What to Bring from Riga: Unusual Souvenirs from Latvia
Souvenirs from Latvia and Riga

What to Bring from Riga: Unusual Souvenirs from Latvia

Souvenirs and gifts from Latvia are my favorite part of the trip. Over several years of traveling, I have studied the entire assortment of stores and can tell you exactly what is exciting and worth bringing from Riga, what is new, what is not worth paying attention to, and what is a myth.

Products: edible souvenirs from Latvia

Historically, farming and fishing have been widely developed in Latvia. Milk products, pastries, fish, chocolate — something that can be imported into Russia and which usually evokes emotions in all recipients. Import restrictions apply only to alcohol.

Chocolate from Latvia

The first thing people ask to bring back from Riga is Laima chocolate. The company has been producing products since 1870. It used to be only chocolate with different fillings, but recently candies, marmalade and marshmallows have been added. All products can be found in company stores and supermarkets.

Laima is the most recognizable brand in Latvia. Its products are familiar far beyond the country’s borders. It is appreciated for the fact that it is chocolate with chocolate flavor. The quality has not changed for almost 150 years.

The most famous bar is Luksss: dark chocolate packaged with a red rose. A few years ago new combinations appeared: hazelnut and orange, wafers and almonds, cherry and almonds. Price per bar from 1,70 €.

Laima store
Laima store

Sweets from the Skrīveru saldumi company have recently appeared in Riga. Not many people outside Latvia know about them yet, but the people of Riga advise buying it as a gift. Chocolate from Belgium is used in production. The idea of the brand is berries and fruits in chocolate: apples, apricots and plums in dark chocolate, cranberries and strawberries in white chocolate, strawberry marzipan. The products are in presentable packaging, it is nice to give them as gifts, they are inexpensive and taste unusual. There is a store in Origo shopping center on the first floor.

Sweets Skrīveru saldumi
Sweets Skrīveru saldumi

Rye bread and croutons

Everyone who has been to Latvia remembers the special Latvian bread — fragrant and delicious. The classic rye rupjmaize is made with cumin, carrots, seeds and olives. It is so popular that it is used to make soups and seven types of rye bread desserts.

Latvian bread "the one" (as the waiter said)
Latvian bread «the one» (as the waiter said)

«Souvenir» rye bread from Riga will not spoil or dry out if you buy it in special vacuum packaging. Such bread can keep fresh for 2 to 4 weeks. There is also tinned bread, which was brought from Riga in hungry times to poor families, but now it is an unusual souvenir.

Not sure if the bread will arrive? Take rye bread croutons — in Riga they are sold in stores and served in cafes. Large, buttery, with salt and garlic, they are the perfect appetizer for beer. In supermarkets you can find more than 12 variants with cumin, garlic, coriander or red pepper. You can buy them in packs or by weight.

Famous Riga toast
Famous Riga toast

Latvian sprats

Latvian-made sprats are sold in Russia, but there is no such variety as in Riga stores. There is a rich choice in Maxima and Rimi supermarkets.

The most delicious sprats are Rīgas Zelts and Tsar’s sprats from AS Brīvais vilnis. The fish inside is large, firm, with a smoked flavor. In Soviet times, such canned sprats were a delicacy, and the most popular were Old Riga sprats.

Latvian sprats
Latvian sprats

Alcohol from Latvia

Many articles advise to bring Moka coffee liqueur from Riga. This alcoholic drink is produced in Latvia. It is one of the tourist myths: locals do not drink it, do not consider it a symbol of the country and speak negatively about it.

An eternal and perhaps the most popular and most traditional souvenir is Riga Black Balsam. It is a classic alcoholic drink in Latvia, loved by locals and tourists alike. The strong alcoholic drink (45%) with bittersweet flavor and medicinal properties contains herbal components that help with colds. The recipe is classified.

In Riga, balm is sold everywhere, including souvenir stores. I recommend buying in Latvijas balzams brand stores and supermarkets — it’s cheaper, that’s what the locals do. There are five types: classic, cream, espresso (a limited collection is only available in Latvia), cherry and blackcurrant. There are different sizes: miniature bottles of 200 and 350 ml, large 500 and 700 ml.

Riga balsam in the store
Riga balsam in the store

Cosmetics from Latvia

Dzintars, the perfume and cosmetics that was a symbol of wealth and good taste for Soviet women, is sold in Riga and all over the country. The firm continues to produce new collections of fragrances, skin and hair care products and mascara. The quality of the products is still top-notch: local girls love it.

In Drogas cosmetics stores you can find products from other Latvian manufacturers, such as Madara and Stenders high quality biocosmetics. They are made of natural ingredients and are suitable for almost everyone.

Dzintars cosmetics
Dzintars cosmetics

Clothing and underwear from Latvia

There are many local clothing manufacturers in Riga. If you walk along Aleksandra Čaka iela and Krišjāņa Valdemāra iela, you will find many boutiques with high quality clothes. Local fashion designers sew mostly from linen or cotton, making lightweight clothes that are pleasant to the body.

In Riga you can find locally produced underwear — LAUMA LINGERIE — in shopping centers. The company has updated its name, previously it was Lauma brand. The products have been manufactured for more than 40 years. It is recognizable and popular due to its high quality and style.

In Old Riga, souvenir shops sell knitted clothes — scarves, hats, socks and mittens with national symbols and ornaments. Such products are more suitable for souvenirs, they are expensive and not always comfortable.

Souvenir socks from Riga
Souvenir socks from Riga

Souvenirs from Latvia

Inexpensive but memorable souvenirs from Riga — small things made of wood, ceramics, felt, amber. Cups with national symbols or a black cat, shot glasses for balsam, cute spoons made of wood with amber, clay toys. These little things are sold in souvenir shops in the Old Town.

Souvenirs from Riga
Souvenirs from Riga

What else can you bring from Riga?

Not all authentic gifts and souvenirs can be bought all year round. There are seasonal products in Riga that can be caught only on holidays or at certain times of the year. Some products are difficult to transport: they spoil or crumple. But if you prepare in advance, you can try.

Kārums dairy products

Kārums company is known for its glazed cheesecakes with different flavors: there are classic vanilla cheesecakes with chocolate, caramel, cherry, nut, lemon filling, with mango or blueberries, delicious, not sugary. They have an excellent composition, they are not afraid to give them to children.

The Kārums have recently expanded their assortment to include yogurts and other desserts. Yoghurts and cheese can be transported if you do it carefully: you can freeze them in advance and wrap them in foil before traveling. The foil keeps the temperature of the product for a long time. I have tried many times to bring them to Russia, but I have never succeeded: they don’t get there not because they spoil, but because they are too tasty.

Legendary Kārums dairy products
Legendary Kārums dairy products

Latvian beer

Latvia produces excellent beer. There are cafes in Riga with their own breweries. Craft beer is kept for no more than three days, so you can’t take it home. However, you can bring factory beer from local producers. The most famous brewery in the city is Bauska. There is also a museum with the possibility of tasting.

Remember the brand: Tērvetes, Užavas, Valmiermuižas, Aldaris, Bauskas, Līvu, Cēsu — these are quality beers from Riga that you can buy in the store and take home.

Bauskas Alus beer
Bauskas Alus beer

Christmas cookies Piparkūkas

Before Christmas, Piparkūkas pepper cookies are sold everywhere in Riga. It used to be a seasonal product, but in recent years it has been a regular feature of the Riga market. It has an unusual flavor: a combination of pepper, ginger, spices — and here is a festive mood at any time of the year. Sometimes zest, honey and nuts are added to the cookies. You should definitely try it and take it away with you.

Where to buy gifts in Riga?

Dzintars and Latvijas balzams brand stores are concentrated in the Old Town. The products are the same price as in the stores, but the selection is much larger. For example, only Latvijas balzams sells miniature bottles of balm.

Where I buy gifts and souvenirs in Riga:

  • Rimi, Maxima supermarkets;
  • Shopping centers Alfa, Domina, Acropolis, Galerija Centrs;
  • Central Market.

Laima and Skrīveru saldumi stores are located in Origo shopping center — in the building of the main railway station.

What else to do in Latvia?