Riga is «the Baltic pearl» – an 800-year-old Hanseatic city on the banks of the river Daugava, where an eventful history and a modern lifestyle merge harmoniously.
The Latvian language is the most prevalent in Riga, but in venues, establishments and shops you can speak to service personnel in Russian, English and/or German. Here are some standard words and phrases in Latvian to help you along:
- Good morning, good afternoon, good evening! — Labrīt, labdien, labvakar!
- Thank you! — Paldies!
- Your welcome! — Lūdzu!
- Yes — Jā
- No — Nē
- One more beer, please! — Vēl vienu alu, lūdzu!
Currency and payments
Latvia’s national currency is the euro. Most convenient is your credit card. Riga, especially Old Town, has many currency exchange outlets with late night and weekend hours of operation. In clubs, bars and other venues, smoking is prohibited. No smoking also at bus, trolley and tram stops, train station platforms, parks and at least 10 meters away from front entrances to schools, public buildings, etc.
Alcohol use and public transportation
Open containers of alcohol are restricted in all public places. Alcohol use outdoors in Riga is permitted only in summer cafes and beer gardens. Public transportation in the city is provided by trams, trolleys and buses. Fare — the so-called e-ticket (e-Talons), can be bought in retail outlets, one-trip tickets – from the driver. Riga has many taxi cab companies, but in order to avoid potential problems, we recommend using those at official taxi stands or calling for one by telephone.
Emergencies and tourist information
The emergency number for police, ambulance, fire brigade and other rescue services is 112. The call is free of charge. Tourist Information Centres can be found at the airport, the railway station and the bus terminal. Riga has 36 foreign embassies and 16 honorary consulates. Riga also offers automobile and bicycle hire.
Entering from other European Union countries, 10 litres of spirits can be brought for personal use, while from other countries only one litre of spirits is allowed. Restrictions are also imposed on transporting other alcoholic drinks and cigarettes. If you have obtained a valuable work of art in Riga worth more than 300 lats (428 euro) and it is at least 50 years old, you need a special permit in order to take it out of Latvia.