I’ll be honest, up until my first visit to Izmaylovo I never really understood why other people got so excited about going to a market. I couldn’t understand why you’d want to risk getting wet in the rain when you could go to a nice indoor shop with clearly labelled prices? But Izmaylovo had me hooked from the beginning. There is something incredibly charming about its towers, turrets and the narrow lanes of stalls – I always feel a little bit like I’ve stepped into a movie set. It is definitely the place to go for Russian souvenirs, from cold-war memorabilia to amber necklaces and lacquered boxes, you can find it all here.
If you want well-crafted artisan products or antiques there are plenty at Izmaylovo but you can also get some cheap and cheerful gifts for the family too. Haggling seems to be fairly standard practice but at the same time when a stall holder says they can’t drop the price, we take them at their word – they don’t seem to change their mind and knock off extra money just because you keep asking.
A lot of the stall holders (particularly those selling souvenirs) speak a little English and if they don’t they’ll write the price down for you. If you’re hungry there is a row of Shashlik (kebab) stalls with some tables and chairs where you can sit and relax as you eat. As an added bonus there are also toilets on site. If you’re bringing the kids it is worth knowing that Izmaylovo Park is just across the road so once you’ve finished shopping you can take them for a good run around.
One final tip: Izmaylovo seems to have a micro-climate all of its own and is often a good deal chillier than central Moscow. Unless you’re visiting in the middle of summer, I’d wrap up warm!
The nearest metro station is Partisanskaya which is just a couple of minutes walk and you can find it on my map here.