Holidays in Riga - good or bad?

I've heard a mixed bag of reports about holidaying in Riga, Latvia. Some say its a really interesting, fun place; but others have got really negative things to report. What's everyone else's experience?
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Comments

  • edited 8:01PM
    I visited Riga last weekend with 4 mates, we didn't have the same bad experiences as most seemed to have. It's true they are not the friendliest or most mannerly people, even to each other. But we weren't knifed, shot, beaten up or robbed! We did find that they will try to make a little extra money from you (twice we were told we didn't pay for drinks when we did), but hey it's the same tourist trap everywhere you go!! Also found it good value for money. It's a beautiful city and would have been more so had it not rained most of the time
  • edited 8:01PM
    I really enjoyed my week end in Riga. The old town is beautiful and very well preserved. I highly recommend to walk through Alberta street where gems of the Art Nouveau buildings can be seen. I stayed at Dodo Hotel, very nice rooms for very good price (I appreciated the free Wifi, more Western hotel should do the same!)
  • edited 8:01PM
    If I had an advice to give about Latvia, It would be "don't go there". If you travel to Latvia to visit museum or anything else like that you won't have a lot of problems. If you go to Riga because you heard that it was a nice town to have fun. You are wrong. Everything is fraud in this country. Believe me I lost €3000 there and I didn't go there for sex, just to drink with some friends. I thought I was in security because I drank in a pub in the old town but I was wrong.
  • edited 8:01PM
    I came to Riga thinking it was going to be a place like Prague. Unfortunately it's the worse place on earth I've been too, prices you get ripped off especially at a bar and club. The girls are too pretty like Pamela Anderson but greedy. Never go to Mademoiselle bar this the worse strip bar in the world, expensive ripped off by excess off 2000 pounds. The scenery is pretty in some places on the tour bus. But overall it is just a dump. Definitely would not recommend it to any English speaking people. They are only after your money- sorry! But if you're serious go and make your own opinion and see what you get! Good Bye RIGA for good!!
  • edited 8:01PM
    Why would anybody go to Riga, I would rather have my fingers nail pulled out than ever go there again! Myself and my daughter went to visit her friend who is based there, we were not looking forward to this visit, and it was worse than we imagined... What foul horrible, dull, dull, people, so rude, rip off prices, full of hookers, robbers and we were just counting down the hours to get back on that plane. The plane was full of Lativans going to Dublin, to collect their dole, and welfare payments, the Polish people are much nicer, warmer people, who also have a sad history. But manners and a smile cost nothing.
  • edited 8:01PM
    Never have I visited such a degenerate and filthy country as Latvia, and they are two of its better features! There are possibly undiscovered tribes in the Amazon that have developed more manners and personality than that of the Latvian people, and such tribes are probably a lot more welcoming too. Seriously though, I have been living in Riga for 6 weeks now and I can say without a doubt that the people here are rude, miserable and totally unwelcoming. If you are thinking of coming here for a holiday simply DON'T! Save your money and spend it in a country that has at least developed basics of manners and decency. But hey... look on the bright side, the average Latvian person's lifespan is 10 years less than civilised countries of Europe so they don't have to stay unhappy and rude for too long. I am trying to think of something good to say about this degenerate part of the world, but I seriously can't. Oh hang on, a good point: The airport is only a short distance from the city so you can quickly make an exit back to a civilised country, which is something I guarantee you will be praying to do after a few hours here in Riga.
  • edited 8:01PM
    I have been living in Riga for nearly 4 years and I have to say Latvia is one of the worst countries I have every lived in. The have a real hatred for the British people, in fact anyone from most European countries. They put everyone in the bracket as a Ryanair Sex tourist. I had over 5 mobile phones stolen in 1 year, I had two jackets stolen in my entire stay. The Taxi drivers try and rip you off, In general their are two prices, one for locals and one for visitors and non citizens. I had a good circle of Ex Pat friends that kept me from going insane. 95% of the woman act like hookers and try and rip you off, they are only interested in you buying them drinks and stealing your money or anything they can get their hands on. I saw it time and time again where the girls meet a visitor in a normal club, he is buying her a drink and when his back is turned, she disappears to meet her boyfriend or girl friends. The other trick is they stay with you for an hour and say "Lets go to another club" She does not tell you she works their and you can end up with a bill between 2 to 10 thousand pounds. One Irish man this year had his card put through over 23 times, each transaction was around £120.00. I was a local resident and one bar Coyote Fly wouldn't let me in because I was English, I ended up in 2 fights with Russians because I was an English guy talking to a local girl. They say how bad the English are and yet they are all coming to the UK to work, use are education system, bleed our taxes with pushing up the NHS waiting lists, claiming tax credits for children that have never been born here or lived here. They don't add to the economy in the UK, because they send all their money back, claim back the tax they pay here in the UK, they are creating unemployment for the British worker, this is why would a British worker come off benefits for an extra £50 PW, the employers are taking full advantage of this. They also drive around in their flash cars they brought over from eastern Europe and avoid paying car tax. When I live in Latvia, if I did not work, I had no money, If I had to go and see a doctor I had to pay and the same with hospitals, perhaps we should take a leaf out of their book. I was self employed because they don't employ British people. I also found you always have to pay someone off to get anything done, i.e the counsels, police and government ministers. The minister said in the Latvian National Newspaper The Baltic Times, "All English People are Pigs" Imagine if Tony Blair or Gordon Brown made such a statement? Or if a bar or club refused you in the UK over your nationality? Here is a minister who represents his country saying that about English people, such an example for his country... I also don't understand why we are making such an effort for them with putting newspapers, website etc here in their own language for services in the UK. You could say this is discrimination because they then should do the same for Chinese, Indians, Germans, Italians and so on. If they cant read and write English then they should not be here. I would suggest you never go their and spend your money as they don't deserve it. Latvia is in the Guiness book for world records as the most unhappy people. What I tell you is fact not fiction and I saw it as a resident of Latvia. It is the epitome of filth and I would say save your cash and go somewhere else unless you want your fingers burnt and your body damaged.
  • edited 8:01PM
    We are two Dutch guys who visited Riga. We had a good time going to the clubs and bars, but also enjoying its buildings, terras and parks. We'd recommend anyone to find an apartment in the 'Old-Town'. It's very close to all the interesting things to see and do in Riga. Luckily we also came across a taxi-driver who brought us all over town to see the good clubs which are also tourist friendly (some clubs rip off tourists). He also showed us the places to visit and see in Riga during the day. We'd recommend everyone to give him a ring when you are in Riga and want to have a good time: Max, 00 371 26333248. Hope you will have as much fun in Riga as we did!
  • edited 8:01PM
    Riga is a truly beautiful city with a wealth of architecture and history. Unfortunately the reality is the Latvians don't want the British tourist there. I'm middle aged and travelled with my wife, we're both respectable and respect other peoples cultures but have never met a more miserable, ignorant race of people anywhere in the world and believe me, we have travelled. If you are part of a stag or hen party stay away because the police (uniformed thugs) take great delight in beating you up and demanding money. If you venture down by the railway station beware of muggers and pickpockets too, though you can experience this in any major city. One thing that will stay in my memory for ever is the number of very old people begging on the streets, the government has obviously forgotten the years of struggle these people have had or sinply don't care. Would I go to Latvia again? NO! absolutely not.
  • edited 8:01PM
    There have been a few negative comments on this site about Latvia and Latvians. Of course there are some moody, ignorant people but if you come here with the attitude that this is what you will find you are bound to end up with a bad experience. If you want to make the most of Riga and Latvia then I suggest you team up with Out-There.eu That way you will only experience the happy, friendly side of the city, which, after all, is the main reason to visit a new country or city in the first place. Check out: www.out-there.eu
  • edited 8:01PM
    We were seriously thinking about booking a holiday in LATVIA, after reading the above experiences ....WE WILL NOT BE BOOKING !!!!
  • edited 8:01PM
    I must say that my trip to Riga was really enjoyable. I like out of the way places, without hoards of tourists, and don't mind stroppy locals. Its worth a long weekend trip, if you live in Europe, just for the experience. There are some really amazing sights: the huge covered market, the auto mobile museum, and the incredible art nouveau buildings. Food is good too, especially if you like fresh fish.
  • edited 8:01PM
    it'll take some time till riga will prove a good host to real european tourists (they consider themselves european, although they still lag on the russian-oriental side). art-nouveau architecture doesn't save the situation especially when the service and price quality is the way it is. the strive for good taste combined with modesty is out of question. dusty glamour with littlered streets. it's exactly a soviet granny that puts lipstick in excess to show herself "european". but the trick doesn't work...
  • edited 8:01PM
    Never take your own car to Latvia or Riga. The propability it getting stolen is very high despite all precautions.

    If visiting Riga you end up getting ripped off dont expect any help from local police. They are with very big likelihood in some type of co-operations with this scam.

    Your best choice would never visit Riga or Latvia.

    Most countries all over the world protect tourists from local criminals. This is not the case in Riga.
  • edited March 2013
    I've just come back from a holiday in Latvia and Estonia, where I stayed in Riga and Tallinn, and visited several other places in Latvia. Riga is a fantastic place to visit, beautiful city, interesting people, and plenty to do, ranging from fascinating museums and galleries, to beautiful architecture and an interesting history.

    The people in Riga are often unfriendly, but this is because an excess of partying visitors have given tourism there a bad name - along with years of oppression by various different nationalities of Europe. Having been stepped on by Russia and Germany, the people take exception to brash tourists, coming in, showing little respect, assumig everyone will speak English, getting drunk and trashing the place. Combine this with the fact that 10 years ago there were virtually no tourists in Latvia, and now there are thousands every year, and you see why the locals object to having their peace and quiet disturbed.

    Having said that, this is only one side of Latvia. If you travel out of season (i.e not May-August) you'll see a quieter place, with friendlier locals, and you'll also get many of the sights to yourself, which is always a good experience. You'll get a much friendlier reception if you don't act like a brash tourist - try to learn a few basic phrases in Latvian - please, thankyou, etc, and 'do you speak english?' - if you just start speaking English straight away you'll get treated badly, but try a little in Latvian and you'll get a very warm reception. DON'T go out clubbing every night, and stay away from seedy bars/clubs and women who suddenly seem to find you amazingly attractive - they are most likely Russian prostitutes who more often than not will leave you beaten up and penniless in an alleyway (another reason why the locals don't like tourists - they've encouraged prostitution and mafia corruption to flourish).

    When I was in Riga, I stayed at www.thenaughtysquirrel.com - this is run by a mix of Australians and (very friendly) Latvians, so you get useful information from locals who know the place well, but also info from visitors to the country who have lived there and can share there experiences.

    In conclusion - DO go to Riga - its a fantastic place, with a fascinating history and amazing people, who are friendly and kind if you give them a reason to be so. DON'T go if you're looking for drunken nights, strippers and prostitutes - you'll get a deservedly frosty reception.
  • edited 8:01PM
    Match - thanks for the feedback. Really great advice. Just out of interest , what did think are the best things to see and do there? And how hard is the language to learn?
  • edited April 2009
    Well, some interesting comments have been posted in the discussion group!!

    I would recommend everyone to come visit Riga...

    to start off I have been living in riga for 2 years now and yes the people can be unfriendly at first BUT once you get to know them they are fantastic!! all these reports about robberies, fights and guns is soooooooo overrated I have never had any trouble the whole time I have been here!!

    The people who normally get into trouble are the ones doing the wrong things, like visiting strip bars or being a SUCKER for giving all their money to a random girl at a bar and then getting upset she doesnt sleep with them, come on that stupid stuff happens everywhere!!

    Riga is a great city in eastern europe and always worth a visit!!

    If you need a good place to stay check out The Naughty Squirrel Backpackers hostel in the Old Town like match above mentioned! Its an awesome place that will show you the best time in Riga!

    life is a smile and travelling is the dream - safe travels people!
  • edited 8:01PM
    Riga is great, going there this June again. for those geeks who want to prepare for their trip - go www.bestriga.com find your way to restaurants&clubs
  • edited 8:01PM
    I'm quite surprised of what I'm reading here, all these bad experiences does not in any way correspond with my very positive impression of Latvia - and I've been there more than a dozen times.

    Where as I will never again visit Lithuania (been there 4 times and NEVER felt safe on the streets, people there are really a rough, unfriendly gang and it seems that even "normal" people there would be ready to mug anybody if they have the chance - really a strange country) then I keep coming back to Latvia. Latvia has the slogan "The country that sings" and I might add: And dances! I've truely never experienced more lively, joyfull, smiling and easy going people than the Latvians! They love their rich traditions, they NEVER miss a chance for a spontanious party, they dance their passionate, fast folk dances when ever they can - and they are truely generous as few other peoples around the world.

    It seems that people writing here have only visisted Riga, and that's indeed a big mistake. Riga is a modern medium size, European metropol with all it's blend of charm and roughness - like any other city on the Continent. Half the population in Riga are Russians, and the Russsians are definately more unfriendly and rough than the ethnic Latvians. BUT, even the Russians in Latvia seems to more friendly than there countrymen in Russia, Estonia and Lithuania. There is certainly something smily about the atmosphere in Latvia.

    But go and spend time in the provinces, experience the fantastic beaches, the great forests with an extraordinary wild life, the beautifull rivers. Every where in Latvia you can rent comfortable country houses for a real bargain.

    I can e.g. suggest to spend some time in the beautifull area around the old medieval town of Cesis, which very much is the cutural centre of the country.

    So, spend some time in Riga, enjoy the beautifull old buidings, the museums, the good and plenty food in the restaurants (and I've truely never experienced anything but smiles from vaiters), and then go and spend some time in the country side.

    You'll have a great time in Latvia and especially the young people are very easy to get in contact with.

    So, as you can imagine, I would certainly recomend any one to visit this country so full of life.
  • edited 8:01PM
    Im so suprised with all the negative comment about the Latvian..It is totally OPPOSITE with wht i've experience this beautiful people...Im from Malaysia, recently we had festival & the Latvian Group was 1 of the performers.I personally took care of this group as the Liasion Officer. I can tell u yes at 1st they dont look friendly...later i found out it is just becoz they dont speak good english & they thought we (most malaysian speak quiet good english) will look down on them which is totally WRONG!!

    Since most of them cant speak English & a few who can (but broken english) we communicate in so many ways to understand each other...it was fun & we became very close. Until today after 2 weeks they have left..we still keep in touch thru email..they invited me to experience winter in December since in Malaysia we dont have such season.

    Now im planning my holidays in Riga..Any tips for cheap flight? Accomodation is taken care of by my Latvian friends....:)

    I always believe...wht u give is wht u get...!! Be nice & u will get the same...Any where we go..all we have to do is to respect & understand the culture & people...
  • edited 8:01PM
    Really confusing
    I was in Riga 2 weeks ago, although the weather was horrible, i enjoy it a lot, most of the time i spent in old town, except one day journey to Jurmala.
    I enjoy a lot a boat trip around Riga's old town
    http://www.bestriga.com/en/page/expanded/gpart/6/type/articlesnews/object/233
    Anyway i recommend Riga as a good destination
  • edited 8:01PM
    wow...a mixed bag of reviews here. Husband & I are going on Tues for a week to visit his mate & his wife, who live there, due to her job. They seem to like it there. The husband is English & wife is German. My husband is English & I'm from the US. Have been living in the UK for 8 years now. I think I'll judge for myself. I can see if they are annoyed by tourists who just want to drink excessively & no doubt, behave badly...you get a lot of that in the UK. I find that people in London can be pretty rude, as well (we live in the north...Scotland, as a matter of fact). And you can find ingnorant people anywhere you go. But I like London (just wouldn't want to live there) & have met & know loads of nice people there, though I do feel that Northerners can be the most friendly and laid back.

    Anyway, if your a tourist anywhere on this planet, you can get ripped off, abused, etc. I think it's all down to the individual & how you behave AND how well you prepare/research beforehand. Perhaps Brits have come annoy the locals thanks to a lot of drunken idiots...I know I get pretty fed up with it in my own town outside of Edinburgh! And I know the people in Edinburgh can get a bit annoyed because you do get a lot of people coming up to party, etc. And I used to get annoyed with it back home in Denver...I mean, I'm not against having a good time, but a little respect, both for self and others, goes a long way. Not every party goer behaves like a moron, so don't get me wrong there.

    If you're going go someplace and party 'til you puke & act like a general bonehead, then I suppose the locals would get sick of it & you've probably set the standard by which everyone else is judged. A stereotype, if you will.

    We're not going there to party anyway...just to enjoy the sites, the culture, our friends' company, etc.

    And the weather can't be any worse than it has been here lately!!!! I am sure that we will have a nice time...thanks for the positive suggestions, web sites, etc.
  • edited 8:01PM
    Well, hubby & I went & had a nice time. It's a lovely city, fab architechture & some fab food! Plus, we had some decent weather & even went to Jurmala to the beach & a swim in the Baltic, which is much warmer than the North Sea!

    And relating back to the negative comments, here's an interesting article from bbc.co.uk--no wonder they get fed up with British tourists:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8185159.stm

    If you're going to behave like an a**hole, then you should expect treatment in like kind. I personally don't blame the Latvians for their reactions. We didn't have any problems, but then, perhaps it's because we remembered to act like civilised beings.
  • edited 8:01PM
    It depends on attitude you are going there. I'm Latvian and have travelled a lot. Like everywhere, tourists are expected to behave at least normal. The root of negative attitude towards British comes from times when an average British tourist was an 20-30 year old guy, come there for stag party. Yes, there are some ''rip-off''pubs and clubs , but not all of them are the same. Go for it in summer.
  • edited 8:01PM
    Hi, my wife is from latvia. we have been married for 5 years now. Never had any problems yet. My mrs is from Daygavpils. I met a LOT of nice local people there. May be because me being theire relative or so i thought. But to be honest they are nice bunch of people outside riga city.

    Riga is a place for people looking for cheap party. Hence people end up there for stag nights. After all woman are beautiful in latvia.

    Only plcae to see in riga is the old city - Vec riga as they call it. I have stayed in expensive hotels like Radi Un dragi when i went first ime riga. This hotel is ran by english and is comfortable. Next ime i have enjoyed my stay in Europa City Riga hotel. I receommend this hotel to anyone who wants to see riga. I have stayed in other hotels by this one was the best for me. Its in the middle of new riga and old riga. So, you can easy transport from here. I use the site - hotels.com to book hotels in europe. Europa city normaly is about 32 pounds. Not bad including breakfast and free internet, id say. You can get cheaper hotels in this site.

    I recommend using the public transport while visiting there. Cabs can be a rip off in the traffic. I have enjoyed the buffet food in Lido . I have enjoyed the indoor karting and 4D cinema in Go Planet. Thats it.

    If you want to see the best of latvia. Get out of riga. Go to jurmala for beach, sigulda for castle, daugavpils for typical latvian town life.

    Due to the exchange rate latvia is not cheap anymore. I would advise - make a local friend. I go to latvia every year. Next is jan 2010. o enjoy the dnow and little bit of ski.. : )

    I use ryanair from stansted to fly to riga. Many times i have gone latvia for 2 p, yes, 2 pence. From stansted to stockholm, skavsta - 1 p and from skavsta to riga 1p. This offer is on whenever ryanair announces free flights. Keep checking. Direct flight is allways 34 pounds per person. Cheapest for riga.

    Also if you are going to riga , see Tallin as well in Estonia. That will cover your baltic experience.

    Need any info emal me - dj25000@yahoo.com

    DJ
  • edited 8:01PM
    Hi,
    I am from Germany and we went their with our politics class for a student trip. We all were about 18 years old and from the highest german school grade. I don't want to talk about the location we stayed in because I still fear for my life although I am already back in Germany...
    After reading this and after doing some online research you might guess where we stayed...

    Prostitutes wanted to get in bed with our teachers, one student got robbed off by a man who introduced himself as a police officer and the mafia is everywhere present in the city. In the evening hours they even meet with the police and talk about their sportscars. This is no joke, this is what my friends and I saw!
    Nevertheless, Riga has a really beautiful old town, nice bars and cheap but awesome restaurants. I loved the stay there because I somehow like this "mafia-atmosphere" over there and the city is simply beautiful.
    I can strongly recommend a stay in Riga if you obey the following rules:
    - ALWAYS be kind to everyone you see
    - Don't trust in the police - They are payed by the mafia and they hate foreigners!!
    - Never exchange money if people ask you too. Never respond to people who start a conversation with you on the road. Just go on, they won't follow you in most cases
    - Don't hang around on the streets on later hours. Go on lightened main roads and directly go into the building you are aiming at
    - Only visited recommended hotels of the upper class. But don't only rely on the price! One of the most expensive hotels in Riga is owned by the check card mafia and the EU advices their staff not to check in there! There are several websites where you can check hotel ratings. Look at the hint I gave you about my location, it is really worth the effort!!!!!
    - Don't flirt with women and do not follow them. Believe me, it's better for your health
    - Try to stay in groups if possible
    - Don't go their with your children our if you are already above maybe 60 years. You are an easy victime! Riga is no city for children!

    If you follow these advices, you will a have a wonderful stay in a beautiful city. Till today I always think back to my days in Riga. I will definitly come back one day!

    And if you think I exaggerated, you might be interested in this: A few years ago the European Union has rated Lithuania as a country which is victime of "state capture" which means that the government is taken over by the mafia...
  • edited 8:01PM
    Riga is quite these days, weather is cold, only entertainment i would recomend at the moment are walking tours, check out: www.bestriga.com
  • edited 8:01PM
    After reading all these comments over here i really think there are some people who really search for problems, i mean, i'm in Riga for already my 60th. time and i never had any problem, i go out to disco's, bars clubs and exept one taxi driver i never had any ripp off.

    Also girls are very easy and i even don't think you must pay for a girl, be nice with them, treat them as a princess and they will do everything for you, since most latvian men are guys who drink and cheat their girlfriend. For the rest if you bring a local product from your home country to the hotel and you give it to the reception, they will do everything to make your stay as confortalbe as you want. I always bring a box of chocolates and i pay for a standard room but always recieve a suite with the best service.

    I think it's all about respect, you show respect to them, and they will give it back to you.

    So far my ideas about Riga, i love this place :)

    All the best
  • edited 8:01PM
    Worldtraveler - this is your 60th visit to Riga? Wow, you must be an expert on the place. Have you seen our destination guide to Riga? It would be great if you could suggest any changes or improvement to the information...
  • edited 8:01PM
    Hi! I`m a latvian,living in London.I went to UK about 2 years ago,but not for staying there forever and living on benefits.I came there,because I wanted to learn good english,to see and enjoy the country,culture etc.So- excuse me for my poor language,I`m just learning!
    Its`s sad to read some comments about LV in this site. I can`t say all bad comments are wrong and that`s not true. Unfortunately.Ok-the Old City is a place,where You could get very nice experience and very bad as well,because IT DEPENDS ON ATTITUDE YOU ARE GOING THERE!
    I used to tive 10 min from Old City.Problems with british drunk tourists started another 10 tears ago-for some last yers we was stopped to enjoy our time in the pubs Old Riga,because sometimes it was degrading to hear bad texts and behaviour from drunk british tourists. By the time I`m in England I`ve met a lot of nice,intelligent and friendly british people,but my first impession about them in Old Riga was bad...
    Definetly- unfriendly and not-welcoming attitude is not because latvians are not friendly!!!!!!That`s not true.It`s just a way of protest against unpolite,ill-mannered,arrogant and too much drinking "tourists".Its`l latvian mentality.Mostly we will not say stright what we don`t like-You just will see it after our behaviour and actions.You can believe me,because even in latvian web discussions was some calling like "let`s create some special places,where we could feel comfortable"-there was a list of some "british tourist free" clubs and pubs.
    And finally- thats not true latvians are not friendly! We are reserved at the first time.Just keep patience a little...:))
    And one more advice- if You want to see real Latvia and Latvians- don`t stay in Riga. There are many wonderful places- Liepaja,Ventspils,Sigulda,Cesis,Kuldiga,our national parks,countryside farms and small nice hotels etc.
    Welcome!:)
    If You have any questions about traveling to Latvia don`t hestitate contact with me,my pleasure to help You! sala42@inbox.lv

    An
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