• Krista the Explorer

21 Reasons to Visit Moscow

Moscow is an incredible city to visit. Russia in general has been on my bucket list for years, so when I arrived in the Red Square I was like a child at Disneyland for the first time. There's so much to do in this city, and it's a big contrast from St Petersburg, which we visited beforehand. Getting around is very easy with the metro system. It's considered the world's most beautiful metro, with it's over-the-top designs, and there is an app you can download which helps a lot as some of the stations don't have English translations for the lines. You can either get the Troika card, which works like the Oyster card in London, or there is an option for 1, 2, or 3 day passes with unlimited rides, which we found to be a better and cheaper option. Uber is also a great choice if you're too tired to walk around the metro. It's incredibly cheap, and we used it a few times to get between locations. In terms of accommodation, we stayed at Hotel Yakimanka 38 which was perfectly located next to Gorky Park, and right along a metro line. It took us less than 15 minutes to get to the Red Square, and there were lots of nice cafes and restaurants in the area too. You can read about my stay at the hotel here.

We took the overnight train from St Petersburg to Moscow, which brought us into the city by 6am. This saved us money on accommodation too, and we had a full day to explore! There are a lot of websites for booking train tickets, and some of them are not very clear. I used Russian Railways which gives you all the train options for the day you've selected, and shows you the price for the various classes. There are 3 classes to choose from. Third class is the cheapest but the least private. Both sides of the carriage are lined with bunk beds, so it's essentially a giant hostel room. Second class has 2 bunk beds in it, 4 beds in total, so it's a little more private. First class has 2 beds, and you get some other perks such as a television, slippers, and breakfast items. They also wake you up in the morning with some fresh coffee. We went first class, simply because the train originated in Tallinn, so I didn't want to be waking people up in the middle of the night climbing into a bunk bed, and I didn't want to share with strangers either. Some trains also have a business class which provides you with a private bathroom as well. The prices vary depending on the train type and time of the day you travel, but for us, the first class option wasn't too much more than second class.

If you need to get to and from Domodedovo aiport, there is a metro line that connects it to the centre. Or, you can use an Uber like we did which didn't cost much and was a lot comfier than lugging our bags up and down the stairs in the metro stations.

We saw a lot in 5 days. And even though the weather decided not to cooperate and made it feel more like October than July/August, we had an amazing time in the city! There are quite a few free things to do and see in Moscow, but the main attractions are pricey to get into, so make sure you check the prices ahead of time and come prepared. Other than that, everything else was fairly cheap! Check out my top recommendations below!

1. St Basil's Cathedral
An icon of Moscow, not to be missed. This is the main attraction in the Red Square, and is packed with people taking photos outside of it. If you go very early in the morning, you can get some great shots without the crowds! Entry isn't cheap, and during the summer months the queue to get in is long. But going inside the cathedral is definitely worth it.
2. Tour the Red Square
Apart from St Basil's Cathedral, the Red Square is home to many other interesting sights! The walls of the Kremlin are shown in this photo, but you can also catch a glimpse of Lenin's Mausoleum, the State Historical Museum, Resurrection Gate, and GUM.
3. Lenin's Mausoleum
Yes! You can actually see Lenin's body on display 4 days of the week. It's only open 10am-1pm though, and since it's free, the queue to get in is enormous. It took us about an hour to get inside, and we spent less than 5 minutes there. It's a very surreal experience, with guards lining the entire route.
4. Visit the Eternal Flame
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was moved from Leningrad to Moscow, and sits just outside of the Kremlin walls. You'll pass by it if you're walking from the Red Square to the ticket office of the Kremlin.
5. Walk Along Nikolovskaya Street
This was by far my favourite street in Moscow. It opens out into the Red Square and runs along the side of GUM. There are many great shops and restaurants on this street, a couple of which we sampled! In the evening, these low-hanging lights are beautiful to walk under.
6. Window Shop in GUM
GUM is a famous, luxury department store/shopping centre in Moscow. It's incredibly beautiful inside, and there are lots of opportunities to sample some of its ice cream too! The shops are very expensive, but most people are walking around, taking it all in anyways so don't feel like you need to blow your budget in one of the shops to enjoy yourself.

See? I told you the inside was stunning!
7. Ivan the Great Bell Tower: Views of the Kremlin
Buying a ticket to the Kremlin can be quite stressful if you buy one on the day. First of all, the queue is huge. Secondly, there are several variations of tickets for you to purchase, each with their own separate ticket boxes. The armoury is very popular, but costs just as much as the ticket to Cathedral Square, so we opted to skip that and save some money. The Cathedral Square ticket allows you to enter the various cathedrals within the Kremlin. Getting into Ivan the Great's Bell Tower means getting an additional ticket, which doesn't cost much. The tickets are only available 45 minutes before entry, and you can only buy them on the day. They are also very limited. We only had 6 people on our tour, including ourselves. Luckily, we made it to the front of the queue at the exact time they were available to purchase, so we got a pair of tickets!
8. Iberian Gate and Chapel (Resurrection Gate)
This is the main entrance to the Red Square, and traditionally you're supposed to stop at the chapel before entering the square or Kremlin. It sits between the city hall and State Historical Museum. The gate that now stands is a replica of the original 16th century gate, which was torn down in the 1930s to allow large vehicles to enter the square for military parades.
9. Browse Eliseevsky
This is a very famous supermarket in Moscow, and was once where the nobility shopped for foreign imports.
10. Stroll Through Zaryadye Park
This newly built park is located right behind the Red Square, and offers some amazing views of the city. You can also find some less crowded points of interest here such as the Old English Yard and Romanov Boyar Residence.
11. Novodevichy Cemetery and Convent
Walking around a cemetery? Really? Hear me out. This is the most famous cemetery in Moscow, and many important Russian figures are buried here, with elaborate headstones. The convent is located next to it, and the lake in front of it was the inspiration to Swan Lake!
12. Go Underground at Bunker 42/Stalin's Bunker
This is a phenomenal experience and 5 minutes from the closest metro station, so it's easy to get to. The bunker was designed by Stalin, but he died before its completion. It was a very active command post and was fully equipped with everything needed for a nuclear attack. Above ground, it posed as a military library so no one knew its actual purpose. It sits very close to one of the metro lines, so there is a secret tunnel connecting the bunker to the metro too! It's located 18 floors underground, and even has its own restaurant which I would recommend trying out for the unique Soviet inspired cocktails and food!

The tour lasts about an hour, and you see some amazing rooms during this time. This was one of the command centres, and they even let me launch a missile!
13. Check Out the Bolshoi Theatre
If you're looking to get a ticket to one of the performances here, I'd recommend getting them a few months in advance when they're first released, that's when they're at their cheapest. If you can't get a ticket, it's only a short walk from the Red Square, so go take a look!
14. The Palace of Tsar Alexey Mikhailovichin Kolomenskoye
This 17th century palace is considered to be the best example of Russian wooden architecture. It's a little bit outside of the city centre, but very easily accessible by the metro. There's an option to go inside the palace as well.
15. Tsaritsyno Museum Reserve
If you visit the wooden palace, this park is only a short ride on the metro! It's an enormous park, with many lovely buildings to look at, but my favourite was the enormous palace on top of the hill. It was founded by Catherine the Great in the late 18th century.
16. VDNKh/All-Russian Exhibition Centre
Considered as a Stalinist theme park, it was designed to show off the socialist economy and lifestyle. There are many impressive things to see here, and many of the structures are enormous. There's a metro stop right outside of the entrance for easy access.
17. Have a Break at Cafe Pushkin
This is a beautifully themed restaurant, and a great choice if you're looking to rest your feet for a while. We stopped for a quick drink, so were seated at the bar, but the food looked incredible!
18. Take in the Views from Sparrow Hills
The closest metro station is located at the bottom of the hill, but it's a nice walk to the top through the forest. The viewpoint is packed with tourists, unless you get there early. From here, you can see the newer part of Moscow with its skyscrapers too.

Across the road from the viewpoint lies Moscow State University, which is a beautiful building. There's also an observation deck at the top.
19. Tour Gorky Park
Gorky Park as been totally reinvented and is now home to many different art installation and activities! This was located right across the road from our hotel, so was our first stop. Even on a rainy day it's lovely to walk around.

There's even a communist part of the park, which is very interesting.
20. Explore the Izmailovo Kremlin and museum with Tiqets
This was one of my favourite locations in Moscow. It's another spot you need to get the metro to, but is 100% worth the trip. It looks like something out of a fairy tale, and is home to the Vodka Museum and some other interesting museum as well. We bought the combo ticket for all three through Tiqets which made the entry very simple. There's also a large market here, where they sell everything you could ever need in a souvenir. There are also lots of stalls selling antiques and other Russian secondhand items. They only take cash, so come prepared!
I think we had dumplings every day. But you can't travel to Russia without giving them a try! There are lots of different options, so you won't get bored eating the same thing all the time.

Let me know any other recommendations you have, I'd love to hear from you!


My name is Krista, and like many people I love to travel! I think it's important that people share their travel experiences, so I hope that mine help you in some way in your own travels, or inspire you to travel more! 

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© 2018 by Krista the Explorer