Latvia’s capital, Riga, is set on the Baltic Sea at the mouth of the river Daugava. It’s considered a cultural center and is home to many museums and concert halls. The city is also known for its wooden buildings, art nouveau architecture, and medieval Old Town. The pedestrian-only Old Town has many shops and restaurants and is home to busy Livu Square, with bars and nightclubs.
Riga is one of those cities which is best enjoyed by walking the cobblestone streets rather than seeking out specific sights. We are sure you’ll come across Cathedral Square and the old city walls, the Swedish Gate, and the Freedom Monument but there aren’t really any must-see sights that will wow you.
The city is well known for its Art Nouveau architecture. Its old town is filled with such buildings and has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its architecture, much of which dates to the late 1800s and early 1900s. The most popular sport is ice hockey.
While in Riga, make sure to admire the view from the spire at St. Peter’s Church, visit the Museum of Occupation of Latvia, take a free walking tour, visit the Sun Museum, spend the day shopping at Central Market, explore the Kalnciema Quarter and finally, enjoy the nightlife. With the nightlife, a word of caution comes!
Traveling to Latvia
Latvia is a member of the European Union, so traveling to Latvia and crossing borders is as simple as travel to any other European Union country. Citizens of the United States, Canada, Australia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Brazil, and other countries do not need a visa to visit Latvia.
Latvia is part of the Schengen Area. There are no border controls on the internal borders between Schengen countries, therefore citizens of the European Union and third-country nationals are free to travel within the Schengen Area.
Tourists travel to Latvia on a Schengen visa, which is valid for staying in Latvia as well as in the other Schengen Area member states. Passport control on the border is only done once the person crosses into the Schengen Area.
We highly recommend you have your passport or other ID on you while traveling in the Schengen Area. If necessary, the document will be proof of your identity. A driver’s license or bank card is not considered a valid travel or ID document.
Are Riga and Latvia Safe?
For the most part, the simple answer is yes. Latvia is a very safe country to travel to, whether you’re a solo woman, traveling with friends, as a family, or as a couple. There are a few things to know before you go, from petty crime to scams and stag party safety. Latvia has a reputation for crime and scams targeted toward travelers, and here’s what you need to know to stay safe.
You could compare being in the country to being in any large metropolitan area. You always need to be aware of your surroundings, who is watching you, and to remember to never draw attention to yourself.
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