This article will provide you a comprehensive overview of traveling between Riga, the capital of Latvia, and the Baltic Sea town of Liepaja. As Liepaja is the 3rd largest city in Latvia after Riga and Daugavpils, this is a popular route, often used by locals, hence, the roads are of good quality and there is a good infrastructure along the route.
- The route is around 220 km / 137 miles long.
- You can go from one city to the other in 2.5-3 hours by car, while bus and train take around 3-3.5 hours.
- Bus and car transport are the most popular modes of travel in the Riga-Liepaja route. Train goes very infrequently. There is no direct air or ferry transport at the moment.
When traveling from Riga to Liepaja, taking a bus is the most popular and convenient option along travelling by car. Buses run regularly between these two major cities in Latvia, with daily schedules catering to different travel preferences. Not only is it a reliable form of transport, but buses also offer the cheapest way to reach Liepaja from Riga if you are a group of up to three people.
On average, you can expect the ticket price of around €10 / 11 USD. There are no ‘increased comfort’ buses in the route. If you are a single traveller or a couple, taking a bus between Riga and Liepaja is undoubtedly the most economical option.
All public transport buses now accept payment cards, so you can pay for your ticket and luggage on-board. However, it is advised to purchase the ticket in advance either in person at the Riga Bus Terminal or online at one of the several services like BezRindas.lv. Luggage cost is slightly under 2 euros if you want to leave your bag in the cargo hold.
You should consider a car rental if you are a group of 3+ people or plan to journey outside Liepaja city. This is not only because of price considerations, but patchy local public transport coverage.
In terms of travel time, the average duration of a direct bus ride from Riga to Liepaja is roughly 3 to 4 hours. If you are slightly flexible timewise, pay attention to the total travel time of a particular bus. There can be a difference of approximately 30 minutes and fewer stops on the so-called ‘express busses’, which, by the way, are not more expensive than the ‘regular’ buses.
The best place to look up live bus schedules / timetables and prices is the Yellow Pages-like service 1188.lv which is available not only in Latvian, but also English and Russian:
One of the best aspects of traveling between Riga and Liepaja by bus is the frequency of the service. Generally, hourly departures are available unless you are travelling very early/late.
Getting From Riga Airport to Liepaja City
If you are arriving in Riga Airport, bear in mind that there is no direct bus route between RIX and Liepaja. You will at first have to go to the Riga International Bus Terminal, and board the Riga-Liepaja bus there.
Fortunately, there are regular and cheap public transport busses going from Riga Airport to Riga City Centre. There is a bus stop some 250 meters from the airport exit. In Riga City Centre you have to exit at the bus stop “Autoosta” (which means ‘Bus Terminal’ in Latvian), and is next to the Stockmann Shopping Center, From there you will have to and walk some 250 meters to the central bus station.
The airport – city centre bus costs the same as a regular public transport fare in Riga – 1.50 euros or a bit under 2 USD.
The car journey from Riga to Liepaja covers a distance of approximately 220 kilometers and takes around 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on traffic jams when you exit Riga. The most direct route is the A9 that passes through Broceni and past Saldus City at its mid-point.
Key points about the Riga – Liepaja route:
- Distance: 220 kilometers
- Regular travel time: 2.5 to 3 hours
- Route: A9 (also known as ‘Rīgas šoseja’ in Latvian)
There are several towns and villages along the way where you can stop along the way for a coffee or a proper meal. Our favorites in the order of preference:
- Virši fuel stations in Broceni 100km from Riga or Skrunda 160km from Riga. Virši has probably the best coffee among the fuel station competition, and a decent selection of warm fast food.
- Cafeteria “Dzirnavinas” in Biksti and the Elvi grocery shop next door. If you would survey Latvians about the best stop for lunch or dinner on the route, this would probably come up as the top recommendation. You can buy drinks and snacks cheaply in the shop next to the cafeteria. While there can be a queue in peak hours, it moves fast and food is served quickly.
- Circle-K and Neste fuel stations at the Saldus roundabout. This is a popular stop due its location precisely mid-way between Riga and Liepaja. Both fuel stations serve coffee, snacks and the occasional hot dog. The Neste fuel station has a Hessburger joint next to it.
We do not recommend speeding on this route, as it’s frequented by traffic police in official and unmarked cars.
Additionally, the route has several average speed control sections, as well as pop-up speed cameras.
We recommend to use the Waze app when navigating in Latvia. It is widely used by other drivers, and will alert you not only of average speed control zones, but police activity and the pop-up speed cameras, as well as any road hazzards.
Hitchhiking on the Riga-Liepaja route is complicated and should be tried by very determined hitchhiking aficionados.
Hitchhiking suffered in a major way during the Covid-19 pandemic, and is making only a moderate comeback.
If you get lucky with your driver, it might be an excellent opportunity to find out more about Latvia from a native. But language skills are mixed, particularly, among the older part of the population, and it might also be a ride done in awkward silence.
Main hitchhiking location
The main issue is that it’s difficult to hail cars in the administrative territory of Riga, as you don’t know which cars go to Liepaja, and there are few places where cars can safely stop near Riga to pick you up.
The best spot for proper hitchhiking (with monetary contributions for gas) is the Riga Ring Road (A10) near the Piņķi municipality, which goes around the city and connects to the A9 highway towards Liepaja. To get there, one of the options is to take the local public transport bus No. 4 that goes to Piņķi, and walk some 2 kilometers to the roundabout.
It is worth to have a cardboard sign or at least an A4 sign with the name of your destination in front of you, so that cars can break in time to pick you up.
Latvians are generally more suspect of picking up a single male (or, god forbid, two males). You will have the most luck if you are a female or a female/male or female/female pair. Big bags might make Latvians less likely to stop, so better put them to the side and reveal once a car has stopped. Once committed to take you on board, most Latvians will find it difficult to refuse the ride because of your luggage.
If you want to go to Liepaja by car or if no buses are available (for departures before 6:30 or after 20:30 at night), there is another alternative.
While Latvians do not really use the hitchhiking or ride-sharing apps like BlaBlaCar, Careem or Hitch, there is the Facebook group “Riga-Liepaja-Riga” that might become useful. It functions like this:
- Drivers who want to take on passengers, announce their trips in the group. They usually list route (Riga-Liepaja or Liepaja-Riga), departure time and location, as well as price. The price usually goes in lock-step with the bust ticket cost and is currently a bit under 10 euros / 11 USD.
- Passengers who need a ride, announce the same information in the group as a post, listing route, preferred departure date and time.
The first option is the most widely used as free spots in cars are in higher demand than passengers. Communication is usually done in Facebook Messenger, but a minority of drivers insist on communication over SMS.
Drivers’ ability to communicate in English is not guaranteed.
Going with a private car from the Riga Bus Terminal
There is a practice that drivers with an empty car might approach people waiting for a bus at the Riga International Bus Station to offer a faster ride with the bonus that they deliver you anywhere in Liepaja City. While this is generally a safe practice, the drivers will ask for approximately the same amount of money as the bust ticket fare.
If you consider going to Liepaja with this option, ask about stops on the way and any detours. Sometimes drivers pick up passengers at the bus terminal, but then cruise around Riga to pick up other passengers or do a last-minute errand, which leads to arrival in Liepaja later than the bus you would have taken. Clear communication is key.
As of 1 July 2023, there are once-a-day trains in the Riga-Liepaja route and two times a day on Friday and Sunday.
It’s an opportunity to experience a bit of Soviet Union as the trains in use are from the time Latvia was still occupied before 1991. The trains are likely be changed to new and modern ones in the next five years, hence, if you are curious or have a mild case of “Ostalgie”, use this chance while you can.
Currently, the train leaves Riga every day at 18:25 and arrives in Liepaja at 21:32. There are additional trains on Fridays and Sundays at 13:49, which arrive in Liepaja at 17:00.
The train leaves Liepaja every day at 05:00 and arrives in Riga at 08:04. There are additional trains on Sundays at 12:00 that arrive in Riga at 15:11 and at 18:26 that arrive in Riga at 21:43.
The ticket costs 6.66 euros or around 7.33 USD.
If you are interested in train travel in Latvia in general, you can find more information on the Latvian Railways website. This is where you can also buy electronic train tickets online the cheapest to Liepaja and other destinations in Latvia. If for some reason the website doesn’t work, you can also buy tickets on the infoservice 1188.lv website with a slight surcharge.
Travel by train is really popular to the seaside town of Jurmala near Riga, as well as to Sigulda for enjoying the autumn leaves “festival”.
It’s a real pity that the train doesn’t go more frequently, as it’s one of our favorite modes of travel in Latvia and elsewhere. We really like the possibility to walk around the carriage.
Taking a taxi from Riga to Liepaja is not an option frequently used by Latvians due to its cost. A taxi in this route might cost you around 200 euros on Bolt or Uber, and more with regular taxi companies. A car rental might be the more economical option.
You should check the best price both in Bolt or Uber. If no drivers sign up, consider calling the official taxi companies like Baltic Taxi at +371 20 008 500 or Red Cab at +371 8383.
Length of the taxi ride will be the same as going by car yourself – around 2.5 to 3 hours.
Currently, you cannot go by plane to Liepaja.
There was a connection with Riga in the past, and politicians are talking for years about reopening the route, but that is not likely to happen.
If you want to fly as close as possible to Liepaja, you can consider to fly not only to the Riga International Airport, but also to the small Airport in Lithuania. Palanga Airport is only 70 kilometers / 43 miles from Liepaja, compared to the 220 kilometers / 137 miles between Liepaja and Riga.
Remember that there is no regular public transport between Palanga and Liepaja. To get to Liepaja you either have to get someone to pick you up or pay for a taxi. Taxi will cost between 55 and 70 euros on top of your ticket price.
If you are particularly adventurous, you might try to strike up a conversation with a Latvian and ask if they can give you a ride to Liepaja, as there are usually plenty of Latvian travellers landing in this airport. However, success rate can be mixed. Quite many flights arrive in Palanga quite late at night and other travellers might be more hesitant to transport a stranger at late hours.
Theoretically, you can go directly between Riga and Liepaja by bicycle. However, in practice, this is not a popular route for fans of this mode of travel due to the characteristics of the Riga – Liepaja highway. The road is single-lane 99% of the distance, the traffic is quite nervous and it’s not an enjoyable experience.
It is much more common to see bicycle tourists in the route from Klaipeda to Liepaja and Liepaja to Ventspils. This route is much more peaceful, and there are (mostly unpaved) alternative roads if you don’t want to on the highways.
If you need to go between Riga and Liepaja, it is recommended to take the EuroVelo 10 route. While it is much longer than the direct 220 kilometer direct route, it will be a much nicer experience. The route passes through the beautiful Kuldiga and Ventspils towns. It also includes a nice 100km coastal road from Ventspils to Liepaja.
Tourist infrastructure is excellent on this route, and you will find plenty of cafes and restaurants, as well we places to stay overnight ranging from campings that rent tent spots to luxury guest houses and anything in between. The many bed & breakfasts are an good option, and you might get unexpected extras like sauna access and get to taste local produce. Some properties even make their own beer, cheese and other foodstuffs.
There is no regular ferry traffic between Riga and Liepaja.
If you want to go on the route by boat, it will be a custom tour with the corresponding price tag.
For information, Liepaja (just like another coastal city – Ventspils) has good yacht parking facilities, and there is regular ferry traffic from Liepaja to numerous destinations in Scandinavia and Germany. However, Latvian ports are not mutually connected with direct regular routes.
Frequently Asked Questions
The distance between Riga and Liepaja is approximately 220 kilometers (137 miles). Both cities are connected with the A9 highway, which is mostly single-lane, but in good condition.
It usually takes about 2.5-3 hours to drive from Riga to Liepaja. It will take longer if you leave Riga during morning or evening rush hour.
During summer there are occasional road-works on the route, but these tend not add more than 15-20 minutes to the travel time. It is recommended to use Waze to get up-to-date information on any delays on the route and get a precise travel time and ETA.
The most convenient transportation option between Riga and Liepaja is by car.
The most economical transportation option is by bus or train, unless you are a group of three or more people, when a car rental might be preferrable.
The cheapest way to go between Riga and Liepaja is hitchhiking, but it is recommended for seasoned travellers with lots of time on their hands.
Most people should opt for one of the frequent buses or the occasional train, which cost a bit under 10 euros / 11 USD.
Currently, there are no direct flights operating between Riga and Liepaja. Flying is not a convenient option, as it would require a layover in another city, increasing the overall travel time.
Bus schedules between Riga and Liepaja can vary depending on the day and time of travel. On average, there are around 10 to 12 daily departures, with buses typically running every 1 to 2 hours. We recommend checking the bus company’s website for the most up-to-date schedule before planning your trip.
Train service between Riga and Liepaja is currently limited to one trip from Liepaja to Riga every Friday and one trip from Riga to Liepaja every Sunday. You will find the train timetable and tickets online, but these can also be bought at the Riga and Liepaja Train Terminals, as well as from staff onboard.
There is no direct ferry service between Riga and Liepaja.
The closest airport to Liepaja is Liepaja International Airport, located just 7 kilometers (4 miles) from the city center. However, this airport does not service commercial flights.
The next closest airports are the Palanga Airport 80 kilometers / 50 miles from Liepaja, and Riga International Airport, which is 220 kilometers (137 miles) from Liepaja.