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Best Souvenirs from Latvia

What to Buy

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Souvenirs in Riga

Souvenirs in Riga

Kerry Kubilius, licensed to About.com
Latvia is a country with a strong heritage that is expressed in a multitude of ways, in the interior design of restaurants and shops to clothing made in centuries-old tradition. Souvenirs that reflect this heritage are often a combination of beauty and usefulness. Take a piece of Latvia home with you when you choose from the souvenirs available from this Baltic nation.

Amber

When you travel to Latvia, you may be overwhelmed by the amount of amber on sale. In Riga, shop after shop sells amber jewelry, from delicate earring to heavy statement necklaces glowing with the golden internal light that makes fossilized tree resin so impressive. Whether you’re looking for something for yourself or a gift for someone at home, browse the selection in shops and from outdoor vendors to get a feel for the variety and prices of Latvian amber.

Textiles

Latvia’s textile artisans make incredible, wearable garments from the natural fibers of wool and linen. Purchase wraps and shawls to ward off winter’s chill, find a light-as-a-feather linen scarf to take to the beach, or snag a durable all-purpose tote for everyday use. Visit shops such as Hobbywool to get one-of-a-kind accessories handmade by creative people with an eye for useful beauty.

Black Balsam

Latvian’s famous thick, tar-black herbal drink is a potent medicine for coughs, other malaise, or simply sobriety. Found in the original version, which sports a 45% alcohol, a less-potent and sweeter black currant version, and a cream version, Black Balsam is a must-try for adventurous visitors. While you can try it at any bar or restaurant, if you want to take home a bottle, you can visit liquor shops to browse a convenient selection of small one-shot bottles to elaborate gift sets.

If Black Balsam isn’t your thing, look for Latvia-produced vodkas, wines, or brandy.

Mittens

Mittens knitted in traditional Latvian patterns make both cute and utilitarian souvenirs. They’re available even in summer, but during the Christmas markets, when temperatures dip well below freezing, they can be especially tempting. Matching hats and scarves can also be found in wintery designs.

Traditional Jewelry

Reproductions of traditional jewelry make especially interesting souvenirs from Latvia. Forms cast from originals found in archeological sites and adapted to suit today’s fashions have been produced in precious or semi-precious metals. Visit Baltu Rotas, near St. Peter’s Church, for a wide selection of silver, gold, and bronze jewelry with historical Latvian motifs.

Leather Goods

Latvia’s artists do surprising things with leather. Blank books, encased in thick, elegantly worked leather, bracelets and passport covers sprouting pagan symbols, and wallets and handbags are some options for visitors who want a long-lasting souvenir that they can take with them wherever they go.

Food Products

Latvia’s local food products include perishable items, such as dark bread and farm-made cheese, to semi-perishable food items such as honey, handmade chocolates, and tempting sweets. Also purchase wine and brandy made from Latvian berries. Latvian tea is an especially nice gift: it transports well, doesn’t readily go bad, and is priced within most travelers’ budgets.

Pottery and Porcelain

Latvian clay and porcelain artists create whimsical or elegant dishware, figurines, and vases that will serve as conversation starters or add to the character of any room. A hearty beer mug, a delicate cup-and-saucer set, a bowl in a surprising shape, or a vase decorated with traditional patters are only some of what you will find when you browse souvenir shops or dedicated pottery shops. You may also discover miniature reproductions of some of Riga’s most famous sights, such as the Three Brothers or instances of the cat motif inspired by the Cat House landmark
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