Budget Tips: Riga

Budget Tips: Riga - Riga, Latvia

Riga is a city that is already pretty easy on your budget. Hotels, meals, transportation and admission to sights will be significantly less than in other major European cities.

However, you can always trim that budget further! Here are a few ways.

Tourist Office

Before you see or do anything in Riga, we recommend that you visit the tourism office. The main office is located in Town Hall Square and open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., closed for a half hour from 1 p.m. until 1:30 p.m.

The offices at the Riga International Bus Station and Livu Square are both open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. until 6 p.m., also closed from 1 p.m. until 1:30 p.m. The Riga airport branch is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. and from 2:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.

For more information, check out the Riga Tourism Board site.

Museum Prices

Thankfully, many museums and sights in Riga charge less than 2 LVL (just under €3) for admission. Here are some don’t-miss attractions:

Popular attraction and museum prices:

Latvian History Museum: 1 LVL (adults); .50 LVL (reduced).

St. Peter’s Church: 3 LVL to climb the tower

The Latvian Museum of Art: 1.50 LVL (adults, just permanent collection); 2.50 LVL (adults, special exhibits), 3 LVL (combined adult ticket for permanent collection plus special exhibits), .50-1.50 LVL (children, reduced admission depending on exhibit); Note that admission to the permanant exhibition is free on the last Sunday of every month

House of the Blackheads: 2 LVL (adults); 1 LVL (reduced)

Free Sights

During your sojourn at the tourism office, pick up a brochure outlining the free walking tours of Riga, then, while strolling through Old Town, take in these sights.

Ratslaukums: Riga’s Town Hall Square was mostly destroyed during World War II, but today rebuilding efforts prevail, most notably at the House of the Blackheads. Construction on The House, originally used as a guildhouse for area merchants, began in 1995 and was completed in 2001.

An imposing brick monument, the current House of the Blackheads comprises two buildings in Town Hall Square. The conjoined facades, topped with spires, showcase statues and intricately designed windows.

The Museum of the Occupation of Latvia: Latvia was occupied from 1940 to 1991, by the Germans and the Soviets. The museum focuses its exhibits and permanent collection—in remembrance of the victims of occupation—on educating the public about crimes committed by foreign powers. Entrance is technically free (though donations are appreciated).

Swedish Gate: Riga’s only surviving city gate dates from the 17th century. To find it you’ll need to travel to the corner of Torna Street and Troksnu Street (just west of Gunpowder Tower).

Latvian War Museum (inside Gunpowder Tower): For a quick-hit history of Latvia’s wartime past, or to catch an illuminating exhibit on the Soviet occupation, check out Latvia’s War Museum. Admission is free of charge.

The Riga Card

The Riga Card is available as a one-, two-, or three-day pass. Prices are as follows: 1-day (10 LVL, about €15.50), 2-day (14 LVL, about €20), 3-day (18 LVL, about €25.50).

Some of the perks of the card include unlimited transportation on trolley buses, trams, and buses, admission to major museums, and discounts on specialized tours. We're also fans of the free guided walking tours of Old Town.

For more information, you can visit the Riga Card’s official site or log on to the Riga Tourism Board’s site. A free PDF guide of all Riga Card benefits is available here.

Senior Discounts

Senior travelers will find some discounts in Riga, but not as many as in other cities and countries. For the most part, seniors must be EU citizens in order to receive discounts. Members of the AARP get discounts on hotels, airfares and car rentals. They can be reached in the United States at 1-800-424-3410 and via the AARP web site.

Student Discounts

The International Student Identity Card (ISIC) is the most widely accepted form of student ID and provides discounts on sights, accommodations, food, and transportation. Many museums in Riga offer admission discounts of 20-50% to ISIC members. Applicants must be working toward a degree at a secondary or post-secondary school and must be at least 12 years of age. The card costs $22 USD and is valid until the end of the year issued. All cardholders have access to a 24-hour emergency helpline. In the United States call 1-800-223-7986 or click onto ISIC's web site.

For non-students 25 years and younger, the International Youth Travel Card, IYTC, also offers many of the same benefits as the ISIC. The card costs US$22 and is valid for one year from the date of issue.

In addition, travelers with student cards, such as ISIC and IYTC, qualify for big discounts from travel agencies. Most flights from budget agencies are on major airlines, though peak season deals might be on less reliable chartered aircraft.

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