The Top 10 Must-See Places in Moscow
1. Red Square
Red Square is a symbol of Russia. Red Square is so famous that you must visit it even if you don’t like the must-see places. What is the Red Square? Actually, it’s a quite big square under the Kremlin walls, in the very heart of the city. It’s surrounded by the Kremlin itself, GUM, Mausoleum, St. Basil's Cathedral and State Historical Museum. Walking at the Red Square is enough to visit most famous Moscow attractions. Moreover, it’s the single places with so many of them!
How to visit the Red Square? Simple! Just go to one of the central Metro station (e.g. Alexandrovsky Sad) and walk along the Kremlin Walls?
Do you need a guide here? We would recommend to take the guide during the first day just as an introduction to the city. Red Square is the best option for it, but you will certainly enjoy the time there without the guide as well.
What is the Kremlin? Actually, this word means any citadel or fortress in Russian. The Moscow Kremlin is a fortified complex in the center of Moscow. It’s the best known of all Kremlins.
Since the Russian President works from The Kremlin, today the word “Kremlin” is perceived as some mythical entity that means Russian Authorities in general.
What is interesting inside besides the feeling of big geopolitical events and conspiracy? Of course, it’s three cathedrals of 15-16th century where all Russian tsars were crowned and buried. It’s also walls and towers, one of them are painted on every second postcard of Moscow. Tourists also love to stare at treasures of Armoury Chamber, the oldest Moscow museum with a lot of historical jewelry.
We rarely recommend to take a guide for the Kremlin. The place is perfect for visiting on your own.
- We plan to make a big winter Tour from Moscow to Baikal for 1-2 months by car in 2020-2021.
We will visit many cities and villages on our way there to see the real Russia as well as make a wonderful journey in Baikal region with visiting many non-touristic sites. Do you want to join? Email us!
3. The Moscow Metro
When in 1930s transport collapse finally happened, Soviet authorities decided to build the Metro. It was designed not just as a transport network, but as a symbol of the communist world. While the capitalists built palaces for the rich, the communists built underground metro palaces for the work class.
So today, the Moscow Metro is the most beautiful metro in the world! As I often hear from tourists, it’s one of the most impressive place to see in Moscow.
How to visit Metro? Easy! Just buy a ticket and have a ride at the central part of the city. What are the best stations? Khmmmm. I can easily tell you at least 20 incredible stations. So what is my advice? Just go underground!
4. Zaryadie Park
The newly made park in the very heart of the city. It’s the best panoramic viewpoint to the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral in the world! The cons are that you may spend 0-15 minutes in the line at the glass bridge to make several photos. That’s all, just look at the left photo :)
5. Ryumochnaya Druzhba (Vodka drink-spot “Friendship”)
Russia can’t be imagined without vodka (as well as vodka is a symbol of Russia!) This drinking spot is the most entertaining way to try vodka as it was so popular in the Soviet Union, when you visit the bar after hard-working day on the factory, take two vodka shots for 5 minutes, and go back home.
Today it’s still a unique bar with the cheapest vodka (0.5 Eur), no chairs (only tables), self-service, over-fried (but still tasty!) junk food and amazing locals of different types (road policemen, students, homeless people, office plankton and some alcoholics).
6. Tretyakovsky Gallery
If you don’t like art galleries and museums, read the next paragraph. In all other cases, just go there! It’s the best gallery in Moscow; the place is comparable with the Hermitage and the Louvre.
What is important… just remember, you have about 3-4 hours for the gallery, after you will be oversaturated with the art, trust me! So don’t look at every single painting for 2 minutes trying to pretend that you really enjoy its every single detail. Just go the paintings that you REALLY enjoy! For example, I always pass the first several chambers with portraits, because they are all similar (sorry!) There’s several world-known paintings, maybe it’s good to have a list of them in advance. There’s different types of art for everyone.
You should also remember, that it’s the popular place among Russians as well. During the weekends, you will be surrounded by crowds of people (and often children). Another important point is that there’s old and new Tretyakovsky Galleries. The new building is with the modern art of the 20th century, while the old building has “the classical” art.
7. Big Theater
Russian Ballet is so famous that we hardly need to say anything besides that you should buy tickets in advance (at least several months before)! I recommend to make it just after your final decision to come to Russia.
Where to buy tickets? On the official website, of course! There’s also official ticket offices in the Big Theater itself, usually there’s no tickets on the nearest dates (remember, you need to buy them in advance!)
Other websites always include the commission (50% of the price). What about buying on the street (for example, there’s an old man with the bad English that suggest foreigners to buy tickets just at the Red Square), as you may guess, it’s the bad idea.
Big Theater itself is one of the main attractions in Moscow not so far from the Kremlin and the Red Square. It has nice illumination in the evening and is great at least to take photos if you forgot to buy your tickets in advance :)
If you don’t like the culture at all, you may stare at the Big Theater from your 100 rubbles note while paying for vodka from the № 5 drinking spot.
8. Sparrow Hills and MSU
The place was a nice village far from the Moscow center, while Stalin decided to relocate Moscow University there. The main building of MSU is the most wonderful skyscraper of that era with the height of almost 250 meters. Six more skyscrapers were built sharing the name of “7 Sisters” now.
It’s also a great viewpoint of the city! You may see the Luzhniki Stadium where 1980 Summer Olympic took place just right below. It’s easy to find the Moscow-city, commercial complex of modern skyscrapers at the left side. At the right, you may see the main building of Russian Academy of Science (“brains in the cell” among the people).
Moscow University is a great place to see itself. Unfortunately, it’s not open for the public, so you need a special excursion to come inside (but it’s worth it! I’ve studied there). But the total area around is beautiful with a lot of trees, flowers and meditative students around.
9. The Boulevard Ring
In the end of 18th century, the fortress walls of old Moscow was disassemble into pieces, then Napoleon burned the Moscow center in 1812, so the city was totally rebuilt after. In this era, the modern the Boulevard Ring was planned and constructed.
Now it’s a wide sidewalk around the Moscow center with a lot of branches under the shade of trees, some local cafes and beautiful illumination in the evening. The place is meditative and authentic! Muscovites love it as a long park with small shops, street musicians and painters, tasty ice cream and other signs of the normal European town. The ring is surrounded with cozy yards and side streets with lost in time buildings, so you may catch the city mood.
The Boulevard Ring crosses other famous streets as Tverskaya and Arbat.
VDNH or Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy was the main amusement park and the trade show in USSR. The concept was to build the ideal park where normal communist people would spend their time feeling pride for achievements of their Motherland.
Just look at its architecture! It’s the open-air palace with huge arches, golden statues, impressive monuments, countless flowerbeds and majestic fountains. So if you want to feel nostalgia about the USSR or understand the aesthetics of the totalitarianism – visit VDNH!
Recently, the park was reconstructed. Now it has a central alley with fountains and monuments. Educational center has just opened, so if you plan to stay in Russia, it’s your chance to become a spy. Nearby Craft park would be quite entertaining for your children as well as ecoroad on the height of the trees.