Medieval towns. Churches and castles. Smoked meat and potatoes. Untouched beaches. Few tourists. Cheap prices. Blisteringly fast data speeds.
If you’re looking to get connected while you’re travelling through Latvia, you’re in for a treat.
If you’re only going to Riga, you may not need to bother with a local SIM at all — the capital is apparently the ‘European capital of WiFi,’ with close to 1000 hotspots across the city.
If you do want one, though, they’re easy to obtain, incredibly good value for money, and offer fast data speeds due to LTE coverage across much of the country.
Here's what you need to know.
- We recommend LMT for most travellers
There are three cell networks in Latvia, operated by Bite, LMT, and Tele2. LMT has the widest coverage, followed by Tele2, and then Bite.
LTE service with LMT operates on the 1800 and 2600 MHz bands, and covers around half the population. Tele2 offers LTE on the 1800 MHz band, but currently only in Riga. I opted to go with LMT.
Purchasing the SIM card was simple. After arriving in Riga, I walked straight to the Galleria Mall, located right in the centre of the Old Town. There, you’ll find all three cell network stores within metres of each other, making it easy to compare prices.
Here’s what the mall looks like from the outside:
Head up to the fourth floor, where you’ll find the LMT store:
The woman behind the counter spoke limited English, but after saying “data-only SIM card” she immediately offered me one valid for seven days — perfect for my whirlwind trip!
I didn’t need to show my passport or any kind of ID, there was no paperwork to fill in, and she had a nano SIM available for my phone without needing to use a SIM card cutter.
After this, though, I was on my own. The woman walked off to help someone else, leaving me to figure out how it worked by myself. After slipping in the SIM card and unlocking it using the provided PIN, I initially had no data service, and my Latvian was too limited to work out what the APN details were.
With all staff in the store now busy with customers, I headed back to my hostel for a quick Google search.
The details I needed were:
No username or password
I paid €5.65 for 10 GB of data on a data-only SIM card, valid for seven days. The SIM card was free. If you need calls and texts as well, you’ll pay between 1-3 euros for a starter pack that includes the SIM.
Latvia is cheap!
Can't be bothered with the hassle of buying a local SIM in Latvia? KnowRoaming topped our international SIM card comparison.
The company's SIM cards, stickers and hotspots can be sent out ahead of time, so you'll hit the ground running in 200 countries, and save up to 85% on roaming fees while you're there. Unlike other companies, using WhatsApp for texts and calls anywhere in the world is absolutely free.
You can buy top-ups at any LMT store, as well as in supermarkets, kiosks, and post offices.
COVERAGE AND DATA SPEEDS
I was extremely impressed with LMT’s network coverage — even on the drive up to the Estonian border I didn’t lose connection once, and the journey was essentially through forests the whole way.
LTE speeds were blisteringly fast at around 30Mbps in Riga, dropping to 5Mbps whenever I dropped back to 3G coverage.