How Latvia is surging the travel Industry with new visa-free entry policy for 94 countries, including USA, UK and Schengen Nations?


Friday, June 28, 2024

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Latvia, as a member of the European Union and the Schengen Area, offers visa-free entry to nationals of 94 countries, including all EU and Schengen Area countries as well as nations such as the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Japan, and South Korea, significantly easing travel and encouraging more tourists to visit Latvia. Latvia’s tourism industry is well-developed, with a robust hotel sector catering to various preferences from budget accommodations to luxury hotels, particularly in Riga, the central hub for hospitality services with numerous international hotel chains and boutique hotels. As of 2023, Latvia boasts over 500 hotels with approximately 25,000 rooms, maintaining an average occupancy rate of 70% during peak tourist season and experiencing steady annual growth of 3-5%. The cruise industry, centered in Riga, is also growing, with the Port of Riga being a key destination for Baltic Sea cruises, attracting over 100,000 cruise passengers in 2023 and aiming to increase this number through ongoing investments in port facilities. Tourism is a vital component of Latvia’s economy, contributing approximately 4% to the GDP, employing around 75,000 people, and generating €1.3 billion in revenue in 2023. The country welcomed over 3 million international tourists in 2023, with an average expenditure of €450 per tourist, significantly boosting the local economy. Schengen nations form the largest group of visitors due to visa-free travel within the region, with approximately 1.5 million visitors from countries such as Germany, Sweden, Finland, and Lithuania. Non-Schengen EU countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Croatia, also contribute significantly, accounting for around 500,000 visitors. Additionally, Latvia attracts tourists from other visa-free countries outside the EU, such as the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia, contributing approximately 600,000 visitors. The easing of travel restrictions for business travel, corporate travel, leisure travel, and global travel enhances Latvia’s appeal as a tourist destination, fostering tourism growth and economic development.

TTW Editor in Chief Mr. Anup Kumar Keshan said: “The implementation of Latvia visa-free policy for 94 countries, including Schengen nations, has been a transformative force for the tourism sector. This strategic move has not only simplified the entry process for millions but has also broadened our appeal across diverse travel sectors. Additionally, this policy has invigorated niche travel markets, such as culinary tourism, adventure travel, and wellness retreats, enriching the travel experience and fostering significant economic growth and cultural exchange.”

Schengen Area Countries [6]

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Croatia
  5. Czech Republic
  6. Denmark
  7. Estonia
  8. Finland
  9. France
  10. Germany
  11. Greece
  12. Hungary
  13. Italy
  14. Lithuania
  15. Luxembourg
  16. Malta
  17. Netherlands
  18. Poland
  19. Portugal
  20. Romania
  21. Slovakia
  22. Slovenia
  23. Spain
  24. Sweden
  25. Switzerland (Schengen but not EU)
  26. Iceland (Schengen but not EU)
  27. Liechtenstein (Schengen but not EU)
  28. Norway (Schengen but not EU)

Non-Schengen EU Countries [4]

  1. Cyprus
  2. Ireland
  3. United Kingdom

Other Visa-Free Countries

  1. Albania [1]
  2. Andorra (more)
  3. Antigua and Barbuda
  4. Argentina (more)
  5. Australia
  6. Bahamas
  7. Barbados
  8. Bosnia and Herzegovina [1]
  9. Brazil
  10. Brunei
  11. Canada
  12. Chile
  13. Colombia
  14. Costa Rica (more)
  15. Dominica
  16. East Timor
  17. El Salvador
  18. Georgia [1]
  19. Grenada
  20. Guatemala
  21. Honduras
  22. Hong Kong (more)
  23. Israel (more)
  24. Japan (more)
  25. Kiribati
  26. Kosovo [1]
  27. Republic of Korea (more)
  28. Macau (more)
  29. Malaysia
  30. Marshall Islands
  31. Mauritius
  32. Mexico
  33. Micronesia
  34. Moldova [1]
  35. Monaco (more)
  36. Montenegro [1]
  37. New Zealand
  38. Nicaragua
  39. North Macedonia [1]
  40. Northern Mariana Islands
  41. Palau
  42. Panama (more)
  43. Paraguay
  44. Peru
  45. Saint Kitts and Nevis
  46. Saint Lucia
  47. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  48. Samoa
  49. San Marino (more)
  50. Serbia [3]
  51. Seychelles
  52. Singapore
  53. Solomon Islands
  54. Taiwan [2]
  55. Tonga
  56. Trinidad and Tobago
  57. Tuvalu
  58. The Vatican
  59. Ukraine [1]
  60. United Arab Emirates
  61. United States of America (more)
  62. Uruguay (more)
  63. Venezuela

Airlines and Airports in Latvia


  1. AirBaltic: The national airline of Latvia, AirBaltic is headquartered in Riga and operates scheduled flights to over 70 destinations in Europe, the Middle East, and the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).
  2. SmartLynx Airlines: A charter airline based in Riga, SmartLynx Airlines provides ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance) services and full charter operations.


  1. Riga International Airport (RIX): The largest and busiest airport in Latvia, Riga International Airport is located 10 km west of Riga city center. It serves as the main hub for AirBaltic and offers connections to numerous international destinations.
  2. Liepāja International Airport (LPX): Located in the city of Liepāja, this airport serves regional and charter flights. It has been undergoing development to increase its capacity and improve services.
  3. Ventspils International Airport (VNT): Situated in Ventspils, this airport primarily handles private, cargo, and occasional charter flights. It supports the local economy and provides facilities for aviation training.
  4. Liepāja International Airport
  5. Riga International Airport

Top Railways in Latvia and Itineraries

Top Railways

  1. Latvian Railways (Latvijas Dzelzceļš)
    • Overview: Latvian Railways is the state-owned railway company responsible for passenger and freight transport across Latvia. It operates an extensive network connecting major cities and towns within the country, as well as providing international connections.
  2. Pasažieru Vilciens (Passenger Trains)
    • Overview: Pasažieru Vilciens is the primary passenger train operator in Latvia, a subsidiary of Latvian Railways. It offers domestic passenger services, ensuring connectivity between key locations within Latvia.


  1. Riga to Daugavpils
    • Route: Riga Central Station → Ogre → Aizkraukle → Jēkabpils → Krustpils → Daugavpils
    • Duration: Approximately 3 hours
    • Highlights:
      • Riga Central Station: Start your journey from the historic Riga Central Station, located in the heart of Latvia’s capital.
      • Ogre: A scenic town along the Daugava River, known for its picturesque parks and outdoor activities.
      • Daugavpils: Latvia’s second-largest city, renowned for its well-preserved 19th-century fortress and rich cultural heritage.
  2. Riga to Liepāja
    • Route: Riga Central Station → Jelgava → Dobele → Saldus → Skrunda → Liepāja
    • Duration: Approximately 4 hours
    • Highlights:
      • Jelgava: Visit the Baroque-style Jelgava Palace and the Holy Trinity Church Tower.
      • Liepāja: A coastal city famous for its sandy beaches, music festivals, and the historic Karosta military district.
  3. Riga to Sigulda
    • Route: Riga Central Station → Jugla → Baltezers → Vangaži → Sigulda
    • Duration: Approximately 1 hour 15 minutes
    • Highlights:
      • Sigulda: Known as the “Switzerland of Latvia,” Sigulda is a popular destination for outdoor activities, with attractions like the Gauja National Park, Sigulda Castle, and the Turaida Museum Reserve.
  4. Riga to Valga (Estonia)
    • Route: Riga Central Station → Cēsis → Valmiera → Valka → Valga (Estonia)
    • Duration: Approximately 4 hours
    • Highlights:
      • Cēsis: Explore the medieval Cēsis Castle and the charming old town.
      • Valga: A unique twin town straddling the Latvian-Estonian border, offering a blend of cultures and historical sites.

Top Hotels in Latvia

1. Grand Hotel Kempinski Riga

  • Location: Riga
  • Description: A luxurious five-star hotel located in the heart of Riga, offering elegant rooms, a world-class spa, and fine dining.

2. Radisson Blu Ridzene Hotel

  • Location: Riga
  • Description: This upscale hotel features modern amenities, a fitness center, and convenient access to Riga’s Old Town.

3. Hotel Bergs

  • Location: Riga
  • Description: A boutique hotel known for its stylish decor, personalized service, and gourmet restaurant.

4. Pullman Riga Old Town

  • Location: Riga
  • Description: Located in a historic building, this hotel blends contemporary design with classic elements and offers various amenities, including a spa and a restaurant.

5. Baltic Beach Hotel & SPA

  • Location: Jūrmala
  • Description: A luxurious beachfront hotel offering extensive spa facilities, fine dining, and stunning views of the Baltic Sea.

Top Destination Management Companies (DMCs) in Latvia

1. Latvia Tours

  • Description: A leading DMC offering a wide range of services including tours, travel packages, and event management.

2. Baltic Travel Group

  • Description: Specializes in providing travel solutions for both individual travelers and groups, including corporate events and conferences.

3. Via Hansa & Borealis

  • Description: Offers comprehensive travel services across the Baltic region, including tailored itineraries and event planning.

4. Estravel Latvia

  • Description: Provides a wide range of travel services including business travel, leisure travel packages, and destination management.

5. Meeting Tour Travel Agency

  • Description: Specializes in organizing meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) with extensive local knowledge and expertise.

Top Touristy Places in Latvia and How to Reach Them

1. Riga Old Town (Vecrīga)

  • Description: Riga Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, medieval architecture, and vibrant nightlife. Key attractions include the Riga Cathedral, St. Peter’s Church, and the House of the Blackheads.
  • How to Reach:
    • By Air: Fly into Riga International Airport (RIX), which is well-connected to major cities worldwide.
    • By Train/Bus: From the airport, take a bus or taxi to the city center. Riga Old Town is a short walk from the central train and bus stations.

2. Gauja National Park

  • Description: Latvia’s largest national park, Gauja National Park, is renowned for its natural beauty, hiking trails, and historic sites, including Turaida Castle and Gutmanis Cave.
  • How to Reach:
    • By Train: Take a train from Riga to Sigulda, a gateway to the park.
    • By Car: Drive from Riga to Sigulda (approximately 1-hour drive).

3. Jurmala

  • Description: Jurmala is a popular seaside resort town known for its long sandy beaches, wooden architecture, and spas. Major attractions include Jurmala Beach, Dzintari Forest Park, and the Livu Aquapark.
  • How to Reach:
    • By Train: Take a train from Riga to Majori station in Jurmala (around 30 minutes).
    • By Car: Drive from Riga to Jurmala (approximately 30-minute drive).

4. Rundale Palace

  • Description: Rundale Palace is a magnificent Baroque and Rococo-style palace surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens. It is often compared to the Palace of Versailles in France.
  • How to Reach:
    • By Bus: Take a bus from Riga to Bauska, then a local bus or taxi to Rundale Palace.
    • By Car: Drive from Riga to Rundale Palace (approximately 1.5-hour drive).

5. Cesis

  • Description: Cesis is a charming medieval town in the heart of the Gauja National Park. It features the well-preserved Cesis Castle, Cesis Medieval Castle Park, and St. John’s Church.
  • How to Reach:
    • By Train: Take a train from Riga to Cesis (around 2 hours).
    • By Car: Drive from Riga to Cesis (approximately 1.5-hour drive).

6. Kuldiga

  • Description: Kuldiga is known for its picturesque old town and the Venta Rapid, Europe’s widest waterfall. Key attractions include Kuldiga Town Hall Square, Aleksupite Waterfall, and the old brick bridge over the Venta River.
  • How to Reach:
    • By Bus: Take a bus from Riga to Kuldiga (around 3 hours).
    • By Car: Drive from Riga to Kuldiga (approximately 2.5-hour drive).

7. Liepaja

  • Description: Liepaja is a coastal city with beautiful beaches, historic architecture, and a vibrant cultural scene. Notable attractions include the Karosta Prison, Liepaja Beach, and the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
  • How to Reach:
    • By Train: Take a train from Riga to Liepaja (around 4.5 hours).
    • By Bus: Take a bus from Riga to Liepaja (around 3.5 hours).
    • By Car: Drive from Riga to Liepaja (approximately 3-hour drive).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *