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One of my favorite parts of my trip to Moscow was visiting the Izmailovsky Market in Moscow. This flea market is a favorite of both visitors and locals who love to browse for a good deal. Keep reading for tips for negotiating, how to visit the Izmailovsky Market independently, and what to look for as a souvenir from Russia!
As someone who had only seen photos of Russia as a child, visiting the Izmailovsky Market brought back a child-like excitement as soon as I saw its looming towers in the distance… I was brought here by a Russian friend that I was visiting in Moscow who told me that we had to come to the Izmailovsky market for souvenir shopping. It’s kitschy yet wonderful. From the moment that I saw the Wolverine statue, I knew I was in the right place. 😉
This “Kremlin” [fortress] is something closer to Disney, but it doesn’t make it any less magical. It’s been reconstructed in the style of a Tzar’s palace and a wooden church in Russia. The Izmailovsky fortress was developed in 2005 by a businessman who hoped to rebuild this 16th century Kremlin that burned down recently. Its colorful patterns make for some incredible photos.
Two notes on visiting the market: A lot of vendors do not want to
Be aware of your belongings/cash. There are a few pickpockets according to my friend. The market is mostly cash-based (beyond some high-end antique dealers), so you should ensure that you have a bag that zips well.
Despite what you might think, you might be pleasantly surprised by the Izmailovsky market, which is a favorite of my friend who grew up in Moscow. He often comes here to look for Soviet-era antiques.
You have to have a keen eye, but it’s one of the most affordable places to get a great unique souvenir according to my friend. (Come armed with enough cash for your purchases as not all stalls will take cards, especially those selling Soviet-era kitsch.)
Within this sprawling complex that takes around two hours to walk through, without fully seeing every aisle of the open-air bazaar and its museums, you’ll find all kinds of goods for sale. Supposedly, this is a great place for purchasing handmade nesting dolls.
You can go for the more obvious items, such as furs, jewelry, birch objects, and Soviet-era signs. (These items tend to be higher priced in general as it’s well-known that tourists often go for these!)
I ended up getting a Soviet fur hat from the 1980s sold in the last ten minutes of the market for about 8 euros (600 rubles), a beautifully engraved Soviet-era hot tea glass with a high-quality Soviet-era glass that could be removed called a
I ended up getting a
If you get hungry, there’s a small cafe within the market where you can get
Having a local with you or some negotiating skills in Russian cannot hurt as many vendors may not speak English. In many cases, prices are not posted over items and you’re likely to find a steal in the last 1-2 hours of the day when the vendors are closing up. We spent the better part of an afternoon here, so don’t be afraid to circle back to vendors who might offer you a lower price after you walk away.
You can get here by taking Metro 3 to Partizanskaya. It’s best to visit within business hours on the weekends when there are more stalls open. Be sure to carry some extra rubles to use for the toilets, which are not free, but attended. The market itself is free to attend, however, you’ll need to pay extra for any food, souvenirs, and admission into any of the museums, which according to my friend, are tourist traps.