Central Riga, seen from the tower of the 'Petera Baznica' church

Riga, Latvia...  This is Riga old town, seen from the tower of the 'Petera Baznica' church.

UK to Riga by train or ferry...

Riga is a great place to visit, with more of a 'big city' feel than Vilnius or Tallinn.  There are two basic options for travelling from the UK to Riga:  Overland by train via Brussels, Berlin, Warsaw & Vilnius, or by train from London to Stockholm and overnight cruise ferry from Stockholm to Riga.

Train times, fares & tickets...

small bullet point  London to Riga via Hamburg & Stockholm

small bullet point  London to Riga via Berlin, Warsaw, Vilnius

small bullet point  Useful country information: currency, dial code...

small bullet point  Hotels in Riga & Latvia

On other pages...

small bullet point  Train service in Latvia

small bullet point  Riga to Vilnius by train or bus

small bullet point  Riga to Tallinn by train or bus

small bullet point  Riga to St Petersburg by train

small bullet point  Riga to Moscow by train

Route map:  London to Scandinavia, Estonia & Latvia by train & ferry...

Route map:  London to Stockholm & Gothenburg by train & ferry


large bullet pointUseful country information

Train operators:

Latvijas Dzelzcels (LDz, www.ldz.lv) also see www.pv.lv.

Train times in Europe: http://bahn.hafas.de

All-Europe train times

Ferries to Riga:

www.tallink.lv  (Stockholm-Riga)

Time zone:

GMT+2 (GMT+3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).

Dialling code:

 

+371

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.11 euros, adopted by Latvia in 2014.   Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.inyourpocket.com & www.latviatravel.com.   Guidebooks

Hotels in Latvia:

Find a hotel in Riga    Hotel reviews: www.tripadvisor.com    Hostels:  Hostelworld.com

Visas:

UK citizens do not need a visa for Latvia.

Page last updated:

2 December 2020.


large bullet pointLondon to Riga via Stockholm

Travel by Eurostar & comfortable connecting trains from London to Hamburg on day 1, stay overnight in Hamburg, then travel from Hamburg to Stockholm on day 2.  Take a bottle of wine and a good book, and enjoy a 2-day train ride across Europe on modern & comfortable trains with not an airport security queue in sight.  Stay overnight and spend most of day 3 exploring Stockholm.  Then take the overnight cruise ferry to Riga with a comfortable en suite cabin reserved, arriving on the morning of day 4.  What's the journey like?

London ► Riga

Riga ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Brussels by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Brussels in just 2 hours, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide.  Brussels Midi station guide & short cut for changing trains in Brussels.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Brussels to Cologne by ICE3...

Germany's superb ICEs have a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  In 1st class, bistro orders are taken at your seat.  50 minutes after leaving Brussels the ICE calls at Liège, where you can admire the impressive station designed by celebrity architect Santiago Calatrava.  As you approach Cologne Hbf you'll see the twin towers of Cologne Cathedral on the right, next to the station.  More information about ICE3 Brussels Midi station guideCologne Hbf station guide.

ICE3M to Cologne & Frankfurt, boarding at Brussels Midi

An ICE3M to Cologne at Brussels Midi.  More information about ICE Advice on changing trains in Brussels.

2nd class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train   1st class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

2nd class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Erdinger Weissbier on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE train   Restaurant car on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

Food is served on proper china with metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier! See  current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant on an ICE3M...  Larger photo.

3. Cologne to Hamburg by Intercity train...

Germany Intercity trains travel at up to 200km/h (120mph), with power sockets at all seats and a bistro car serving tea, coffee, wine, beer, snacks and hot dishes.  On the Cologne to Hamburg route you'll find some departures are operated by high-speed ICEs (usually ICE1) rather than Intercity trains, although the ICEs are no faster than ICs on this section of line.  More information about Intercity trainsHamburg Hbf station guide.

A DB InterCity train

A German Intercity train.  More information about Intercity trains.

Beef ribs and Spatburgunder red wine on the Amsterdam to Berlin InterCity train   Inside the Amsterdam to Berlin bistro car

Dinner in the bistro.  The beef ribs were delicious...

 

Bistro car.  See current month's menu...

2nd clas seats on a DB Intercity train

2nd class seating is usually in open-plan saloons like this, most seats unidirectional, but with some tables for 4.  Sometimes you'll find 2nd class compartment cars with side corridor and ten 6-seat compartments  Larger photo.

4. Hamburg to Copenhagen by Intercity train

Hamburg-Copenhagen trains are operated by Danish IC3 trains like this, shown in the timetable as IC for Intercity See more photos, tips & information about the Hamburg to Copenhagen journey.

Hamburg-Copenhagen train at Hamburg Hbf

The late afternoon Hamburg-Copenhagen IC3 leaving platform 5 at Hamburg Hbf on a busy summer day.  The yellow stripe above the windows indicates first class, located at one end of both 3-car units.  More information about the Hamburg-Copenhagen journey.

A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...   1st class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen

Boarding a Danish IC3 train at Hamburg Hbf...

 

1st class seats on an IC3 train.  Larger photo.

2nd class seats on an IC3 train from Hamburg to Copenhagen   A Danish IC3 train at Copenhagen station...

2nd class seats on a IC3 train.  Larger photo.

 

An IC3 train to Copenhagen at Hamburg.

5. Copenhagen to Stockholm by X2000

These Swedish 200km/h (125mph) tilting trains link Copenhagen & Stockholm in just a few hours, centre to centre.  They cross from Denmark to Sweden over the Oresund Link, a combined tunnel and bridge.  On the bridge section you seem to be flying just feet above the water... More information about X2000

125 mph tilting 'SJ2000' from Copenhagen to Stockholm, at Copenhagen station SJ2000 2nd class seats

A Copenhagen-Stockholm X2000 train boarding at Copenhagen main station...

 

2nd class seats on an X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm.

SJ2000 train   SJ2000 buffet car seating area   SJ2000 self-service buffet car.

X2000 bistro car...

 

X2000 bistro car seating area...

 

Bistro self-service...

Winter scenery from a Copenhagen-Stockholm train

Winter scenery from a train between Copenhagen & Stockholm. Courtesy of Radoslav Sharapanov

6. Stockholm to Riga by Tallink cruise ferry...

Boarding Tallink's 'Regina Baltica' from Stockholm to Tallinn   'C' grade cabin with en suite shower and WC on the ship to Tallinn   Sunset from the ferry to Riga

The daily Tallink ferry from Stockholm to Riga has a range of comfortable cabins, plus bars and restaurants.

 

Sunset as the ferry to Riga leaves Stockholm.  Courtesy of Alistair Weaver.

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large bullet pointLondon to Riga via Warsaw

The overland option...

Journey time is roughly the same as going via Stockholm.  What might be termed normal daily inter-city train service ends at Warsaw, you then have something of a patchy regional train service from Warsaw to Vilnius and Vilnius to Riga, and may end up using buses for these two sectors, a less civilised by more-used mode in the Baltic States.

London ► Riga  (via Warsaw)

Riga ► London  (via Warsaw)

  • Day 1, travel from Riga to Vilnius by bus, see www.luxexpress.eu for details of the several daily buses.  Or you can travel by train with an overnight stop in Daugavpils near the Lithuania/Latvia border, as shown on the Riga to Vilnius by train page.  If you take the train, you'd leave the previous afternoon, i.e. Day 0.

  • Stay overnight in Vilnius.

How much does it cost?

  • London to Brussels by Eurostar starts at £52 one-way or £78 return in standard class, £115 one-way, £199 return standard premier (1st class).

  • Brussels to Warsaw starts at €46.90 each way in 2nd class, €79.90 each way in 1st class.

    Fares between London & Warsaw are dynamic like air fares, for the cheapest prices book early & avoid busy times such as Fridays or Sunday afternoons.

  • Warsaw to Vilnius:  Around €24, see the Warsaw to Vilnius page.

  • Vilnius to Riga:  Around €16, see the Vilnius to Riga by train page.

How to buy tickets...

Step 3, book the Vilnius to Riga bus or train tickets when you get to Vilnius.

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large bullet pointTrain travel within Latvia...

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large bullet pointMoving on from Latvia...

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large bullet pointEuropean Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

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large bullet pointRecommended guidebooks:

Lonely Planet guidebook to the Baltic States

Rough Guide to the Baltic StatesMake sure you take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller, this means either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  I personally prefer the layout of the Lonely Planets, others prefer the Rough Guides.  Both books provide a similarly excellent level of interesting background and practical information.  You won't regret buying one of these!  My own book, an essential handbook for train or ferry travel to Europe based on this website called "The Man in Seat 61", was published in June 2008, and is available from Amazon.co.uk with shipping worldwide.

Amazon logoClick the images to buy online at Amazon.co.uk...

 

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large bullet pointHotels in Riga & Latvia

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel without travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should also cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback is always welcome.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

UK flagYou can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

UK flag

 Australian flag New Zealand flag  Irish flag    If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

 US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explained ExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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