If you go to Latvia, you definitely have to bring home some of the good quality linen products that are to be had. Linen used to be flaxen coloured and little variation in the decorative themes, but these days, you can get anything your heart desires - at a price of course. Linen is expensive where I come from, and it isn't exactly terribly cheap in Riga either, but there are shops and then there are outlets.
Fancy shops in Riga that sell linen stock high quality items, but they are quite expensive, even when converted into Euros.
However, this little secret hideaway factory outlet is a place you can get linen at a good price by any standards. This is in fact a factory outlet that is some distance away from the fashionable shopping streets, but well worth a detour.
Open Monday to Friday from 9 am to 7 pm and Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm.
What to buy: Linen in any shape, form and size; curtains, table cloths, tee towels, bedding...
What to pay: Less than at home.
Buy your duty free Alcohol and Cigarettes when you land at Riga on your inbound journey. Not only do you benefit from your purchases being duty free, you also get them at Riga prices which are much cheaper certainly than the UK duty free shops. An added bonus is that you dont have to carry them around your departure airport with you either.
The shops are situated between the arrival gates and baggage reclaim.
What to buy: Spirits, Wine & Cigarettes
This is a rather posh, extremely bright and modern shopping centre in the heart of Old Riga. Mainly clothing but you can get anything over about 4 floors of shops, selling everything from hot chocolate, cigars and music.
If shopping is your thing then you'll enjoy this centre. It's all very smart, the ground floor is a cobbled interior street and there's plenty of decent shops to spend your cash in. Not so much a place to buy souvenirs as a new wardrobe.
In case you're looking for cold and flu remedies/medicine, just be aware that the chain of shops called 'Drogas' are rather inappropriately named as they only sell bath and beauty products. Don't expect to find any cold/flu medicine, more like shaving foam, santiary towels and perfume.
Unlike Britain and some other places, you can only buy flu stuff, anti-histamines or other medicine from a pharmacy. Look out for signs saying 'APTIEKA'.
Rather strangely in my view, the Drogas stores also sell cigarettes!
Bergs Bazars is a mixture of residential and commercial area. It is sort of a courtyard right behind Bergs Hotel and has a lot of nice little shops and cafés and restaurants. On every second and fourth Saturday you will be able to find an Eco market here and once in awhile there is a very small fleamarket here as well!
We did not really buy anything here, but we did enjoy a hot chocolate at Emihls Gustafs Chocolate Place - yummy!
This is a shopping centre with a flair. This is the place the youngsters go and this is where you will find all the trendy brands of clothing, footwear, accessories and other stuff. It might not be the cheapest place around, but there is a lot to choose from.
This place has gone through a major face-lift in recent years. I first visited in 1992 and if I had not been back in between then and now, I wouldn't have recognised the place! It has changed so much.
Back in 1992, this was called Universalveikals (universal shop...). All stuff would be on shelves behind the counter. You would ask to have a look at something and the shop attendant would hand it over (well, you could touch it only if you looked trustworthy). Then if you decided you wanted it, the attendant would write a receipt, with which you would tag to the closest cashier, queue up for a little while and then tag back with a receipt of payment. Then you would get your thing all wrapped up and ready to go. This was how it was in days yonder :) Now it's just a matter of self-service and paying up.
What to buy: Coming from Finland, the piece the resistance proved to be eye glasses. They are horrendously expensive in Finland, but here my mum and husband have found glasses for about a third the price in Finland, and the choice of frames is great. The lenses may not be great quality, but at least you can buy affordable designer frames for your lenses, if you choose to get them at home.
Other than that, we did some clothes shopping here too, and then some gourmet shopping at the ground floor in Rimi, and at Emihls Gustavs chocolatier.
What to pay: Probably less than for the equivalent at home.
The Central Market is one of the must-see sights of Riga. And it's a great place to try the full range of Latvian honeys. The storeholders will let you try a mouthful of any you fancy without any pressure to buy.
Newspaper sellers sell a variety of paper calendars featuring Russian Orthodox art that make really nice gifts.
Of course, there is also a full range of everyday food and household goods and the market is a good place to people-watch.
What to buy: Honey and chocolate
What to pay: 2-3 Lats
The Central Market is located in and around a few former Zepplin hangars. These were originally built by the Germans and completed around 1930. Inside the pavillions is sold various foods in different areas - one for meat, one for fish, cheese etc. The market however has extended beyond the walls of the hangars and outside various other items are traded, from cigarettes to DVDs.
The reason to come here is mainly to shop for towels of all shapes, colours and sizes. This is a factory outlet for a company that produces towels for export, particularly to the German market. There are more different types and styles of towels here than you can imagine, and the nice thing is that the choice is so different compared to Finland for example. Prices aren't too bad either.
What to buy: Towels, bath towels, tea towels....
What to pay: We paid about 10 euros for 4 small and 2 big bath towels.
What to buy:
Amber is relatively rare in many parts of the world, but not so along the Latvian shores. The first time I went to Latvia fifteen years ago, I couldn't believe the amount of amber and the prices. But that was all in the rough back then. The jewellery wasn't too developed, and there wasn't many styles to choose from. Now it's a different story! Now you can get all the basic stuff you could back then, as well as fashionable items.
Nice stores stock the more sophisticated stuff, whereas the street peddlers sell the more basic. The prices vary accordingly, but still generally amber is better priced than in many other countries. As long as you get a nice item for a decent price compared to Western European countries you are still getting a good deal.
While not a blimp market the market is now housed in 5 Zepplin Hangars that were brought in from the town of Vainode in the western part of the country. Each one houses a specialty such as meats or produce etc. It is a great to spend the day wandering aound.
What to buy: Just wander though the place..this is a people market where the locals come for fresh food and other items
If you're are looking for something beautiful to bring back home, try the soap shops of Stenders. It's a local factory where soap, bath salts and milks are handmade. You you choose from around 70 different scents.
What to buy: Soap in all scents, bath salts etc.
What to pay: less than 1LVL for 100g of soap
The Central Market it one of the biggest in all of Europe and its really a place to visit even if you don't really want to buy something.
Of course you can get all kinds of local and imported foods aswell as souvenirs to take back home. You can also find cafés, hairdressers and a post office here.
There are lots of stalls outside the five big halls aswell.
What to buy: Delicious honey e.g.
in case , really helpful pharmacy when i needed once,
from their site:
Nordeķu aptiekā pēc individuāla pasūtījuma un ārsta izrakstītas receptes uz vietas pagatavosim zāles.
Operatīvi apkalposim organizācijas.
Labprāt piedāvājam prakses vietas farmācijas studentiem.
Adrese :Rīga Slokas iela 74-1
What to buy: receptes
Riga is famous for it's Amber and a lot of visitors will no doubt take a piece of Amber Jewellery home for a friend or a loved one, Prices Do compare Very Favourably but make 100% sure that what you are buying is the Real thing !! If in doubt Only buy from a Reputable dealer !!
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