Best Russian Souvenirs for Men, Women and Children
Russian Gifts and Souvenirs – What is the Best Choice?
Russian Gifts and Souvenirs – Overview
Travelling to Russia? It is natural that you’ll bring some mementos to remind you of this journey. But which one is the best?
Let’s start from popular ones; most of you, for sure, must have heard about matryoshka, vodka and balalaika. These are classic souvenirs that invoke a strong association with "Russianness".
But they also seem cliché ones. In fact, there are far more popular ones in Russia. What are those? Let's find out!
Wich gift would be the best to bring? That depends on who you plan to offer it. We have carefully selected the best original Russian souvenirs and gifts that you would like to bring and grouped them in categories for men, women and children.
Best Russia gifts for women
Pavloposad shawls and scarfs
Some of your friends (those who like to wear handmade accessories) may really like to have a scarf or shawl from Pavlov Posad (not to be confused with Sergyiev Posad) – a small town 80 kilometers away from Moscow. Shawls and scarfs are available in a variety of colors, and are traditionally made of wool or thin silk. This is not a souvenir to hang on your wall - shawls and headscarfs are very fasionable and can be worn with casual everyday clothes, giving you an unique stylish appearance, without looking old-fashioned.
Their pattern vary from traditional Russian painting (Khokhloma, Kstovo) motives, to modern neutral colors – perfect fit for casual attire, as well as for female buisness dress. Even the non-traditional styled shawls are still higher quality than the ones you can find anywhere esle – because in slavic culture, shawl was and elements of womens dress, for more than a thousand years.
- You don’t have to go to Pavlov Posad to get this accessories; Pavloposad Company have their shops in Moscow, and many other cities in Russia!
Сentral brand stores in Moscow:
- Vetoshny st., 7, Nikolskiy Passage Shopping Centre (near GUM)
- Kamergerskiy st.,6/5, (on the right of Starbucks - on the second floor)
Russian Fur Coats and Sable Hats
From medieval times, Russia was widely known in the West as a top supplier of natural furs and leathers. Russian tradition of making Russian Fur Coats have more than 1000 years history!
The posh and chic coats made of natural furs by the best Russian artisans - are the best gift for all women. Even if you are from a southern country where weather is hot all year round, it may serve its purpose when you will have to go to some other northern country in winter. Russian fur coats are the best; however, beware of fake coats made in China from synthetic fur.
- Be aware that it may be difficult for non-specialist to see difference between solid natural fur-made coat and cheap synthetic analog, because modern technology is very advanced. Be careful – many shop attendants, even in big shop, may try to trick foreigner, so we advise taking your Russian friends or colleagues with you.
Quality fur coat stores in Moscow:
- "Dynasty Furs" – metro station Marksistskaya, Taganskaya st., 2. Shopping center "Taganka".
- "Mehgrad Shuba" – Kolpachny st. 9A, metro station Kitay-Gorod.
Russian artisans were widely known for making decorative jewelry boxes and the most impressive of them belong to two traditional schools – Palekh and Fedoskino.
Russian boxes are small containers for storing a variety of things, but usually they are used for storage of the most precious mementos, important documents, jewelry, old coins and other small “treasures”. During one of our Moscow St. Petersburg Tours, stop by one of many Moscow souvenir shops and take you time to choose, or even order a customized box with your own photo in ancient Russian style!
- Beware of counterfeit from China. However, this ones will be much easier to identify than fur coats – true Russian Artisan-made Boxes will NEVER contain any paint spills, broken edges, and other defects – the quality control is strict.
Where to buy:
- Izmailovo Flea Marker.
- Also most of the major souvenir shops offer such boxes.
Medovukha, Vodka and Kvass
Yeah, in that order precisely. Medovukha and only then Vodka.
Medovukha was Russian drink #1 long before Vodka. Russian Drinking Culture originated from Mead consuming rituals of Varyags – Viking founders of Ancient Russia.
It’s similar to wine (not strong spirits) with unique honey taste. An exclusive gift every men would covet.
Vodka would also be a great option – but keep in mind, not all vodkas are equally good in Russia. Drinking counterfeit vodka may cause blind.
To avoid this, we advise you purchasing Vodka only in specialized wine stores or large supermarkets.
Good middle-segment vodkas include: Zelyonaya Marka, Russkiy Standart (Russian Standard), Belenkaya, Stolichnaya, Smirnoff, Evreyskiy Standart (kosher vodka made of matzo).
Premium class segment vodkas are Beluga, Stolichnaya Gold.
- If your friends are Muslim, or don't drink alcohol for other reasons, you may want to surprise them with “Kvass”. It is an ancient Russian non-alcoholic drink made from bread by means of fermentation. It has a refreshing taste resembling Cola, but is made from natural ingredients and contains almost no sugar.
Where to buy:
- In almost any supermarket or convenience store across Russia.
Red Caviar is a traditional Nordic sea delicacy. You can find it in any seaside country in the North. But black caviar yielded from rare sturgeons in the Caspian sea has the taste that gourmets around the world desire.It has unique "grainy" texture, a little salty by its nature and swell taste. Historically, black caviar was considered the food of Tzars, boyars and foreign officials visiting the Tzar court, and today – it is still one of the must-have accessories of a "celebrity living". It is definitely not cheap, because of the rarity of Caspian sturgeon – prices start from $150 per a small can.
- Best consumed with ice-cold vodka, a can of this delicacy will be a great gift for your boss or business partner back in your country!
Where to buy:
Specialised caviar shops in Moscow – like the chain owned by Sakhalin Fishing Company and selling under "Красная икра" (Red Caviar) brand. It is represented by some 50 shops in Moscow. Its most central (but not the biggest) shop is at Bolshaya Polyanka st., 28. For a complete list of its stores visit their website (available in Russian).
- In large supermarkets, such as "Azbuka Vkusa" (Азбука Вкуса).
Metal Tea-glass holder
Have you ever been on a long distance train in Russia? You might remember those solid metal glass holders – they look really brutal! Yeah, this is some kind of completely unnecessary SWAG item. But you know what? It is really Russian. Or even Soviet. You will hardly find something like this elsewhere. Germans use same thing for expensive beer bottles, but only Russians can drink tea from glasses with a solid metallic glass holder every day!
- This soviet accessory may be hard to find in common souvenir shops; if you want one, you may need to go to ordinary Russian convenience store or to book a long distance train trip as buy one from your train attendant.
Where to buy:
- Ask a train attndant in any of long-distance train sleeping carts.
- Or, alternatively, in some dish or hardware store.
Most of Russian watches, instead of quartz, use mechanical jeweled movement and are sold for prices between $30 and $600. Many of watchbuyers consider this to be an outstanding value for a quality mechanical watch. High-end luxury watches are also available. Russian watches designs tend to be strong and functional. If you like diver, aviator or military-style watches, you will probably like Russian watches.
The most worldwide-known brands include: Buran, Shturmanskie, Vostok, Gagarin, Slava - these watches have strong associationg with men of dangerous workfields - pilos, racers, divers, cosmonauts, the military. The old soviet brand Polyot has been reorganized into Volmix Watch Company, which produce other famous Russian watch brand: Aviator
Official dealer for the most of Russian watch brands - "Russian Watches".
Offline official stores in russia:
- Adress in Moscow: Leningrad prospect, 10, Belorusskaya metro station, Moscow
- In St.Petersburg: 55 Lermontovskiy Prospect, Baltiyskaya Metro Station, Saint-Petersburg
Best RussiaN gifts for kids
Russian chocolate is very different from the chocolate you can find worldwide. Founded in the mid 19th century by a German – Theodor Einem, these chocolate recipes evolved after the Great October Revolution. Usage of locally-grown ingredients creates unique taste of Russian Chocolate of the most famous Russian Confectionery Factory.
One of the Red October Factory masterpieces is the "Alyonka" chocolate. Or, as an alternative, Rot-Front bars – chocolate bars that were distributed among soldiers during WWII, and its recipe did not change over time. If your kind like sweets, get them some stuff, which they hardly could find in convenience store near their home.
And not only for – there are as lot of variety in Russian chocolates, from delicate boxes with luxury confectionery (A.Korkunov, for example), to dark black chocolate, excellent for consumption with strong coffee.
- Chocolate, Russian or not, have one nasty – it is very likely to melt when left in hot places for a long time. Be careful, if you want not only to taste it in Russia, but also to bring some for your family.
Red October Confectionery brand stores in Moscow:
Nikolskaya ulitsa, 4/5, Moskva (next to the GUM Department store)
- Povarskaya St, 29/36, Moskva, 121069, Barrikadnaya metro station
- Bersenevskaya Emb., 6, – metro station Kropotkinskaya
The tradition of making pennywhistles in the form of a horse, a horse rider, and a bird goes back to the ancient magic ritual images and has to do with the agricultura
l calendar holidays. Later on, little figures lost their magic meaning and turned into toys for children. These are a form of handcraftsmanship particularly present in small Russian towns, for example, Suzdal or Sergiev Posad.
- This toys, however, are a bit old-fashioned and may look somewhat "boring" for older children, and are best for children between 4-8 years old.
Where to buy:
- In small Russian towns, where meking these is a traditional craft.
- If you don' plan to visit any – Izmailovo Flea Market will be a good option.
Pilotka – once just a pilot hat, now have strong association with Russia and WWII - this is a cute hat, and a popular culture souvenir. There is no better way to prove your experience in Russia by showing this unique headwear to your child's classmates.
Or you can buy one for each member of your – it looks cool to be together in soviet-style!
Where to buy:
- Old Arbat Street offers a huge variety of Pilotkas.
- But in general you can get them in any souvenir store in Russia.
Smart Russia Gifts That Suits Everyone
Matryoshkas, Russian nesting dolls! That what comes to your mind when you hear about Russian Dolls. That’s right, matryoshkas are famous and awesome; they are available in a variety of painting styles: from mock-ups on famous politics to the celebrities and even countries. That is a great souvenir that fits almost everyone. But aside from matryoshkas, there are also other type of Russian dolls., worth notice – tin soldiers, miniature figurines of soldiers, mostly from the Napoleonic Wars period, is one of traditional Russian Dolls. You can find them in many souvenir stores, but the best choice is in the Borodino Panoramic Museum, near Victory Park in Moscow.
Doll collectors may also look to the dolls in Russian national costumes, or dolls of Soviet Leaders.The best place to purchase them in Moscow – is Izmailovo Flea Market.
- You can pick whatever you choose when purchasing a classic nesting Russian Doll (matryoshka), it is form and shape that matters, not the painting on it.
Where to buy:
- Izmailovo Flea Market
- Arbat street
- Any souvenir shop
Ushanka – a unique Russian headwear that is perfect to wear in winter, and you wouldn't find this one in the West! It is a simple and at thesame time useful gift, suitable for everyday wearing in winter.
And the latter, Budenovka – associated with Russian Civil War of 1917-1922. It is somthing like lighter-version of Ushanka.This hats were designed by Russian soviet sympatizer - painter Viktor Vasnetsov, with the intent to create an uniform hat that looks different from those White Russian Army wore, and, at the same time – hat that would resemble conical hemets of Bohatyrs – medieval Russian analog of European Knights.
Where to buy:
- Izmailovo Flea Market
- Arbat street
- Any souvenir shop
Traditional Russian footwear, resembling Australian uggs that are popular among modern youth. Valenki are (yet) not so popular in the west, but it is still convenient winter shoes, and can be quite comfy and stylish to wear at home! Cool winter housewear, in which you can go outside, and don't catch cold with your feet!
Traditional Valenki are gray and ugly, and were traditionally a footwear of commoners. You can see the people in the streets of Russia in the old films, wearing Valenki – but today, it is a rare sight.
Instead, nowadays, stylish versions are created that look great and unusual on any occasion. Look at this gorgeous beauty wearing a pair of Russian Valenki:
Modern Valenki is a stylish footwear unique to Russia – brink a pair or two back home, and you will be the most original person!
- Valenki is not a souvenir you can find anywhere. You better go to the specialised shop if you want to buy a good ones – those that are sold on souvenir stands are often poor quality, and cannot fulfill even their main option – protect from cold.
Best choice of Valenki:
- Best choice of Valenki – is in "Russkie Valenki" store, by the adress: Moscow, Warshavskoe rd. , 170А , h1, metro station "Annino"
Samovar (iterally its name means "self-boiler") is a Russian unique kettle used by today's people, mostly for boiling and serving tea. But you can cook food in it, too, and in earlier times cooking food was the main purpose of samovar.
Traditionally samovars in Russia were a matter of status. The more expensive and well-maintained are the samovar was in the house - the more prosperous and succesfull the missus in charge of this house is – or at least in neighbours eyes. There is a huge variety of samovars – from simple utilitarian, made of tin, to true marvels of art, with paintings, reliefs and other things.
The samovars are also divided by what is fueling it – traditional coal-fueled samovars, and more modern, with electric power. Which to choose is up to you – the first are more authentic, and the latter are more easy to operate.
A really useful and solid gift, great addition to any homemaker collection.
- It is a heavy souvenir, even the smallest models of Samovar weigh a lot, but if you want to bring a very special useful gift for someone, this may be a good option to consider.
Where to buy:
- Big souvenir shops, and sometimes hardware stores in small Russian towns.
Imperial Russian Porcelain
Russian Imperial Porcelain is one of the hidden gems of Russia gifts. It is made exclusively at one factory: Handpainted Ceramics Plant in the Lomonosov area and often referred as Lomonosov Porcelain Factory.
Its history goes back to 17th century, when the first Russian female ruler – Empress Elisabeth (Elisaveta Petrovna) ordered to the Russian scientist Dmitriy Vinogradov to develop a technology of making porcelain from our local-produced materials and provided the funds to open the manufactory. Later this manufactory grew into a huge factory, which works even today
Nowadays, Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory produces not only tableware, but also porcelain dolls, decorative statues and many more! You will see its masterpieces in shops across St.Petersbrug and, being sold in other Russian cities. Most of our Moscow St.Petersburg Tours includes a visit to souvenir shop, and our guide will help you to make right choice and buy genuine porcelain, escpecilaly if you are planning to pruschase it in Moscow, where it is hard to find real Imperial Porcelain and not fakes.
- Porcelain is a very fragile matter. Before purchasing something made of it, it would be wise to think about how you are going to transport it.
where to buy:
- Imperial Porcelain Brand Store №1 offers the best choice by the best price. It is the factory store, and its adress is: St.Petersburg, Obukhovskoy oboroni rd., 151. metro station "Lomonosovskaya"
- Official brand shop in Moscow, adress: Tverskaya st. , 27, metro station "Mayakovskaya".
About the author
Diana Zalenskaya, a travel professional and destination expert for Moscow, Russia.