I've often written on the blog about how I love to visit markets when I travel. Whenever I plan a trip abroad, I always include market visits in the itinerary and I'm never disappointed that I did.
Discovering a city through it's markets has brought me to off-the-beaten path neighborhoods in Istanbul and revealed all kinds of regional ingredients in the southern states of the US, not to mention the lovely markets that have become favorites in London, Brussels, and San Francisco.
Even if you're not as manic about markets as I am, there are certain markets that should not be missed if you happen to find yourself in their city, and Riga's Central Market is undoubtedly one of them.
Located not far from the charming cobblestone streets of Old Riga, Riga's market is made up of a maze of outdoor stalls overflowing from a series of transformed Zeppelin hangars that now serve as indoor markets. Built in the 1920-30s, the Art Deco inspired architecture extends what is typical of the bulding style in the city, but in a much more functional form.
The indoor market, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home to vendors selling cheese, meat, and pastries typical of the region. You will also find a large selection of tea, coffee, preserved fish, and other Latvian specialties.
My favorite part of the market to explore was the open-air food market that takes place all around the indoor market structures. Here choice was refreshingly limited, indicating a concentration of locally grown, seasonal produce. What was on offer was beautiful and abundant; bright red strawberries, bunches of cherries, cucumbers and spring onions mixed with the season's first tomatoes. I also loved the stands of dried herbs and flowers, where you could put together your own bouquet of ingredients to make personalized herbal teas.
I was curious to see that many stands had large glass vases that were stuffed with bright greens and garlic heads. I investigated further and, to my great joy, found out that these were crocks of homemade dill pickles- one of my favorite things ever and my go-to comfort food after a long night out (Riga is also a really great place for nights out, by the way).
Along with pickles, you can also buy handmade socks, scarves, and wicker baskets, which make nice souvenirs of your Latvian adventure!
Riga Central Market
Nēģu iela 7, Rīga, LV-1050
Open daily 7h-18h