“An old friend is better than two new friends” - Russian Proverb
In 2019, 19.5 million people visited Moscow. That’s almost twice as many as Saint Petersburg, a city also worth visiting!
Whether you're fascinated by Lenin and Soviet history, want to travel to discover new places, enjoy the best food, or just go on a tour of Moscow, there are plenty of things to do in Russia's capital.
But before you go on your trip to Russia, you should plan!
With that in mind, here are the top 10 things to see in Moscow.
Visiting Moscow: The Kremlin
The Kremlin is at the very centre of the city. It’s the symbol of both Russian politics and the Russian Orthodox Church.
This is where Tsars, dictators, and presidents have built Russia as it is today. On the banks of the Moskva river, the Kremlin is surrounded by over a mile of walls.
You can buy your tickets to the Kremlin near Alexander Gardens or online. For 700 rubles (less than £7), you can access the cathedrals (where Tsars were crowned), Tsar Cannon, and the Tsar Bell.
If you want to visit the armoury, you’ll need to pay 1,000 rubles (around £10). It’s 500 rubles (around £5) to visit the diamond collection. For 400 rubles (£4), you can visit the Ivan the Great Bell-Tower.
Be aware that the Kremlin is closed on Thursdays.
For a nice view of the Kremlin and St. Basil's Cathedral, head to the Sofievskaya Embankment on the other side of the river.
Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral
The Kremlin is located on Red Square; a place you have to visit. In Russian, the word for “beautiful” derived from the word for red. This means that Red Square isn’t named after the colour and nor does it have anything to do with communism, at least not etymologically.
When you visit Red Square, you can admire St. Basil’s Cathedral, one of the finest examples of Russian architecture.
Built by Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral is a mix of colours, patterns, shapes, and is very reminiscent of ice cream. You could just eat it!
It costs 700 rubles (£7) to visit but the price can change depending on when you go. It’s open every day except for the first Wednesday of the month.
You can also visit Lenin’s Mausoleum by Alexander Gardens whilst at Red Square. It’s open every day from 10:00 until 13:00 but photography is forbidden.
What to See in Moscow: The Moscow Metro
This might seem like a strange thing to visit. You’ll understand why when you see the stations. Stalin called it the “People’s Palace”. Don’t hesitate to have a look around these magnificent buildings.
Each station is different. These are the ones that you have to see:
- Ploschad' Revolyutsii
- Park Pobedy
It should be noted that the Moscow metro is deep underground. In certain stations, you mightn’t be able to see the end of the escalator. Park Pobedy, for example, features an escalator measuring 126 metres! You don’t want to take the stairs!
A metro ticket costs 57 rubles, around 50p.
The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
This is the first museum of foreign arts in Moscow. It features European works from the Rennaissance to the Dutch Golden Age.
If you love art, you can enjoy works from Gauguin, van Gogh, Cézanne, and Picasso among the 300,000 pieces in the museum.
After the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, this is the biggest collection in Russia. It costs 400 rubles (£4) to visit. It’s open every day from 11:00 to 20:00 except Mondays.
The Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre is Russia’s national theatre. It’s one of the world’s biggest! Even if you’re not interested in ballet, opera, or theatre, it’s still worth seeing.
The Bolshoi Ballet is one of the world’s oldest and greatest ballet companies.
If you don’t understand Russian, it’s probably a good idea to see a musical show.
Tickets sell out fast so make sure that you buy before you arrive. You can also try buying tickets last minute from the ticket office. However, you may be given random single seats so groups won't get to be seated together.
Bunker-42: A Cold War Museum
Do you love a bit of history?
You’ll love Bunker-42, also known as the Tagansky Bunker.
Near Taganka Square, this neoclassical building is home to what was once a secret communications centre during the cold war. It was designed to function as communications outpost in the event of a nuclear attack from the United States.
The bunker is 60 metres underground and covers 7,000m2. Thanks to the lift, you can head into the heart of the bunker, watch a film about the history of the cold war, and visit the four blocks of the subterranean structure. You can even hear the metros go by as they’re at the same depth!
It costs around £20 to visit and tours are available in English or Russian.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was first built between 1839 and 1883 before being destroyed by Stalin and rebuilt in 1999.
Stalin wanted to build a 100-metre statue of Lenin but the project was never completed. There was once the largest open-air pool in the world here.
Entry is free and the cathedral is open from 10:00 until 17:00 except on Monday mornings when it’s closed. You can climb the cathedral for a view over Moscow for around £2.50.
Gorky Park is great for a stroll. It’s the perfect place to enjoy an ice cream or have a picnic by the Moskva River. The main entrance is by the Park kul’tury metro station.
You can rent bikes in the park and during winter, you can also skate on the frozen ponds. There are rides, a big wheel, and a model of the Buran Shuttle.
The Izmailovo Market
If you’re looking for souvenirs from Moscow, the Izmailovo Market in the northeast is a great place to visit. While a bit further outside of the city centre, you can find everything from Russian dolls to collector's items from the Soviet era. Don’t hesitate to haggle!
You can also visit the Izmailovo Kremlin. This is one of the more unusual attractions but is quite interesting. This is also a popular destination for weddings.
The market is open every day, but we highly recommend visiting on the weekend.
Arbat and Kitay-Gorod
You can’t go to Moscow and not visit the city’s two most popular neighbourhoods.
First, Arbat Street. To the west of Moscow’s centre, Arbat Street is filled with beautiful colourful buildings. It’s a lively and festive part of the city. You’ll want to explore the side streets, too.
You’ll also want to see the Kitay-Gorod area. Just by Red Square, this is the oldest part of the city. Check out the typical churches and Varvarka Street.
Which attraction are you going to visit first?
If you'd like to learn more about Russian history or learn a bit of Russian before you go to Moscow, consider getting help from one of the many talented and experienced tutors on Superprof.
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Finally, if you can't find any local tutors, you can broaden your search to all over the world with online tutorials. For learning Russian, this means that you could find a native Russian speaker in Russia to help you.
A lot of the tutors on the platform offer the first lesson for free so try a few potential tutors out before picking the right one for you and your learning goals.