Izmaylovsky Market

Market in Meshchansky & Basmanny
Image by Jonathan Smith / Getty Images

Never mind the kitschy faux 'tsar's palace' it surrounds, this is the ultimate place to shop for matryoshka dolls, military uniforms, icons, Soviet badges and some real antiques. Huge and diverse, it is almost a theme park, including shops, cafes and a couple of not terribly exciting museums.

Serious antiquarians occupy the 2nd floor of the wooden trade row surrounding the palace, but for really good stuff you need to come here at an ungodly hour on Saturday morning and compete with pros from Moscow galleries. Keep in mind that Russia bans the export of any item older than 100 years. Feel free to negotiate, but don’t expect vendors to come down more than 10%. This place is technically open every day, but many vendors come out only on weekends, when the selection is greater.