The heart of the Russian Federation, Moscow is the capital and largest city in Russia with over 12 million inhabitants – over double the size of St Petersburg and almost a third larger than the total population of New York. This huge cosmopolitan city is a testament to the spirit of its people, enduring brutal civil wars, schisms and invasion from some of the largest empires in the world from the Mongols to armies of Napoleon. Nowadays, the city is a beacon for Russian tourism with three UNESCO world heritage sites, as well as a plethora of museums, art galleries and restaurants displaying the best of Muscovite and modern Russian culture.
The final part of our 6-part city-break series will take you through a 48-hour journey of the Russian Capital, Moscow. Exploring top attractions such as the Kremlin and Red Square and taking in the city’s spectacular cultural heritage.
Why visit Moscow?
As the Capital of Russia, Moscow has a diverse and extensive history and unique cultural heritage. It is Russia’s most popular tourist destination alongside former capital St Petersburg and is the starting point for Europe’s longest train journey, the Trans-Siberian Railway. Best known for the UNESCO world heritage site, the Kremlin and Red Square, Moscow also has many museums, art galleries, bars and world-class restaurants that are sure to entertain no matter the traveller!
Arriving in Moscow
Where to stay in Moscow
Moscow has more hotels and hostels than almost any other city in Russia, so tourists will have plenty of options to choose from that suit any budget. All hotels in the city centre are easily accessible via public transport or car transfer; most luxury hotels are located North of Red Square and around the Bolshoi Theatre, while hostels are just a short walk East of the Bolshoi and North of St Peter and Paul Cathedral.
Map of Moscow City Centre
There is plenty to do and see in Moscow and where better to start than Red Square, the largest and most famous square in Russia. The square had a long history of its own, however it is also the focal point for many of the major tourist destinations within the city and you can see the Kremlin, Nikolskaya Tower, State Historical Museum, Lenin’s Mausoleum and the magnificent St Basils Cathedral. We recommend taking the time to visit the Cathedral, Mausoleum before taking a break to go shopping and heading for spot of lunch.
A short walk west of Red Square towards the Pamyatnik Marshalu will take you to an area with multiple restaurants, a short distance away from the Kremlin. You will find a variety of restaurants including Mu-Mu which is an inexpensive Russian fast food restaurant/ café.
Moscow Kremlin and Cathedrals
After a morning exploring Red Square, head over to the Kremlin where you will find out more about the tumultuous history and extravagance of the Russian aristocracy. We recommend booking a tour around the Armoury Chamber which is home to the famous Faberge eggs – this is often the best way to get around the Kremlin and you will learn far more about Russian history and its people in the process.
For those interested in the arts, watching a performance at the Bolshoi is a must when visiting Moscow. The theatre has a splendid repertoire of classic Russian ballets, opera and concerts to choose from that take place most evenings throughout the week. You can find out more about the Bolshoi performance schedule in advance by visiting their website. Going for an early pre-performance evening meal is the norm due to the length of performances, however most restaurants around the area are open until late in the evening whether you are after a light meal or extravagant dining experience.
Exhibiting the best of Moscow and Russia, the VDNKH (Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy) is a permanent trade show and amusement park to the North of Moscow city centre. The park functions as an open-air museum and exhibition space with numerous museums, restaurants and parks for tourists to explore.
Space buffs can also visit the nearby museum of Cosmonautics, commemorating Russian space exploration. The museum includes various exhibits and models that explore the history of flight, technology and the arts holding over 85,000 objects. The museum focuses around the triumphs of the Soviet space program including the likes of Sputnik and Gagarin.
VDNKH has plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from, although one of the more popular restaurants is Ararat, serving some of the best Armenian cuisine in the city.
An alternative to the famous Kremlin, the Izmailovo Kremlin is a short trip to the East on the Metro from the city centre and is a great choice for those interested in shopping and unique experiences. Tourists will find plenty to entertain themselves from sprawling parklands, costumed street performers and a grand market. The market is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir and is far cheaper than the shops around Arbat street. Those looking for something wholly unique to Moscow can visit the famed Vodka museum. Visitors to the museum will find out all about the history of Vodka and why Russians have come to love it, you can even try some yourself! The museum is open from 10:00am until 20:00pm every day of the week and often later on Saturdays.
After an action-packed few days visiting some of Moscow’s many sites, it may be time to wind down and enjoy some of the finer things the city has to offer. One of the fanciest places to eat in Moscow is Café Pushkin, this Baroque-style restaurant includes 4 distinct areas, two of which are spectacular dining rooms: The Mezzanine and the Library. The rooms are connected by highly decorative halls filled with floor-to-ceiling bookcases which add to the charm. If you like Russian and French cuisine, we can highly recommend this restaurant.
To continue the evening, you can visit one of Moscow spectacular bars. The city offers something for everyone from bustling nightclubs to ambient cocktail lounges. Mendeleev bar is perhaps one of the city’s better-known bars but also one of the most exclusive. This speak-easy style lounge offers some of the best cocktails in the city as well as live piano and Jazz music on weekdays. It is a perfect, relaxing end to your trip to Moscow!
Closing tips and good-to-knows
- The fastest and cheapest way across Moscow is by Metro. One trip will cost around 40 roubles (approximately £0.45). It is better to avoid rush hour on weekdays where possible which falls between 8:00 until 10:00am in the morning and 17:00 until 19:00pm in the evening.
- Taxis are much cheaper in Moscow than in the UK. A trip to Moscow City centre is normally between 500-800 roubles which works out to around £4-7. Drivers usually don’t speak English, so it is perfect to learn a few phrases in Russian before you get there. It is also worth noting that roads will be busy during rush hours so try to avoid using taxis during these times. You may also want to consider taking a private transfer, while more expensive these are often a more secure option.
- During the summer season (May until around September), there are plenty of options to rent a bike or electro scooter directly from the street. Prices start from 200 rub per hour – 2.5 pounds depending on the type and brand; this can be a great way to get around the city.
- Many of the city’s restaurants and bars such as Café Pushkin and Mendeleev bar are extremely popular. Therefore, you should book in advance to avoid disappointment.
Book your trip to Moscow with Real Russia!
We really hope you enjoyed the final instalment of our Eurasian city-break series. If you have been inspired and want to visit Moscow, we can help along the way! Real Russia can arrange everything from trains and Russian visas to tours that are personally tailored to you. Check out our new range of Moscow tours for 2020/ 2021!
If you missed any of our previous city-break instalments you can see a full list of our previous articles here: