Anytime you visit a new city, it's fun to bring home something to remember it by. ILP volunteers in Russia love to buy a matryoshka doll set or a traditional Russian furry hat. After you've spent some time in Russia you'll see the souvenir stands all over and you'll start noticing different prices for the same item. So where's the best place to get souvenirs?
If you're an ILP volunteer living in Russia or just traveling there on vacation, you've got a couple different options for souvenir shopping.
- Arbat Street
- Izmalovskaya Park
Arbat street, also known as "the Arbat", is one of the most famous streets in downtown Moscow. It's a pedestrian only street which makes it really fun to stroll through while you're exploring Moscow, but it is very tourist-driven. Because of its draw for tourists, it is one of the most expensive places to souvenir shop. We recommend enjoying a walk through the street, but saving your money for other markets.
Izmalovskaya market is the top recommended places for souvenir shopping by ILP volunteers who have lived in Moscow. It has the biggest and best selection! Get anything from musical instruments to chess sets and more. There's a small fee of around 5-10 rubles to enter, but you can really make up for that with savings compared to what you would pay at other markets. It's lots of fun to shop around and a great way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Moscow!
Here's some of our tips for making the most of the market:
- Saturday is the busiest day, but also swing by on Wednesdays which is supposed to be a bargain day.
- Never accept the first price! This is definitely a bargain friendly zone and often times the first price is higher for tourists. Say "too much" and start to walk away when they give you the first price. They'll pull you back and be happy to haggle over a price if they think you're interested. A good rule of thumb is to cut the price in half and negotiate from there.
- Beware of pushy sellers! Someone selling hats may come right up to you and start dressing you in items that he expects you to buy but that you may not want. Don't let them walk all over you. Be clear if you're interested or not.
- Don't buy everything at the start of your semester. After you've been there awhile you'll get an idea of the items that you really truely want and what a fair price should be.
- If you make local friends in Moscow, bring them with you. You may be able to get better prices with the locals than strictly as an American looking tourist. Plus, it's way more fun to shop with friends.
- Dress warm during the cold months otherwise you'll be buying a Russian fur hat for neccessity purposes instead of just desire.
To get there take the dark blue metro line to the stop at Partizanskaya. Take a left out of the metro, cross the street, and follow the walk way to the ornamental gateway. Hours on the weekends are usually 9 am - 6 pm.