Rīga Central Market

Maskavas Forštate, Avotu Iela & Grīziņkalns

Fresh Produce Vendor At The Central Market Housed In Reconditioned Zeppelin Hangars, Riga, Latvia (Photo by: Insights/UIG via Getty Images)

UIG via Getty Images

Haggle for your huckleberries at this vast market, housed in a series of WWI Zeppelin hangars and spilling outdoors as well. It's an essential Rīga experience, providing bountiful opportunities both for people-watching and to stock up for a picnic lunch. Although the number of traders is shrinking, the colourful abundance here activates visitor's foraging instincts. The best way to enjoy the market is to simply do your best to get lost amidst the bounty and browse away the day.

In operation since 1570, the riverside market flourished during the mid-1600s when the city outgrew Stockholm to become the largest stronghold of the Swedish Empire. Laden with goods, boats travelling down the Daugava would meet those traversing the Baltic Sea for a mutually beneficial exchange.

In 1930 the market moved to its current location on the border of Central Rīga and the Russified Maskavas neighbourhood to make use of the railway, which replaced the river as the principal trade route. Confronted with the market’s ever-growing size, the city of Rīga decided to bring in five enormous 35m-high German-built Zeppelin hangars from the town of Vainode in western Latvia.

Today you'll find a hip food court and lots of Latvian foods. Look for all manner of pickled treats, unusual cheeses, luxurious smoked fish, wild berries, unusual mushrooms and much more.