Generally speaking, Muscovites tend to leave Russia when they want to go on a spending spree, opting for Dubai or the States, among other places. However, if you are visiting Moscow and want to pick up some souvenirs or local goods, you need to know where to go to shop, right? Below are a few places that are sure to capture your shopping attention when in Moscow.
GUM (pronounced Goom)
Okay, this one is a no-brainer and is probably already on your list. But if it’s not, it should be! GUM isn’t necessarily the place you go to shop so much as it is the place you go to window shop. But it is definitely a must-see when in Moscow. So whether you are looking to buy a gift to impress (because let’s be honest, if you tell someone you bought their gift at GUM, they will know you spent some money on them), or just looking to browse through beautiful shops and windows decorated in lavish eye candy, you will enjoy a stop at GUM.
Another one of Moscow’s uber popular shopping areas is the pedestrian street Arbat. Restaurants, clothing stores and souvenir shops line this street, along with outdoor vendors hawking prints and paintings. This is where you go to find souvenirs if you don’t have the time or energy to trek over to the Izmailovo renok. Souvenirs here won’t be inexpensive, but they are easily accessible and you can be sure the shopkeepers will know enough English to be able to help you. Plus it’s just a fun, beautiful street to walk down and you will run into many other tourists here. If you are an American expat missing the English language, this is where you go to hear English spoken in spurts around you. Thank you, tourists.
Izmailovo renok is a fabulous place to shop if you are looking for inexpensive souvenirs and I highly recommend this stop. You have to head away from the center of Moscow to get there, but it’s so worth it if you trust your level of Russian to get you there. (hint: Don’t get off at the Izmailovsky metro stop, even though that sounds like the logical place to stop. Get off at Partizanskaya metro and exit the building. Head left and you can follow signs to the renok.) If you visit on a weekend (and you must always go early, this shopping area doesn’t stay open late) you will be greeted with hundreds of vendors selling everything from antiques to rugs to old Soviet propaganda posters to stacking matryoshka dolls and fake Faberge eggs. This is one of my favorite places in all of Moscow. In addition to the shopping you can also visit the stunning Izmailovo kremlin that is well worth your visit. There is a small fee (around 20 cents) to enter the shopping renok from the front. If you happen to wander in from the kremlin side, there is no fee.
This is just a mall like you would find in any big city. Regular name brand stores that you are used to finding anywhere. But it’s fun and fancy and easily accessible with public transportation. Malls like Evropsky show off Moscow’s love of all things beautiful and sparkly.
You might get hungry while you are in Moscow, right? Well, even if you aren’t hungry, a visit to the largest Auchan grocery store in the center of Moscow is a sight to behold and definitely an experience. Shopping here on any given day of the week, at any time of day, is like Black Friday shopping in the States. Truly this is grocery shopping like you have never experienced before. Every single time I entered the building I marveled at the fact that so many people could all be shopping at once, and wondered why Auchan hadn’t opened another store in the center of Moscow! As Europe’s largest city, Moscow does have more than enough people to keep a grocery store in business! This shopping trip isn’t for the faint of heart, however. You’ve been warned!
These are just a few of hundreds of places to shop while in Moscow, but they are some of the highlights and you should definitely check them out! Have you been to Moscow before? What were your favorite places to shop?