Travellers usefull tips
Things to know about Latvia
Religion: Lutheranism, also Catholicism and Orthodoxy
Language: official language is Latvian. Russian, English and German are spread as well.
Climate is moderate. The seacoast is notable for its maritime climate and in the west of the country you should expect continental climate. The changing of low and high pressure is typical for Latvia and rains are quite frequent in summer and autumn. The warmest month is July, but it has fresh nights. The coldest month is January, slight frosts can happen during this period. The most severe winter is in continental regions, there can be -11°С and sometimes - 30°С below zero.
|January||– 5 °С|
|February||– 4 °С|
|December||– 2 °С|
Currency: Lats (international code – LVL, in the country – Ls). The lats is sub-divided into 100 santīmi. Latvian use the banknotes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100,500 lati and the coins are issued in denominations of 1, 2,5, 10, 20, 50 santimi as well as 1 and 2 lati. Some shops indicate the prices in EUR, but you can pay only in lati.
Means of payment: mostly everywhere (restaurants, cafes, and shops) you can pay by credit cards, such as EUROCARD, VISA, MASTERCARD, JCB, AMERICAN EXPRESS, DINER'S CLUB, EUROCHEQUE. When you are paying by card for goods or services, there isn’t any bank charge, only a currency conversion. You won’t have problems with cash machines, as they are located in every department store, restaurant, shop, airport and railway station.
Currency exchange: in Latvia you can identify bank or exchange office by the signboard "Valutas maina". Banks are usually open from 9:00am to 4:30pm in weekdays. Some large banks work till 7:00pm, and also on Saturday till 12:30pm.
Shopping: Latvian shops work from 10:00am till 7:00pm without a break. Grocery shops are usually open from 8:00am till 9:00pm. On Saturdays, shops work till 4:00pm, Sunday is a day off. Some stores can work around the clock seven days a week.
Calles to Latvia from other countries: if you need to make a call to Latvia on landline or mobile phones, you should use a country code 371 – a dialling code – a phone number, a country code 371 – a code of cell operator – a phone number.
Calles from Latvia to other countries: if you call from a landline phone, you should dial 00 – a country code – a dialling code – a phone number. For calls from mobile phones, deal + a country code – a dialling code – a phone number. If you call on a mobile phone, a dialling code isn’t necessary.
Useful phone numbers in Latvia:
Phone number of emergency services (police, ambulance, fire station) – 112
Emergency breakdown services – 67-222-222, 29-600-600
Information service – 1180, 1188
24-hour tourist hotline – +371 22-033-000
Time zone of Latvia: UTC+2
EET – Eastern Europe Time
Time zone in summer: UTC+3
Daylight saving time is the last Sunday of March at 1:00 am, back – the last Sunday of October at 1:00 am.
Customs: when you are going to Latvia you should know, that the custom duties are not charged if your goods don’t go beyond 210 lati by road, and 300 lati by air or sea.
Children under 15 years can import up to 200 lati worth goods.
1) 200 cigarettes, or 250 grams of tobacco, or 50 cigars ( if you come by air)
2) 40 cigarettes, or 50 grams of tobacco, or 10 cigars ( if you choose another transport)
3) 1 litre of drinks, in which alcohol content is more than 22%
4) 4 litres of wine
5) 16 litres of beer
6) 50 gr of perfume or 250 ml of cologne
People under 18 years are not allowed the exemption from taxes on the import of alcohol and tobacco products.
Import and export of foreign currency is unlimited. The sum over 4350 American dollars should be declared. The amount over 10 000 American dollars should be declared with documentary evidence of the legal origin of the money.
a) public transport:
In Latvia, public transport works from 5:00am to 11:00pm. Some routes have a night service. Once an hour, after 11:00pm some trams and buses run between main destinations. To save money on your traffic way, you can buy a daily e-ticket for all public transport. It can be bought from an on-board conductor or an automatic machine set in the streets and trams. The price of the ticket is about Lt1,90.
1. Buses run frequently with intervals 10-15 minutes. There are two known routs: №22 – from the airport via the railway station and the central market. The fare is about 30 santimi. Also there is an express train 22a, better for people who want to get from the airport to the Cathedral. The express train runs every hour. The fare is only 40 santimi, so you can save money on a taxi. There are night bus routes in big cities, but they go only in summer and autumn on Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays.
2. Taxi: there is no blanket rate for passengers transportation in the country, but many taxi drivers take on average Lt0,50 for 1km. With some of them you can negotiate even for Lt0.3 for 1 km. Of course, the greatest number of taxi companies is in Riga. In other cities, you are advised to search for a taxi at stations. Also take attention to the fact that at night the taxi fare will cost more; for saving money, better to order a taxi by phone, rather than catch it on the street.
3. Trolleybus: there are twenty routes in Riga. The fare is about 70 santimi if you pay a bus-driver. When you buy e-ticket, the fare will be cheaper. The way from one part of the city to another takes about an hour. Almost all trolley routes cross near Riga Central Station.
4. Trams: there is such kind of transport only in Riga, Daugavpils and Liepāja. You should buy tram tickets in advance. E-tickets allow you to use all kinds of public transport. You can buy them at Client Service Centres, at last bus-stops, in automatic machines, post offices, stalls like Narvesen, Preses apvienība, Plus Punkts, as well as in Riga Ticket Offices. In summer, the retro tram runs between two routes in Riga. It has got 28 seats. On weekends, you can travel by it from Radio Street to Auseklja Street. On weekdays, you can easily rent it for meetings or events.
b) long distance transport
1. Buses: this kind of transport is the most demanded in Latvia. All routes that run around the country start from Central Riga Railway Station. Tickets can be easily bought from the conductors or in ticket offices.
2. Trains: there are 4 routes of electric trains, and 6 long-distance routes of diesel trains. You are advised to buy tickets in ticket offices. If you buy them from a conductor, you’ll pay in addition. You can get your tickets without extra money, only if the ticket offices are closed.
3. Planes: the internal flights are poorly developed; the main route is Riga-Liepaja. That’s why it’s easier to travel between the cities by bus. From Liepaja Airport to Riga you can quickly get by a small passenger aircrafts, which places 52 people.
Water transport in Latvia: in summer, water buses run in Riga. You can get from one district of the capital city to another by such transport. In such way you can get to Jurmala. If you want, any water transport can be rented.
You can rent a car either in the capital or in the other cities. Rental can be ordered in advance by internet or phone with the delivery to the right place. Such delivery will cost about Lt15-35, and you should pay Lt35-80 per day for a car rent. Except cars, in Latvia you can rent a camper, motor home. If you plan a trip in one direction, you can leave a rented car in any city or country for extra fee. Many rental companies are allowed to drive a rented car across the EU. One more important detail – in Latvia, you should always keep your low beam on.
Bike rent is organized pretty well in Latvia. There are companies that offer this service almost in all cities of the country. You can rent it in one city and leave it in another one. To ensure, you should give money or documents. The rental will cost about Lt2 per hour or Lt6 per day.
The peculiarities of traffic rules in Latvia: speed limit in cities is 50 km/h, outside cities – 90km/h. Some motorways, for example Riga – Jurmala, have areas where the speed limit is 100 km/h. The allowed alcohol content in blood is 0.5 per mille. For drivers, whose driving experience is less than 2 years, the maximum allowable level is 0.2 per mille. For driving under the influence of alcohol you will pay a fine of €800 or will be arrested for 15 days with the deprivation of your driver’s licence. In Latvia, the headlights or low beam lights should be switched on 24-hours at any time of the year. The violation of this rule will cost from €8 to 50, depending on the time of the day. A driver and all other passengers must always wear seat belts. Installing of antiradar masking is forbidden. Each car must have a breakdown triangle, a car first aid kit, a fire extinguisher, a reflective vest and winter tires. Children under the age of 14 and less than 150 cm must travel with a special child restraint, which appropriate for their weight.
Hotels: the greatest number of luxury hotels is in Riga. There are many new hotels with modern design in Latvia. You can order it in advance by internet or by phone. In the resort cities, in summer, some inhabitants offer to rent their flats or villas for a small fee.
Tipping: the usual deal in Latvian restaurants is to leave the waiter 5 -10% of the total bill. As a rule, it is already included in the bill, so it is not required. If you wish to thank the waiter, you can just round off the bill.
Public holidays in Latvia:
1 January – New Year's Day
25 March – The day of remembrance for Communist Terror Victims
April–May – Easter Sunday
1 May – Labour Day
The second Monday of May – Mother’s Day
4 May – Restoration of Independence Day
8 May – The day of remembrance for Victims of World War II
14 June – The day of remembrance for Communist Terror Victims
23-24 June – St John’s day
4 July – Memorial Day of Jewish genocide
11 August – Memorial Day of Latvian Freedom Fighters
22 September – Baltic Unity Day
11 November – Lacplesis Day
18 November – Proclamation of the Republic of Latvia
25-26 December – Christmas Day, Boxing Day Second Day of Christmas
Traditions and rules of conduct in the country
It is prohibited to smoke and to be with an opened alcohol bottle in public places. You can not show up drunk. As a result of such violation, you can be arrested or pay a fine about Lt100. It is also prohibited to lie or walk on the lawn in the centre of the capital. You are advised to put on closed modest clothes, if you are going to local churches.
Electricity in Latvia
The voltage across the country is 220V and 50Hz. Europlugs are commonly used.
The citizens of the European Union, residents of Schengen Agreement Area, citizens of the USA, Canada and some other countries do not require a visa to enter the Republic of Latvia. Also, visa is not necessary for citizens with a residence permit in one of the Schengen countries; they can arrive in Latvia for three months without it. Visa is required for citizens of Russia, CIS and other countries, which don’t have a visa-free entry to the Schengen countries.