I will be in St. Petersburg in July as part of a Baltic cruise, and will go on a 2-day guided tour. We are interested in purchasing a few inexpensive Matryoshki dolls (nesting dolls) and other souvenirs but only have a very limited opportunity on the tour for shopping. I wonder if it is easier to buy Russian souvenirs using Euros or Dollars without having to get Rubles for the St. Petersburg tours where we will have a limited time to shop or spend Rubles. Are the dolls and other Russian souvenirs available in Tallinn or Helsinki where we will have a little more flexibility in time and can use Euros? If so how do the prices and availability compare with the prices and available from a cruise ship tours of St. Petersburg? What should we expect to pay for the dolls?
We bought our inexpensive souvenir nesting dolls at one of the many kiosks around the Church of Spilled Blood (I'm sure a tour will take you there). We paid in rubles. There is a good ATM at 16 Nevsky Prospect (only about 2 blocks away frrom the church). It's across the canal and 1 block north on Nevsky.
don't worry; tour companies ALWAYS make sure you go to a tourist clip joint to buy souvenirs. We had one billed as a rest stop where there would be tea. Well sort of. It was mostly a huge souvenir shop. If you buy around the Church on Spilled Blood from the kiosks, bargain. I paid about 30% more than many shops charged for a little music box for my granddaughter. No tragedy but I felt silly. The sales person tried to sell the one next to the one I bought for even more; she claimed it had been created by an artisan and not mass produced. It was obviously from the same assembly line, probably in China, as the rest of them. You will have plenty of opportunities to buy this stuff. I did buy a cute costume for my granddaughter -- embroidered white peasant blouse and satin jumper with embroidered tape on it and a headdress; the kid loves it. Got it at a souvenir shop on Nevsky Prospect across the Fontanka, so not in the center of town. Alas her other grandmother got her an almost identical music box on HER trip to Russia so she now has two.
The tour company with stop for sure. Don't buy on the ship. Very expensive, and they say you're getting a deal.
Are you taking an NCL tour or a private tour? My husband and I took the TJ Travel two day tour with the Faberge Museum. Please PM me if you want to know more.
We had about 45 minutes of shopping opportunity on the second day. Exactly the same stuff (and then some) for sale as on the cruise ship but at a cheaper price. My parents, on a previous trip, had bought several items for us, so this time I only purchased a few items - several sets of amber earrings and a necklace and a few decorative wooden eggs.
ps, we were on the Getaway. It had trouble docking in Warnemunde. Thus, no day in Berlin. Had half day in Warnemunde/Rostock the next day. Ended up not docking in Tallinn.
We bought a gorgeous amber necklace -- I am sure it was no bargain but it was not something I could easily get here and not in the US and I love it.
By far the cheapest place we found was Ismailova Market or Izmailovsky:
We recently got back from St. Petersburg, and had an excellent 2 - full days tour with a Russian tour company, TJ Travel. Needless to say, but dolls were everywhere. The prices were about the same at the places the tour company took us as we found at the shops by the dock. The prices were higher on the ship.