If you are brave enough to visit Russia in winter, you would probably want to come back home with something that says “Yes, I made it to Russia”. Buying souvenirs in Russia may sound easy at the beginning. Every tour guide book will have a list of the best Russian souvenirs, such as Russian nesting dolls, caviar and a bottle of Vodka. If you are willing to come back home with a very special Christmas gift and avoid the clichés we recommend you to make some preparations.
How to buy souvenirs
It is pretty obvious that the closer you are to the city center, the more expensive are the souvenirs. Still many tourists make their purchases not far from the Red Square. They may not know good places or their time is very limited. If so, I recommend to keep in mind that you can bargain. It doesn’t mean that supermarkets and department stores will welcome this attitude, but many markets and souvenir shops can easily cut off the price if they see that you are well-prepared for the trip. Ask questions, thus you will know more about what you are buying and you will show your seriousness.
If you are not into bargaining (so am I) and you need a fixed price, you can find places with reasonable prices however the prices are not displayed. Whatever it is we will be happy to show you them!
Where to buy gifts
Most of the tour guides will agree that the cheapest place to buy gifts in Russia is Izmailovsky Market, especially if you go there on Wednesdays. It is located a bit outside of the city center near the subway station Partizanskaya. The good thing is that there you can find everything – traditional souvenirs on Vernissage, a flea market which itself looks like a museum of the Soviet culture, and antiques. Moreover, recently Design factory “Flacon” opened a big and impressive area with unique gifts that locals would like.
“ I really liked the Izmailovo market as I recall has a wide selection of souvenirs all in one place including artifacts and antiques. They usually have unique items which can only be found there. The design of the market also emits a nice atmosphere” Costas, Greece
There are many places for you to find fun and classy souvenirs such as modern museums, bookstores and markets. Our Moscow Modern Art&Design tour has devoted a whole area where you can find unique gifts made by locals.
One good reason to visit Moscow on Christmas holidays is our New Year markets. Surprisingly, they are not extremely overpriced as you may think. You can find vendors who come from other cities and sell things that are usually not easy to find in the capital. It definitely worths taking a look at least for the inspiration!
The best gifts
When you think about Russia, cold is one of the first things that comes into your mind. Yes, Russia is not the warmest country in the world, but we surely know how to warm ourselves.
2. Russian Fur hat
Of course, vodka is a great solution, but not the only one. We are proud of our fur hats or we call them Ushankas They are so famous that during the World Cup 2018 that was in summer I could see tourists wearing Russian hats. I guess, for some tourists Russian summer is like winter, although it was + 30 C.
3. Wool socks and valenki
Also, take a look at wool socks with colorful patterns and valenki – a traditional Russian winter footwear.
4. Russian shawl
The best gift for women in my opinion is Russian scarves and shawls with traditional Russian patterns, specifically from Pavlovsky Posad. They used to be popular only among grannies. But several years ago woolen and cotton scarves became trendy. There are many colors to choose from so it feel really fit you and will help to look like a true fashionista. Don’t forget keep an eye on quality. Some of the vendors can sell shawls or hats made in China.
5. Hand cream
Cold weather also makes you to take care of your skin. Many of my friends always carry around a hand cream. If you forgot how important it is to protect your skin, try Russian cosmetic brands and then get the products you liked as a gift. Some of the popular Russian brands are Natura Siberica, Babushka Agaphya’s recipes and Organic shop. If you are interested in young and trendy companies 2211 will be a good option.
6. A book
For those art lovers a good gift is an art reproduction album from the Tretyakov Gallery with famous Russian paintings or a book by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky. You may find books in English in the Moskva bookstore on Tverskaya st. 8, or Respublika near Mayakovsaya metro station or in Central Kids Store on Lubyanka.
7. Russian food
I reckon that it’s always good to bring food as gift. You give a chance to your friends and relatives to try something new. Plus, you will know for sure that they won’t lay it on a shelve. Believe it or not Russia is also a good place to buy chocolate. It doesn’t matter if you like dark or milk – everything is delicious. For the New Year you can find a great variety of decorated packages with the mix of sweets. Simply perfect for kids! They may also appreciate Belyovsky marshmallows and even honey, which comes in different flavors like raspberry, mint and ginger.
8. Russian drinks
To remember Russian cosy evenings get herbal tea named ‘Ivan Tea’ or a syrup for the traditional Russian drink honey drink sbiten’. Only in winter, there are so many New Year and Christmas decorations. Some of them truly look like a piece of art. Come to a winter festival which chance to find something special. One of them will be soon on Danilovskij market, where we organize the Food Tour.
9. A nesting doll or a handmade toy
Apart from the popular Nesting dolls, which can be easily bought in Russia, look for a toy of the Russian Santa, Grandfather Frost, and his granddaughter Snow Maiden. In many shops, vendors will look like them.
ExploRussia invites you to Russian Christmas with locals tour, which can be organized in any winter day. We will dive deep into Russian Christmas traditions, visit Russian Orthodox church and for sure buy best Christmas gifts.