Latvia is a country located on the shore of the Baltic Sea in Northwestern Europe. The capital city is Riga and it is one of the most beautiful cities in all Europe with some of the most intriguing architectural design.
Not only, but the country also has a sea opening and many natural parks that will make it worth the long-distance travel. Riga, the capital city is literally buzzing with tourists from all corners of the world looking for some authentic north-European landscape.
This beautiful northern country is also one of the safest to visit and terrorism, violence and civil unrest are absent. This makes it a desirable country to walk in. However, there are some normal safety tips that can really give you the perfect vacation.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Latvia
Overall Risks in Latvia: LOW to MEDIUM
In Latvia, normal safety precautions must be taken as in every country; there are some issues that can ruin your vacation. Although it is assessed as being of a medium threat by the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, petty theft and pickpocketing still have a place in every country.
The central square in Riga is the place most susceptible to crime as the tourists tend to flood the square for a better photo. Pubs and bars during nighttime might become over-crowded and any unattended drinks are susceptible to spiking and this could seriously ruin your night and your vacation.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Latvia: MEDIUM
During summer, despite the country is situated far north, it’s booming with tourists, especially on the coastal side of the country and in Riga. This is perfect for pickpockets and thieves to operate.
When in the old town of Riga named Vecriga, be on the lookout and keep your wits for any suspicious people. There is said that the largest concentration of thieves, pickpockets, and scammers are in Vecriga. The best way is to avoid getting mugged or robbed is to keep your purse and/or wallet safely kept and out of the reach of thieves.
It is highly recommended that you leave any valuable items that you don’t need in the hotel room and avoid having any flashy items upon you, especially watches.
These thefts usually happen without any violent outcome, but they will surely ruin your vacation, so taking a couple of safety measures is the right way to go. Some tourists also tend to be very relaxed as many articles state that you don’t have to worry about anything in Latvia, as it is very safe to visit. And so, they forget about some normal safety measures and things could get messy.
Scam Risk in Latvia: MEDIUM
When going to a bar, pub or restaurant be aware of any suspicious behavior. There are two scams that you should be on the lookout and both of them you can find basically in every country you visit. When in a bar or pub, a woman may approach you and try to befriend you until she slips something in your drink. After that, you will be mugged or worse. Sometimes, the woman will buy lots of drinks in a club and she will leave, and you will remain with a big bill to cover. In a club, also do not accept any drinks from someone you don’t know.
ATM skimmers are also present in Riga especially. Also, do not try to withdraw money from an ATM in the night, as some thieves may work with the hit and run method after you’ve withdrawn the money.
Kidnapping Risk in Latvia: LOW
Kidnappings are very uncommon in the country and do not involve any kind of terrorism if they really happen. According to a statistic made by Global Economy, kidnapping rate in the whole country is very low.
Terrorism Risk in Latvia: LOW
In Latvia in the present day, there are no known terrorist organizations residing in the country. However, since the country has adhered to the Schengen Zone, the threat grew bigger, but the borders are heavily guarded, so no terrorist elements may enter in the country.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Latvia: LOW
According to female solo travelers, there is no risk whatsoever to travel alone in the country. However, normal safety precautions are to be taken when wandering into town, especially at night. It is recommended that you avoid the outskirts of Riga and the neighboring areas, as they are targeted by thieves.
Rape Risk in Latvia: LOW
Rape risk is very low in Latvia according to a statistic taken from 2004 to 2015. The statistic shows that the rape risk has decreased significantly to none in 2018. In 2015, there is an estimate of 3 cases per 100000 people.
Risks for People Traveling With Children in Latvia: LOW
Traveling with children in Latvia is very safe according to families that have traveled in Latvia, especially when visiting Riga. Some even say that in the central square and in the old town, the children were feeling very safe.
However, if you plan on renting a car to travel faster and much more comfortable through the country, always ask the rental service for a children seat to be mounted in the back.
Natural Disaster Risks in Latvia: LOW
There are no specific hazards when traveling to Latvia. However, if you’re willing to travel in the winter or in the early spring, there are some things that you should consider.
To be remembered, the country is located in the far north of Europe, so winters could be very harsh and well below freezing temperatures are common. So if you think of traveling in the winter, grab an extra lair of clothes in your luggage.
In the early spring, floods could occur along the Daugava River, so taking a look at the weather forecast before you go is recommended.
Transportation Risks in Latvia: MEDIUM
Roads and highways are generally in very good condition, especially in the big cities. However, once you go away from a major city, the road condition may vary from very good to poor.
The main hazard regarding driving in Latvia is the heavy snowfall that may occur during winter. In this case, snow chains and a set of snow tires are mandatory to avoid any unpleasant scenarios. When going on secondary roads, be aware that the road condition may change from time to time and you must give it certain attention. The cause of many accidents in Latvia is drunk driving, as police are mounting up filters and doing random check-ups on drivers that show reckless driving.
Public transportation is generally safe. When thinking of using a cab, always call for a metered cab. Bus conditions are very good and sometimes very fast.
Night-clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Latvia: MEDIUM
As stated above, some bars and pubs are prime targets for scammers. Sometimes, a young lady will approach you, buy whatever she wants and then leave you with a hefty bill to cover up. If you don’t pay the money, sometimes violence may be used.
Health Risks in Latvia: LOW
In Latvia, the health system is meeting Western standards. However, be sure to check if your health insurance covers for medical services in the country. The official emergency number is 113 and the response to an emergency is quite rapid compared to other European countries.
List of Vaccines You Need in Latvia
The CDC has released a list of common vaccines that you will need to take before going on a trip to Latvia:
- measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine
- diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine
- varicella (chickenpox) vaccine
- polio vaccine
- hepatitis A and B
- anti-Rabies vaccines (especially for children as they might come in contact with animals more often)
Most Dangerous Area in Latvia
There are no areas of concern in Latvia that are rated as not being safe. However, in Riga, you must excerpt some precautions for areas like Vecriga (Riga's Old Town), Dzelzcela Stacija (central train station), the Autoosta (central bus station) and Centraltirgus (central market).
Concluding Remarks: Is Latvia Safe to Visit?
As a conclusion to the above information, Latvia is highly regarded as being a very safe country to visit, both by couples, solo woman travelers and families alike.
However, there are some normal safety tips that you should take into consideration, especially in the urban regions where pickpockets and thieves may operate. Always keep some of your cash in the hotel room and do not flash any valuables in public and also, do not draw any attention towards you.
When it comes to female solo travelers, the country is a haven for backpackers and tourists.
When thinking about renting a car, be sure to take into consideration the weather forecast as this is a northern country and weather conditions could change rapidly. In winter time, it is recommended to take some extra clothes in your suitcase.
Road conditions are very good and driving is not hazardous at all, but you will need to pay attention to the road and use defensive driving when necessary.