Latvia is a very safe country to travel, whether you're a solo woman, traveling with friends, as a family or as a couple. There are a few things to know before you go, from petty crime to scams and stag party safety, here's what you need to know before you go to Latvia.
Tourists often make the easiest targets for would-be pick-pockets, so foreigners in Latvia are like walking bullseyes, especially during the busy summer months (June to September).
Those carrying backpacks not only make themselves more appealing to thieves, but travelers who are not alert become even easier targets.
Thieves may act alone, or work in groups to divert the attention.
Some of the most notorious locations for this crime are Vecriga (Riga's Old Town), Dzelzcela Stacija (central train station), the Autoosta (central bus station) and Centraltirgus (central market).
Riga, being both the capital and most popular city, is the home to much of the tourist scam reports. Many of the reports revolve around pubs and clubs, and nightlife situations in general.
Many travelers on a popular travel forum warn against the scam that comes when being lured into a bar or pub by a pretty lady. Once inside, patrons are usually charged outrageous prices for drinks or taken advantage of in other ways, such as getting debit and credit cards skimmed when they have to get more money to pay for the inflated drink prices.
Another scam is for bars and clubs to charge a cover to foreigners only upon entry. Check with your hotel or hostel in advance, and always watch locals as they enter to know if your money is required.
Some establishments that are considered shady for the above scams are Kapsula, Babylon and Sonali Pub to name a few. Clubs on Kalku lela and near the Freedom Monument have been pointed out as potential problem areas as well.
Further suggestions for avoiding scams while out include asking drink prices in advance, paying for each round individually (so you're not smacked with a huge bill in the end) and avoiding using the ATMs in bars whenever possible.
When doing an initial search for hostels in Riga, you might find notes from hostel owners saying "no stag parties allowed". Riga is a quite popular place for European groups of men, especially British, to go when seeking a men's night out on the town, and as you can imagine, they get drunk and loud.
Besides being annoying to normal travelers in the area, having a party focus puts you at risk of becoming a target for the crimes above. One traveler online also mentions seeing drunken tourists getting beat up by locals.
Although not widely discussed as a major problem in Latvia for travelers, there have been reports of travelers getting drugged at bars and then robbed. It doesn't matter where you are: You should always watch your drinks being made and never leave a drink unattended.
Verbal harassment in Riga towards those of ethnic backgrounds has been reported. One traveler online notes this sort of abuse has lessened in recent years, while another says he was repeatedly told to "go back to where he came from" while out in Riga.
There is not a high level of tolerance towards LGBTQ+ travelers, either. While you may not feel unsafe, just be aware there are some issues with discrimination in Latvia.
Not only does Latvia have a high traffic accident rate, they also have a high car theft rate. If you're on a driving holiday, keep your doors locked and valuables out of sight (or just out of the car) when it is parked or unattended.
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