Practical information about your studies in Latvia

Travel to Latvia

Where to go?

© Photo: The Latvian Institute,

Quite a number of different airline companies serve Riga airport, including budget airlines, so it should not be too difficult to find a reasonable ticket. The website of Riga Airport (opened to the list of companies flying to Riga with web addresses) can be found here:

Another way of arriving in Latvia is by ferry. Riga has a ferry a connection to Stockholm in Sweden, Ventspils is connected with Ninneshamn in Sweden and Travemunde in Germany, and the city of Liepāja also offers a ferry route to Travemunde in Germany.

International train routes are currently limited to connections with Moscow and St. Petersburg in Russia and to Minsk in Belorussia.

Riga is very well served by extensive bus connections. Bus routes connect Latvia with Austria, Belgium, Belorussia, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, the UK and Ukraine. Check with your local travel agency or transport provider to learn more about connections and prices.

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Latvian seashore

© Photo: Aleksandrs Kendenkovs (Foto Banka)
The Latvian Institute,

Being a northern country, Latvia experiences fairly long, dark winters (November to February). It is not generally extremely cold or snowy; averaging around minus ten degrees Celsius, but temperatures can reach minus twenty for a few days each year. Spring is lovely with plenty of flowers and blooming fruit trees and shrubbery. Summer is the favourite season of most Latvians because of long "white" nights and warm temperatures, averaging a pleasant 20 degrees. However, it is not unusual to have periods of temperatures around 30 degrees. Fall is popular with nature lovers due to the colourful leaves and plentiful wild mushrooms to be had in the forests. Latvia is a very lush green country for a good reason - it rains quite a lot. Be sure to bring a sturdy umbrella for year-round use, warm clothes and sturdy, waterproof boots from September to March/April.

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Latvian is the official state language of Latvia. Latvian belongs to the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. Although the official state language is Latvian, you will easily get around with a command of Russian and English, as a large part of the population of Riga is Russian-speaking, and most Latvians do understand Russian. In Riga and other bigger cities you can use English as well.

Government-funded bilingual education is available only in primary schools for ethnic minorities. These include Russian, Jewish, Polish, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Estonian and Roma schools.

In the public universities the language of instruction mostly is Latvian; at the same time programmes for foreign students are designed and taught in English. Private universities may offer programmes in Russian language too.

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Academic year


The academic year in most higher educational institutions starts in September, it comprises 40 weeks and is divided into 2 semesters.

Brass player

© Photo: Tēvijas Sargs
The Latvian Institute,

Autumn semester:
  lectures: September to December
  exams: December / January
  holidays: Christmas time

Spring semester:

  lectures: February to the end of May
  exams: May / June
  holidays: July, August

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Recognition of diploma

Based on the data provided by the European diploma recognition network ENIC/NARIC, the Academic Information Centre of Latvia determines whether a certificate/diploma or an academic degree awarded in a foreign country can be equated to a similar qualification in Latvia. In cases when the document being assessed does not satisfy the standards of the certificates/diplomas or academic degrees awarded in Latvia, the assessment report states what additional requirements must be met to achieve the required compliance. Based on the assessment report, the institution of higher education to which the student has applied can take a decision about enrolment.

See detailed information in Entrance Requirements.


Living costs


According to the Latvian Central Bureau for Statistics, the average expenditure per household member per month in the Riga region of Latvia in 2014 (reported in 2015) was the following:







Food and non-alcoholic beverages



Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels






Recreation and culture






Clothing and footwear



Miscellaneous goods and services



Hotels, cafes and restaurants



Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance






Alcoholic beverages and tobacco






According to the EURES (European Employment services) data on living and working conditions in Latvia, the country has a fairly low standard of living as compared to other European countries, so students from abroad may be used to spending more on their lifestyle. Average food prices include: meat - EUR 6/kg; frankfurters, sausages - EUR 5/kg; chicken - EUR 4.5/kg; cheese - EUR 6-15/kg; milk - EUR 0.8/litre; bread - EUR 0.5-1; potatoes - EUR 0.5/kg; beer price in shops - EUR 1-2/500 ml). An average restaurant meal costs between EUR 7 and EUR 30. The ERASMUS+ grant set by the European Commission for European Voluntary Service participants on exchanges to Latvia is set at  550 EUR per month.

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State Education Development Agency offers scholarships to foreign students and teaching staff for studies, research work and participation in summer schools in Latvia. More information here.

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Vertical wind tunnel Aerodium
© Photo: Imans Urtāns/ The Latvian Institute,


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Finding accomodation

Some universities have their own student dormitories, others provide assistance with housing search ( database provides information on accomodation arrangments offered by each university in the section on Provider information). You should ask the foreign student advisor at your chosen university for advice, since the housing market in Latvia is not very easy to navigate even for locals.

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Arrival at the university

Upon arrival at the university, the student meets with university representatives in order to become acquainted with the programme and to receive answers to any questions. Most frequently it is the staff of the external relations division or members of the student council who look after visiting students. The wellbeing of students is important to each university, thus universities take care to inform foreign students about university life and to involve them in social activities. Latvian students have always been helpful and friendly. Most often it is the student councils which organize student activities and social life, and membership in these student organizations is open to foreign students as well.

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Good to know


As of 1 January 2014 Latvia has joined the euro zone. This means that Latvian currency is the euro (EUR), 1 EUR consists of 100 euro cents. 

Student cards accepted in Latvia: ISIC (International Student Identity Card), student identity cards provided by education institutions

Drinking/smoking age: 18

Driver's licences: a driver's licence issued by any of the EU member states is valid also in the territory of Latvia. However, be careful! Latvians are pretty ruthless drivers. NB: the legal limit for blood alcohol content is 0.05% and 0.02% for new drivers in the first two years after getting their licence.

Business hours: Shops are usually open Monday to Friday 8/10am-6/8pm. Some have reduced working hours on Saturdays and Sundays and a few stores close on Sunday. Stores located in shopping centres usually have the same working hours throughout the week. Most food shops stay open until 10pm and are also open on Sunday. Central offices of banks are open 9am to 5pm. Several banks have neighbourhood service centres that have opening hours into the evening and on week-ends.

Most shops and all banks will be closed on the following public holidays : January 1; Good Friday; Easter Day; May 1; May 4; Mothers' Day (second Sunday in May); June 23 (Midsummer); June 24 (St John's Day); Nov 18 (National Day); December 25 & 26; and December 31. If May 4 or November 18 fall on a weekend, the following Monday is free.

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