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Riga Latvia
Riga Latvia
Rundale Palace
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Swedish Gate
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About Latvia (LV)


The Baltic nation of Latvia (LV) has one of the lowest tourism profiles in Europe, which is really too bad, because the country has a surprising number of natural and historical attractions that haven’t been trounced to death by crowds of eager visitors. The capital city of Riga sees the most international visitors, but the true unknown gem of Lativa is found along its 500 km of untouched coastline on the Baltic Sea. Although Northern Europe is hardly regarded as destination for aquatic recreation, Latvia’s soft, sandy beaches are as clean as the water is cold. Meanwhile, more than half of Latvia is covered in old-growth forests, and home to a wide variety of nature parks and hiking trails.

  Getting around

Getting around Latvia is more convenient and economical for visitors who rent a car. Main roads are in good to fair condition, well-marked, and head to every nook and cranny of the country. Due to its low population density, Latvia rarely deals with traffic congestion — even in the larger cities. For the most part, Latvian drivers are considerate and respectful — despite the fact that traffic fatalities are slightly above the European average (but declining each year). Road rules will be exceedingly familiar to drivers of all Western nations; however, all signage is in Latvian, with some bearing Russian (Cyrillic) characters. Visitors from English-speaking countries are likely to get by without learning any of the local tongue, especially in Riga, but be advised that less than half of Latvians speak any English at all.

  Choosing your car

Car rentals in Lativa are supplied by Avis, Sixt, Enterprise, National, and Europcar. Choose your car hire in Latvia from the broad spectrum of vehicles on offer: minicars, compact hatchbacks, economy and fullsize sedans, estate wagons, midsize and standard SUVs, and 7-12 seater minivans.

  Tips and advice for renting a car in Latvia

1

Latvians have a warm and welcoming attitude toward foreign visitors, and despite the language barrier, most people are more than willing to help.

2

Crime is generally not much of a problem in Latvia, and extremely unlikely to affect tourists. However, pickpockets and scam artists are common in Riga.

3

Despite the heavy Russian influence found throughout Latvia, it’s recommended that you avoid mentioning anything in context between the two countries.

4

The best time to visit Latvia is June through September; otherwise, wet and wintery conditions prevail, which may attribute to the high traffic fatality rate. It seems that when Latvians have an accident, they go all-in. Like anywhere else, you probably shouldn’t attempt to drive in Latvia in winter without a considerable amount of experience. And definitely stick to major thoroughfares.

5

Eastern European driving habits tend toward the selfish side of the spectrum, particularly among older drivers. The younger generations are considerably more educated about driving safety, but you’re advised to keep an eye out for elderly drivers — and stay as far away from them as possible.

6

Latvian state roads marked with a “black dot” are considered hazardous and should be avoided by visitors.

Latvia Driving Ideas Guide


Latvia, among the world's greenest countries, lies between Estonia and the Gulf of Riga to the north and Lithuania to the south. The treasures of Latvian nature, such as rivers, lakes, the beaches and forests, are freely accessible to everyone. In fact Latvia has one of the longest sand beaches in Europe and in July and August the water is warm enough to swim comfortably.

Driving in Latvia can be fun and is by far the best way to see the country. Urban roads are generally in good condition and well maintained, even in winter, although night driving is not recommended in rural areas.

Explore Riga, the European capital of free WiFi, and beyond

Riga, the multicultural capital of Latvia, is located on the Gulf of Riga coast, at the mouth of the largest river, the Daugava. Long stretches of beach and pine forests lie just 20km from Riga’s centre.

A UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage city, Riga is known for its medieval buildings, unique Art Nouveau examples, as well as traditional wooden houses.  Visiting the Riga market is an essential experience. Make sure you try the famous Latvian black bread and marvel at the beautiful amber jewellery for which Latvia is famous.

Both Jurmala and Ķemeri National Park make excellent day trips from Riga.  Jurmala, a mere 40kms from Riga, is a unique ‘health’ resort town with a 26km long pristine sandy beach, the largest water amusement park in Northern Europe, and one of the largest collections of historic wooden houses in Latvia.  Hiking and biking are great activities in these beautiful surroundings, but for something more relaxed try one of Jurmala’s many healing spas.

Introducing Western Latvia (Kurzeme) — Driving from Riga to Ventspils

Kurzeme region (Courland) offers endless kilometres of natural beauty. The region’s coastline of sandy beaches is tailor-made for off-the-beaten-track adventures, whilst the small fishermen’s villages on the Kurzeme seashore welcome visitors with many delights.

The drive from Riga to Ventspils via Saldus and Kuldiga, is approximately 225km.  Saldus is a small town in Kurzeme nestled in a cosy valley next to the River Ciecere and Lake Saldus. Famous as the ‘sweet town’, you can watch the local sweets manufacturers at work and sample their treats. Plan to the hugely popular rock festival ‘Saldus Saule’ (The Sun of Saldus), which is the oldest traditional rock festival in Latvia.

A 50km drive from Saldus takes you to the historical centre of Kuldiga.  Kuldiga town has preserved its typical provincial style - narrow streets, peculiar one-storey houses with a chimney in the middle, and red roof tiles are still preserved. The Aleksupite River flows directly along the walls of many buildings, which is why Kuldiga is often called the ‘Venice of Latvia’.

Your last stop is the harbour town of Ventspils on the coast of the Baltic Sea. The River Venta, after which it was named, runs through it. Some of the must-see places are the old town, with narrow cobbled streets, quaint buildings and squares, and the Castle of the Livonian Order - one of the oldest medieval fortresses in Latvia.

Return to Riga from Ventspils via Cape Kolka

From Ventspils you can drive back to Riga via Kolka, on approximately 187km of mostly coastal road. Cape Kolka (Kolkasrags) is where the Baltic Sea meets the Gulf of Riga. Hauntingly beautiful, a journey here feels like a trip to the end of the earth - a special experience to share.  Cape Kolka’s lighthouse (Slitere) is located on the only Latvian sea island where the tundra-like expanse is home to a variety of wildlife.

Latvia is an unusual destination with a lot to offer, and we believe you should spend time doing more, without spending more.  To find the best deals and choices for rental cars and accommodation you need not look further than Cheaperthancars and Cheaperthanhotels.

Your Cheaperthancars Team

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