“Moscow is the capital of Russia” – the thing that everybody knows from school. But it is not only the capital in an administrative sense, Moscow has always been the center of trade – during the Soviet times many people from all over the country traveled to the nation’s capital to buy goods that were scarce in other parts of U.S.S.R. Although the long lines and shortages of Soviet Union are in the past, Moscow continues to remain the “go-to” city for shopping not only in Russia but also in Eastern Europe. The Russian capital still has a long way to go, compared to Milan, New York or Paris, but when you travel to Moscow you will surely find anything you need.
Shopping in the Moscow historic center
The Historic center of Moscow attracts thousands of tourists from all over the world every year. Picturesque streets with buildings of Ancient, Imperial and Soviet eras one next to the other - an incredible combination of antique and modern that will definitely leave one in awe and amazement. Historic center of any city has the greatest concentration of museums and luxurious hotels and Moscow is not an exception. So, it is no wonder that besides the museums this part of the city provides a wide variety of shopping opportunities.
The most well-known among the shopping malls in Moscow is undoubtedly GUM (Main Universal Store). The eye-catching building constructed in the end of the19th century is located right on the Red Square. Its exterior in a pseudo-Russian style makes GUM look like a fairy tale house, and its interior reminds visitors of the Lafayette Galleries in Paris. This famous department store offers all kinds of merchandise, luxury shops, restaurants and much more. It is worth noting, that the decorations inside the store are constantly changing in accordance with holidays, seasons and events, so every time you come to GUM it will look different.
The other famous department store is TSUM (Central Universal Department Store) which is just a 15 minute walk from the Red Square and Kremlin and is situated next to the famous Bolshoi Theatre. TSUM is a six-story historical Gothic Revival style building that was built in the beginning of the 20th century by British merchants Andrew Muir and Archibald Mirrielees. Nowadays, TSUM houses more than 1500 leading fashion brands of clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry, perfumes and cosmetics. This shopping centre is also known as an art space due to its exhibitions, art projects and fashion events which many notable couturiers have participated in.
Across the street, right next to the famous Metropol hotel there is a small cobble stone walk-way hidden behind an ancient gate - Tretyakovsky Proezd (Tretyakov Drive). The name, as you might have guessed, was given after Tretyakov brothers - the founders of the Tretyakov Gallery. This little street was constructed in the 19th century by these two famous merchants-patrons. Initially it was intended as a trading street and currently maintains the status as one of the most expensive and posh streets in Moscow. As in the past, Treryakovsky Proyezd offers luxury high-end goods – Yves Saint Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana, Chopard…you can even buy Bentley, Ferrari or Maserati here;) But, of course, most of the people come here for window shopping – just to feel the atmosphere of luxury and admire the beauty of this historic and at the same time contemporary street.
If you walk by the TSUM building along Petrovka street you will find another shopping place with historical value – Petrovsky Passage. This building is somewhat reminiscent of GUM as it is also constructed as a long gallery with a glass roof, and connects two streets (Petrovka and Neglinnaya). This Moscow shopping mall as well as the streets nearby are home to luxury boutiques, such as Tiffani, Chanel, Cartier to name a few.
The most luxurious and expensive street in Moscow is Stoleshnikov Lane. This city street is considered to be one of the world’s most expensive alongside with such notable contestants as New Bond Street in London, Champs-Élyséesin in Paris or 5th Avenue in New York. Even if you are not going to buy Hermes silk scarf or Louis Vuitton bag, this street is definitely worth taking a walk on.
Detsky Mir (Central Children's Store)
If you are traveling with children they most likely will be bored of museums and boutiques really fast. But Moscow historic center has something to offer to them as well:) If you walk along Teatralny Proezd passing by Bolshoi Theatre, Metropol and Tretyakovsky Proezd you will end up right at the Central Children’s Store (or Detsky Mir). This huge department store was built during the Soviet period of Russia, in 1957, and became (and still remains) the dream land for every Russian kid and most adults too:). Nowadays, the store not only has toys and goods for kids and babies, but also lots of interactive, educational and entertaining projects for any age, with numerous family friendly cafes, restaurants and cinemas. It even houses the Museum of Childhood which among other things displays old toys of the Soviet era that were sold here from the very first days of its opening. When you enter Central Childen’s Store you will be blown away by its interiors – 7 floors under a huge dome with a stained glass, based on art works of the famous Russian fairy tale illustrator Ivan Bilibin, and may be the largest mechanical pendulum clock you have ever seen! In addition to all this Detsky Mir has an observation deck where you can admire the breathtaking view of Moscow’s city centre.
Moscow Modern Shopping Malls
At this point you might be thinking that Moscow center has only luxurious boutiques with transcendental prices. Well, Moscow proves its title as one of the world’s most expensive cities, but it doesn’t mean that we are all driving Bentley's and wearing Prada shoes and Brioni suits:) Of course, there are many other shopping malls with a wider range of brands and more reasonable prices. No matter what part of Moscow you are choosing to stay in, there will be at least one shopping center nearby: some of them are bigger - some are smaller, some of them are more expensive – some are cheaper but all are very modern and diverse. Below is a list of most interesting Moscow shopping malls that offer the greatest variety of goods and services and simply have everything for any taste and budget.
This shopping mall is located just a couple of minutes away from the Red Square – on Manezhnaya Square, or rather under it:). If you walked around the Kremlin you most likely noticed the fabulous fountain - a half sphere with a horseman on top known as “The World Clock”. This fountain is in fact the dome of the atrium of the underground Moscow shopping mall - “Okhotny Ryad”. The mall has 3 underground floors every one of them represents one of 3 eras: the bottom level -17th century, middle level - Classicism and the upper level - Modern. Even though this shopping mall was built in the 1990s it still has the festive vibes of old Moscow: marble, sculptures, beautiful fountain on the bottom floor, stained glass etc. The range of shopping possibilities is really impressive for such a modest(in terms of size) store. You can find here many popular brands with different price segments: from Zara and Bershka to Guess and Calvin Klein, from worldwide known brands to young Russian designers. There are several cafes and restaurants in the mall’s food court for any taste: from McDonalds and KFC to Italian and Asian restaurants.
The other shopping mall which is worth mentioning is - Evropeysky. It is located near the Kievsky Railway station and Kievskaya metro station, and within a couple of minutes from several popular hotels. Besides its good location this shopping center offers an enormous range of shops, brands, services, restaurants and entertainment. Moreover, it is really beautifully decorated inside which makes walking around there even more pleasant. In contrast, with Okhotny Ryad, Evropeysky has both low-price and high-price segments: you can find everything here: from H&M and TopShop to Patrizia Pepe and Furla, from Oysho to Victoria Secrets and from NYX to Chanel. This shopping center also has a cinema (including a VIP cinema) and different entertainment options such as ice rink, bowling hall, playing areas for kids of different ages, gaming machines, carousels and much more.
“Afimall city” is a modern shopping mall located in the famous business district of Moscow – The Moscow International Business Center aka Moscow city. This huge and modern high-tech building is in an ideal harmony with skyscrapers that surround it. This makes Afimall interesting to visit not only due to the wide range of stores but as it provides an opportunity to visit a legendary and controversial architectural project of Moscow that continues to raise a lively debate about its compatibility to the Moscow appearance. Among many things that Afimall offers, such as cinema, different entertainment for kids and adults, you can also go up to the observation deck on 89th floor of the Federation Tower to admire a bird's eye view of Moscow. Two metro stations Delovoy Tsentr and Vystavochnaya have exits that lead straight to the shopping mall so you will not get lost;).
This is a new shopping mall located near the CSKA metro station which is a bit away from city center, yet it is still worth a visit. Firstly, as the malls above, it offers a great variety of goods for any budget, it has a cinema and food courts with lots of cafes and restaurants. But there is one thing that makes it special – a huge, 25 meters high aquarium which is located in the main atrium. The aquarium is home to 1,500 species of fish and if you wait long enough you can even witness the fish feeding process as divers swim around in this enormous tank.
There is a small chance that you are leaving Russia without grabbing a few souvenirs for your family, friends or just yourself. So, the question is not whether should you buy souvenirs but most likely – WHERE you should buy them:) Generally you can find lots of souvenirs all around the historic city centre where there is the largest concentration of tourists.
First of all, when you are walking around Kremlin, Red Square and GUM, don’t forget to visit Nikolskaya street. This is one of the oldest streets in Moscow, it starts from Red Square and goes alongside GUM with lots of cafes and souvenir shops located on it. Moreover, Nikolskaya St. is beautifully decorated and creates a festive atmosphere, so it is no wonder it became a kind of Mecca, where all the fans came together during the FIFA World Cup in 2018. Don’t miss the chance to walk along it anyway;)
Old Arbat Street
Old Arbat street is famous not only for lots of souvenir shops, art markets and street musicians, but also for its beautiful architecture and special atmosphere. This street was home to many of Russian cultural figures, musicians and writers. To this day, it still mysteriously keeps the vibes of artistry, rebelliousness and freedom. The street is located between 2 metro stations: Arbatskaya and Smolenskaya – pick one of them and you are there!
If you have enough time in Moscow and you want to buy souvenirs at a reasonable price you have to visit the flea market in Izmailovo Kremlin. The predominant majority of the souvenirs that you see in different shops around the city have come from this market. This is the place of gathering for various craftsmen from ancient Russian cities where old crafts and traditions are still preserved. You can find here literally everything: matryoshka, plates, toys, boxes painted with Gzhel and Palekh, Birch bark crafts and many other traditional Russian things. Besides, you can visit the antique market where lots of memorable things from the Soviet period such as badges and coins, china and interior items, books and Soviet posters can be found. During your visit to this market you will be able to enjoy the architecture of Izmailovo Kremlin which looks kind of like a gingerbread house or a fairy tale palace. You can take a masterclass in handcrafts or taste traditional foods and drinks.
As you may see Moscow has something to offer to everybody regardless of their age, budget, tastes or travel purpose. Whatever place you choose for shopping in Moscow you will surely find not only what you were looking for but much more:)