It is useful to understand that although from 1940 to 1991 Latvia was a constituent republic of the USSR, the official language is Latvian. However, a significant minority (up to 40% nationwide and possibly just over 50% in the capital Riga) is Russian-speaking. The majority of ethnic Latvians living in the city, not only those old enough to have attended school during Soviet times, can also speak and understand Russian. However, many prefer to converse in Latvian. English and also German are widely understood at places regularly visited by tourists and foreigners but you may be out of luck when leaving the city centre or visiting places off the beaten track.
A bus line from Riga, takes 45-50 min and the fare is approx. €2.50
There is a train service that extends to all parts of the country as well as other big cities like Saint Petersburg. However, the tickets do not include information about the time and place to catch the train, that information must be looked up on the train departures info table.
Electric train line from Riga takes 50 min, the fare is approx. €2.
Jelgava is on the bank of river Lielupe, which is connected to the Baltic Sea. It is possible to dock at Jelgava Yacht Club on Pils Island or next to Mītava Bridge on Pasta Island.
You can travel by taxi from Riga or Riga airport.
You can get around by foot, taxi or bus. There is a very good bus line. Line 1 will take you from one part of the city to another.
Checkout this website for route planner and timetables.
- Jelgava Palace (on Pils Island of river Lielupe). Similar palace to Rundales and Winter Palace in St. Peterburg, created by Bartolomeo Rastrelli.
- Academia Petrina. A museum with several interesting churches.
- Victory Park (Uzvaras). A memorial park. Once called Hyde Park because of the rallies of the Awakening. Hosts many concerts and international festivals, including the largest annual ice sculpture festival in the Baltics.
- Latvian FreeFly Peppers. Parachute jumps. You can do tandem or solo skydives at Jelgava airfield.
"Brainstorm", probably the most popular rock-band from Eastern Europe, has emerged from a cradle called Jelgavas 1. vidusskola (Secondary School No 1), where also such National talents as A. Skrastins, A. Vaznis, E. Radzina, A. Skele, E. Repse have made their first steps in the world of fame.
Latvijas Lauksaimniecibas Universitāte — University of Agriculture of Latvia is a well recognized university.
Jelgava's special dishes are Duke’s sail and Charlotte's kiss that remind of the town's history as the capital of Courland Duchy. Duke's sail is a main course, made of oven-baked pork that has been prepared in a special marinade. It is served with caramelized sauerkraut, a variety of roasted vegetables and roots, red bilberry sauce and horseradish. Dessert Charlotte's kiss is made of egg-curd cream and jelly mousse sorting made of two kinds of juice. Its mild taste is refreshed with fruit-berry mash sauce. The dishes are available at most popular restaurants in Jelgava.
- Chocolatte & Pepper. A cafe/cocktail bar with a wide choice of alcoholic and nonalcoholic cocktails and drinks and offer tasty dishes.
- Klondaika. A popular bar and gambling place.
- Tonuss. A night club playing the latest dance music for a younger public. There are several dance floors and bars in the night club. Entrance fee is usually €1.5-4.5.
- Jelgavas krekli. Entrance fee varies for nights with live performers but is usually €1.5-6. A popular night club for university students on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Friday nights are those who no longer study with popular Latvian music.
There are two main hotels in Jelgava and several smaller hotels and motels.
- Hotel Jelgava. Can accommodate up to 66 people and is in the center of Jelgava by Driksa River. Jelgava Palace, Holy Trinity church tower Academia Petrina and many other tourist attractions are within a five-minute walk. There is a bar and restaurant Plate on the first floor.
- Hotel Zemgale. Can accommodate up to 53 people. It is next to sports complex Zemgale and is a favourite for athletes. Next to the hotel is bowling Zemgale with a bar.