Is Riga safe? How do you ensure safety in Latvia or the Baltics?
The capital city of Latvia, Riga is a small city that’s making huge strides on the tourist scene in recent years.
But what about the safety in Riga? Is it safe for solo female travellers?
I recently visited Riga on my own and I’m here to share all my thoughts!
Is Riga safe?
Yes, Riga is very safe.
It’s a small city, and crime levels are low.
Latvians tend to be friendly but quite reserved, which means that there’s next to no street harassment.
There’s the occasional scam – as in any city – and it’s important to be fully prepared for the cold weather if you’re visiting in winter.
Let’s take a look at Riga’s safety in more detail!
Is Riga safe for solo female travellers?
Yes, Riga is safe for solo female travellers – at least, as a solo female myself, I found it to be incredibly secure!
Throughout Riga (and in Vilnius and Tallinn, for that matter), I never experienced any catcalling or inappropriate comments.
I don’t really have any other comments at all on solo female traveller safety other than to me it felt totally safe and it’s a great place to visit for solo and non-solo male and female travellers alike.
But of course, I followed my usual solo travel safety procedures, which are:
- not going out too late at night (I like to be sleeping then anyway!)
- not drinking too much (a couple of glasses of mulled wine were good for me)
- not giving out too much information to people (nobody asked, but I wouldn’t have if they did)
- booking a highly-rated hotel with reviews that mentioned it felt safe (I also wrote a review when I left to help future solo female travellers)
Is Riga safe for LGBTQ+/ POC travellers?
As a white, straight woman, I can’t provide any first-hand perspective on safety in Riga for LGBTQ+ or POC travellers.
However, sources I’ve read mention that it is safe, despite some attitudes being more conservative.
Generally, Latvians are keen to welcome any tourists to their country, regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion or gender.
Some people do have more backward attitudes, largely due to the lack of diversity in the city/ country, although it seems to be very rare for anyone to make any comments or act in any different way.
In fact, the statistics from Numbeo show that “Worries about being subject to a physical attack due to skin color, ethnic origin, gender, or religion are significantly lower in Riga (24.76) compared to London (40.77).”
Plus, attitudes in Riga seem to be improving in recent years, and hopefully, the culture will become increasingly accepting and liberal as time goes on.
For more information and a first-hand perspective about gay travel in Riga, please see Nomadic Boys’ article.
For POC travellers, I haven’t yet found a decent article from someone’s first-hand perspective (if you know or have written one, please let me know!).
Crime rate in Riga
The crime rate in Riga is low, much lower than most Western European capitals.
When I write these safety posts, I usually compare global cities to London (which isn’t to say that London’s not safe, but it’s a big, touristy city that many people are happy to visit in terms of safety).
According to data from Numbeo, a user-contributed database comparing global living conditions, Riga has lower crime levels in nearly all categories when compared to London.
The level of crime in London is classified as high at 63.73, whereas in Riga, it’s considered low at 38.81.
In terms of crime increasing in the past three years, London scores high at 69.81, with Riga at a moderate 48.61, suggesting a more stable crime rate in the Latvian capital.
Worries about being mugged or robbed are moderate in London at 57.61 but low in Riga at 33.68.
Similarly, concerns about cars being stolen are moderate in London at 43.78 and low in Riga at 31.93.
The only aspect where Riga scores higher than London is corruption and bribery, with Riga having a high score of 68.29 compared to London’s low 38.67.
These statistics were similar when comparing Riga with Paris and Riga with Barcelona; Riga comes out as the safest.
As with any city, it’s always prudent to stay aware and take standard safety precautions.
Scams in Riga
I didn’t experience any scams on any level when I was in Riga, but from a Google search, there seems to be an idea that they’re widespread!
I’m certainly not saying that scams in Riga don’t exist – for example, visitors might encounter overpriced services or inflated bills in city centre locations.
Checking reviews and asking locals for reputable places can greatly reduce the risk of falling victim to these scams.
But with a bit of caution and common sense, it’s easy to enjoy Riga without falling victim to scams!
Global security of Latvia
In recent years, many travellers have been concerned about visiting Latvia for global security reasons.
However, it’s highly unlikely for any country to attack or invade Latvia.
Latvia, much like its Baltic neighbours Lithuania and Estonia, has taken significant strides in asserting its independence and bolstering its national security since breaking away in 1990.
Today, Latvia’s membership in NATO plays a crucial role in its security.
This alliance means that any act of aggression against Latvia is, in effect, an act of aggression against all NATO members, including the rest of the EU, the UK and the USA.
This membership provides a robust layer of international protection.
In fact, due to its NATO membership, Latvia’s security situation can be compared to other European nations like France, the UK, and Italy in terms of global security.
Can you drink the tap water in Riga?
Yes, you can drink the tap water in Riga.
Riga’s tap water is not only safe to drink, but it’s also of very high quality.
The water in Riga undergoes thorough treatment processes to ensure its purity and safety.
These processes comply with strict European standards, ensuring that the tap water is free from harmful contaminants and safe for daily use.
I drank tap water throughout my trip to the Baltic countries and it was crisp and delicious!
This also helps you save money in Riga and beyond.
Staying healthy in Riga
Generally, it’s easy to stay healthy in Riga; it’s clean and there aren’t any particular health risks you need to be aware of.
Riga’s temperate climate means weather can vary, so check the forecast before your trip and pack accordingly.
Layered clothing is a good idea to accommodate fluctuating temperatures, especially if you’re visiting in transitional seasons.
If you’re visiting in winter, pack lots of layers including waterproof boots (don’t do what I did and visit the Baltic countries just in sneakers/ trainers!).
Riga’s culinary scene is diverse and caters to various dietary needs – but do double-check with waitstaff if you have any allergies, especially if they’re serious.
Most people can speak very good English, but if your allergy is serious it never hurts to learn the name for it in Latvian!
Riga has good medical facilities, and pharmacies are readily available for basic medical supplies.
But do carry essential medications and a basic first aid kit for convenience.
Also, make sure you have comprehensive travel insurance just in case anything does go wrong. I use and recommend SafetyWing.
How to stay safe in Riga
There’s nothing in particular that you’ll need to consider in terms of Riga safety, but these steps can help you to be even more secure:
- Choose Accommodation Wisely: Opt for a central, well-reputed hotel. Staying centrally not only puts you close to major attractions but also in well-lit, busier areas, which can be safer, especially at night.
- Be Cautious at Night: It’s wise to avoid walking around late at night, particularly in less crowded areas. If you need to travel, consider using a Bolt taxi. These are reliable and can be easily booked via an app, ensuring a safer journey back to your accommodation.
- Moderate Alcohol Consumption: Riga is known for its traditional Balsam and other alcoholic beverages. While they are certainly part of the cultural experience, do drink responsibly.
- Dress for the Weather: Riga’s climate can be very cold, especially in winter. Dressing appropriately for the weather is important to avoid any health risks associated with the cold. Layering your clothes and wearing proper winter gear during the colder months is advisable.
- Seek Assistance When Necessary: Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it! Whether it’s hotel receptionists, tour guides, or waitstaff at restaurants, most people in Riga speak very good English and are generally helpful. They can provide assistance, directions, and local tips to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable experience in the city.
Are you ready to visit Riga?
I hope that this blog post has reassured you that yes, Riga is safe!
If you want to plan your Riga trip some more, take a look at my YouTube video from the city.