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I fly regularly through Riga airport as one of my two “home” airhports along with Warsaw. This is a guide to less frequent travelers about everything useful that you can find in RIX.
How to get to Riga City center and back
Riga Airport offers numerous options how to commute between the airport and the Riga City centre. The airport is located quite close to the city centre, and you can get there by car in 15-20 minutes, and 20-25 by public transport bus, unless there are traffic jams.
Public transport (bus)
There is a convenient bus No 22 that goes every 15-20 minutes between Riga City and the airport . You can find the reverse schedule on the Riga Public Transport Authority’s (Rigas Satiksme) website.
The earliest bus is at 5:25 AM.
The last bus leaves the airport 40 minutes after midnight.
The ticket costs 2.00 EUR.
Bus No 22 is the only public transport route in Riga where you buy a ticket at the driver, and you can pay with a payment card / pay with your phone. They have also selected drivers so that they speak at least a bit of English.
If your driver doesn’t speak English, no worries. Locals also use the bus frequently, so there will be someone to help you out with interpretation.
Private drop-off and pickup
If you need to drop someone off, you just go up to the main ramp of the airport at the Departures level (see red arrows marking the Kiss & Fly area). Police is a frequent presence there to ensure the flow of traffic, which means that you won’t be able to park there for more than a few minutes.
To pick someone up, you can enter the short-term parking area with your car. First 10 minutes are free of charge. Control is being done by a camera that recognizes license plate numbers.
Taking a taxi from the airport is a perennial problem that the airport authority has not fixed. There are still regular reports about foreigners being charged exorbitant prices.
You are supposed to pay around 15 EUR to get to Riga City centre during daytime and around 20 EUR in nighttime. However, some poor tourists are regularly overcharged 60 EUR and more.
How to get around this? Call a taxi in the Bolt app (Uber isn’t available in Riga). These taxis are not allowed to enter the dedicated taxi lane, but the driver will pick you up either in the short-term parking or one level up at Departures.
If you decide to take one of the taxis standing right outside the Arrivals gate, always negotiate the price before you get into the car. The safest bet are the Baltic Taxi cars, but even these drivers can try to pull small shenanigans like pretending the card terminal is not working so you pay cash, or not wanting to issue a receipt. Just ask about everything that you need (card payment, receipt, etc.) ahead of starting the ride. If a driver declines, go to the next one.
The airport is now served by several car-sharing / short-term car rental companies:
- Car Guru
The cars can be picked up in the area marked green in the map above. You can locate the individual car in the particular car sharing company’s app.
This parking lot is only about 250 meters from the airport exit and one can easily walk there, even with large luggage.
Get discounts on car-sharing apps if you haven’t used them before. This will usually save between 5-10 EUR on the first drive.
- Car Guru. Enter promo code wpncIVs to get a discount of 50% (up to 10 EUR).
- CityBee. Enter promo code ZJ3CH to get a discount of 5 EUR for your first ride.
Preferably register for one or several of these services before your arrival to Riga, as the driver’s license authentication process takes between 5-15 minutes and you might not want to wait at the airport on arrival, or do it right after landing.
The airport is served by a large number of car rental companies who have their stall either within the arrivals area right after you exit the luggage pickup area, or in one of the nearby buildings.
The airport is served by the following companies: Hertz, Toprent, Sixt, Enterprise Rent-a-car, Avis, Prime Car Rent, Green Motion, Car Rental Riga, Auto 26, National, and some others.
When it comes to car rentals, we highly recommend that instead of sticking with a single company, you use RentalCars.com. This aggregator of car rental companies’ gives you the best rate available.
International bus connections
The airport is well integrated as a stop in international bus traffic.
There is one single stop for the following international bus carriers:
The airport offers short- and long-term parking. Look for more information on the airport’s website.
If you are picking someone up, you can enter the short-term parking area right next to the airport for 10 minutes free of charge. And up to 30 minutes is only 2 EUR.
If you need to leave your car at the airport for longer, park it in areas P3 and P4. Parking price is as follows:
- First day: EUR 10.00 per day
- From the second day onwards: EUR 8.00 per day
- A per-day rate is charged for the parking
- Car key storage: EUR 3.00 per day
- Car covers for rent: EUR 3.00 per time
As Riga is a safe city, we actually would not spend money on long-term parking if departing from the airport. Instead, we would park our car in Riga or any of the nearby towns and villages and call a taxi to the airport. See what makes sense financially for you.
The main airport level is level 2, where the departures area, check-in desks and terminals are located. Level 3 houses the lounge, and level 1 is Arrivals.
There is an electronic airport map right after you leave the security check to your right. You can find the same map version on the Airport’s website.
Premises and ambience
Riga International Airport (RIX) is the largest airport in the Baltic states and serves as a key hub for air travel in the region. As such, it is the busiest of Baltic airports. However, travelers will find that even with 6-7 million travelers annually it rarely feels very crowded.
The ambiance of Riga Airport is characterized by a blend of modern Scandinavian design with functional features aimed at providing a comfortable and efficient experience for travelers.
As you enter the airport, you are likely to notice the contemporary architecture, with clean lines and ample use of glass that allows natural light to fill the interior spaces. The terminal has been designed with passenger flow in mind, aiming to minimize walking distances and reduce the stress of navigating through the airport.
The check-in area is a wide single-lane atrius, with relatively clear signage directing passengers to their respective counters. AirBaltic as the national airline is front and centre, and other airlines are to your right.
The waiting areas after the security check most often have good views of the runway or parked planes, allowing passengers to observe the daily comings and goings of airport life.
Retail and dining options are available throughout the terminal, offering both local Latvian specialties and international cuisine, as well as duty-free shopping for those looking to make last-minute purchases. The overall atmosphere is designed to be calming and pleasant, with an emphasis on providing a stress-free travel experience.
Unfortunately, the airport has not yet decreased the frequency and loudness of boarding calls and similar announcements as have many other airports to further improve passengers’ well-being.
The airport has undergone several expansions and renovations to enlarge and improve its facilities and services.
It is planned to construct a new terminal until 2028 to further increase passenger capacity. The new terminal will add 45 thousand square meters to the airport at a cost of 167 million euros.
Levels 1, 2 and 3
Passenger flow is organized in Terminals B and C, which are located on level 2, the main level of the airport.
Traveling with kids
Riga Airport is a family-friendly airport, already starting with the security check. It also provides strollers, kids play areas, and rooms for breastfeeding or diaper change.
By the way, did you know that the Riga Airport has a special fast track procedure for Santa Claus every year so that he can visit children in Latvia without delay? Show this video to your kids while waiting for the plane 🙂
Security check for families
To make traveling with children less stressful, Riga Airport has introduced a special family line at the security check as of 2024 (article in Latvian). Families with at least one child up to the age of 7 can use it to fast track through the security check procedure.
The family line is equipped with the newest screening devices that expedite the security check process. Passengers using the family line do not need to remove electronic devices or liquids from their luggage.
This is the kids play area in Terminal B.
If you will visit the only airport lounge with a kid, there is also a small family room / playground there as well. This will, however, be somewhat interesting for smaller kids only.
If you are visiting the lounge with larger kids, they’ll definitely like the unlimited ice-cream available there.
The airport provides quite many strollers for families with small kids. The strollers are available right after the security check next to the airport map screens.
Changing and nursing facilities
The airport has nursing rooms for breastfeeding mothers that also serve as unisex diaper changing rooms for moms and dads.
Security check, liquids disposal, plastic bags
In case you have forgotten do dispose liquids, right before the security check there is this area. You can not only pack liquids there, but also dispose liquids in the sink.
The fast track lane is right next to the regular check.
The security check area is quite small (as is the rest of the airport) and moves fast. I personally would not bother paying for fast track, unless you’re in an extreme hurry.
Best work areas
The best work area in the airport is at these two high-tables in the long corridor between terminals B and C. There are power outlets, and a superb view.
If this area is occupied or you want to also eat something while working, I recommend to visit the TickerDaze restaurant. It has a 2nd floor balcony with a similarly great view and is more secluded from the airport buzz.
Souvenirs from Latvia
Here’s an overview of souvenir shops and a recommended selection of souvenirs that you can get at Riga airport if you haven’t stocked up when visiting the capital or other places.
As usual, there is a surcharge at the airport. If you want to be frugal, get the same items in the many Rimi’s and Maxima’s scattered around Riga.
Specialty Latvian souvenir shops
The Roots shop has probably the nicest selection of souvenirs that can claim a Latvian origin. The items there are generally somewhat more fancy and, hence, also a bit more expensive.
You might not like them, but there’s little that screems more “I’ve been to Latvia” than a can of Riga smoked sprats.
There are multiple packaging types, but the fish inside are supposed to be the same.
Riga sprats as well as most other items below can be obtained in several of the airport’s shops.
“Gotiņa” is one of the most popular Latvian candy that everyone local knows since childhood. Whereas only one type of Gotina was available in the Soviet occupation times, these days there’s a multitude of flavours. The candy is of the family of toffees, but much softer.
This is another typical Latvian variety called “Serenade”. It used to be quite exclusive in the Soviet times and the 1990s. Judge for yourself how it holds up these days. If you need a gift for a Latvian as you arrive, this is a relatively safe bet.
The airport sets up occasional popup stores, particularly, around Christmas. The fox-themed items below were from a particularly nice one at the turn of 2023/2024.
Candied cranberries and other berries and fruit
Below are some further food items that Latvians are proud of and often bring these along as souvenirs and gifts for foreigners.
Candied fruits and berries. These are dried, then soaked in sugar syrup, then dried some more. While sweet, at least there’s a genuine health benefit to these as well, especially, if you take the craberry varieties.
Typical Latvian rye bread. Latvians will tell you that nobody makes rye bread exactly as we do in the Baltics.
As you reach start of Terminal C, there is this goods dispenser that sells, drumroll, felt slippers. These are made by a Latvian company “Woolig“, which used to be known as “Feltmore”. There’s an original gift from the Baltic states!
Zephyr in chocolate
Zephyr is another traditional sweet from Latvia. While something similar is available in other European countries, the Latvian varieties should be different and interesting.
Vaverite is a waffle cake with chocolate and nuts. Very hard to cut, but super delicious with coffee. An excellent gift to bring to office colleagues.
Prozit is a bottle-shaped candy that’s filled with various liquors. Treat the box carefully as there’s quite a lot of tasty fluid in each candy.
And some fancy cookies.
Stenders is a Latvian cosmetics brand, heavily targeting bath-related products. The have great massage oils. Almond is our favorite. Our kids like to bubble-bath balls.
Have you got a friend that’s a plane or flying fanatic? Here’s the perfect gift for him/her.
Of course, no visit to Latvia is complete without tasting the Riga Black Balzams. If you don’t like the original stuff (somewhat similar to a Jagermeister), try the newer varieties.
We don’t like the original brown Riga Balsam, but we can easily have a shot of the black-currant variety.
Both the original and the black currant variety are excellent with black tea and a slice of citrus when it’s cold and rainy outside. The locals call this drink ‘Fool’s tea’ as it makes you silly after a few cups.
We’re biased, but Latvia has some quite nice artisanal beers. Anything from Valmiermuiza and Labietis brands will be a safe choice. Beware – Labietis beers are having the funniest names and can not be to everyone’s liking, but a beer fan will most appreciate these.
Latvia is producing some “vine” varieties made not of grapes but various berries. We don’t much recommend these, except two items. Firstly, do try the sparkling wine made out of birch sap. Secondly, the “vine” out of rhubarb is also quite interesting.
This used to be called Riga Champagne, but is now called Riga Sparkling Vine as the EU prohibits the use of the term “champagne” outside France. You would buy this if you want to experience what “champagne” tasted like in the Soviet Union as Riga produced the main brand of Soviet champagne. Vine connoisseurs – run away as if your life depended on it! 🙂
Of course, Riga airport has a duty free scheme if you are leaving to countries outside the EU.
There are two smoking areas in the airport. One is for regular smokers, and the other is this Iqos lounge for electronic cigarettes and vapes.
Riga Airport lounge (Primeclass)
Riga Airport has only one lounge. It’s located airside right after you pass terminal B on your way to terminal C. The lounge is one level up from the terminal, accessible by stairs and an elevator.
- Catering and drinks
- Nursing and diaper change room
- Private rooms
- Meeting room
- Kids play area
Read the full Riga airport lounge review by clicking on the link below.
Free drinking water
There are two of these water stations in the airport – at the end of Terminal B and C respectively.
Tap water is safe to drink at the airport. When I’m in a hurry, I don’t hesitate to just fill up my water bottle in the loo.
Where to eat?
Most secluded cafe area
You can get the most privacy in the TickerDaze restaurant which has a 2nd floor that has a view of the runway.
There are at least half a dozen cafes in the airport serving coffee and pastries. Choose the one you like most. All serve decent coffee and we can’t really recommend one over the others.
If you just want water, coffee, tea or a quick snack, there are these dispensers in several locations around the airport.
Long layovers and entertainment around the airport
If you have a long layover in the airport, your best bet is to take the bus and go to the city centre. The ride takes only 15-20 minutes and busses depart 3-4 times per hour both ways. Car sharing cars cost about 40% cheaper than a taxi and will not try to defraud you.
If you want to stay around the airport, there are not many options.
You might have read that there is an Aviation Museum next to the airport. That used to be the case until a few years ago, however, now the museum has moved to the other side of the airport and is around 10km car ride away in a town called Skulte.
If you are into plane spotting, you can do this from several areas around the terminal building, however, the view won’t be perfect. There is no viewing platform in the airport. If you are already airside, the best spots are the furthest ends of terminals B and C, as well as the long corridor connecting both terminals.
However, all serious plane spotters use a location on opposite side of the airport as it’s closest to the runway. It happens to be very close to the Aviation museum, so serious aviation fans can unite both activities.
The only airside currency exchange is located right after the security check. You can also exchange money landside on level 2.
Sleeping in the airport
Riga Airport is ok for overnight stays as it’s operated 24/7. However, amenities will of medium level.
Seats without armrests
You will be able to sleep on the chairs as there are no armrests.
If you want to sleep landside, the best area is to the very left when you enter the main airport building.
Best locations for sleeping
There is a more quiet secluded area right after you pass terminal B on your way to terminal C, next to the Cafeine coffee shop.
The airport’s Primeclass lounge is not suitable for overnight stays as it closes at 11PM.
Read more about sleeping in Riga airport on this site.
The large luggage drop-off stall is at the very left of the check-in desks when you head to the security check.
AirBaltic has also recently introduced a self-check-in desk for regular luggage for its customers. However, my experience with this has been poor, as I’ve always had to ask for assistance to staff.
The airport has one stall where luggage wrapping is available. It’s located in the area of check-in desks and is hard to miss.
There are two pharmacies at the airport.
The landside pharmacy is on your way to the security check, right after the large luggage drop-off stall.
The airside pharmacy is located just before terminal B shortly after the security check and is impossible to walk by.
There is a Latvian Post office at Level 1 / ground level in case you want to buy some stamps or send a card.
I have used it at least once when I had a prohibited item in my luggage that would be confiscated during the security check. Fortunately, I had enough time and mailed my favorite knife myself at home.
Emergency medical assistance
The airport operates a medical service. If you have an emergency, ask airport staff to call for medical personell.
The airport has a police precinct in the premises. If you require police assistance, ask airport staff. Contact details:
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Address: Lidosta „Rīga” 10/1, Mārupes pagasts, LV-1053
- Phone: +371 67209555
- General police website: www.vp.gov.lv
What to do with small change
If you happen to have spare change as you reach the airport, there is the possibility to donate it in one of these charity boxes placed in several locations. The funds will go to one of several reputable Latvian NGOs that help people and animals in need.
Riga Airport is the hub of the Latvian national airline AirBaltic, recognizable by its salad-green livery.
Did I forget something? Should I add some info? Please leave a comment!