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Established in 1201, Riga is the capital city of Latvia, and a city with rich culture and history. It is located along the Baltic Sea; the historical core of the city is now known as the Old Town (or Old Riga) and is situated on the right bank of River Daugava.

Riga is populated by around 620 000 people and divided into 40 neighbourhoods. The ones on the left bank of River Daugava are often referred to as Pārdaugava. The more important neighbourhoods for the RSU students are: Dzirciems (location of the RSU main building), Centrs (location of Institute of Anatomy and Anthropology and city center) and Imanta (location of Medical Education Technology Centre).

Accommodation

RSU provides student hostels in two locations – Dzirciems and Āgenskalns, both are near RSU main building and some of the study bases. Students may choose rooms in the student hostel based on their needs and financial means. The rooms and cost may be split between two or three people.

The rooms are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis, so makes sure to apply in advance.

More information and  application form

Finances

The cost of living highly depends on your lifestyle preferences. Our suggestion for RSU international students is a minimum of EUR 600 per month (including accommodation).

 AVG (shared services)AVG (non-shared services)
RentEUR 200EUR 300
FoodEUR 150EUR 200
Utilities and servicesEUR 110EUR 200
TransportationEUR 20EUR 25
EntertainmentEUR 40EUR 75
OtherEUR 50EUR 50
TotalEUR 570EUR 850

Note that the official currency in Latvia is the euro, abbreviated as EUR (symbol: €). The design of the banknotes and coins vary depending on the EU member state they were released in.

Credit cards and debit cards are widely accepted for making payments. In addition, internet banking is widely used for paying bills, recharging phones, buying e-tickets, shopping on the internet and using many other services. Therefore, we highly recommend that you open a bank account at one of the many banks in Riga and obtain a debit card.

Opening a bank account is relatively fast and easy. You will need to bring your passport/ID document and study contract with you to the bank of your choice, file an application and choose the type of services you will want. Some of the most popular banks in Latvia are:

Shopping

As in any European city, you will find a wide variety of places to do your shopping. Many people enjoy buying organic food from Latvian farmers at Centrāltirgus – the Central Market (right behind the Forum Cinemas movie theatre) or Āgenskalns Market in Pārdaugava. This is also true for RSU students who buy fresh food in the Riga Central Market and also visit the place for leisure.

There are several food store chains (some of them offer delivery), among them:

For buying other necessary items, such as clothing, shoes, furniture, electronics etc., the most popular shopping centres in Riga are:

Entertainment

There are many museums and art galleries, thetres, cinemas, creative hubs and other entertainment opportunities in Riga and back in 2014 the city became European Capital of Culture. There are regular outdoor and indoor events taking place thoughout the year, such as, holiday markets, concerts and festivals with genres raging from classical to alternative, Museum Night, Scientist Night and many more.

If you ever need inspiration for places to visit or events to attend, check out the Welcome Guide and LIVE Riga page as it provides a list of tourist friendly places, notable landmarks, events and creative hubs in Riga.

Latvia is rich in architecture and holds fantastic sights to see and visit. To see more about the entertainment and tourism options within the country, visit Latvia Travel.

Religion

Western, Central and Northern parts of Latvia are mostly Lutheran, whereas the Eastern part of Latvia is mostly Roman Catholic. An Orthodox community can be found in all major cities in Latvia and the Eastern part of the country. Most services in churches are held either in Latvian or Russian; however, some churches in Riga offer services in English as well: Grace International Baptist Church and Communitas International Church (Evangelical Christians), St Mary Magdalene’s Church (Roman Catholic), St John Lutheran Evangelical Church (Lutheran), The Nativity of Christ Cathedral (Orthodox), Riga Synagogue (Peitav Shul), Mosque in Riga.

Latvian News

Latvian public broadcasting is the best way to follow the most recent news on various topics. The news channel offers insight into politics, society, culture, economy, as well as the weather forecast and  a name day calendar. LSM is the unified news portal of Latvia's public television and radio services, with a mission to deliver informative, accurate and engaging content.

LSM.LV

    Safety and Security

    In an emergency situation call the toll-free number 112, as this is the general contact number for the emergency services. This number can be used to contact the police, fire brigade, ambulance, and gas emergency services. Operators can take calls in Latvian, Russian, English, and German.

    Riga and Latvia, in general, are fairly safe. Violent street crimes are rare and most security problems are associated with petty theft, such as pick-pocketing, which is a problem in certain areas of the centre of Riga (e.g., Central Market). Take care of your personal belongings and avoid unlit streets late at night.

    General contact number for the emergency services112
    Tourist police (English speaking operators and police officers)(+371) 67181818
    Police110
    Fire and rescue service112
    Emergency medical assistance113
    Gas emergency service114
    Coast Guard Search and Rescue Service115

    Smoking

    In public, you are only allowed to smoke in places specially designated for this purpose. It is forbidden to smoke in parks and at bus stops, as well as closer than 10 metres from the entrance of any government and public building. Smoking on University premises is prohibited!

    Alcohol

    The possession of opened containers of alcoholic beverages in public places in Rīga (including on the street or in parks), is prohibited and subject to fine. Public intoxication is also prohibited and subject to fine or arrest.

    Internet

    In 2014 Riga was announced as the European Capital of WiFi. Free high-speed wireless internet is now easily accessible in more than 930 locations throughout Rīga, including parks, city squares and other open-air spaces.

    Campus-wide Wi-Fi is accessible on the entire RSU campus. However, in order to use Wi-Fi you have to obtain a username and a password. This can be done at Student Services upon registration at the University.