Latvia Shopping and nightlife
Shopping in Latvia
Long associated with the Baltics, Amber (dzintars in Latvian) is of high quality in Latvia and often good value. Other typical souvenirs include folk art, linen, locally made silver, colourful knitwear, wickerwork and ceramics. Latvia’s consumable specialities include beer, Black Balsam, Jāņi cheese, honey and sweets treats such as ‘edible amber’, tinned Riga sprats and locally made chocolates.
Riga is one of the easiest places to find souvenirs and the main market, held inside old zeppelin hangers, is well worth a visit. Sigulda and the surrounding area is good for finding woodwork, while in Cēsis visitors should drop by the Smithy of Ancient Jewellery that sells traditional Latvian jewellery.
The Latgale region in the southeast of the country has a long tradition of pottery making. As well as the wonderful main market, there are several large shopping centres in Riga, including Galerija Centrs, Origo and craft fairs at the Open-Air Ethnographical Museum.
Passengers flying to a country outside the EU can claim a tax refund at the airport. Only shops displaying 'Tax-Free' stickers participate in the scheme. These will (if asked) give you a Global Refund cheque. A minimum spend in any one shop in a single day is required. In addition, you need to keep the original receipt and goods should be unopened.
You need a special permit to take high-value works of art, antiques and cultural objects out of Latvia. The restriction is currently defined as any object older than 50 years and with a value over €42,686.
Opening hours are typically Mon-Fri 0900/1000-1800/1900 and Sat 0900/1000-1600/1700. Some smaller shops may close for an hour or two between 1200 and 1500 for lunch. Food shops tend to open Mon-Sat 0800/0900-2000/2100. Some shops are open 24 hours.
Nightlife in Latvia
Riga's nightlife is legendary, particularly in the summer months when pubs and bars spill out onto narrow cobbled streets and terraces. Duck into a small local bar in Riga’s old town centre, or head up to the famous Skyline Bar with its 360-degree panoramic views of the Latvian capital.
Nightclubs offer a varied scene, from dancing all night to blues concerts, and range in size from enormous dance floors with popular DJs to local laidback hangouts. The capital also has a few strip and lap-dancing clubs. There are also LGBT-friendly clubs in the area.
Throughout the year, Riga plays host to an enormous variety of events, concerts and festivals. If you need help navigating the party scene in the city, there are several agencies offering nightlife tours.
At the height of summer, holiday resorts such as Jūrmala are lively. Big cities like Daugavpils, Ventspils and Liepaja also have an array of drinking venues, though in general these are not so geared towards tourists.