Expect to Spend: Riga

Expect to Spend: Riga  - Riga, Latvia

How much should you expect to spend while visiting Riga, Latvia? While certain things may strike you as quite cheap, other expenses (like hotel rooms and certain restaurants) can be pricey.

During our last visit, we took notes on the costs of hotels, restaurants, museums and entertainment. Here's what we found:

Hotel Rates

Generally speaking, hotel rates are quite reasonable in Riga. Most of the hotels we checked out charged less than €90 a night for a double—and those were for hotels located in the Old Town. If you don't mind sleeping a little further afield, rates will drop dramatically.

Riga's "off season" includes the late fall, winter and early spring, during which time hotel rates will be quite a bit lower than standard "high season" (late spring and summer) rates.

We should note, however, that as Latvia's economy is currently (winter 2011) in a shaky spot,

we noted that some hotels are lowering rates to keep their rooms full. Thus, be aware that "real rates" (rates that you see after doing a search for your dates) may be quite a bit lower than the regular "rack rates" given to us by the hotel.

Meal Prices

You can definitely splurge on meals in Riga, where swanky sushi restaurants and gourmet four-star, five-course Latvian restaurants exist. For Cheapos on a budget, less costly eats can be had too—and in bountiful portions. Expect to pay about 5-7 LVL for a standard meal, a bit more if you opt for extras like dessert or alcohol.

For lunch, we recommend a café or snack bar. Pelmeni XL, a well-known fast-food chain in Riga, offers filling pelmeni (ravioli) chock full of meat or cheese. The experience is fun—you grab a tray and point to the ravioli that seems most tempting. When we tested it out (at the Pelmeni restaurant at the Galleria shopping center in Old Town), the man working behind the counter explained which was veggie, chicken and beef. You then are free to add your own sauces, sour cream and chives. A quick bite here shouldn’t go over 2 LVL.

We were also big fans of the Lido cafeteria chain, also with an oaky, wood-beamed outlet in Old Town. Again, grab a tray and point away. All manner of saucy, meaty goodness awaits. And again, everyone we encountered at Lido spoke English.

Concert, opera, and ballet tickets

Tickets to the Latvian National Opera are reasonably priced. Whether you plan to check out the ballet, a concert or a full-scale opera (or maybe just take in some puppet theater!), inquire at the box office for the best price. You can email them at boxoffice@opera.lv or walk in during open hours (Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) at Aspazijas bulvaris, #3.

ISIC cardholders always receive a 10 percent discount on tickets, and groups of 15 or more receive a discount of five percent.

For more information about the Opera, visit their Web site.

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