Believe it or not, this journey was my first ever land border crossing in the Baltics. I had crossed other ex-Soviet nations by land of course (Armenia, Nagorno Karabakh, Georgia and Azerbaijan) but having explored Lithuania, it was time to head north into Latvia, where I had previously been back in 2007.
My final stop in Lithuania was the city of Siauliai – a really relaxed, old school Lithuanian city which has some striking churches, some unusual museums (chocolate and bicycle) and is situated just 12 kilometres from the famous Kryziu Kalnas – the Hill of Crosses.
Booking Your Bus Ticket to Latvia in Siauliai, Lithuania
OK so realistically there are three ways you can book your bus ticket to Latvia:
1. Online on the website either Lux Express – http://www.luxexpress.eu/en or Eurolines – http://www.eurolines.com/en/countries/lithuania/
2. The day before in person at the bus station
3. Pay the driver as you get on the bus
I was rushed for time, so I went for option 3 and so this post will tell you how to cross the border with that option. Buying online will give you a ticket and reference number and a confirmed time of travel of course. One key point to note is that in Lithuania, most bus companies will not sell tickets for buses on the day of departure. So if you want to buy a ticket in person at the bus station, you’ll need to go the day before. It might sound crazy, but that’s just the way it is.
On the morning of my journey to Latvia, I called at the bus station ticket desk and asked for a ticket for any of the buses that day to Ryga (Riga). The answer was “we can’t give you one, you have to just turn up and pay the driver”. However, there are always a few seats empty on some of the buses that leave, so you just turn up and chance it that the driver has space for you on the next bus. I wanted a ticket on the 11.15 am bus, so I turned up just before 11am.
I went to the platform/bay that I was told the Ryga bus leaves from and I waited for the bus. It was platform 7. The bus arrived just after 11 and I got the second seat. It was also the last seat so I was lucky. The bus was a small marshrutka with just 16 seats. There were 14 passengers already on board – they had started in Klaipeida. I paid the driver 11.50 Euros in cash for the seat, it costs more if you have come from Klaipeida of course. No ticket was issued, nor was my passport checked or anything. I just put my big bag in the boot of the bus, grabbed a quick Hesburger and chips and boarded the bus.
Leaving Siauliai, Lithuania
We leave behind the town of Siauliai and head north through the town of Joniskis and into Latvia. The actual border is visible and once you get to the other side, I noticed a few Latvian flags. There was no border control, passport check, passport stamp or even a brief stop. This bus was as direct as they come. With Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia now all in the EU and the Schengen Zone, border formalities have been done away with.
Arrival in Riga, Latvia
I arrive after just under two hours in Riga, Latvia. The first stop is at the airport in Riga where a few people get off. Then we head to the central bus station in Riga which is across the river from the Central Market and just a few minutes walk from the Old Town where I check into my excellent Boutique Hotel Man Tess.
Here are some videos from the border crossing on How to Get from Lithuania to Latvia: