Marvellous buildings, budding nightlife and an abundance of places to have some fine food. These might not necessarily be the first things you think of when Moscow comes to mind, but they’ve been helping the country thrive for the last 20 years.
Join us as we guide you through a trip to Moscow and all the fantastic things you can do there.
There’s no Gremlins in the Kremlin
Set right in the heart of Moscow, you will find the Kremlin, which serves as the official residence of the President. It’s made up of five palaces, four cathedrals and is surrounded by the Kremlin wall; and you thought the Houses of Parliament were impressive? You can buy a ticket and walk around some of the grounds, which are actually very peaceful and scenic with well-decorated gardens and a few pretty spectacular cannons. It is also possible to book tours inside the palaces and cathedrals.
Red is the new black
Red Square is the main city square in Moscow, and separates the Kremlin from the historic quarter, Kitai-gorod. The square is surrounded by some fabulous buildings, which look like they should be straight out of a fairy tale. It is also flanked by the GUM department store – if you head there at night, it lights up spectacularly, so make sure you take your camera.
Travelcard zones 1-6
There can’t be too many cities where you marvel at underground transportation. But the decoration is so nice in Moscow metro stations, you’d be forgiven for wanting to spend the day down there. You can even take a walking tour that will take you through some of the most spectacular examples. You’ll see station after station designed with mosaics, chandeliers and patterned floors that resemble a palace. You’ll never want to get on TFL again.
It’s been said that Moscow is the most unfriendly city in the world, but from our own experience most people in Moscow are very friendly and helpful, and if they have a good knowledge of English, they are more than happy to help you out if you’re in need of assistance. Moscow is a big city and as in other big, crowded cities, you’re likely to find people looking rather stern as they go about their daily routine.
Most of the things that make Moscow stand out are all pretty much within walking distance from each other. A short walk from Red Square and you’ll find the Bolshoi Theatre – another remarkable building that is worth a few pictures. Once inside you can watch a stunning performance of ballet or opera; tickets aren’t cheap though; they can cost as much as £300.
Turned down for what?
Moscow is known for some amazing nightlife, where you may just find yourself rubbing shoulders with Russian supermodels or top film directors. We admit, it may be a tiny bit shallow, and there is even one club that only lets you in purely on your appearance. But once inside the nightclubs of Moscow, you can expect a lively atmosphere of people partying for hours on end.
Just hand me the plastic and the pin code
There’s an abundance of places to shop for the latest designer brands. The GUM shopping centre on Red Square is one of the most famous, along with TSuM which only deals in the finest of luxury. If you don’t have an unlimited budget, you can always indulge in the attentions of the shop assistants, trying on the latest garments, before saying “It’s not quite expensive enough for me” and then moving on.
Like most big cities, you’ll find a range of restaurants to eat in – from budget eateries to lavish gourmet restaurants. Moscow mixes traditional cuisines with western influences very well. You can just as easily pop into an Italian restaurant for a pizza as you can an Arminian spot, to eat some khash or dumplings. In the bigger restaurants, you will find menus with English versions, although if you’re heading to a family run establishment, it may be best to get your Google translate out.
The cathedrals in Moscow are truly phenomenal – steeped in history dating back to the 1500s. Even when you’re right in front of them, they still look unreal and like something out of a painting. Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square is one of the main tourist attractions, but there are many more dotted all over the city with their beautiful domes and intricate designs.
If you want to see some of Russia’s finest art, head to the Tretyakov Gallery. The museum has a reputation for being one of the best in the world and is located close to the Kremlin. There are more than 150,000 paintings, graphics and sculptures there, all from Russian artists, with work ranging from the 11th to 20th century.
Note: Don’t forget to apply for a visa if you’re visiting Moscow from the UK.