Named the European Capital of Culture in 2014, Riga is famous for its Art Nouveau architecture, which is iconic throughout Europe. The old town is an essential place to visit when in Riga, and the House of Blackheads is a famous example of the architecture that has made Riga the cultural hub that it is. St. Peter’s Church, the Museum of War and the Freedom Monument are also must-see landmarks. The city has produced some world renowned artists such as Janis Rozentals, who portrayed the lives of peasants across the country in the early 20th century, and also painted some famous writers. When it comes to sports, ice hockey is a huge part of the culture, and is massively popular among people living in Riga.
Riga has become a lot more secure for foreigners over the last decade. Avoiding poorly lit streets late at night is sensible for expatriates living in Riga, and keeping an eye on your possessions when walking around busy areas is also wise, because crimes in the city tend to be those of opportunists.
There haven’t been any muggings of tourists reported in the last five years. Reports of fraudulent charges against credit or debit cards have also fallen. The number for the police service across the country is 110 so this can be called in case of an emergency, but a number which may offer more support, and more understanding of the English language is +371 67181818, which will take you through to the Riga Tourism Police.
Most expats will fly into Riga International Airport, which is one of the busiest airports across all of Eastern Europe, and is only 10km outside of the city. Buses run regularly between the airport and the city center, but if you are arriving with a lot of luggage, then a taxi will usually be the better choice. It should cost you less than 15 EUR. The very center of the city is not large, and walking is a popular option to take advantage of the cobbled streets. Cars are not allowed in the Old Town, and this area is best explored on foot.
As it is, walking or cycling everywhere all year round is impossible due to the extreme temperatures and snow. There is a tram network in Riga which is very popular for getting into the city center from the outer districts. Buses are also an inexpensive way of getting around. There is an e-ticket card which can be purchased from ticket offices or news kiosks. This is a reloadable card, valid across all forms of public transport in Riga. Fewer people have cars in Riga compared to other cities in Latvia, so a lot of people rely on the public transport links.