Getting there & away
Buses to/from other towns and cities use Rīga's international bus station (Rīgas starptautiskā autoosta; www.autoosta.lv; Prāgas iela 1), behind the railway embankment just beyond the southern edge of Old Town. Up-to-date timetables and fares are displayed in the station (with final destination and departure platforms) and on the bus station's well- organised website. Most staff in the information office (izziņas; 9000 0009) speak English.
Ecolines (6721 4512; www.ecolines.lv) has an office at the bus station and another called Norma-A (6727 4444; A Čaka iela 45) in town. It runs weekly services to/from Bremerhaven in Germany, Brussels, Kyiv, London, Moscow, Paris and Prague.
Weekly buses to Berlin and other cities in Germany, St Petersburg (via Jēkabpils and Rēzekne) and Kaliningrad are operated by Eurolines (6721 4080; www.eurolines.lv), based at the bus station. Eurolines also runs daily inter-regional services to/from Valga (3¼ hours, one daily), Tartu (4¾ hours, one daily), Tallinn (5¼ hours, five daily), Vilnius (five hours, four daily), Kaunas (3½ hours, one daily) and Klaipėda (six hours, twice daily).
The bus services within Latvia include, among others, the following:
Bauska 1½ hours, hourly btwn 5.30am and 5.10pm.
Cēsis two hours, hourly btwn 6.30am and 6.55pm.
Daugavpils four hours, up to seven daily.
Jelgava one hour, one or two daily.
Kolka 5¾ hours, three daily.
Kuldīga three to four hours, six to 10 daily.
Liepāja 3½ hours direct, four to 4½ hours via Kalnciems, five to seven hours via Jelgava or Tukums, hourly between 6.40am and 4.45pm.
Rēzekne 4½ hours, up to six daily.
Sigulda one hour, hourly between 8.15am and 8.10pm.
Talsi 2½ hours, hourly between 7.55am and 8.45pm.
Tukums 1¼ hours, eight daily.
Valka 3¾ hours, up to four daily.
Valmiera 2½ hours, hourly between 6.20am and 10.20pm.
Ventspils 2½ to four hours, hourly between 7.05am and 10.30pm.
Motorists have to pay 5Ls per hour to enter Old Town, payable with a viedkarte - a magnetic strip card, sold and recharged at the information desk inside the Centrs Universālveikals and out of town at the Statoil (Eksporta iela 1c; 24hr) petrol station.
Car-hire firms include the following:
Avis Airport (6720 7535); Krasta iela (6722 5876; www.avis.lv; Krasta iela 3)
Budget Airport (6720 7327; www.budget.com)
Europcar Airport (6720 78 25); Basteja bulvāris (6722 2637; www.europ car.lv; Basteja bulvāris 10)
Hertz Airport (6720 7980; www.hertz.com)
Sixt Airport (6720 71 31); Aspazijas bulvāris (6722 4036; www.sixt.lv; Aspazijas bulvāris 8)
Rīga train station (centrālā stacija; 6583 3095, advance reservations 6721 6664; Stacijas laukums), at the southern end of the park-and-boulevard ring, underwent a €5.8 million face-lift in 2003.
Tickets are sold in the main departures hall: window Nos 1-6 sell tickets for starptautiskie vilcieni (international trains); window Nos 7-9 sell tickets for long-distance dizeļvilcieni (diesel trains); and window Nos 10-13 sell tickets for slower elektrovilcieni (electric suburban trains).
Staff at the information desk (izziņas; 6583 2134) don't appear to be very cooperative - a less frustrating bet for schedules is to consult the train timetable on Latvian Railways' website at www.ldz.lv.
There are six suburban lines out of Rīga, served in the main by elektrovilcienci. Speedier diesel trains serve some larger suburban stations, like Valmiera.
Ergļi-Suntaži Three trains daily take this line.
Ogre-Krustpils This line follows the Daugava River inland to Krustpils, opposite Jēkabpils. Trains run between 5.10am and 11.12pm. Destinations include Ogre, Lielvārde, Aizkraukle or Krustpils. Long-distance trains heading to Daugavpils, Rēzekne, Zilupe and Moscow also take this line.
Priedaine-Dubulti-Sloka-Ķemeri-Tukums This is the line to take for Jūrmala. Two to five trains an hour leave for each of Ķemeri, Sloka and Tukums II between 5.45am and 11.10pm. All call at Dubulti and most at Majori.
Saulkrasti-Skulte Two to three trains an hour leave for varying destinations, including Skulte and Vecāķi, between 5.52am and 11.08pm.
Sigulda-Cēsis-Valmiera There are four trains daily to Sigulda, two to Cēsis and four to Valmiera. All call at Sigulda; Valmiera trains also call at Cēsis. The long-distance train to St Petersburg also takes this line. This line runs from 5.42am to 10.36pm.
The timetable for atiesanas laiks (departures) listing the final destination, platform number, name of train and departure time is bang opposite you when you enter the station. To check pienaksanas laiks (arrivals), consult the printed timetables on the wall.
It is quicker to get to Tallinn by bus. There is a slow overnight train to/from Vilnius (6/8/11Ls for a seat/couchette/bunk in four-bed compartment, 7½ hours) via Kaunas (but again, the bus is easier to both places), and an overnight train to St Petersburg (10/20/31Ls for a seat/couchette/bunk in four-bed compartment, 50Ls in 1st class, 12¾ hours) that stops in Krustpils, Rēzekne and a handful of other towns. Other mainline services include the following.
Daugavpils 3½-4¼ hours, four daily.
Liepāja five to 5¾ hours, two daily.
Valga via Sigulda, Cēsis & Valmiera three to 3½ hours, one daily.
Ventspils 4¾ hours, two daily.
Rīga's ferry terminal (6732 9882; www.rop.lv; Eksporta iela 1) is about 1.5km downstream (north) of Akmens Bridge. It is served by a twice-weekly ferry to/from Kiel, Germany. Tickets are sold at the Hanza Maritime Agency (6732 3569; www.hanza.lv; Eksporta iela 3a). There is also a twice-weekly ferry to/from Lübeck, Germany.
Between mid-April and mid-September the Max Mols ferry sails every second day between Nynashamn, 60km south of Stockholm, and Rīga. The service is operated by Rīgas Jūras Līnija (RJL; Rīga Sea Line; 6720 5460; www.rigasealine.lv; Eksporta iela 3a). Ferry tickets are also sold at travel agencies.
Andrejosta (6732 3225; firstname.lastname@example.org; Eksporta iela 1a), Rīga's yacht centre, rents out yachts from 10Ls per day. It has a mooring depth of up to 4m.
Rīga Airport (Lidosta Rīga; 6720 7009; www.riga-airport.com) is at Skulte, about 8km west of the city centre. Most major European airlines have an office here, including Latvia's national carrier, AirBaltic (6720 7777; www.airbaltic.com; airport & Kaļķu iela 15). Its Estonian counterpart, Estonian Air (6721 4860; www.estonian-air.ee; Kaļķu iela 15) is in town.
AirBaltic flies twice daily Monday to Friday to/from Tallinn (code-sharing with Estonian Air) and twice a day Tuesday to Thursday to/from Vilnius. Return fares to Tallinn/Vilnius start at around 76/75Ls (three-day advance purchase, maximum stay of five days).