Souvenir Shopping in Moscow: Izmailovsky Market

I have a list of things that I need to bring back from every country to complete our ‘Home Sweet Home’. Our abode has a Turkish lamp from Istanbul, an ostrich egg from South Africa, a carved wooden door from Zanzibar, bright red clogs from Netherlands, floor carpet from Oman, papyrus paintings from Egypt… the list goes on. It truly looks like a travellers house! Obviously, on the list was ‘Matryoshka Dolls from Russia’. Now that I was in Russia, I just had to pick up a set.

Kremlin at Izmailovsky

Shopping for the Maytryoshka dolls can be tricky…they start at Rub 50 and can cost as much as Rub 50,000!!! YES… Rubles fifty thousand! The cheaper ones are like toys and the expensive ones are works of art, with intricate designs and fine paintings. However, price is also drive by the location; souvenirs are really expensive in the city centre, especially near the Kremlin. So, if you want to get yourself a sweet deal, or buy in bulk to gift them to friends, you should head to Izmailovsky Market, which is famous for its souvenir market. The market is where the locals buy dolls, magnets, other souvenir items, scarves, fur etc in bulk and then, sell them to tourists at various places in the city centre.

Faberge Egg Souvenirs

Getting there?

Every local knows about the Izmailovsky market. However, don’t expect too much help from the locals as most Russians do not understand English. And let’s not forget, you are in Russia …and culturally, many Russians do not engage with a conversation with strangers.

The easiest way to get to the Izmailovsky market is by using the metro. It takes about 20 minutes from the city centre to Partizanskaya, which is the closest metro station to the market. You can then walk for about 5 minutes to the colourful building, which is the Izmailovsky Kremlin and houses the souvenir market.

The other option is to take an Uber, which will cost about Rub 400, but might it take you an hour or so to get there from the city centre. Moscow has crazy traffic!

What are the opening hours?

The market opens at 10:00 and the starts winding up by about 17:30. By 18:00, most stalls are closed. The market is most crowded, with the maximum number of sellers and buyers, on the weekends.

Souvenir market at Izmailovsky

What to buy?

I was at the market to buy dolls, and focussed my energies on the same. However, you can buy some great woollen garments and winter wear. There is porcelain from Russia and the CIS countries… pretty blue stuff, but very delicate and difficult to carry. There is also an entire market on paintings – nature, still life, monuments. And then, there is a flea market full of used stuff – kitchenware, clothes, artifacts, jewellery …lots and lots of knick knacks!

Paintings at the Izmailovsky market

What’s the price?

Bargaining is allowed in the market. However, when you talk to the sellers, you will be able to figure out whether they are interested in bargaining or not – don’t push them too hard…its not appreciated. Price reduction is rarely below more than 10%. Take a walk around the market and you will be able to figure out the difference between the quality products and the mass produced goods; the prices will vary as per the quality, sometimes disproportionately.

What else is around?

There is a small vodka museum at the Izmailovsky Kremlin where you can look at funky vodka bottles and sample some Russian vodka as well.

Fancy some vodka?

There there is a little church and there are buildings that seem to have popped out from candy land. There are a couple of coffee shops for you to grab a cup of coffee and a cookie.

There are quite a few restaurants serving vegetarian and meat based dishes in the area. The Best Western, Alpha and Delta hotels are nearby. Each has a couple of good restaurants with good quality food.

What did I do?

Luckily, I was staying at the Best Western in Izmailovsky, which is very close to this market. However, by the time I would get back to the hotel, it was 19:00 and the market was closed. I managed to visit the market only once, most days were spent in sight seeing, on my last evening in Moscow. How I wish I would have visited it earlier…or maybe multiple times!

I spent about 3 hours at the market, bargaining, shopping and clicking pictures. I got great value for money products and had a great time walking around the place. If you do intend to shop for souvenirs in Russia, make time for the Izmailovsky Market!

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13 Responses

  1. Jean

    Oh this looks like my kinda place to visit. I love exploring markets when on the road. I can believe that the dolls go up to 50,000 rub! I can’t even imagine the love and care that goes into each doll.

  2. I love your collection of souvenirs, yet to visit so many places… wooden door ?? Please do share a post on Souvenir shopping from around the world 🙂 Vodka bottles looks good

  3. Oh this market looks so colorful and vibrant. I love those paintings, I think i need a whole day for this market. Vodka bottles doll shaped looks cool and good for gifting.

  4. This market looks amazing! I love exploring markets when I’m travelling, and I’d want to spend a lot of time here too. I’ll have to keep it in mind if I make it to Moscow, which I hope to soon!

  5. Rhiannon

    Markets are my favourite places to get lost when abroad!
    My grandmother brought back some matryoshka dolls from Russia when she visited St Petersburg when I was a little girl. they were definitely closer to 50 Rubles than 50,000! Not sure where exactly they are now but I want to find them again.

  6. Whaaat?? The Matryoshka dolls can be THAT expensive?! My mother has 3, which were all given to her as gifts from Russian friends. I would love to visit Moscow one day. Is it true that they have Vladimir Putin souvenirs everywhere? Apparently there’s even chocolate shaped like him. Haha. Thanks for sharing this lovely guide to shopping at the market in Moscow 😀

  7. Really love local markets Whenever I travel, I make It a point to visit the local markets, for souvenirs and if not anything just to observe the local fervour 🙂 Love the matryoshka dolls! Your post made me relive Russian fairytales 🙂
    This place is so my kind! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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