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Travel Essentials

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Costs

Daily budget Basic €45/occasional treat €60; Drink Aldaris beer €2.50; Food Pork with potatoes and sauerkraut €6; Hostel/budget hotel €18 /€30–45. Travel Bus: Rīga–Liepāja €8.50, Train: Rīga–Sigulda €3

Crime and Personal Safety

Theft is the biggest hazard. If you’re staying in a cheap hotel, don’t leave valuables in your room. Muggings and casual violence are not unknown in Rīga; avoid parks and backstreets after dark. Police (policija), who are unlikely to speak much English, will penalize you if you’re caught drinking in public – expect a stiff fine. Some strip clubs are notorious for ripping off drunk foreign males.

Emergencies

Police 02; Ambulance 03; Fire 01.

Health

Pharmacies (aptieka) are well stocked with over-the-counter painkillers, first aid items, sanitary products and the like. In larger cities, they tend to be open from 8am until 8pm. There are 24-hour pharmacies in the capital, where, with some luck, you’ll find an English speaker. Emergency medical care is free, but if you fall seriously ill, try and head for home, as many Latvian medical facilities are still lagging behind those in Western Europe.

Information

Tourist offices run by the Latvian tourist board (latvia.travel) are located at the centre of most major cities and well-touristed towns. Rīga in your Pocket (inyourpocket.com; €3) is an excellent English-language listings guide. The Baltic Times (baltictimes.com) provides weekly updates on current affairs and events in English while Rīga This Week is a detailed listings guide.

http://www.rigathisweek.lv Extensive website of Rīga This Week, a free listings magazine.

Internet

Internet cafés in the capital are becoming obsolete due to ever-increasing number of wi-fi hotspots and free internet and wi-fi offered by guesthouses, hotels and youth hostels.

Mail

Post offices (pasts) are generally open from 8am to 7pm during the week and from 8am to 3pm on Saturdays.

Money and Banks

In January 2014 Latvia adopted the euro (€). Bank (banka) hours vary, but in Rīga many are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, and on Saturdays from 10am to 3pm. Outside the capital, many close at 1pm and most are closed on weekends. Exchanging cash is straightforward, even outside banking hours, as Rīga is full of currency exchange offices (valktas apmaiņa); shop around to get the best rate. ATMs are plentiful nationwide and accept most international cash cards. Credit cards are accepted in an increasing number of establishments.

Opening Hours and Holidays

Shops are usually open weekdays from either 8 or 10am to 6 or 8pm, and on Saturdays from 10am to 7pm. Some food shops are open until 10pm and are also open on Sundays. In Rīga there are a few 24-hour shops, which sell food and alcohol.

Most shops and all banks close on the following public holidays: 1 January, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, May 1, the second Sunday in May, June 23 and 24, November 18, December 25, 26 and 31.

Phones

Modern public phones are operated with either credit cards or magnetic cards (telekarte), which come in 2 and 5Ls denominations, and are sold at post offices and most newsagents. Using mobile phones from other European countries is fairly inexpensive, but check roaming charges with your phone company.

 

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