Latvia’s capital, Riga, is an eclectic and energetic city. Since holding the title of ‘European Capital of Culture’ in 2014, tourism in Riga has experienced an unprecedented boom. And with impressive art nouveau quarters flanked by quirky hipster enclaves, there’s something for everyone.
But Riga is not just about leisure. These days, Riga is one of the Baltic powerhouses - both in terms of tourist visitors and economic success. It’s a surprising and stunning city - whatever the purpose of your visit.
If you have a trip to Riga coming up, then follow this guide to avoiding the rip-offs - and find the best places to exchange your cash into euros in Riga.
As you imagine strolling through Riga’s beautiful old town gazing at its iconic nouveau architecture, make sure you’re prepared for getting the best deal on your currency exchange.
A few things to keep in mind:
- Educate yourself on the mid-market rate. Know what your home currency is worth before you change it to euros.
- Compare the exchange rate you’re being offered with the real rate using an online currency converter. Find out if the deal is actually fair.
- If you can, avoid changing your cash in or around airports and hotels where tourist ignorance is easily preyed upon.
- ATMs are a good option. Ask your home bank if they have any partnerships with local banks in Riga. It may be possible for you to use their ATMs for reduced fees.
- Don’t let a Latvian ATM do a currency conversion for you. Choose to be charged in the local currency (EUR, in this case) to avoid poor exchange rates snuck in on you.
The mid-market rate is the ‘real’ exchange rate - and the one banks use to trade with each other. Exchange rates given to consumers and tourists will come with additional charges and fees (even if they claim to be 0% commission) - it’s normally done by giving you a poorer exchange rate so that the service can make money without you knowing.
Make your life easier by accessing a currency converter online to keep up with the live mid-market exchange rate. Though the rate is constantly fluctuating, you can still use the mid-market rate as a benchmark for fairness. Shop around to find the real best deals.
It's worth noting that exchange rates at airports and hotels rarely offer a fair rate. If you must, change a minimal amount to get by, or alternatively, use an ATM to withdraw some cash.
ATMs usually offer fairer exchange rates and are conveniently located. Check with your home bank if they have any partnerships with banks operating in Riga. If they do, you should be able to get certain fees reduced, or even dropped altogether. Be sure to notify your bank you’ll be overseas, so that you don’t get stuck unable to use your debit card abroad.
One thing to watch out for with ATMs is conversions. Foreign ATMs might ask if you want to have your transaction charged in your home currency. That means the ATM will convert for you at an undisclosed rate in addition to usually charging an extra fee for the conversion. You’ll get a fairer rate if charged in the local currency - choose to be charged in euros.
Having exchanged your cash, make sure you spend it. Switching leftover euros back to your home currency means you’ll be charged twice for conversion. Buy yourself something nice instead, like Riga’s own Black Balsam liqueur.
Several locations throughout the city, including in a handful of Maxima grocery stores. Take note that their website is only in Latvian or Russian. Check out Money Express’ Riga Branch locator for the one nearest to you.
+371 66 900 300
Vary - see branch info online for more details
One of their branches is by the central bus station in the Origo shopping center (close to old town) if you’re out and about.
Offering 5 branches in Riga, check Tavex’s Latvian Office Site for the nearest location.
| --- | --- |
| Locations | Contact Information |
| If you’re in old town or have arrived by bus - check out their branch located inside Origo Shopping Centre - Stacijas laukums 2, Rīga | +371 6707 3115, firstname.lastname@example.org |
| The main branch is fairly central - Elizabetes iela 21a, Rīga | +371 6720 5533, email@example.com |
- Origo Shopping Centre branch: Every day 9:00-21:00
- Main branch on Elizabetes: Mon-Fri 9:00-18:00, Sat
Claims to offer the best range of currencies for exchange. Has offices at the airport as well as 3 different shopping centers in Riga.
| --- | --- |
| Locations | Contact Information |
| Shopping Centre Domina: Ieriku Street 3, Riga | +371 6763 1163, firstname.lastname@example.org |
| Shopping Centre Sky&More: Duntes Street 19a, Riga | + 371 2000 1131, email@example.com |
| Shopping Centre Olimpia: Azenes Street 3, Riga | +371 2000 1131, firstname.lastname@example.org |
| Riga International Airport (both arrivals & departures in the E sector) - ChangeIT office | |
- Domina Centre: Mon-Sun 10:00-21:00
- Sky&More Centre: Mon-Sun 10:00-21:00
- Olimpia Centre: Mon-Sun 10:00-21:00
- Riga Airport: Mon-Sun from first to last flight
Alternatively - for an even better deal with low, transparent fees - use TransferWise. If you (or a friend) have a Latvian bank account, you can transfer money between accounts using the real mid-market exchange rate. This will save you money and time, which can be better fuelled into enjoying your trip.
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