Having lived in Saint Petersburg for 5 years I’ve often asked myself what I should buy as gifts for people at home. People who visited the city often asked me what souvenirs to buy and where to buy them. And to be honest, I had some trouble answering this question. I had to think about it. I knew one thing for sure: with a few exceptions all these souvenir shops in the center of the city overcharge you and don’t sell quality products (leaving aside some exceptions).
In my opinion the nicest thing to bring home from Saint Petersburg is something that was made in the city and something that has a story to it.
Good options are:
- Fashion from Local Designers
- Coffee mugs, with a unique print on them
- Designer postcards
- Local Craftsmen markets
- Attributes from FC Zenit
back to top
How cool is it to wear your own designer clothes? Quite cool I think, but not something that most people are likely able to afford. In Saint Petersburg, however, local designers sell their clothes and accessories for reasonable prices. Why not buy a souvenir that you will actually use!
Where to Buy Local Fashion
Address: Admiralteysky Canal Embankment, 2
New Holland Island, The Bottle, second floor (Google Maps)
At 8-store they specialize in minimalistic clothing from Russian designers. To see what I mean, have a look at their website.
Like 8-store, Freedom Store also sells clothes from different Russian designers. They have 2 stores, one in Saint Petersburg and one in Ekaterinburg.
Freedom Store also has a webshop. Their website is only in Russian though.
Mylnaya Belka is located in Loft Project Etazhi, which is a hub for hipsters and likeminded people in the center of Saint Petersburg. If you like to support local businesses, this hub is a great place to eat, drink and shop.
The self-declared mission of Mylnaya Belka is to sell designer clothes at mainstream prices. They sell an interesting blend of foreign and Russian designs
Like Mylnaya Belka, Otdel is also located at Loft Project “Etazhi.” The difference is that Otdel sells clothes for men. The selection includes a lot of skater clothes with Asian motif and artwork-inspired prints.
Usta k Ustam
Usta is the poetical word for mouth in Russian, so Usta k Ustam literally means mouth to mouth. At this mono-brand women’s store, they sell affordably priced beautiful, bright clothes.
Fligel Store calls themself a “secret clothing store” that brings young designers together. They exclusively sell women’s clothing.
Maker Designer Loft
Maker Designer Loft is a space with a nice view on the Field of Mars (Marsovo Pole In Russian). This beautiful green square that is named after Mars, the Roman god of war, is an oasis of quiet in this busy metropolis.
The artistic space at Maker Designer Loft houses not only a clothing store with Russian designer clothing, but also an art gallery, a flower shop and a beauty studio. Besides all that, They also have excellent coffee here.
They sell beautiful inspiring things here at good prices, but if you really want to find a bargain you should visit this place during their amazing sales, when they take up to 50% off regular prices! As Saint Petersburg gets frequent, unexpected rain, step into this place to shop until it stops.
Luglook, Fashion in the North of the City
Address: Ulitsa Baykonurskaya 14 (ground floor in Shopping Mall “Continent”, 10 minutes by foot from subway station Komendantsky Prospekt) and Planernaya Ulitsa, 59, Shopping Mall Monpasye (17 minutes by foot from subway station Komendantsky Prospekt)
Unlike previously mentioned clothing places Luglook is located far outside of the center, but at Russialounge, we believe there is life outside of the city center too.
Luglook occupies a huge space, over 800 square meters. What’s really cool about this place is that there are actual designers working here. That’s right, you can watch them creating new pieces. And, if you like what you see, you can immediately buy it and take it home with you as a precious souvenir. In the evenings, fashion shows and workshops take place here. If you want to check available events that might interest you, it’s best to check their page on Vkontakte.
Coffee Mugs With A Print
back to top
At some of the Bukvoed (Буквоед) bookstores, there is a great collection of coffee mugs with Saint Petersburg and Russian motifs printed on them. When you’re back at home sipping a nice cup of coffee or tea, there is no better way to remember your stay in Russia than holding such a beautiful mug. The widest selection of coffee mugs with good prints on them can be found at this Bukvoed store:
Address: Ligovsky Prospekt 10/118 (just near Vosstaniya Square)
They’re not cheap though: a mug will set you back about 500 rubles.
Saint Petersburg is a very artistic city, especially around the city center. But how do you convey the city’s artistic talent to your friends and family back home?
Well, you could send them a postcard. The selection of postcards you can find in the city is state of the art. I highly recommend you visit the Dom Knigi bookstore, as it has the best selection of postcards, including beautiful photos of the city’s architecture, photos of paintings from the city’s museums, and creative designs made by locals. The Zinger Building, where Dom Knigi is located on the top floor, also houses the Vkontakte headquarters. In my opinion, this is one of the city’s most gorgeous buildings.
Address: Nevsky Prospekt 28
If you’re the festival type of person and prefer to meet many different Russian craftsmen and have a look at their products, you might want to visit craftsmen’s fair. For a list and description of craftmen’s fairs in the city, we recommend you check out kudago’s overview of fairs in Saint Petersburg. Unfortunately, the overview is only in Russian. Drop me a line if you’re unsure what a particular fair is about and I’ll be happy to help. Unfortunately, the overview is in Russian only. Drop me a line if you’re unsure what a particular fair is about, I’ll be happy to help.
The Biggest Handmade Festival
On 1-2 July an enormous festival with local craftsmen will take place in Saint Petersburg. If you happen to be in town during these days,this is your chance to see a lot of local craftsmen.
Attributes from FC Zenit
back to top
According to some, FC Zenit is the fifth most popular football club in Europe. While football is stably the most popular sport in the world, you might be able to make someone very happy with an original Zenit attribute.
If you want to attend a Zenit game yourself, which I recommend even if you’re not a huge football fan, please check out my blog post about how to buy a ticket for a Zenit home match.
If you’re looking to buy items from FC Zenit, you should go to one of the official Zenit stores in the city center. The club’s website lists all shop locations.
The most famous Zenit store in the city is located on Nevsky Prospekt.
Address: Nevsky prospekt 20
On the website you can also find the items they sell, as well as the prices.
back to top
There is no place in Russia, or maybe even in the world, with as many artists as Saint Petersburg. Talented people from all over Russia come to Saint Petersburg to see all the high-quality art and beautiful architecture the city has to offer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that prices for artwork in Russia are much lower than in most western countries.
There are several places to buy art in Saint Petersburg. One of them is on the street where artists sell sights of the city. Be careful when buying art on the street. Sellers may claim they’re selling you an original work of art but, in fact, it may be a mass production. The painting below I bought in front of the Catholic Church of St. Catherine on Nevsky Prospekt.
There are also numerous web shops that sell local art in Saint Petersburg. A social media group, like this one on Vkontakte, which is in Russian only, can give you a good impression of what’s for sale and for what price.
The more interesting and expensive art is, of course, not sold on the street, but in galleries.
DiDi Art Gallery focusses on art from Leningrad and Moscow from the second half of the 20th century. Browse their website to see exactly what that means.
Folk Gallery Mansarda Khudoznikov (Мансарда Художников)
Address: Bolshaya Pushkarskaya 10 (on Petrogradka island)
Mansarda was opened in 2001. At this gallery, the focus is on modern art and they often organize exhibitions.
Cosmetics From Saint Petersburg
back to top
Many people are unaware of this fact, but during the Soviet period, Saint Petersburg was famous for its cosmetics. Nowadays the only store in town that exclusively sells cosmetics from Saint Petersburg is “Peterburgskaya Kosmetika”
Some Local Brands of Cosmetics
Laboratorium is a popular brand of cosmetics based in Saint Petersburg. Their founder, Maria Rumyantseva, studied to be a lawyer, but discovered that she had very different talents as well. Their hit product is the ‘urgent rejuvenation cream’ (крем для срочного омоложения), which is quite popular among Russian women. A small tube of ‘urgent rejuvenation cream’ should cost you 400-500 rubles, but that is just a small sacrifice for eternal youth, isn’t it? Also, the ‘raspberry sugar scrub for sweet dreams’ (малиновый сахарный скраб для сладких грез) sells very well.
Another popular local brand of cosmetics is called ’11 utra’ (11 утра), which means ’11 am’ .
Here is their website.
According to their founders, this hour of the day is particularly appreciated by citizens of Saint Petersburg, so much so that they wanted to be associated with this time.
At 11, they don’t just sell cosmetics, but also all kinds of small minimalistic design items. Look at their website to see what I mean. Their globe-shaped homemade soaps look great and cost just 250 rubles. They don’t currently have a physical store, so you either can arrange to meet them for free at subway station Devyatkino or send a courier to another point in the city.
A more traditional, and less tongue-in-cheek, example of a brand of cosmetics from Saint Petersburg is Nevskaya Kosmetika.
From looking at it, you will notice that this brand is still associated with Soviet times when companies were not looking to make a profit. A tube of their Almond Facial Cream will set you back just 51 rubles, that’s less than 1 US dollar! For this price, don’t expect some super sexy packaging. It comes in a rather plain tube, but with a great product in it. Nevskaya Kosmetika products are for sale at the above-mentioned store “Peterburgskaya Kosmetika”. Their products are also sold at big chain drug stores like Spektr (спектр), but we recommend you visit “Peterburgskaya Kosmetika”, as they offer the entire product line.
Another locally famous brand, which is sold at the same store, is Levrana Natural. As the name indicates, they sell products with natural ingredients. The brand was founded in 2013 by a couple who, after the birth of their daughter, were looking for more ecological responsible products at reasonable prices. Since they were unable to find them, they decided to make their own. The entire line of products is guaranteed to be free of petrochemical products, harmful surfactants and animal products. Their products are not tested on animals either. These natural ingredients have a very Russian connotation. For example, for a mere 300 rubles, the Polar Birch Tree Deodorant makes for a great souvenir or gift because the birch tree is considered to be the most Russian of all trees.
back to top
Vodka is probably not going to be the most original gift to bring home from Russia. It is, however, a gift that many people will appreciate. Buying vodka is pretty common in Russia, so you don’t need to go to a special store for it. At a good supermarket, you will be able to find a large selection of different vodkas. Check out my blog post about supermarkets in Saint Petersburg for more information on finding a good store.
You’ll probably be surprised with the wide range of vodka Russian supermarkets offer. The difference in price and quality is significant, but all of them are safe (products in Russia must meet certain quality standards, as I described in my blog post about bottled water in Russia).
I hope I’ve given you some inspiration to wander off the beaten track to buy your gifts and souvenirs in Saint Petersburg, somewhere other than the souvenir shops around Nevsky Prospekt.
I’d be very curious to hear what you bought as a gift or souvenir in Saint Petersburg. Leave a comment below. If you have any questions, you can leave them in the comment below as well; we try to respond to them quickly.