“If you want to be happy, be.” - Leo Tolstoy
The Kremlin, Red Square, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, etc. You must be in Moscow! This giant city is becoming increasingly popular with British tourists wanting to see a bit of Russia.
The city has greatly improved its capacity for tourism since the 2000s. If you’re visiting, it won’t be just to see a hotel, though. It’ll be to see all the wonderful things that this city has.
Here’s our best advice for planning a trip to the capital of Russia.
Plan an Itinerary to Decide How Long You Should Stay
Heading to Moscow is a great way to experience Russian culture and flights from London take less than 4 hours. If you do visit Moscow, you’ve got to plan your trip, though.
To know how much time you should spend in the city, you’ll need to plan and prioritise what you want to do. You can always “wing it” but you’ll run the risk of missing some of the city’s best stuff. Do your research long before you pack your bags.
Moscow is home to plenty of attractions and activities so you won't want to get home frustrated by the fact that you didn’t see everything you wanted to.
The city's a great destination for couples and families. If you’re travelling with others, it’s even more important that you make a plan. You’ll save time and avoid the frustration of having to compromise once you’re there. Of course, this doesn’t mean that your plan is set in stone. You can always change plans depending on what you feel like.
Certain trips may not be right for you and your group so it's important you research what there is to do and how long it’ll take.
There are a few things to consider:
- What you like to visit: if you hate art, you mightn’t want to plan tonnes of trips to galleries.
- The weather: if you’re visiting in winter, there may be a lot of rain and snow. Think about planning indoor and outdoor activities so that you can swap from one to the other if the weather changes.
- The budget: some activities are free while others can be quite costly.
- Group size: not every activity is ideal for big groups or someone on their own.
- Age: When travelling as a family, different age groups need to be kept happy.
This is a good place to start. With some criteria in your head, we recommend that you start planning what you’d like to do and how many days you’ll need in Moscow to do it.
Here are some other tips to help you:
- Buy tickets ahead of time (especially in summer)
- Visit museums and indoor activities in the morning (except Mondays, when a lot of things are closed). Churches tend to close in the afternoons.
- Visit outdoor activities in the afternoon: generally, this is when it's warmer (especially in winter).
- You can get tours on Get Your Guide.
- Save time by travelling on the metro. It’s cheap and runs from 6:00 to 1:00. The Troika Card allows you to use the bus and metro.
Visiting Moscow in 2 Days
You can visit Moscow in two days but you’ll be rushing around. Between getting there and visiting the city, you won’t have much time for rest.
The good thing about Moscow, however, is that most of the attractions can be found next to one another, meaning you don’t have to move around too much.
Day 1: The Heart of the Historic City
- Red Square (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
- The Kremlin
- The GUM department store
- Saint Basil’s Cathedral
- Tverskaya Street
On your first morning, head straight to Red Square. If your hotel is in the area, you can walk there.
From Red Square, you can see the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral, the State Historical Museum, and the GUM department store.
Walk to the Alexander Gardens, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Revolution Square. If you’ve bought online tickets for the Kremlin, you’ll need to exchange them at the ticket office near Alexander Gardens.
You can easily spend 2 hours visiting Cathedral Square and the Kremlin, which is open every day except Thursday.
You can grab a bite to eat at the GUM department store and enjoy some great views of the city. You can also go to the Okhotny Ryad Shopping Center.
In the afternoon, you can visit the Kremlin Armoury and the Diamond Fund. Continue your visit of Red Square with Saint Basil’s Cathedral, which can easily take over an hour.
As you leave, you’ll want to walk towards the Bolshoi Theatre, Theatre Square, and have dinner on Tverskaya Street; Moscow’s most famous street. If you want to eat at the famous Restaurant Cafe Pushkin, you should book ahead.
Day 2: The Metro, Arbat Street, and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
If you’re staying in the centre, you can walk to Arbat Street. This is a great place to get your souvenirs.
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In just 15 minutes, you’ll find yourself at the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, which you can visit in around half an hour. Shorts are forbidden and it’s recommended that women wear a headscarf. Entry is free so make the most of it.
Then you can get something to eat and take the metro before rush-hour (between 16:00 and 19:00).
- Start at Arbatskaya.
- After having visited the station, take Line 3 to the centre and get off at Ploshchad Revolyutsii. Make sure you rub the dog’s nose for good luck!
- Get back on the Line 3 train and get off at Kurskaya Station.
- From this station, you can take the circular Line 5 and get off at the Komsomol'skaya, Prospekt Mira, Novoslobodskaya, Kyevskaya and Park Kul'tury stations.
It’ll take you around an hour and a half to visit all these metro stations, a great activity for rainy days.
Once you get to Park Kul’tury, you can have a walk around Gorky Park.
Visiting Moscow in 3 Days
If you’ve got 3 days to visit Moscow, keep the first 2 days and add a few of the following activities according to what you like:
- Bunker 42: For those interested in the Cold War, you can easily spend 2 hours here.
- The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics and the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman statue in the Russian Exhibition Centre.
- The Izmailovo Market: A flea market where you can buy souvenirs and visit the Izmailovo Kremlin. You can easily spend a couple of hours here.
The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts: A visit will take between 2 and 3 hours.
- The State Tretyakov Gallery: 2 to 3 hours to visit.
- The buildings of the Moscow International Business Center: You can head there at night to see the lights.
- A Moscow River cruise.
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Visiting Moscow in 4 Days
A 3-day trip to Moscow is a great idea but if you can spend 4 days or more in the Russian capital, you can take it easier or add even more things to your itinerary:
- The Chistyye Prudy Area
- Novodevichy Cemetery
- Patriarch Ponds
- GULAG History Museum
- Sparrow Hills and the Moscow State University, a complex of Soviet-era architecture.
- The Krasny Oktyabr factory
- Park Zaryad'ye
- Attend a ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre
- Vodka Museum Moscow
So how long will you be spending in Moscow?
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