Moscow Travel Guide

Top 10 Best Things to do in Moscow

Russia has always offered tourists a unique mix of edgy headiness. It’s vibrant capital, doubly so. Stuffed to bursting with a rich history and awesome architecture, there are hundreds of things to do in Moscow. From visiting the oldest fortress in Europe to the tallest communications tower in the world, you’ll have your hands full for months.

Of course, Moscow was the heart and soul of the Soviet Union. Legendary communist political figures like Lenin and Stalin shaped the fate of the country and the world from here. As such, you can see a whole lot of relics from the Soviet era in Moscow. 

The river Moskva runs through the city, giving it sustenance via trade in the earlier days. It made Moscow a business center quickly. It didn’t achieve the status of capital after 1918. St. Petersburg was the capital of a united Russia for 200 years before that.

BookOnBoard’s Guide to Moscow

Palaces, monasteries, cathedrals, museums, parks, hills, towers, water bodies, galleries, shops – Moscow never runs out of places to visit. Even the residents of this old city rarely can finish visiting all the tourist attractions here. There is something for everyone here, from history to shopping to adventure. Even the metro here is a sight to behold, with rich artistry adorning the walls and ceiling.

Moscow Metro Station bookonboard things to do in moscow
Image by Mike Norton from Flickr

Consequently, for a tourist, it can be confusing to figure out which of the places to visit in Moscow within their short time. Don’t worry, we’ve made a Moscow travel guide just for you for this reason. You can find important details about the city in this article. For example,  Best Places to visit in Moscow, Cheapest places to stay in Moscow, Most popular places to eat in Moscow, Fun things to do in Moscow, Affordable hotels in Moscow, Low-cost flights to Moscow, Moscow Holiday Packages, and much more!

Top 10 things to do in Moscow

  1. Kremlin
  2. Red Square
  3. St. Basil’s Cathedral
  4. Lenin’s Mausoleum
  5. Bolshoi Theater
  6. Gorky Park
  7. Tretyakov Gallery
  8. Pushkin Museum
  9. All-Russian Exhibition Center
  10. Ostankino Tower

We could add a hundred more to that list. Or a thousand. Each more attractive than the next. But this list comprises the most popular tourist spots in Moscow, and so we had to keep it short. Now let’s look at the places in detail.

The Moscow Kremlin

Not for nothing, it is the biggest active fortress in Europe, and at one time, the world. You could spend a week visiting the different attractions in Kremlin. There’s the 2235-meter long wall, five huge squares to wander around, many small and large buildings to explore, museums, four cathedrals, the giant tsar bell, and cannon – does your camera have enough storage?

Though, do note that it’s an active military installation. You can’t go inside unless you’re part of a tourist group or have a pass. The word ‘kremlin’ means ‘citadel’ in Russian. It was formerly the residence of the Tsar when he’d be in Moscow. Now it’s the official residence of the President of Russia. Though, the present president doesn’t actually live here.

The Red Square

One of the most famous city squares in the world, it sits between the Kremlin and Kitai-Gorod. One can say when in Russia, all roads go to Red Square. That is mostly true since all of the major roads in the city converge at the Square, which is connected to the highways, which are connected to the rest of the country.

Red Square 10 Best Things to do in Moscow

Red Square is the primary place to visit in Moscow since it contains the many other major attractions of the city. The square is always full of people and always in a festive mood. Unsurprisingly, most of Moscow’s major festivals are held here as well. Other than the major buildings in the square, don’t miss other spots like the Eternal Flame around the 250,000 square feet stretch. 

St. Basil’s Cathedral

The impression of this Christian church is so influencing that it has become the icon of Russia in most tourists’ minds. The cathedral of Vasily the Blessed was built in 1561 by Ivan the Terrible. Who promptly proceeded to blind the architect so that he couldn’t build anything more magnificent ever. It probably worked; the building’s bonfire-flames like design has no equal in the world.

The Cathedral with its colorful spires sits prettily in the middle of the Red Square. It is as important to the Russian as the Eiffel Tower to the French or the Big Ben to the Brits. The insides of the cathedral are as beautiful as mystical. Narrow pathways from alter to alter and rickety spiral staircases will let you enjoy the 400+ icons. Though a church, you won’t find any services in the St. Basil’s nowadays except once in October – it’s a mostly secular museum now.

Mausoleum of Lenin

The final resting place of the world-changing Soviet leader and hero Vladimir Ilych Lenin is a modernist tomb and museum in the Red Square. The revered leader lies there in preservation, and you can actually see him. The unique way of preserving a body is only seen here underneath the granite tomb. 

The Mausoleum is open every day from 10 to 1 in the day, except Mondays. The Russian government had decided they cannot charge people to see the great leader, though they do spend millions in order to keep the body intact. The sheer awe you feel in the presence of Lenin makes the visit worth standing in the hour-long queue. 

Bolshoi Theater

Onto less somber matters, let’s go to the theater! The Bolshoi has been famous ever since it was built and has few competitors. The historic home to Russian ballet and opera was built way back in 1776. Getting a ticket here is costly and difficult, but the atmosphere and the performance are well worth it. 

Furthermore, The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera troops are the biggest of their kind in the world. Indeed, they have over 200 absolutely perfect ballerinas. The standard of ballet and the trends are set by the Russians in the world. Do note that you may need above 250 dollars to see one ballet or opera. 

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

New York may have Central Park, but Moscow competes well with Gorky Park. Named after the world-famous author Maxim Gorky, the park is renovated and remodeled regularly to present vibrant, peaceful impressions. It is a great place to hand out on a warm summer evening.

Gorky Park
Image by Jeremy Zhu from Pixabay

There are lots of things to do in Gorky Park. Always one or more performances are going on in the park, from live singing to theatres. There are yoga sessions, cycling, outdoor movies, various sports, and lots more. Or you can just sit on the shore of Moskova, enjoying the blessed break from city life. Also, you can bicycle up to Sparrow Hill at the end of the park which offers you great views of the city.

The State Tretyakov Art Gallery

If you have time to visit just one art gallery in Moscow, we recommend you visit the Tretyakovskaya. It has a world-famous collection of classical and modern Russian art and can compete with most of the large art galleries of the world. It’s closed on Mondays, but you can get guided tours with English-speaking guides.

From way back in 1856, the gallery has accumulated over 130,000 works of art – paintings and sculptures included. The building itself is a piece of art to see since it was designed by the famous painter Vasnetsov in a peculiar Russian fairy-tale style. Now the art gallery has taken over several other buildings in order to house its a massive collection. 

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Another rivaling art gallery in Moscow is the Pushkin Museum. This world-famous art museum was previously intended as an art college only. Now, it holds the world’s largest collection of plaster-cast sculptures. Accordingly, expect long queues on weekends.

The museum opened to the public in 1912, but in 1924 the gallery started to display paintings as well. Many of the modern Russian arts in sculpture or in pictures can be enjoyed here. You have to carefully plan around to visit the different sections of this huge museum comprising two buildings. 

VDNKh All-Russian Exhibition Center

You can’t finish your visit to Russia without once visiting the VDNKh. It is a giant entertainment grounds where various kinds of exhibitions and other entertainment take place. Artists from all around the great nation come here with colorful and impressive displays. It was created by the Soviets in order to support the cultural integration of the many other countries which were part of the USSR back then.

Primarily, it was an agricultural exhibition park only. But it now holds all kinds of exhibitions. It’s free to visit this complex. Now the area hosts several shopping pavilions with goods from all around Russia (and nearby countries as well). Further, VDNKh has several museums, bicycle routes, the world’s largest skateboarding park, many nice restaurants, boat rides, and even zip lines!

Ostankinskaya TV Tower

When it was built in 1967, it was the tallest building in the world. Now the giant TV and Radio communications tower is the 11th tallest building. Offering an impressive (or nauseating – by perspective) bird’s eye view of Moscow, it is one of the top tourist attractions in Moscow. 

The tower stands over 540 meters tall and is the tallest free-standing structure in Europe. The glass-floored observation deck and revolving restaurant are still chilling 340 meters up in the air. The restaurant offers the diners a panoramic view of the city as it revolves slowly every 20 minutes around. The place is insanely popular with modern Russians and you might find it hard to get tickets.

Some FAQs about Moscow

1. How good is Moscow food?

Russia is well-known for its authentic cuisines. Some of the popular dishes in Moscow are Bilni, Borsch, Pelmeni, Solyanka, Russian Salad (or just ‘salad’ in Russia), Pirogi, Plov, etc. All of them are quite delicious for anyone with variable taste buds. 

Some of the most popular places to eat in Moscow are:

  • Moo-moo
  • Grabli
  • Varenichnaya
  • Stolovaya 57
  • Bratya Karavaevy
  • Yolki-Palki

Note that tipping 10% is expected in most Moscow restaurants.

2. Where can I stay in Moscow on a budget?

As in most European places, staying in Moscow is cheapest in hostels, homestays, and house-sitting. If you’re out of those options, here are some of the most affordable hotels in Moscow that get good feedback.

  • Napoleon Hotel Moscow – from $7
  • Skyrooms Moscow – from $7
  • Travel Inn Timiryazevskaya – from $8
  • Mini Otel Art Galaktika – from $9
  • Makarov Hostel Tretyakovka – from $10
  • Hygge Hostel – from $11
  • GorodOtel – $11
  • Meridian Fortunatovskoy – from $12
3. Are there affordable flights to Moscow?

Moscow is one of the busiest cities in the world and is connected to the airways via several international airports. Naturally, many airlines operate in and out of here. The following are some low-cost flights to Moscow.

  • New York:
    • Tap Air Portugal – from $323
    • Aeroflot – from $645
    • Air Serbia – from $ 718
    • Finnair – from $719
    • KLM – $723
    • Alitalia – $726
  • London
    • Wizz Air – from $66
    • AirBaltic – from $118
    • LOT – from $169
    • Air Moldova – from $173
    • Air France – from $182
  • Sydney
    • China Southern – from $597
    • Cathay Pacific – from $668
    • ANA – from $732
    • Air China – from $802
    • Qatar Airways – $813
  • Singapore
    • Malaysia Airlines – from $326
    • Etihad – from $412
    • Emirates – from $426
    • Qatar Airways – from $458
    • Air China – from $489

Please note that the above fares are for the first of July, at any time, for a person one-way trip in the economy class. As always, prices are subjected to change.

4. What are some great Moscow Holiday Packages?
  • Moscow and St. Petersburg 5 nights tour
  • Russian Holiday Delight
  • Explore Russia Summer/Women’s Special
  • Russian Dhamaka
  • Splendid Scandinavia with Best of Russia
  • Trans-Siberian Journey
5. Can I visit Moscow in the winter?

April-May is the best time to visit Moscow since the temperature is pleasant and nature is more colorful. However, the Russian winter is legendary and has its own wonders. The Gorky Square and other parks get covered in snow, offering you ample snow sports. You can go skating in many rinks.

The city dons a whole different look in the winters. Christmas is especially wonderful in Moscow. Which makes it one of the best places to spend your Christmas holidays. Also, historically Russia has been saved by General Winter more than once. So, you get to see the real thing at this time.

6. Are there spies in Moscow?

The Americans and Russians have been at each other’s throats, cordially or otherwise, for nearly a century now. Unrealistic spy movies like the James Bond series increase this animosity and fear of tourists. But the fact is, simple logic says there aren’t any more spies in Moscow than in New Delhi

Sure, espionage activity in Russia is quite high, both internal and external. But you can hardly expect them to disrupt the highly useful tourism business in an adrenaline-filled car chase down the road. And such things can happen equally on your way to the office as well. 

So, it’s best not to unnecessarily worry about such matters. As always, don’t trust strangers getting too friendly and abide by all official rules and regulations. You’ll be fine.

Wrapping Up

Moscow beckons all kinds of tourists with open arms at any time of the year. Going in a group or solo – you are sure to enjoy your visit to Moscow a lot. During the Cold Wars, it was difficult to come here for tourism. It’s still difficult to get a visa – you need to show an invitation from your hotel first. Also, you’ll have to register as a tourist the first thing you do in Moscow. 

But even after all of that, Moscow will amaze you. We have tried to line out the most important tourist attractions in Moscow in this article. Hope we didn’t disappoint. You are most welcome to share your thoughts and suggestions via the comments form below. Till then, dasvidaniya!

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