Madona is a small residential town in the center of eastern Latvia (in eastern part of Vidzeme region), home for approximately 9000 residents, is centre of culture, education, trade, sports, medicine in the Madonas novads region. The name “Madona” , often confused with “Madonna” comes possibly from lake Madona or the way medieval Germans called the palace of Birži - Madohn. Birži was the official name of the inhabited area before. The name of the town has absolutely nothing to do with the famous singer.
There are no airports with regular air traffic in vicinity.
There are two main roads going to Madona from capital Riga - one through Sigulda and Bērzakrogs, other through Pļaviņas. Road through Pļaviņas is slower due to traffic and inhabited areas with speed limitations but the road conditions are slightly better.
It is pretty popular to hitch-hike in Latvia and if you can get to Madona as well. If you come via Pļaviņas, make sure you get off on the bypass road at roundabout before crossing the railway bridge in direction of Jēkabpils. From there the branch road P37 to Madona starts.
Madona is well connected by bus service with Riga and other smaller cities in eastern Latvia. Ticket price from Riga to Madona is abour 5LVL and it takes usually 3 - 3,5 hours to get there. From Madona you may also catch direct buses to Cēsis, Daugavpils, Gulbene, Alūksne, Sigulda, Rēzekne, Aizkraukle, Jēkapils and numerious small villages within Madonas novads. For bus timetables and prices please check www.1188.lv
Going by train is a relatively cheap and quick option (3 LVL, <3hrs) Unfortunately train runs only once per day (evenin from Riga and early morning return) and are often crowded with students. No advance booking seats is available. As of summer 2011, there is also a morning train from Riga on Saturdays, leaving at 08:29.
Town is small and getting around by car is an easy task, without traffic jams and takes minutes. Beware that due to ongoing pipeline replacement works the surface quality on some of the streets may be really bad. Free public parking places are available in many places in the centre.
By public bus
There are 3 public bus lines in the town. Ticket (0,50LVL) can be purchased on board.
In late spring/summer/early autumn probably the best way to get around is bicycle. Do not leave your bike unlocked on the street as bicycle thefts are not uncommon.
Getting around the center by walking is good option in any season.
Madona is a home for 2 high schools and a branch of public university RPIVA. Check the international exchange programs for possibility of studying. Basics of Latvian language are essential to study and live.