Do and don't in Latvia

Are you living in Latvia? We need you to share your experience of the local customs :)

Is it difficult to adjust to the local customs in Latvia?

Could you please share with us a list of the do's and don't's in Latvia?


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Don't expect most people to hold the door open for you. It's nothing personal, but a lot of them don't.

Try and at least learn 'hello' (labdien) and 'thank you' (paldies) in Latvian. They appreciate it when you make an effort.

I learned today that when you go buy any medication (over the counter or not) ask for all the ones that match what you are looking for. They will always try to sell you the most expensive one and pretend they have no other brands, but they do.

Also, people will push and shove if you are in their way. Excuse me does not exist in Latvia. So don't take it personal if you get the "get-out-of-my-way" treatment!

Well, i haven't bought medicine in a drug store yet, but as far as my encounters here go, Latvians are rather polite i must say. They don't shout or loudly argue in public (like some in south Europe). Couples don't kiss etc. in public and are well mannered. And you rarely hear the horn of a car sounding like some crazy drivers do in other European cities.
Ask for help or directions etc. and they do what they can. If they do not know the correct way they rather keep quiet, different from my experience in Italy for example, where people don't care whether you walk 2 km for nothing.

Crime rate is also fairly low in this country. I can only recommend it to anybody.

Do : Get out of Riga and see proper Latvia and not the cardboard mock-up that Riga has become.

Don't : Spend all your time in Riga ... there are far better things to do and see ...

I've been here since just after the Independence ... living and working. It always surprises me when I read some peoples experiences.

The one thing that I would say to anyone coming here - Latvia is fiercely nationalistic - to the point of spoiling what is a good place to be. So be careful of criticising Latvia or Latvian language etc.

An old topic, but maybe my do's and don't will help :)

1) try to connect with locals - many speak English and will try to help you. Here people are more polite than in Russia, for example, and usually don't try to scam a foreigner just for the sake of it.
2) a great advice and I will repeat it - get out of Riga and see the castles, fields and villages. There are some great places!
3) get a second opinion with your doctor! Especially with the public medicine. It's not that they try to push the most expensive treatment, it's just public sector is paid next to nothing and sometimes doctors tend to be a bit careless. Do look for an alternative - there are plenty and Latvia tries to adopt the latest innovations. We also have a great alternative medicine offers - homeopathy, naturopathy, etc.
4) catch sales/offers on coupon/groupon sites such as,,, etc. You get to try products for 40% off or more. This way you will also get to know places you would never find otherwise :)
5) be a gentleman! Girls here expect to have the door opened for them, given flowers and sweets, paid for them at the bar/cafe/restaurant and overall taken care for.

1) talk a lot about gays, politics and national differences. Latvian is still not very tolerant to something "different", unfortunately.
2) try to hook up with the girls at the club. You will either get a snotty treatment or they will try to scam you. If you wish to meet a local girl, try your work, neighbours, cafe during lunch hours or go to a horse riding club :) There are plenty beautiful, sporty and free girls there!
3) buy veggies and fruits in supermarkets. Try to find local/seasonal ones at the bazaars or the Central Market. They are usually much less filled with nitrates.

I will add some more later

Don't go to Maskavas Iela at night. Especially if you're alone.

Is it difficult to get part time jobs for international students??

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