Vansu Bridge Old Riga Latvia | Photo courtesy of Kate SOBOL

How much does it cost to explore Latvia?

Paul Ryken Last Updated: Saturday 11 July 2020 Afford your trip, Latvia Leave a Comment

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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.

Is Latvia expensive to visit?

Compared to some other European countries we have visited, Latvia is a little cheaper, however, it is more expensive than Latin America. We keep tabs on our travel costs for different countries as we roam the world. Check our travel costs by country list and see how much your next trip may cost.

Exploring Cēsis Castle is one of the best value for money activities you can do in Latvia | Image by Websi on Pixabay

Assumptions

When reading our travel costs for Latvia, please keep the following in mind:

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.

Map of Latvia and the destinations we explored
Map of Latvia and the destinations we explored

Accommodation

As we did in Lithuania, we sourced our accommodation through Airbnb or Booking.com, renting studio apartments in areas with good transport connections, kitchen facilities and our own bathroom.

Accommodation NameCityTypeCost Per Room Per Night
Sunny and peaceful flat near centreRigaStudio apartmentEUR33.51
Apartment for YouSiguldaStudio apartmentEUR45.00
Cozy studio in the very centerCēsisStudio apartmentEUR36.74
Studio apartments might be small but have everything you really need

Transport

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.

Train from Riga to Sigulda
At EUR1.90 per person, it was cheaper to take the train to Sigulda than take the bus (and pay the driver) in Riga

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.
Sunset views of Riga that don't cost you a cent (unless you complement them with a cocktail and a bite to eat) | Photo courtesy of Riga Radisson Blu
  • Sigulda, without any sort of town centre to speak of, was a bit more of a challenge when it came to restaurants. Hotel Sigulda, built in 1889 when the Riga – St Petersburg railroad opened, turned out to serve surprisingly delicious food. The price of our two main dishes and drinks was EUR25.38.
With limited dining options in Sigulda, dinner at historic Hotel Sigulda turned out to be surprisingly delicious

Activities

Riga

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.

Outside St Peters Church is the starting point for the free walking tours of Riga's Old Town

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.

A hike in Latvia's first and largest National Park doesn't cost you a cent
A hike in Latvia's first and largest National Park doesn't cost you a cent

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.

Make sure you check opening times to avoid disappointment

Many Museums in Latvia are closed on Mondays. And many don’t update their opening hours on Google for public holidays or during renovation works. So, if you are in Latvia only for a short period and come to see a specific museum, it pays to check directly with the Museum to ensure they are open before you book your trip.

We had earmarked to visit the History of the KGB Operations in Latvia as it was literally on the same street as our accommodation in Riga. According to Google, it should have been open, but when we got there, a small sign on the door informed us that it was temporarily closed.

Miscellaneous

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

CategoriesEUR per person per day
CommunicationsEUR0.321%
GroceriesEUR4.6310%
DiningEUR10.9826%
Leisure ActivitiesEUR4.509%
AccommodationEUR19.4240%
MiscellaneousEUR1.152%
FinanceEUR0.000%
HealthEUR2.926%
TransportEUR2.206%
Government CostsEUR0.000%
Total per person per dayEUR46.10

7 nights in Latvia: USD724.74 / EUR645.72 (two people)

Daily Expenses in Latvia: USD51.77 / EUR46.10 (per person)

Cash Requirements

From a safety point of view, we like to have as little cash as possible on us, yet enough to not feel uncomfortable.

Of the expenses incurred in Latvia, we paid 23% in cash. The biggest cash transaction was EUR16.50 for lunch when Kafe PRIEDE in Cēsis did not accept credit card.

Withdrawing cash overseas can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. We can show you how to avoid unnecessary fees and make your travel budget stretch further.

How do you determine which card is best for your overseas trip? Using the right one can save bank fees and make your travel budget stretch further.

Ever been caught out by the bad FX rates and exorbitant commissions charged by FX bureaus? These tips allow you to minimise these charges in future. We also recommend OFX to keep more of your money when you complete a transfer.

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.

NameDaily Amount Per PersonTravel Style
Budget Your TripEUR52Mid-range
Nomadic BoysEUR33Budget
The Savvy BackpackerEUR38Budget travel in Riga only
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Have you travelled around Latvia? Where did you go and how much did it cost? Please leave a comment below or send us an email.

Feature image of Vansu Bridge, Old Riga, Latvia courtesy of Kate SOBOL

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How much does it cost to explore Latvia?
How much does it cost to explore Latvia?
How much does it cost to explore Latvia?

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