There’s more to Russian gifts than the stereotypical matryoshka nesting dolls and Red Army fur hats. Here's our guide to buying unique and memorable souvenirs while in Moscow.
Flea Market Fair, an annual event in Moscow’s Tishinskaya Square. Photo: RBTH / Anton Agarkov
If you are in Moscow for a conference or business meeting and have very little time on your hands to buy gifts for special people back home, worry not. The city center has many options when it comes to unique and special presents.
Nasledie at GUM
Just a stone’s throw away from Red Square, GUM (State Department Store) was founded in early 19th century. The three-floor mall has an array of high-end shops, but when it comes to souvenirs, Nasledie on the second level has a good collection of Faberge eggs, silver crockery, samovars and high-quality sarafans (Russian traditional dresses).
There are a few other souvenir shops in the complex, along with a very reasonably priced food court, where you can get some fairly good Russian food.
Most of the shops in GUM are open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Moscow Vernissage / Izmailovsky Market
If you are looking for paintings, antiques, Central Asian rugs or handicrafts from different parts of Russia, this outdoor market at Izmailovo is a great place. This market is a clear window into Russia’s Asian side. Be ready to bargain hard even if it is a high-end souvenir that you are looking to buy. There are also a few good food stalls in the market, where you can get some shashlik (Russian kebabs).
Nearby is the Izmailovo Kremlin, which has a series of shops and museums, including the Museum of the History of Vodka!
The quickest way to get to the market is to take the dark blue color Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya metro line to the Partizanskaya Station.
The Gourji boutique has limited edition cufflinks with distinct designs connected with Russia and the greater Eurasian landmass. According to owner Dmitry Gourji, personal effects should evoke positive emotions that bring people together, therefore he turns to landmarks and important periods in the history of Russia for inspiration.
The themed souvenirs, pens and jewellery all look back at Russian history and are in some way connected to landmarks or events that took place in the past. This boutique also has a collection of rare gemstones, as well as handbags, wallets and leather accessories.
If you’re taking the metro, get off at the Slavyansky Bukvar station on the dark blue color Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya metro line, and walk towards Kutuzovsky Prospekt. The boutique is in building number 48 and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Nika watch shop at Okhotniy Ryad
Nika has been producing gold and silverwrist watches at a factory in Moscow since 2003. The watches are relatively inexpensive by European standards and are priced from $500 to $5000. The company describes its watches as having “classic designs that underline the sophisticated taste of the owner along with fashionable and stylish models for those in search of something new and trendy.” Some of these watches do have a decidedly retro Soviet look.
The most central place in Moscow to buy a Nika watch is at the Nika store in the Okhotniy Ryad underground shopping complex that is located at Manezh Square and a short walking distance from Red Square. Surrounded by outlets of international brands, the Nika store is one of the few Russian shops.
The mall is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Korkunov chocolate boutique
If you want to buy something for someone with a sweet tooth, why not get them some fresh premium chocolate? While the company, which is now owned by Wrigley, makes boxed chocolate for mass production, you can only buy its handmade chocolates in one boutique, which is located in the heart of Moscow. The Korkunov boutique sells 15 types of handmade chocolates and candies, all delivered fresh from a factory in the nearby town of Odintsovo every morning.
The boutique is located in Bolshaya Lubyanka, bldg. 13/16, near the Lubyanka metro station, on the red color Sokolonicheskaya line. It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Another good option for handmade chocolates is Chocolatier, which is popular for its artisanal chocolates. The shop is located at 5 Schyolkovskoe Shosse, which is near the Cherkizovskaya metro station on the same Sokolnicheskaya line.