Latvian national currency: the lat
Notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 and 500 lats and coins with the nominal value of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 santims and 1 and 2 lats are circulated in Latvia. The lat is pegged to the common European currency, the euro, and the Bank of Latvia’s fixed exchange rate is LVL 0.702804 to the euro. This means that one euro is worth about 70 santims, whereas the exchange rate of the U.S. dollar fluctuates between 55 and 59 santims, that of the pound sterling is around 85 santims, whereas 10 Russian roubles are worth roughly 18 santims (data as of 2010, detailed exchange rate information can be obtained from the Bank of Latvia).
When visiting Latvia, it is useful to know what the price of various services is. A single hotel room in Old Riga, e.g., not far from the Freedom Monument, will cost between EUR 50 and EUR 107 per night. The price includes breakfast, but you should verify this when booking the room as the rules regarding the inclusion of breakfast may vary from hotel to hotel. Further away from the centre, it is possible to find hotel accommodation for as low as EUR 17. Outside Riga, the prices of hotels and guesthouses vary from EUR 10 to EUR 70.
Restaurant and bar prices
Pub prices are lower in Latvia than in Western Europe. If, say, a warm meal at an average restaurant in London will cost you at least £8, or nearly seven lats, in Latvia it is possible to dine for four lats or less. Many establishments in Riga offer set meals for two to two and a half lats. At an average tavern outside Riga, a filling meal for a family of three will cost around 15 lats, including dessert. Of course, there are more sophisticated restaurants with prices that are much higher, yet they remain lower than in most other European metropolises.
Delicious, locally brewed beer costs from about 45 santims to just over one lat (depending on the variety) in stores; in pubs, a half-litre mug will cost between one and two lats. In the very heart of Riga, the old town, a beer mug could cost as much as two and a half lats, but can also be found for 90 santims. Half a litre of Coke costs around 50 santims in stores, a cup of black coffee in a bar: between 50 santims and two lats. A litre and a half of carbonated or non-carbonated water: 30 to 50 santims. It is also possible to skip the restaurant and arrange a picnic out in the fresh air instead. A loaf of white bread costs 25 santims on average, a link of smoked sausage: between a lat and a half and two lats; a kilo of tomatoes: 80 santims to 1.25 lats; marinated pork kebab meat: between 2.5 and 5 lats per kilo.
Cost of transportation
Taxis in Riga cost on average 50 santims per kilometre, with an additional start fee of between one and one and a half lats. This means that a journey between the city centre and the airport costs around 7.50 lats. If the amount shown on the meter is significantly larger, this is fraud. Also, do not trust drivers who demand 25 lats or more.
The public transportation fare for a single trip is 50 santims if bought at a newsstand. It costs more to buy a ticket from the driver: 70 santims. E-tickets are used in Riga, and buying several journeys in advance is a better deal.
Coach and rail connections outside Riga are significantly cheaper than in Western Europe. For example, a train fare to Jūrmala (a 30-minute ride) costs around one lat one way. A coach ticket from Riga to Liepāja (225 kilometres) is LVL 6.