What to Buy in St Petersburg

Palace Bridge in St Petersburg | © Pixabay
Palace Bridge in St Petersburg | © Pixabay | © KiraHundeDog / Pixabay
Photo of Anastasiia Ilina
30 June 2018

Shopping in a new city can be frustrating, especially if you’re looking for something unique. Souvenir shops can be especially frustrating, offering the same boring souvenirs you can get in any other place. Luckily, not all is lost. In St Petersburg, you can find many artisan and unique objects by which to remember your visit.

Lomonosov porcelain

The 18th century saw an increasing popularity of Chinese porcelain in Europe. Taking it a step further, Empress Elizaveta (daughter of Peter the Great) commissioned Russian scientists to find their own recipe for porcelain. So they did, making Russia a producer of porcelain. The main factory is still based in St Petersburg, making anything from figurines to full tea sets. There are various outlet shops in the city. The addresses can be found via the website.

The traditional cobalt-net pattern | © AL Silonov / WikiCommons

Krupskaya chocolate

Russia may not be famous for its chocolate, but nevertheless it is delicious and a lovely gift to bring back. For authenticity, shop for Krupskaya products that are made right in the city. No need to go very far, as most supermarkets will have a large selection, ranging from small chocolate bars to big boxes of chocolate that are an excellent and beautiful gift. One of the most iconic chocolate bars is called Alenka and features the face of a young girl in a headscarf on the packet. Shop around, and you’ll surely able to find it.

Baltic amber

If fossilised sap doesn’t sound particularly appealing at first, then the first place you’ll need to go is to the Amber Room in Catherine Palace. It is a room completely decorated with intricately carved amber panels, vases, sculptures – you name it. A small piece of amber jewellery would be a great way to remember your visit. Moreover, amber is a useful souvenir, as it can make a lovely fashion accessory. In St Petersburg, there are many amber outlets. It is important to watch out for fake amber sellers, so make sure you’ve read through our amber buying guidelines before hitting the market.

Amber necklaces | © kropekk_pl / Pixabay

Tsar’s Vodka

If you’re not planning to travel particularly light, then bringing home a bottle of vodka can be a great souvenir to be enjoyed later with friends. It is also a lovely gift from Russia. There are many vodka brands in Russia, and some come from the St Petersburg region, such as the Tsar’s Vodka produced by Ladoga. It is purified several times and is of the highest quality. Just to clarify, there is also a substance called tsar’s vodka which can melt gold and is highly toxic. Although the name is the same, this is definitely not what the bottles will contain and should not be confused.

Fabergé eggs

Don’t get too excited, these are not actual Fabergé eggs, although those do make appearances at auctions for those who have millions to spend. We’re talking about souvenir replicas of originals that can be used as jewellery boxes. Each egg has a story behind it, as they were all gifts that symbolised something important to the receiver. The best way to pick is by visiting the Fabergé Museum in St Petersburg where you can learn about the history and see a large collection on display. If inspired, there is a gift shop in the same building where you can find replicas of the museum exhibits.

A collection of Faberge replicas | © Thomas Kohler / Flickr

Ballerina dolls

St Petersburg proudly boasts an exciting theatre scene. One of the greatest ballet and opera theatres, The Mariinsky, is located here. The repertoire has many popular ballets that are definitely worth seeing if the chance arises. To remember this experience, a small decorative ballerina doll can be an excellent souvenir. They are usually made of porcelain and copy the costumes from famous shows. If your space is limited, small dolls come in the form of Christmas decorations and can become a beautiful addition to our Christmas tree. They can be found in the theatre shops, but also in souvenir shops around the city.

Matryoshka dolls

Of course, Matryoshka dolls, or nesting dolls as they are often called, can be found just about in any souvenir shop. Their price range can vary greatly, and so does the quality. For an alternative to the likely China-made cheap ones, there is a workshop in St Petersburg called The White Nights, which produced beautiful hand-painted dolls. Although they are on the higher end of the price range, each doll, up until the tiniest one, is painted with fine detail and decorated with gold leaf. Their themes range from St Petersburg landmarks to ballets and fairytales.

Artisan nesting dolls | © Arpingstone / WikiCommons

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