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 some museums and a free walking tour of Old Rīga. Cards are available for purchase at 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.
Fast internet access and full office services, including copying and printing, are available at Copy Pro.
Most cafes offer free wi-fi to patrons or have password-free access.
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.
ATMs are easily found across Rīga.
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 In a corner of the Blackheads House, dispenses popular tourist maps and oodles of other information. Books entertainment, tours and day trips. Sells the Riga Pass discount card.
1188 (www.1188.lv) Lists virtually every establishment in Rīga and the rest of Latvia. The site also provides up-to-date information on Rīga nightlife and traffic plus bus and transit info.
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. Chill out at the playground in the Pilsētas Kanāls (City Canal) parks. Take the tykes to the zoo in forested Mežaparks or, in summer, 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 water slides.