Shopping in Lithuania | True Lithuania
True Lithuania

Shopping in Lithuania

Shopping opportunities in Lithuania are compatible with those in the West and generally superior to those in the countries east of Lithuania.

Shopping mall is a key institution in every Lithuanian city. Hundreds of shops within each mall sell all types of goods while eating out and entertainment opportunities there are equally wide. It is common to spend an evening or entire Saturday at the malls; they are typically gazetted as "shopping and entertainment centers". Many malls are relatively centrally-located and usually larger than one would expect in a city of that size.

This "mall craze" began with Akropolis (Vilnius) in 2000, which by then was likely the largest mall in Eastern Europe. Now, each of the 4 main cities has its own Akropolis mall. The brand has since been joined by multiple competitors, among which Ozas (Vilnius) and Mega (Kaunas) are the largest.

Akropolis of Vilnius, the original Lithuanian megamall (over 100 000 sq. m in size). ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Moreover, Lithuania has a wide network of quality supermarkets, the larger of which also sell nearly everything under a single roof, even if the variety of goods there is smaller than in the shopping malls.

Lithuanian shopping malls and supermarkets have very convenient opening times, working 7 days a week from early morning until some 22:00 or 23:00 in the evening. As such, there are few convenience stores in Lithuania. They are largely replaced by the gas stations stores which stay open 24/7 (on the main roads) and charge ~50% inflated prices on drinks and food and kiosks which close early but offer a quick shopping opportunity for newspapers, sweets, and drinks. Alcohol sales are forbidden at night and on September 1st.

The advance of shopping malls heavily hit the traditional city high streets, especially so in the smaller cities. Fewer shops and services are available there. Still, however, these high streets are far from "died out" despite what a small business lobbyist would tell you. As a tourist, it might be more interesting to stroll around a high street than a shopping center.

Archaic mostly outdoor bazaars remain another popular way to shop in Lithuania. Small-scale businessmen sell everything from berries and pirated CDs to wedding dresses and furniture there from their little shops, kiosks, or even car trunks. It can be cheap, but one can also get overcharged - you have to shop around and haggle. Joining the crowds of Lithuanians shopping in the enormous "Wild East" bazaars (such as Gariūnai or Rietavas) even during storms is an experience of its own.

A fragment of the massive Gariūnai bazaar near Vilnius. Many Lithuanians tried out capitalism here in the 1990s and at over 130 000 sq. m it is still the nation's largest trade area. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

The bazaars have now been joined by new Western-style marketplaces that are mostly aimed at people who prefer organic food. Prices in such markets might be higher than either in bazaars or supermarkets.

If you want to buy souvenirs, you can buy them both in the streets frequented by tourists (main cities and resorts) or in the supermarkets. Supermarkets mainly offer mass-produced Lithuania-themed Chinese-made T-shirts, cups, and fridge magnets. The street stalls additionally have a selection of traditional crafts, amber jewelry, and relatively cheap paintings. Haggle if you buy at the street stalls and be prepared to severely overpay if you buy in downtown shops established for tourists.

Fairs are another good option for souvenirs. Typically coinciding with local religious and secular holidays they draw in many salesmen from the surrounding cities and towns (including craftsmen) who transform the downtowns into large marketplaces for a weekend. The largest fairs attract even foreign salesmen from neighboring countries and beyond.

Haggling is possible only in bazaars, marketplaces, souvenir stands, and fairs. The price may be lowered by 10%-30% (even when the official price is written). Foreigners may, however, be quoted a much higher initial price than locals would, therefore check multiple salesmen before buying.

Craftsman stall in Vilnius Gedimino Avenue during the Skamba skamba kankliai folk music festival. The part of the street near the Cathedral effectively becomes a marketplace up to 10 weekends a year. ©Augustinas Žemaitis.

Article written by Augustinas Žemaitis

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  1. Great article! There is a comprehensive list of shopping malls on Wikipedia –

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