There is good shopping for everyone to enjoy in Kyiv. There are busy main streets with plenty of familiar names including Zara, Bershka, and Mango as well as several markets, with gift ideas for every budget. There are large shopping malls such as SkyMall, Ocean Plaza, Gulliver and Dream Town all with popular high street brands. If you are planning some luxe shopping then Mandarin Plaza and Tsum are ideal as you will find Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Ralph Lauren, and many more top names in the stylish stores.
For many though, Kyiv is perfect because of its outlet shopping. Outlet shopping is relatively new in the city but is already really popular with locals and tourists alike. Manufactura is situated in the suburbs and is the most popular retail outlet. It is styled like a Dutch village with cafés and restaurants as well as shops selling labels like Lacoste, Polo, and Ralph Lauren at great discounted prices. There is a second outlet center in the heart of Kyiv called Privet and this is another great hunting ground with plenty of top brands at great prices.
If you are looking for something traditional to buy as a gift or souvenir, check out the main shopping streets and the markets.
1. Choose some lovely Pysanky eggs
These painted wooden eggs are very special and make a lovely gift. The most beautiful eggs from the Carpathian region in the west of the country where they have been made for centuries. The eggs are hand carved from wood and then painted in vibrant colors. Some eggs are decorated with geometric designs, others with one of the 100 different symbols wishing the recipient good luck and others, decorated with Christian symbols, scenes from nature, flowers, and birds.
2. Buy some Babushka
Everyone is familiar with the sets of Babushka – the handmade nesting dolls in descending sizes that fit perfectly inside each other. There are usually five or more dolls in a set and the different prices are because of the varying complexity of the detailed artistry used. Whilst the colorful design of a peasant woman is the most common, many other sets are themed and include fairy tale characters and even political figures. A set of Babushka is not ideal for children as they are not toys, but as a very special display feature, they are perfect.
3. Admire the handmade lacquer boxes
These attractive wooden boxes are available in a variety of sizes and include sets in descending sizes like the Babushka! Each box is beautifully hand made – usually in birch wood. The boxes are then painstakingly painted with an intricate design, floral decoration or village scene. Once the paint has dried the box is lacquered to preserve the vibrancy of the colors. These boxes are the perfect souvenir as they will remain ‘ looking like new’ for many years to come.
4. Pop a motanky rag doll in your suitcase!
These attractive rag dolls are cleverly made from pieces of material filled with wool that are bound into a human shape and then dressed in colorful scraps of materials. The dolls have no faces and often dressed in a shawl and ‘ochipok’ which is the traditional cap worn by married women. The dolls have been made for centuries and giving a motanky doll has always been viewed as giving a talisman, as they are said to have positive energy. They are often hung on Christmas trees to bring happiness to the family.
5. Pack a bottle of Horilka
This is a very popular alcoholic drink that is made by distilling grain such as wheat and rye. The golden-colored drink is then flavored with honey or sugar beet. It is certainly heady stuff as it averages 40º proof and is said to be the purest alcoholic drink in the world! One popular type of Horilka is Pepper Horilka which has a small red pepper that is visible in the bottle, another version is Pertsivka which is made with chili. Interestingly, the name Horilka comes from the Ukranian word ‘hority’ meaning ‘to burn’! There are several popular brands to watch out for and these include Hetman, Khlibym, Dar, and Khortytsia.
6. Consider some ceramics
Ceramics have been made in the area since early times – the Trypillya period – and today many of the shapes and colors are faithful reproductions of early designs that can be seen in the museums. Kosiv in the west is the main center for ceramics and the pieces from this area usually have a white background with reddish-brown or green designs depicting birds, animals, and people.
7. Treat yourself to some excellent chocolate
Lviv is a town in western Ukraine that has been well known for its chocolate since the Middle Ages. If you were to visit the factory, you would still find the chocolates being made by hand in a centuries’ old tradition using the same recipes too – the result is a bar of truly unique and very tasty chocolate.
8. Try on some wooden jewelry
If you love fun jewelry, you will certainly like the wooden jewelry made in the Carpathian mountain area. The chunky necklaces and bracelets are made from Ukrainian wood that is carved by hand and then painted so each piece is truly unique.
9. Admire the traditional chemise
Embroidery is a very popular handicraft and each region has its designs which include geometric patterns, birds, flowers and rural scenes. The chemise (blouse) is usually decorated with embroidery in traditional color combinations and these are black and red, orange and brown, yellow and green and blue and white.
10. Try some salo
This might not sound very appetizing, but it is really tasty! Salo is thinly sliced seasoned pork fat which tastes good with slices of rye bread topped with a spoonful of pickle.