Rīga's cobbled streets hinder accessibility for wheelchair users and ramps may not always be available at tourist sites, hotels and restaurants. Accessible toilets can be difficult to find.
Some buses and trams have low floors or ramps, in addition to designated seating. Travellers with collapsible wheelchairs who can be transferred into a car seat should be able to use taxis without any issues.
Dangers & Annoyances
Rīga is generally safe, but exercise common sense.
- Be mindful of your belongings in areas trodden by tourists, lest bag-snatchers and pickpockets be tempted.
- Drunks get rowdy in nightlife areas, the Old Town especially.
- Beware of money scams in nightclubs. Rīga has a reputation for seedy venues that use women to lure men into buying bottles of low-quality alcohol and then charging them inordinate prices – refusal to pay results in being confronted by bouncers.
- Travellers of colour might experience racism in Rīga. Some restaurants and bars have been known to simply ignore or even refuse to serve melanin-rich patrons.
If you have a long list of sights and activities on your checklist, pick up a Rīga Pass. Perks include free public transport, free or discounted admission to most museums, discounts in restaurants and a free walking tour of Old Rīga. Cards are available for purchase at a variety of locations including the tourist office, the airport and several major hotels. Prices for one-/two-/three-day cards are €25/30/35. Check www.liveriga.com for more information.
Free wi-fi is a standard even in the most obscure hotels, as well as in most cafes and restaurants (but you'll need to ask the waiter for password). The National Library is unbeatable as a quiet space to work and surf the internet. It only takes a few minutes to get a permanent pass.
Birojnica If you need a working desk away from your working desk (self-hired folks often do), as well as fast internet access and printers, this nicely designed modern co-working space is the place to go. It's €1.50 per hour (internet access only) or €6 per day (internet, unlimited coffee, printers).
Rīga's LGBTIQ scene is small, with just a few establishments that cater specifically to the community. It is the only Baltic country to ever host Europride (2015) and is one of the host cities of Baltic Pride (www.balticpride.org), an annual festival that rotates between Rīga, Vilnius and Tallinn.
There are scores of ATMs scattered around the capital. If for some reason you are having trouble locating a bank, walk down Kaļķu iela (which turns into Brīvības bulvāris) and within seconds you will find a bank or ATM. Withdrawing cash is easier than trying to exchange travellers cheques or foreign currencies; exchange bureaus often have lousy rates and most do not take travellers cheques. For detailed information about Latvian currency and exchange rates visit www.bank.lv.
Toilets are Western-style, with men's facilities marked with a 'V' for vīrieši (men), a 'K' for kungi (gentlemen) or a triangle pointing down. Women's toilets are indicated by an upwards pointing triangle, an 'S' for sievietes (women), or a 'D' for dāmas (ladies).
You'll find the occasional public toilet, but restaurants and hotels are still your best bet – most don't mind if you aren't a paying customer.
Tourist Information Centre Dispenses tourist maps and walking-tour brochures, helps with accommodation, books day trips and sells concert tickets. It also stocks the Rīga Card, which offers discounts on sights and restaurants, and free rides on public transport. Satellite offices can be found in Livu laukums (May to September only) and at the bus station.
Practical Tip: Local Guides
It’s well worth picking up the following print publications.
- Another Guide (www.anothertravelguide.com) This website gives a local insight on popular haunts as well as more obscure Rīga sights and venues. A collection of its reviews is available in a beautifully designed book sold in major book stores.
- Rīga in Your Pocket (www.inyourpocket.com/latvia/riga) Handy city guide published every other month. Download a PDF version or pick up a copy at most midrange or top-end hotels (free).
- Riga this Week (www.rigathisweek.lv) An excellent (and free) city guide available at virtually every sleeping option in town. Published every second month.
Travel with Children
The Unesco-protected streets of Old Rīga can feel like a magical time warp for the 12-and-under bunch. During the summer months, take the tykes to the zoo in forested Mežaparks or let the little ones cool off on the beach in nearby Jūrmala. Here, between spirited sessions of wave-jumping and sandcastle-building, try Līvu Akvaparks, Latvia’s largest indoor water park, which features a wave pool and a tangle of waterslides.