Driving in Latvia: Tips & Advice for Safer Road Travel

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Latvia is a beautiful country to explore by car. Here are afew tips to keep you safe.

Curved asphalt road in a forest covered with snow in Latvia Photo © Getty Images/alekseystemmer

With its coast, forests and pretty towns, scenic Latvia is ideal to explore by car. Here's what you need to know before hitting the road in Latvia. 

General road rules in Latvia

  • You must drive on the right and overtake on the left
  • Seat belts must be worn in all seats that have one
  • Motor offenses can attract on-the-spot fines that must be paid within 30 days 
  • Drivers must have a valid driving license (you must also be 18 or over), a motor insurance certificate and the V5 registration document for your own car or the hire car
  • Unless your headlights can be adjusted, you must carry headlamp converters (stickers that adjust the beam of your headlights when driving on the right, so you don't dazzle motorists coming the other way)
  • Always carry a warning triangle in case of a breakdown
  • The speed limit is 50km/h in built-up areas, 20km/h in residential areas, 90km/h on country roads, and 100km/h on dual carriageways
  • Drivers cannot use radar detectors or anything that could interfere with police equipment.

Winter driving conditions in Latvia

Driving in harsh winter conditions doesn't make getting around Latvia any easier, so try to avoid planning a road trip between the months of December to March. Temperatures reach lows of -13ºF (-25ºC), and there are snow, ice and fog to navigate.

In winter, be careful walking on icy paths and drive slowly on icy roads. Check with locals before you set out to see if there are any black ice spots. Snow covering major roads is plowed when necessary.

During winter, daylight hours dwindle down to just six hours per day.

Winter tires are required between 1 December and 1 March, and a special winter diesel fuel with a very high congealing point is available in winter. 

Tips for road safety in Latvia

To stay safe while driving in Latvia be alert, drive safely, study the map before you set out, and drive in daylight hours.

  • Drivers must use their headlights at all times, including during daylight hours – winter months can be especially dreary even during the day  
  • Never drink alcohol and drive. The legal limit is 0.05% (0.02% if you have less than two years' driving experience). If you are caught driving over the limit, you will face a large fine, license endorsement and possible imprisonment
  • Using a mobile phone whilst driving is prohibited unless using a hands-free device
  • Always use headlights to maximize visibility on the roads 
  • Avoid driving during snowstorms, but if your schedule demands it, drive slowly
  • Always stick to the speed limits, which are usually 30mi/h (50km/h) in cities and 55mi/h (90km/h) on roads outside of urban areas, and 62mi/h (100km/h) on motorways
  • Use secure car parks whenever possible as car thefts and break-ins are common
  • In Riga, you must not park on tramlines.

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  • Biasedblsht said

    First of all, Latvia is Northern, not Eastern Europe. This article is biased and exaggerated. Latvians drive quite well, respect pedestrians and are well aware of road condition (being repaired intensively now) and winter driving. The ones driving like crazy chimps are usually Russians with their BMWs.

  • Michael said

    I didn't notice a problem with drivers not respecting pedestrians but they do have VERY dangerous habits of overtaking on highways, and roundabouts can be a bit of a mess for example having two lanes but next to no road markings to follow.

    I was travelling with max allowed speed at highway but locals were passing me what seemed like every 30 seconds.
    Also, they force you to drive off the marked path on the side of the road ( in effect making a third "passing lane" in the middle of the road) by blinking the headlights and driving aggressively close to you.

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