Latvia is situated in North-Eastern Europe, between Lithuania and Estonia. With good (and reasonably cheap) flight connections to other European countries, visitor numbers to Latvia, and in particular its capital Riga, are on the rise.
If you are planning to visit this Baltic country you might wonder how affordable it is. Our daily expenses in Latvia added up to USD51.77 / EUR46.10 per person per day, which was a bit over our budget of USD50.00. We attribute this to slightly higher accommodation costs (than in Lithuania) and to us dining out a little more than we usually do. Read on to find out what we spent our money on.
- The costs are based upon a couple travelling together.
- We did not travel as part of an organised tour group but as independent travelers.
- Not considered is the entry or exit transport into/out of the country.
- We are digital nomads so base ourselves in accommodation that has good Wi-Fi.
- Included in the overall daily costs (for the period of time we are in the country) are:
Where We Traveled
When we explored Latvia in May 2019, we divided our time between the capital Riga (where we spent three nights) and the Gauja National Park north-east of Riga – with two nights each spent in Sigulda and Cēsis.
|Accommodation Name||City||Type||Cost Per Room Per Night|
|Sunny and peaceful flat near centre||Riga||Studio apartment||EUR33.51|
|Apartment for You||Sigulda||Studio apartment||EUR45.00|
|Cozy studio in the very center||Cēsis||Studio apartment||EUR36.74|
Like Lithuania‘s capital Vilnius, Riga’s public transport system consists of trams, trolleybuses and buses. Even though tickets can be purchased from the driver, it is significantly cheaper to purchase a yellow e-ticket/talon at street kiosks and select shops and load it with a number of rides. Note: Don’t buy too many rides upfront as you won’t be able to get your money back if you don’t use them all.
In the towns of Sigulda (Population 12, 000) and Cēsis (Population 19,000), we didn’t use public transport as everything was in walking distance. We were contemplating to hire bicycles (which you can easily do in both towns), but the weather was just too cold so we decided not to.
After watching Chris Tarrant’s Extreme Railways, which included an episode on train travel in the Baltics, we decided to take the train (rather than the bus) from Riga to Sigulda and then on to Cēsis a few days later. The carriages were spacious and offered free Wi-Fi. For schedules and ticket prices check out the Latvian Railways website.
Groceries and Dining
Those who read our posts regularly, know: we eat breakfast and one other meal at home, and have the third meal ‘on the road’. At least, in most cases. On average, we dined out for EUR5.95 per person per day.
However, on two occasions, we did splash out a bit more:
- After hearing about the views over Riga from the Radisson Hotel Skyline Bar, we had to check it out for ourselves. With a great looking Korean tapas menu on offer, we decided to have dinner there too. Korean Fried Chicken, Crispy Fried Rice, Panko Pork Belly and three drinks set us back EUR43.19 in total. With the sun setting over Riga, we had a brilliant evening.
Having never been to Riga before, we decided to get our bearings by joining the Old Town Free Walking Tour. Our guide Kaspars was brilliant, and the tour packed with information on Riga’s and Latvia’s history, and culture. While these tours are labelled free, we always give a tip.
The walking tour took us past Riga’s medieval Cathedral. As chance would have it, an organ and violin concert was scheduled the following night. So, we took the opportunity to admire the interior of the Cathedral while listening to Johann Bach, Heinrich Biber and Arvo Pärt. For EUR10 per person, the concert was only EUR5 more (per person) than a normal visit to the Cathedral.
There are more than 30 museums in Riga alone, so if you have more time, there is plenty to keep you occupied. By chance, as we had a bit of time to spare between activities, we stumbled upon the Latvian National Museum of Art. We’d never come across a Latvian painter before, but we are familiar with the different styles that are associated with international renowned artists like Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Picasso, Kandinski, etc. It was interesting to see Latvian artists’ works from the same periods as their more well-known counterparts.
Recently renovated, the building itself is a beautiful work of art in its own right. There was also a temporary exhibition titled Chair as an Artwork, featuring 50 chairs using a variety of materials. Absolutely fascinating. The cost for both the permanent and temporary exhibitions was EUR6 per person.
Gauja National Park
Apart from a beautiful 9km hike in the Gauja National Park, Latvia’s first and largest National Park (which was free), we visited the ruins of the Castle of the Livonian Order in Sigulda (with an entry price of EUR8 per adult).
We also spent about 5 hours exploring the Cēsis Castle Complex: from the well-preserved ruins of the Livonian Castle (which you can explore with lantern in hand) to the medieval workshops and market garden where enthusiastic Latvians showcase old crafts, to the extensive collections in the Manor House Museum. The entry price of EUR8 per adult is well worth it.
Riga’s Railway Station has a good luggage storage facility in its basement. For EUR4 we could store our backpacks in a single large locker while we explored the Central Market.
I took advantage of getting a haircut in Cēsis, which (at EUR6) was decidedly cheaper than in other Baltic towns (a fancy barber in Kaunas for example, quoted EUR30).
Travel Costs Summary Table
|Categories||EUR per person per day|
|Total per person per day||EUR46.10|
Other Cost Summaries and Budgets
Other websites have calculated the costs as shown in the table below. We are unsure whether their data includes entry/exit cost. However, it is good to compare our actual versus their data.
|Name||Daily Amount Per Person||Travel Style|
|Budget Your Trip||EUR52||Mid-range|
|The Savvy Backpacker||EUR38||Budget travel in Riga only|
Feature image of Vansu Bridge, Old Riga, Latvia courtesy of Kate SOBOL