices at certain minor stations may open late and shut early, or be closed for breaks throughout the day, owing to a paucity of passengers leaving from such stations at those times. The ticket counter will have a train schedule accessible. Tickets may also be bought online, but you must pick up actual tickets at the station, which might be inconvenient if not anticipated.

In the north-east of Latvia, a small gauge railway runs between the towns of Gulbene and Aluksne. There are many tourist-oriented places of interest along the route.

Get Around - By bus

In Latvia, there are a variety of bus route operators since, unlike railways, bus routes are served by private businesses, and the companies vary by area. Bus lines run all throughout the nation, and using the bus is generally an easy and quick way to get about. In Latvia, the easiest method to get bus information is to call the inquiry service 1188 or go to a local bus station. Express buses go between large cities and have fewer stops along the route, which saves time.

Tickets may be purchased at ticket offices, on board the buses, or online. Purchasing tickets in advance is generally possible up to 10 days before travel. Luggage may be stored in the bus’s trunk, which may or may not be necessary depending on the bus company and the size of the bag. Depending on the company’s rules, you may be charged extra and given a supplementary ticket/voucher for the baggage.

If you intend on leaving Riga on Friday or Saturday, be prepared for packed buses, since bus travel is the most popular mode of transportation between cities in many areas, and many people leave Riga for the weekend. During this time, it is recommended that you purchase a ticket from the ticket office at the bus station from where you are leaving, since this will enable you to board the bus ahead of those who have either bought their tickets later or have not pre-booked at all.

Several bus companies have made arrangements to offer WiFi to passengers traveling by bus. These networks are generally free and provide excellent coverage for the duration of the journey.

Get Around - By boat

In general, boat excursions between cities inside the nation are not particularly popular. The majority of boat excursions are geared at tourists.

Traveling on river cruise boats from Riga to Jurmala during the summer is a particularly romantic way to travel: mostly two-deck motor boats with seating for 60 to 100 people. They typically leave in the morning and return in the afternoon from Riga city center. The Riga Canal, which passes across the Daugava river, is still used for cruises. For additional information and prices, please contact the tourist information office.

Get Around - By bike

Cycling is not the safest mode of transportation in the nation, particularly at night.

It is recommended that you bike early in the morning to escape the bulk of traffic. The major rush hour, from 5 to 8 p.m., is when the most traffic is anticipated.

Because there are few bicycle routes across the nation, you may find yourself riding alongside vehicles often, so be vigilant at all times. Many city dwellers choose to bike alongside people to escape traffic. Several sidewalks in Riga have lines separating one side for cyclists and the other for walkers, but this is not always the case in other cities throughout the nation, and even when it is, you will almost certainly meet individuals who do not respect the markings.

Reflective lighting, as well as front and rear lights, should be included on your bike. It’s also a good idea to wear some sort of luminous clothing, particularly if you’re riding in the dark.

Get Around - By thumb

In general, hitchhiking is an excellent method to get about in Latvia. If your location is not on the route to a bigger city, you may have some problems. Due to the lack of a clear by-pass route, navigating around Riga may be your biggest challenge. Hitchhiking may be tough because to the high volume of local traffic, since most locals will stop in Riga.

Destinations in Latvia

Regions in Latvia

Despite the fact that socioeconomic and cultural distinctions across Latvian areas are minor, they nevertheless exist. Traditional clothing is an example of this, which varies from area to region.

The nation is split into regions in a variety of official and unofficial ways. Vidzeme, Kurzeme, Zemgale, and Latgale are the most frequently split main areas. Riga, which is normally considered part of Vidzeme, is often divided into distinct regions, either by city borders or by the boundaries of the Riga Planning Region, which encompasses a wider area.

When the Riga Area is stated, most locals will think the city of Riga and its suburbs are being discussed rather than the larger formal planning region.

  • Riga region (Riga, Jūrmala)
    The central Riga Planning Territory, which contains almost half of Latvia’s population, is the Baltic nations’ biggest formal region.
  • Vidzeme (Cēsis, Sigulda)
    The longest Latvian river, Gauja, the highest point in Latvia, Gaizikalns, Latvia’s largest cave, Gtmaala, the Gauja National Park, and other attractions may all be found in the north-central Vidzeme area.
  • Kurzeme (Liepāja, Ventspils)
    The western Kurzeme area offers direct access to the Baltic Sea and displays maintained customs and culture, enabling tourists to visit sites such as ancient Livonian fishermen’s settlements.
  • Zemgale (Jelgava, Bauska)
    The Zemgale area in south-central Latvia is Latvia’s flattest region, traditionally renowned for being an excellent location for all agricultural requirements.
  • Latgale (Daugavpils, Rēzekne)
    Lakes abound in the eastern Latgale area. It has a significant ethnic Russian population, particularly in Daugavpils, the region’s main city.

Cities in Latvia

  • Riga, Latvia’s capital city and 2014 European Capital of Culture, has a lengthy history.
  • Cēsis – is one of Latvia’s oldest towns, featuring a Livonian Order Castle and attractions in the Old Town, and is situated in central Latvia.
  • Daugavpils – Daugavpils is Latvia’s second largest city, situated in the south-east and home to many factories and other businesses.
  • Jūrmala is a famous vacation spot near Riga and the Baltic Sea.
  • Kuldīga is a historic town in the western region of the nation with distinctive architecture and Europe’s largest waterfall ledge.
  • Liepaja, often known as “the Wind City,” is a city in Latvia’s south-west that has contemporary architecture and a lengthy history, as well as the previously secret Soviet military suburb of Karosta (literally: War Port)
  • Madona is a tiny town in eastern Vidzeme that is situated in a mountainous region.
  • Sigulda – a town in central Latvia with many fascinating castles and historic sites; the most popular tourist attraction outside of Riga.
  • Ventspils – is a town in Latvia’s northwestern region that is home to the Baltic nations’ busiest ice-free port.

Accommodation & Hotels in Latvia

Although there aren’t many five-star hotels in Latvia, there are lots of pleasant places to stay at affordable rates. There are many hotels to select from, with rates ranging from €30 outside of Riga to €60 downtown Riga.

There is also a modest network of youth hostels. Dormitory rooms cost around €15, while single and double rooms cost about €30.

In most parks, camping is not permitted. Although most rural property is privately owned, camping on it is generally permitted. It is a good idea to get permission from the landowner since you may be denied permission to camp on privately held property, even if just for one night. However, most people are understanding and would happily let you camp. Keep in mind that staying in close proximity to someone’s house or remaining in the same location for more than two days is deemed impolite. In general, use your common sense. There may be free campsites that are marked as such, particularly in national parks. Small-business-run commercial campsites are also growing increasingly popular in Latvia.

Guest houses or country homes, some of which are located on farms, are excellent places to stay in the countryside. Due to the restricted number of guests and individualized care, they are typically considerably less expensive than hotels and of much higher quality than hostels. These homes are often managed by families and provide a complete range of facilities, with some even adhering to hotel star standards. Many leisure activities are typically available, such as the famous Latvian sauna (pirts) and horseback riding. You may inquire with your hosts about surrounding famous sites, places to see, and any events that are taking place at the time that they would recommend attending. Keep in mind, though, that you won’t be able to just “show up” and will need to prepare ahead, calling the guest home a day or two before your visit. This may vary depending on the location. Guest homes may be found all throughout the countryside, and they are often featured in tourist brochures.

The Latvian rural tourism organization Lauku ceotjs has produced catalogs and maps that provide information on different kinds of lodging as well as cultural heritage locations and natural parks. The publications are available for download online or in the association’s Riga headquarters.

Things To See in Latvia

When people think of Europe, the tiny country of Latvia is typically not one of the first to spring to mind. After being buried beneath the Soviet Union’s huge iron no-go blanket until 1991, Latvia is only now being found by increasing tourist groups who are astonished by the Baltic country’s attractions.

Riga, Latvia’s vibrant capital and ancient city, is a fantastic location to visit. It is home to the lovely Old Town, which is full of magnificent Jugendstil architecture, winding cobblestoned streets, and numerous steeples, while also remaining a modern, metropolitan city with a vibrant nightlife and a strong economic impulse, to the point where the rise of modern buildings is threatening the Old Town’s World Heritage listing. Riga’s atmosphere attracts many visitors, maybe owing to the stark contrasts between old and modern, or perhaps due to the apparently seamless blending of Latvian and Russian cultures, given that almost half of the city’s residents are Russian. Wandering around the city’s many big parks, walking through historic districts, and relaxing in one of the cafés or outdoor terraces are all good ways to acquire a feel for the place. Riga Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, and the bustling Central Market are among the city’s must-see attractions.

Despite the fact that Riga is by far the most popular tourist attraction in the country, there are a number of other locations worth visiting. Sigulda, located 40 kilometers east of the city, is home to a number of castles, including the beautifully restored Turaida Castle and the deep Gtmanis Cave. The town, which is situated in the Gauja valley, has been dubbed “Switzerland of Latvia” due to its high cliffs and banks. It’s renowned for its winter sports possibilities and offers a wonderful opportunity to explore the beautiful natural surroundings.

Because of the continuous sea breeze, the seaside city of Liepja is renowned among Latvians as “the place where the wind was born.” It features a lovely beach and a beautiful town center with a vibrant mix of architectural styles ranging from timber homes and large parks to Art Nouveau and concrete Soviet-era apartment complexes. The Karosta neighborhood of Liepja was constructed as a naval station for Tsar Alexander III in the late 1800s and was subsequently utilized by the Soviet Baltic Fleet. Its beautiful coastal views, old military jail, and fortress have all been maintained, making it a popular tourist destination.

Csis is one of the oldest towns in the nation. The city center is beautiful, with cobblestoned lanes, old wooden houses, and a magnificent castle complex.

As part of Venta Rapid, Kuldga is home to Europe’s largest waterfall ledge. Its size, although being just two meters tall, gives it a pleasant sight. It is worth seeing, along with the old town.

The enormous white Basilica of the Assumption is located 40 kilometers north-east of Daugavpils, Latvia’s second biggest city. It is Latvia’s most significant Catholic church, and it is also known locally as Aglona Basilica, after the hamlet in which it is situated.

Rundle and Jelgava palaces are two beautiful baroque attractions in Jelgava.

Around Latvia, there are several fascinating ancient castles that have been preserved.

Things To Do in Latvia

Sports and outdoor activities

Large areas of Latvia are covered by woods and marshes due to the low population density. There are many national parks and natural preserves across the country that may be visited. The biggest is the heavily wooded Gauja National Park in the Vidzeme Region’s Gauja valley. The beautiful Cape Kolka, where the Gulf of Riga meets the Baltic Sea, is protected by the Slitere National Park.

Bird viewing is common in Latvia. There are many hiking options available at different degrees of difficulty, ranging from short hikes in ancient parks to multi-day camping and watercraft excursions. In the fall, it is common to take a walk around Sigulda and the Vidzeme Region in general to see the leaves of the trees change color, becoming red and yellow.

There are many winter activities to choose from, including snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and downhill skiing. Rmkalni, Baii, and Zviedru Cepure are all popular ski resorts. Some of the slopes are open late at night, although getting there by public transportation may be difficult at times, if not impossible.

Kayaking along rivers is one of the most popular sports for younger people after Easter, when the weather warms and the rivers fill up with water from melting snow.

Beach activities

Latvia boasts one of Europe’s longest sand beaches. In general, the sea has a fairly gentle slope. The water is warm enough to swim in between July and August. The shore south of Liepaja is one of the finest beaches since it is by the open sea, not the gulf, as it is near Riga, which means it has cleaner water, brighter sand, and less people because it is not adjacent to densely inhabited regions. Because the salt content of the water is quite low, you may not even need to wash after swimming. When the ambient temperature reaches 30°C, the water temperature remains about 20°C, making it very soothing after a long day of sunbathing.

Spas

Spas abound in Latvia, and they’re a great way to unwind. Although Jrmala, a popular vacation resort town, may be a little busy at times, it provides some of the finest choices as well as a beautiful beach.

Cultural heritage

There are many locations in Latvia where you may observe and experience the country’s cultural history, such as engaging in traditional cuisine preparation and tasting, or listening to genuine folk music. In collaboration with the Estonian rural tourist organization Eesti Maaturism, the Latvian rural tourism organisation Lauku ceotjs produced a Latvian and Estonian cultural heritage map with the English title “Worth Seeing.” This map combines information on cultural heritage places with practical information about lodging options, with a focus on rural tourism.

Food & Drinks in Latvia

Food in Latvia

Latvian food is characteristic of the Baltic area and northern nations in general, with a strong resemblance to Finnish cuisine. Except for black pepper, dill, and grains/seeds like caraway seeds, the meal is rich in butter and fat and lacking in seasonings. If you’re from the Mediterranean, you may find the cuisine bland, unpleasant, and lacking, but if you’re from England or the Midwest, you’ll have no problem adjusting to the majority of the meals.

Latvian cuisine is rooted in peasant culture and heavily reliant on foods that thrive in Latvia’s coastal, temperate environment. The basics include pork products, potatoes, rye or wheat, oats, peas, beets, and cabbage. Meat, particularly pig, is used in almost all major meal recipes. Bacon fat may be used to prepare a variety of vegetarian meals. Because of Latvia’s position on the Baltic Sea’s east coast, fish is frequently consumed: smoked and raw fish are popular. Bread and milk products, which are an essential component of Latvian cuisine, come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Meals

The average Latvian consumes three meals each day. Breakfast is typically light and consists of sandwiches or an omelette, along with a beverage, most often milk. Lunch is often eaten between noon and 3 p.m. and is the major meal of the day; as such, it may contain a wide range of dishes, as well as soup as an entrée and dessert. Supper is the final meal of the day, and some people choose to have another substantial meal afterward. It is increasingly normal to eat ready-made or frozen meals.

Type of places

It is essential to remember that the idea and meaning of cafeteria (kafejnca), canteen (dnca), and restaurant (restorns) in Latvia vary from those in other countries. A kafejnca (cafeteria) is more than simply a coffee shop; it typically offers all of the meals that one would expect from a restaurant, with the exception that a kafejnca is a lower-class eatery with no table service and less service in general. A canteen for schools, colleges, industries, and the like is referred to as a dnca (canteen). They are generally extremely inexpensive, although they may have restricted access at times. While a restorns (restaurant) is comparable to a kafejnca in terms of service and culture, the standards of service and culture for a restorns are considerably higher. In certain cases, the distinction between a kafejnca and a restaurant may be blurry.

Local fruits, vegetables, and mushrooms may be bought at open-air markets in Rga and neighboring cities and villages. Freshly harvested wild strawberries and blueberries from nearby woods, as well as large strawberries, apples, and rhubarb pies, are examples. Remember that they are mostly accessible during the summer and fall seasons.

Meat meals

All-time favorites include karbonde (pork schnitzel), karbonde ar kaulu (grilled pork chops), and ckas stilbs (pork knuckle).

Side-dishes

Everything is served with kartupei (potatoes), which are typically boiled, fried, boiled and then fried, or mashed. Grii (boiled buckwheat) is sometimes substituted for potatoes; it pairs well with skbais krjums (sour cream). Kposti (cabbage) is also a staple in most Latvian dishes. It may be eaten cold as a salad or heated as a side dish, similar to skbie kposti (sour kraut). Another side dish worth trying is pelkie ziri (grey peas), which are large, brownish-grey round peas cooked and then fried with bacon and served with kefir or sour cream.

Milk products

In comparison to other Western nations, Latvia has a significantly higher concentration of milk products. Biezpiens (quark), skbais krjums (sour cream), kefrs, and a variety of other cheeses with various flavors are available. The cheapest and, perhaps, tastiest type is a cheese that is comparable to smoked gouda but is softer. Most supermarket shops provide a variety of flavors to choose from. The biezpiena sieri, a sweet quark, is a Latvian speciality (the most prominent producers of the snack are Krumsand Baltais).

Ju siers (caraway cheese), shown to the right, is a traditional Latvian cheese that is usually offered during the festival of Ji, or midsummer.

Soups

Vegetables, broth, or milk are frequently used in soups. Latvians often eat frikadeu zupa (meatball soup), noodle soup, ziru zupa (pea soup), bieu zupa (beetroot soup), sorrel soup, and nettle soup. A unique cool beetroot soup (aukst bieu zupa) may be cooked in a variety of ways and is perfect for a hot summer day.

Sweets

Maizes zupa (literally “bread soup”), a sweet soup prepared from rye bread and fruits, is the most traditional and unique Latvian cuisine. In addition, the previously stated biezpiena sieri is very sweet and delicious. Zefrs is a soft marshmallow-like confection. Rabarberu pirgs (rhubarb cake) is a delicacy that should not be missed.

Laima and Skrveru Saldumi are two well-known local sweets producers that provide a wide range of sweets, including chocolate bars of different types, candies, marmalades, fruits in chocolate, biscuits, and more. It’s available with or without glazing, and in a variety of flavors. A caramel sweet called gotia (which means “small cow”) is worth trying. Some of the sweets sold by these two businesses come in attractive gift packaging, which may be useful for bringing mementos home. The Riga chocolate manufacturer Emihls Gustavs Chocolate is more special and expensive. They have stores in Riga’s major shopping malls and create chocolate sculptures in various forms.

Breads

Dark (rye) bread from Latvia is dense and flavorful, and it pairs well with substantial Latvian dishes like pea soup, potatoes, and schnitzels. It is said to be more nutritious than white bread. Rupjmaize is a rye-based black bread that is a national favorite and should be tasted. Saldskb maize is a bread prepared from a rye and wheat combination.

Prdzii are bacon and onion-stuffed buns. Latvian food in its purest form. Klieris is a delicious pretzel-shaped bread eaten as a treat on special occasions like naming day.

Traditional dishes

Try these meals if you want to try something really traditional:

  • potatoes boiled in quark
  • kissels made with oats and peas
  • grey peas with pork fat seasoned (fatback)
  • siļķu pudiņš (casserole made from herring and boiled potatoes)
  • sklandrausis (or sklandu rausis) is a classic Livonian sweet pie composed of rye dough and filled with potato and carrot paste and seasoned with caraway seeds.
  • asins pankūkas (pancakes made from blood)
  • maizes zupa (sweet bread soup)
  • soups that are served cold

Drinks in Latvia

For most Latvians, beer (alus) is the preferred alcoholic beverage. The major big breweries in Latvia are Aldaris and Lvu, although smaller brewers like as Uavas, Bauskas, and Piebalgas operate all throughout the nation and should not be overlooked. Riga Black Balsam (Rgas Melnais balzams), a locally distilled balsam, is also recommended.

It’s an infusion of different herbs, roots, and spices that works well as a cold cure at home. It’s quite powerful on its own (45 percent alcohol by volume) and may be consumed by adding a pinch to your tea, a few spoons to your coffee, or mixing it into different cocktails. Even though Latvia is located in the extreme north, grapes may still be cultivated effectively for the manufacture of wine. Although wine production in Latvia is usually modest, there are a few local wineries and vineyards.

Latvians have a conservative tipping culture, with an average tip of ten percent. Check your receipt since some businesses may add a tip in the bill automatically.

Money & Shopping in Latvia

The Latvian currency is the euro. This single currency is used by a number of European nations. In all nations, all euro banknotes and coins are legal tender.

100 cents are split into one euro.

The euro’s official sign is €, and its ISO code is EUR. The cent does not have an official symbol.

  • Banknotes: In all nations, euro banknotes have the same design.
  • Normal coins: On one side, each eurozone country’s coin has a unique national design, while the other side has a basic shared design. Regardless of the design, coins may be used in any eurozone nation (e.g. a one-euro coin from Finland can be used in Portugal).
  • Commemorative two euro coins: The sole difference between them and regular two euro coins is their “national” side, and they circulate freely as legal currency. Each nation may make a limited number as part of its regular coin manufacturing, and “European” two euro coins are sometimes made to mark exceptional occasions (e.g. the anniversary of important treaties).
  • Other commemorative coins: Other commemorative coins (e.g., ten euros or more) are considerably rarer, feature completely unique designs, and often include significant quantities of gold, silver, or platinum. While they are legally legal currency at face value, their material or collector value is often considerably greater, and as a result, they are unlikely to be seen in circulation.

The only location where you can acquire commemorative two euro coins at face value and exchange euro banknotes for smaller or bigger denomination euro banknotes without paying a charge is Latvijas Banka (The Latvian National Bank). This may be done in the Riga and Liepaja branches.

The signage for tax-free businesses are prominently visible.

ATMs may be found all throughout Latvia, notably at the Riga International Airport and in many small villages.

Banks will accept traveller’s checks in return for a charge, which is typically equivalent to or more than 1% of the amount exchanged or a flat cost of €10.

Shopping in Latvia

  • Amber. Most souvenir stores have it. After a storm, some may be discovered on the Baltic Sea beach if you’re fortunate. When searching for amber on beaches in western Latvia, be aware that the water around Liepja has been contaminated with phosphorous, which appears identical to amber but may catch fire when dry.
  • Smoked (black) ceramics, Latgale region.
  • Silver jewellery.
  • Pirts (Latvian style sauna) items. Fragrant oils, honey and herb-based massage lotions, sauna felt hats designed to protect hair proteins from high heat, and a variety of other products are available.
  • Mittens with ornaments. Handcrafted and symbolic of traditional culture.
  • Wool products. Slippers and shoes, vests, coats, caps, and other items used inside.
  • Dark (rye) bread (Rupjmaize). It has more energy than regular white (wheat) bread. It’s best if you get it fresh and don’t keep it for too long.
  • Riga Black Balsam (Rīgas Melnais balzams),  +371 670 81 213, toll-free: +371 80 009 990, fax: +371 673 15 265, e-mail: office@lb.lv. Traditional Latvian herbal liqueur prepared with a variety of natural ingredients. The original formula of Abraham Kunze, a druggist, is believed to have healed Catherine the Great’s strange sickness in 1755.
  • Bee products. Various types of honey, including honey with nuts, bee pollen, propolis, and beeswax candles are just a few of the local goods available.
  • Laima,  +371 670 80 301, fax: +371 670 80 332, e-mail: laima@laima.lv. Latvia’s largest confectionery manufacturer. Almost all supermarket and convenience shops throughout the nation carry the product, with specialist Laima outlets in the bigger cities.

On weekdays, specialty stores are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays are closed. Supermarkets and grocery stores are open every day. Some shut at 8 p.m., but others, particularly bigger supermarkets, stay open until 11 p.m. Convenience shops, such as Narvesen, are often open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Festivals & Holidays in Latvia

Public holidays in Latvia

Date English Name Local Name Notes
1 January New Year’s Day Jaunais Gads
The Friday before Easter Sunday Good Friday Lielā Piektdiena
March/April Easter Sunday Lieldienas
The day after Easter Sunday Easter Monday Otrās Lieldienas
1 May Labour Day Darba svētki May 1 also marks the convening of the constitutional assembly in 1920, which is commemorated on this day.
4 May Restoration of Independence day Latvijas Republikas Neatkarības atjaunošanas diena On 4 May 1990. Latvia declared its independence from the USSR, and restoration of the Republic of Latvia. The next Monday is a holiday if the day falls on a weekend.
Second Sunday of May Mother’s day Mātes diena
23 June Midsummer Eve Līgo Diena
24 June Midsummer Jāņi
18 November Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia Latvijas Republikas proklamēšanas diena On this day in 1918, Latvia declared its independence. The next Monday is a holiday if the day falls on a weekend.
24 December Christmas Eve Ziemassvētku vakars
25 December Christmas Day Ziemassvētki
26 December Boxing DaySecond Day of Christmas Otrie Ziemassvētki
31 December New Year’s Eve Vecgada vakars

Festivals in Latvia

Latvian Song and Dance Festival

One of Latvia’s most important cultural events, which began in 1873 as a singing festival. Choirs, folk dance groups, brass bands, and other live acts are now part of the event. Cultural events include competitions, exhibits, concerts, parades, and joint concerts. Riga is bustling with people dressed in traditional Latvian garb and smiling Latvians. Every five years, it takes place. The last event took place from June 30 to July 7, 2013, and the next one is scheduled for 2018.

  • New Year’s Eve, The majority of residents celebrate with their family, although there are likely to be activities on the streets as well.
  • Jāņi, Latvians commemorate the summer solstice with Ji, the midsummer celebration, on June 24. Flea markets are staged in a variety of locations prior to the festival.
  • Summer solstice celebration (Vasaras saulgrieži), Turaidas muzejrezervāts, Turaidas iela 10, Siguldas novads, Sigulda LV-2150. Throughout Latvia, traditional festivities are conducted in a variety of locations. The most well-known takes place in the Turaida Muzeum.
  • Latvian Song and Dance Festival (Latvian Vispārējie latviešu Dziesmu un Deju svētki), Vērmanes garden, Riga,  +371 28611731, e-mail: presescentrs@dziesmusvetki.lv. It takes place every five years, at the beginning of July. One of Latvia’s most important cultural events, which began in 1873 as a singing festival. Since then, this event has become an essential part of Latvian culture, having been held 25 times. It’s worth noting that there are smaller Song and Dance Festivals every five years. Around 30,000 people attend from all across the nation, with choirs and dance groups at the center of the festivities. The event also features brass bands, folk groups, performers of the zither-like kokle, amateur theater troupes, and international visitors. The annual parade through Riga’s streets is not to be missed, as the participants attract a large and passionate crowd.
  • Easter (Lieldienas), Whole Latvia. Traditional Easter festivities with swings and egg battles may typically be seen in town centers.
  • International Baltic Ballet festivalRiga,  +371 673 36 123, e-mail: info@ballet-festival.lv.
  • Cēsis art festival (Mākslas festivāls Cēsis), Cēsis,  +371 29 334 417. It takes place every year at the end of July and the beginning of August.
  • Count of May (Maija Grāfs), Spīķeru laukums, Rīga. It takes place in Rga every year in the middle of May. Medieval tournaments, witch trials, and traditional dances are all part of the festivities.
  • White night (Baltā nakts), Rīga. It takes place in Rga every year in the beginning of September.
  • Old traditions festival (Seno tradīciju festivāls), Tērvete. Every year on the second Saturday in August, this event takes place.
  • Medieval Day at Cēsis Castle (Cēsu Pils Viduslaiku diena), Cēsis. Every year on the first Saturday in August, this event takes place.
  • Latviabeerfest, Vērmanes garden, Riga,  +371 27 726 200, e-mail: info@latviabeerfest.lv. It happens once a year, around the end of May. The Baltic nations’ biggest international beer festival. €2.
  • International Ice Sculpture Festival, Uzvaras park, Jelgava,  +371 630 23 461, e-mail: kultura@kultura.jelgava.lv. It takes place every year in the beginning of February. €4.50.

Music festivals

  • Positivus Festival, Zvejnieku park, Sporta street 6, Salacgrīva, e-mail: info@positivusfestival.com. It takes place every year in mid-July. Latvia’s biggest music festival, presenting a diverse range of international performers in a laid-back atmosphere. A three-day ticket costs €60, while a VIP pass costs €200.
  • Riga Rhythms Festival (Rīgas Ritmi Festivāls), Riga,  +371 67 105 216. It takes place every year in the beginning of July.
  • Saulkrasti Jazz Festival, Saulkrasti, e-mail: saulkrastijazz@gmail.com. It happens every year at the end of July. By the water, Latvian and international artists play. There will be performances throughout week, culminating in a closing concert. It’s completely free.
  • Bauska Country Music Festival, Bauska. It takes place every year in mid-July for two days. Country artists from Europe and the United States play. Camping is available on-site.
  • Laba Daba, Līgatnes novads. It takes place every year at the end of July for two days. €30-35.

Traditions & Customs in Latvia

Latvians are typically quiet and respectful of others’ personal space; for example, strangers are seldom greeted unless they are introduced by someone. Although social ethics may not demand it, you may give someone assistance with anything, such as lifting something heavy.

When it comes to relationships and friendships, Latvians are notoriously difficult to please. In conversations, you won’t see nearly as many heart emoji as you would in other southern European nations, for example.

Near most shops, there are many garbage cans and waste bins along the pavements. Littering is considered impolite, and violators may be punished in certain cases.

Holding a door open for someone, allowing others to board a bus or train before you, and so on are all considered courteous in Latvian society. This is especially true when males let women go first.

When discussing politics and history with Latvians, particularly the Soviet Union, you should be cautious (USSR). After World War II, Latvia became a Soviet country, and many Latvians, particularly the older generations, have strong feelings on the subject. It is doubtful that praise for the Soviet and Russian governments would be understood or appreciated. Younger Latvians may be more receptive to the subject, but they all have the same viewpoint.

Culture Of Latvia

Traditional Latvian folklore, particularly the dancing of folk tunes, has a thousand-year history. More than 1.2 million words and 30,000 folk song tunes have been discovered.

Baltic Germans, many of whom were of non-German heritage but had been absorbed into German culture, constituted the top class between the 13th and 19th centuries. They created their own cultural identity, influenced by both Latvian and German influences. Despite their dispersion to Germany, the United States, Canada, and other countries in the early twentieth century, it has persisted in German Baltic families to this day. The majority of indigenous Latvians, on the other hand, did not engage in this specific cultural life. As a result, the mostly peasant pagan history of the area was maintained, partially blending with Christian customs. Ji, a pagan festival of the summer solstice—which Latvians commemorate on St. John the Baptist’s feast day—is one of the most popular festivities.

Latvian nationalism movements arose in the nineteenth century. They encouraged Latvians to participate in cultural events and promoted Latvian culture. The classical period of Latvian culture is generally considered as the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Posters by painters such as the Baltic-German artist Bernhard Borchert and the French Raoul Dufy demonstrate the influence of various European civilizations. Many Latvian artists and other members of the cultural elite left the nation when World War II broke out, but they continued to create work, mostly for a Latvian émigré audience.

The Latvian Song and Dance Festival is a significant cultural and social event in Latvia. It has taken place every five years since 1873. A total of 30,000 artists are expected to take part in the event. Although folk songs and classical choir songs are often performed, with a focus on a cappella singing, contemporary popular songs have lately been added to the repertoire.

Latvian artists and authors were compelled to adopt the socialist realism style of art after joining the Soviet Union. Music grew more popular throughout the Soviet period, with 1980s tunes being the most popular. Songs of the period frequently mocked aspects of Soviet society while also emphasizing the need of maintaining Latvian identity. This sparked anti-USSR demonstrations as well as a surge in poetry’s popularity. Theatre, scenography, choir music, and classical music have been the most prominent areas of Latvian culture since independence.

Riga hosted the 8th World Choir Games in July 2014, which attracted over 27,000 choristers from over 450 choirs from over 70 nations. The festival, which is the world’s largest of its type, takes place every two years in a new host city.

Cuisine in Latvia

Agricultural goods are often used in Latvian cuisine, with meat appearing in the majority of main meal dishes. Because to Latvia’s position on the Baltic Sea, fish is often eaten. The cuisine of Latvia has been influenced by its neighbors. Potatoes, wheat, barley, cabbage, onions, eggs, and pig are all locally available components in Latvian cuisine. Latvian cuisine is often greasy and utilizes minimal seasonings.

Grey peas and ham are often regarded as Latvian staple dishes. Latvians like sorrel soup as well. Rupjmaize is a rye-based black bread that is considered a national staple.

Sport in Latvia

Ice hockey is often regarded as Latvia’s most popular sport. Many famous hockey stars have come from Latvia, including Helmut Balderis, Artrs Irbe, Krlis Skrasti, and Sandis Ozoli, as well as more recently Zemgus Girgensons, whom the Latvian people have strongly supported in international and NHL play, as evidenced by the dedication of using the NHL’s All Star Voting to bring Zemgus to the top of the polls. Dinamo Riga, which competes in the Kontinental Hockey League, is the country’s best hockey team. The Latvian Hockey Higher League, which has been contested since 1931, is the national competition. Riga hosted the 2006 IIHF World Championship.

Basketball is the second most popular sport. Latvia has a lengthy basketball history, with the Latvian national team winning the first ever EuroBasket in 1935 and silver medals in 1939 following a one-point loss in the final against Lithuanians. Jnis Krmi, Maigonis Valdmanis, Valdis Muinieks, Valdis Valters, Igors Miglinieks, and Gundars Vtra, the first Latvian NBA player, were among the country’s numerous basketball heroes. Andris Biedri, a former NBA player, is another well-known Latvian basketball player. Kristaps Porziis, who plays for the New York Knicks in the NBA, is one of the current players. Before going bankrupt, former Latvian basketball team ASK Riga won the Euroleague competition three times in a row. VEF Rga, which plays in the EuroCup, is now Latvia’s most powerful professional basketball team. BK Ventspils, which competes in EuroChallenge, is Latvia’s second-best basketball team, having won the LBL eight times and the BBL in 2013. Latvia was one of the host countries for EuroBasket 2015.

Football, floorball, tennis, volleyball, cycling, bobsleigh, and skeleton are some of the other prominent sports (sport). For the first time, the Latvian national football team competed in the 2004 UEFA Euro.

Latvia has competed in both the Winter and Summer Olympics with success. Mris Trombergs, the most successful Olympic athlete in the history of independent Latvia, was a two-time Olympic champion in Men’s BMX in 2008 and 2012.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Latvia

Stay Safe in Latvia

Traveling throughout Latvia on your own is usually safe, but there is occasional small crime.

If you’re traveling by bike, keep an eye out for bike theft. In Latvian traffic, cyclists make up a tiny percentage, and dedicated bike lanes are uncommon. In bigger cities, it is typical to see bikes riding on the sidewalk.

If you’re traveling by vehicle, don’t leave anything important in plain sight. When traveling on lesser roads, particularly through woods, be aware that wild animals may be present. It’s especially essential to remember this throughout the night. Many Latvian drivers love speeding, and traffic frequently moves far more quickly than the rules allow.

If you’re traveling by foot, be cautious while crossing roads since many Latvian drivers are irresponsible.

When not at bars, restaurants, or other places where alcoholic drinks are served, it is considered impolite to consume them in public. When drinking alcoholic drinks from a non-consealed bottle, you may be penalized in certain locations. Drunken behavior, such as urinating in public, may result in a fine or a night in prison.

Tourist information websites say that there is virtually no difference in terms of safety between large cities and rural regions. Although it is true that one is never too far from a town or city in Latvia, finding assistance in an emergency may be more difficult in the countryside (for foreign tourists). This is because English is mostly spoken in cities, and there are few people who can understand you outside of them (young people are an exception, but they are also drawn from rural areas to bigger cities). This is partly counterbalanced by the fact that locals are often pleasant and willing to assist.

Check out the costs before eating at pubs and restaurants, particularly in Riga, and keep an eye on your statement to ensure no hidden fees are added to the final amount. Use your common sense and be wary of typical frauds. There have been instances of fraudsters starting up casual discussions with visitors and asking them to their “favorite club” or “favorite pub,” which often results in the mafia robbing the tourists, with the police allegedly being useless to those who have been duped.

Emergency numbers

  • 112 – the common emergency number, just like in other EU countries
  • 110 – state police
  • 113 – ambulance

Stay Healthy in Latvia

During your stay, you may go to any doctor or hospital you choose. You may be required to pay a charge for urgent treatment, depending on the circumstances.

Keep in mind that owing to the country’s limited number of air ambulance helicopters, obtaining medical treatment in a sparsely populated, isolated region may be difficult. It’s a good idea to have a first-aid kit on hand at such occasions. Operators on the 112 (emergency service number) will be able to help you in Latvian, English, and Russian, and will be able to send a team or link you to the proper emergency services if necessary.

Doctors often speak Latvian and Russian fluently. Some people may not be fluent in English. This is mostly determined by the doctor’s location and age.

If you need medication, it is recommended that you carry your own, since few medicines are accessible without a prescription.

Many physicians accept hidden payments from patients in the form of presents ranging from a box of chocolates to cash. This is typically because patients are aware of physicians’ poor pay and feel compelled to show their appreciation. Despite the fact that it is against local law, it is believed that one out of every four physicians has accepted or is accepting such contributions while treating patients.

If you are bitten by a snake, a domestic or a wild animal, you should seek medical help right once. With the exception of the European adder, snakes in Latvia are not poisonous. When surprised and feeling the need to protect itself, the common adder becomes hostile. Despite the fact that the venom’s toxicity is minimal, you should seek expert medical help as soon as possible. Rabies may be spread through animal bites, such as those from dogs and cats, and you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.

Mosquito bites do not transmit illness and rather cause irritation to the skin. It is common sense to avoid rubbing an itch. Mosquitoes are most active throughout the summer months and are almost non-existent during the cooler winter months.

Ticks may be found in Latvia and are most active from May to September. They’re usually found in brushy regions and woods, although they may also be found in city parks. If you think you’ve been bitten by a tick, you should seek medical help right away. Tick-borne encephalitis (which may be very prevalent; immunization is available before the season) and Lyme disease are both spread by ticks (less common; must be treated in a timely and adequate manner to avoid disabling symptoms).

Drinking tap water is usually safe. However, many residents, particularly in bigger cities, prefer to boil water before drinking it or purchase bottled water instead.

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