Car Rental Riga
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Why rent a car in Riga?
The capital of Latvia is a fascinating place to visit. It has plenty of historic areas like its celebrated Old Town and Art Nouveau district, but there are also quality museums and art galleries, interesting wooden architecture, and unique neighborhoods on both banks of the Daugava River. After seeing Riga, you can drive to explore Latvia’s long sandy coastline and protected nature areas or even pop over the border to visit neighboring Lithuania or Estonia.
Top ways to enter Riga
- Riga Airport: The busiest airport in Riga and the Baltic States, it served 7 million travelers for the first time in its history in 2018. The airport is served by 17 airlines, with most of the flights provided by airBaltic, Ryanair, Wizz Air, and Norwegian Air. The airport hosts flights to and from all regions of Europe as well as the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia. Located in Mārupe Municipality, the airport is 11km (7 miles) west of the city center and can be reached in about 20 minutes.
- Liepāja Airport: Serving Latvia’s third-busiest city, it only hosts one flight as of August 2019, a flight between Liepāja and Riga. There are plans for scheduling more international flights in the future.
- Vilnius Airport: The busiest in Lithuania, Vilnius Airport handled nearly 5 million travelers in 2018. Located 300km (186 miles) southeast of Riga, the airport can be reached in about 3 hours and 30 minutes. You’ll have to cross an international border to go from Lithuania to Latvia, so ask your rental car provider in advance if they permit it.
- Tallinn Airport: Also known as Lennart Meri Airport after Estonia’s former president, the airport serving the Estonian capital handled 3 million travelers in 2018. Most of the traffic is provided by airBaltic, Nordica, and SmartLynx Estonia. Located 315km (196 miles) north of Riga, Tallinn Airport can be reached in 3 hours and 40 minutes. Like with Vilnius, make sure that your rental car provider permits you crossing the border.
- By rail: If you arrive in Riga by train, you can conveniently pick up your rental car at Riga Central Station (Rīgas Centrālā dzelzceļa stacija). Riga is connected by rail to Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia and Minsk in Belarus.
- By bus: If you arrive in Riga by bus, you can pick up your rental car at Riga Central Bus Station (Rīgas autoosta). International bus service, provided by multiple companies, connects Riga to many other European countries like Poland, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Ukraine.
- By sea: If you arrive in Riga by ferry, you can pick up a rental car at Riga Passenger Terminal (Rīgas pasažieru termināls). There is a daily ferry service connecting Riga to Sweden’s capital Stockholm.
Useful city facts
- Located on the Gulf of Riga (which is part of the Baltic Sea), Riga has a humid continental climate. The average high temperature is 22°C (71°F) in July, the warmest month, and −2 °C (28°F) in January, the coldest. Riga experiences significant snowfall every year. Due to its northern latitude, the city has as many 16-18 hours of daylight during the summer months; on the other hand, it has only 6-7 hours of sunlight per day in winter.
- Riga has a population of around 615,000, making it the largest country in the Baltic states and the fifth-largest city on the Baltic Sea. Another 450,000 people live in its larger metropolitan area. This means that every second resident of Latvia lives in or around Riga, making Latvia one of the most centralized countries in Europe. Riga is made up of six districts that are further divided into 56 neighborhoods.
Top destinations and activities
- Art Nouveau. Art Nouveau, or Jugendstil, architecture is one of the defining characteristics of Riga’s city center with more than 800 buildings of this style to be found. Many of them are located in Vecrīga (the Old Town), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but famous examples can also be found on Alberta and Elizabetes streets, an area that also houses Riga Art Nouveau Museum.
- Former KGB Building. Informally known as the Corner House, for decades the building on the corner of Stabu and Brivibas streets was the most feared place in Riga as it was the headquarters for the local branch of the Soviet State Security Agency. After Latvia regained independence, the building was renovated and now houses a branch of the Occupation Museum of Latvia. Visitors can take a tour through the former interrogation cellars and learn about the organization’s past in Latvia.
- Pārdaugava. Literally meaning ‘over the Daugava river’, the left bank of Riga remains something of an unmapped territory for foreign tourists but offers plenty for a curious visitor to explore. The area houses the new National Library of Latvia, some of the best-preserved wooden architecture in the city, and vast gardens and parks. The neighborhoods of Āgenskalns and Torņakalns are up-and-coming hubs of creativity, culture, and cuisine.
Traffic and parking tips
- Latvia drives on the right-hand side of the road.
- Unless indicated otherwise, the general speed limit is 100km/h (61 mph) on certain sections of national highways, 90km/h (56 mph) on all other roads outside urban and built-up areas, and 50km/h (31 mph) inside urban and built-up areas.
- There are some one-way streets in Riga, especially in the city center.
- It is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving.
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.02% for novice drivers. Exceeding these limits will lead to a licence ban and, at a minimum, a 15 day imprisonment.
- Parking spots in Riga are divided into different zones. Generally, the closer you are to the city center and the old town, the higher the hourly fee. Many spots are not available for public parking. See the Riga parking spot map and learn about the tariffs and payment methods on the city’s official website.
- Although not as much as in Scandinavia, wildlife crossing is a serious road risk in Latvia and cause many accidents every year. It is important to be cautious when driving outside cities, especially on the roads surrounded by forests. Many sections of roads with a heightened danger of wildlife crossings are indicated by special road signs.
- Latvia is a sparsely populated county; while there are plenty of petrol stations around Riga and other cities and large towns, you’ll find much fewer in the rural regions like Northeast Latgale, Northern Vidzeme and Southwest Kurzeme. If you plan to travel in these regions, it’s a good idea to decide on your travel route in advance.
- Proof of insurance and the car’s documentation need to be in it whenever you’re driving.
- When driving, you need to have your passport or ID card with you at all times.
- The general emergency number, like elsewhere in the EU, is 112.
In Latvia, only vehicles that are heavier than 3 tonnes need to purchase a vignette for driving on national and regional roads. All passenger rental cars with five (or less) seats are lighter than that and therefore renters don’t need to purchase a vignette.
If you plan to rent a heavy vehicle that needs a vignette, ask your rental car provider in advance about it. Some rental cars might come equipped with it, and some rental car providers will include an additional fee for this service. Learn more about vignettes in Latvia on the official website (you can switch the language to English on the top-right corner of the web page).
Although technically not a toll road, drivers need to purchase an entry pass for entering the road network of Jūrmala, a resort town about 20km (12 miles) west of Riga. The fee is only in place from the 1st of April until the 30th of September. The pass can be bought either online or at a ticket machine when entering the city. A 1-day pass costs 2 EUR, but you can also purchase a 7-day pass for 10 EUR. All entering cars are subjected to a video control system; not buying the pass will result in a 50 EUR fine. Learn more about the Jūrmala entry pass on the city’s official tourism website.
Ideas for a day-trip
- The beaches. Latvia has a more than 500km (310 miles) long sandy coastline. Jūrmala, a resort town just a 25 minute drive from Riga’s city center, gets the largest crowds. There’s more to explore,though, from former fishing villages further to the west to the small towns of Saulkrasti and Salacgrīva north of Riga.
- Ķemeri Bog Trail. Visiting a bog might not be most people’s first idea for a day outdoors, but things are different in Latvia. Bogs are an important part of the Latvian landscape, and visiting wooden trails that crisscross the country’s many wetlands is one of the best ways to get in touch with the country’s nature. In Ķemeri, a former spa town, visitors can safely walk right into the bog, learn about its delicate ecosystem, and watch the many bird species that live there. The area offers especially fascinating views if visited at dusk or dawn. Located 46km (29 miles) west of Riga city center, Ķemeri can be reached in about 45 minutes.
- Gauja National Park. Located in Northern Latvia and named after the Gauja River in whose valley it is located, this national park is both a nature area and a wildlife refuge. It has many hiking trails and viewing points that are separated from the areas inhabited by animals. If you’re lucky, you might get to spot a brown bear, gray wolf, lynx, owl, or grouse on the other side of the fence. Located 57km (35 miles) northeast of Riga, the park can be reached in one hour or less.
Most popular rental types and cars
The most popular rental car in Riga is the VW Jetta, although many travelers also go for the Ford Focus and the Toyota Auris. The most popular rental car types are intermediate, compact, and standard.
- Cēsis. Located near Gauja National Park, Cēsis is a picturesque town in the heart of the Vidzeme region. Attractions include the Cēsis Castle Complex, the Old Town, and the Square of Roses. After seeing Cēsis, you can drive to traditional villages around Rauna, Jaunpiebalga, or Vecpiebalga, or explore historic sites like the Āraiši Lake Castle. Located 88km (54 miles) east of Riga, Cēsis can be reached in about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
- Daugavpils. Latvia’s second-largest city, during the last decade Daugavpils has been growing rapidly as a tourist destination. Although the city has no real historic center, there’s still plenty to see, including the impressive Daugavpils Fortress (not only the construction, but the whole neighborhood), the Mark Rothko Museum, the Daugavpils Shot Factory, and the Šmakovka Museum dedicated to the endless varieties of Latgalian moonshine. After visiting Daugavpils, you can explore the rest of Latgale. A historic region heavily influenced by Poles and Russians, it boasts a proud and unique local identity. Located 220km (137 miles) southwest of Riga near the borders with Belarus and Lithuania, Daugavpils can be reached in about 2 hours and 50 minutes.
- Liepāja. The largest city in Western Latvia, Liepāja has its fair share of attractions. Karosta, now a part of Liepāja, is a former secret military town that is known for the Karosta Prison (open four tourists), Karosta Forts, and St. Nikolai Orthodox Cathedral. In the city center, you'll find the Amber Clock and some beautiful Art Nouveau architecture. After visiting Liepāja, you can travel to the Pape Nature Park to the south or even try some Baltic Sea surfing in Pāvilosta to the north. Located 215km (133 miles) southwest of Riga, Liepāja can be reached in about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
How can I save money on my rental car?
Follow these simple tips and land a great rental car in the capital of Latvia:
- Compare the rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Riga is the cheapest in February when renting a car is about 35% cheaper than the yearly average and a whole 62% cheaper than renting a car in August.
Top 6 Locations near Riga
Riga, Downtown Car Rentals from $12.85 per day
Riga Bus Station Car Rentals from $30.02 per day
Riga Port Car Rentals from $30.02 per day
Shopping Centre Riga Plaza Car Rentals from $25.81 per day
Riga Airport Car Rentals from $10.70 per day9.3 km / 5.8 miles away
Liepaja International Airport Car Rentals from $31.97 per day190.5 km / 118.3 miles away
Which is the cheapest month to rent a car in Riga?
What’s the usual rental length in Riga?
What's the most popular month to rent a car in Riga?
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