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While my trip to Vilnius started with a flight from Helsinki, my Baltic trip did need figuring out a way to go from Vilnius to Riga (or vice-versa while I was still in my planning stages). Here are all the alternatives to choose from quickest to slowest:
Going From Vilnius to Riga
AirBaltic connects the two cities with a direct flight. This is a great option for going from Vilnius to Riga if ticket prices are low but you’ll miss seeing the lovely countryside. The drawback to flying is the need to arrive early at the airport plus the fact that airports are generally located outside of the center of town. The Riga airport is 20 minutes away by car. The Vilnius airport is 10 minutes away by car.
Duration: 50 minutes
Cost: Varies from 18 Euros to 80 Euros.
Rental Car/Car Hire
Whether you choose to hire a driver or rent a car, the good news is that you get to make your own decisions about stopping along the way or not. Hiring a driver or renting a car makes more sense if you’re a group so that you can split the cost.
If you rent a vehicle, you’ll have to ask whether there is an additional charge for dropping off the vehicle in a different country. Don’t forget that you’ll also have to pay for gasoline for the vehicle.
Duration: 3:30 hours
Cost: 45 Euros to 100 Euros
This was the way I traveled during my own Baltic trip for going from Vilnius to Riga. I recommend taking LuxExpress (no, they do not sponsor me!). Book early and upgrade to the first row of seats in business class so you have more leg room. The buses have restrooms and coffee is available for free. With free WiFi on board, you’ll stay connected.
Duration: 4:00 hours (approx)
Cost: 15 Euros to 24 Euros
If you have the budget and the time, this is the way to go (in my opinion!). If you’re going from one place to the other, why not stop at 4 different places along the way? Current stops include some of the recommended day trips from both Vilnius and Riga. You’ll visit Rundale Palace, Hill of Crosses, Salaspils Memorial (skipped in winter), and Kaunas.
While this would have been my preferred way, the tour bus was not functioning during my winter trip, so check in advance.
Duration: 12 hours
Cost: 69 Euros
While the train is my preferred method of transport in Europe, there is no direct route between Vilnius and Riga. In order to go from Vilnius to Riga, you’ll have to take a train to Daugavpalis (which only runs on the weekend) and from Daugavpalis to Riga. [This route was only available on weekends pre-Covid and has not returned as of 5/30/22.]
The only way to make the train route work at this time would be to take the train from Vilnius to Warsaw (Poland) and from Warsaw to Riga. This seems to make no sense unless you’re willing to stop in Warsaw for a few days. I’m glad that I didn’t realize this at the time or I would have added Warsaw to my Baltics itinerary and defeated my slow travel plans.
Personally, not the way for me, but I know some of you are way more adventurous! The distance between Vilnius and Riga is approximately 300 km (about 185 miles). Keep in mind that you’ll have to make plans for camping or stopping along the way.
Duration: 3-4 days
Cost: $0 (assuming you’re using your own bike)
Many people travel from Vilnius to Riga and if you’re visiting the Baltics, I encourage you to do so as well!
Check out these related posts:
Annick, The Common Traveler