13 Best Things to Do in Moscow, Russia

Are you thinking of traveling to Moscow? In our guide you will find information on where to stay, what to see, the best activities you can do and many tips that will help you plan your trip. Moscow, capital of Russia, is one of the most vibrant and amazing cities in Eastern Europe. Moscow is a city of contrasts and of obligatory sights, where the buildings of the epoch of the czars coexist with the constructions of the Stalinist era and imposing and modern skyscrapers.

Moscow, also known as Moskva in Russian, is the center of Russian culture and the capital and most populated city in Russia. It is situated on the Moskva River and features beautiful world-renowned architecture with the city's skyline is quickly modernizing, with several new towers under construction. On the other hand, the city is full of clubs, restaurants, bars and shopping streets.

Named an alpha global city by the globalization and World Cities Research Network, it is no wonder that Moscow is a major political, economic, cultural, and scientific hub of Russia and Eastern Europe considered/ranked as the ninth most expensive city in the world by Mercer.

It is the largest city (by area) on the European continent and it is home to the largest forest in an urban area within its municipal borders. As one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in the world, according to the MasterCard Global Destination Cities Index, Moscow is the 14th largest urban area worldwide with the 14th largest metro area and the 18th largest agglomeration.

On one hand, Moscow, like most national capitals, is home to a myriad of foreign embassies and diplomats. Although a while ago Moscow was one of the most expensive cities in the world, it is now much more convenient for tourists.

The city’s skyline displays an impressive investment in architecture going back many hundreds of years and culminating in modern buildings such as the Ostankino Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in Europe; the Federation Tower, the second-tallest skyscraper in Europe; and the Moscow International Business Center.

Moscow is also home to 5 of the 10 tallest buildings in Europe. Until recently the three tallest European buildings were located in Moscow, but Saint Petersburg just constructed the Lakhta Center which is now the tallest on the continent. Considering that the majority of Moscow residents live in high-rise apartment buildings, Moscow can probably claim to be the tallest city in Europe.

Take advantage of your vacation and plan your trip to Moscow with the help of our guide.

1. Saint Basil's Cathedral

Also known as the Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin in the Mound, the church of Saint Basil is a unique architectural monument that surprises scholars with its originality. The tallest Orthodox church in the world has a long history to tell. First and foremost, there is Saint Basil's Cathedral displaying the epitome of Russian architectural style with a richly and playfully decorated and multicolored façade.

2. Red Square

The best way to explore and marvel at the beauty of this city is by visiting some of its best-known historic buildings. Located on the banks of the Moskva River, its buildings and monuments allow travel to the communist and Tsarist past, while museums, theaters and art galleries make this city one of the most important cultural centers in the world.

The Red Square is the heart and symbol of Russia. Around it are important historical monuments, such as the Lenin's Mausoleum, the Resurrection Gate and the Kremlin Wall. We will also find fabulous churches, such as Kazan Cathedral and Saint Basil's Cathedral, whose colorful bulb-shaped domes are a true postcard of the city. We recommend a tour with a guide to learn about the history of these emblematic places.

Without a doubt, it is the best place to look for accommodation. One of the options to consider if you visit Moscow and do not want to stay in a hotel is to rent an apartment. This alternative will allow you to have more freedom and can be one of the cheapest options if you want to avoid the most basic hotels and hostels.

3. Sparrow Hills

In Moscow there is much more to see than the Kremlin or the Red Square. Its wonderful religious architecture, busy shopping areas, vibrant pubs and restaurants, and fantastic green spaces make visiting this city an amazing and unforgettable experience. Located on the right bank of the Moskva River, the green Sparrow Hills offers excellent panoramic views of the city, surpassed only by those offered by some of Moscow's huge skyscrapers.

You don’t often hear that Moscow leads all mega-cities in terms of green spaces. 54% of Moscow’s land area is dedicated to forests, parks and recreational areas, more than any other city of a similar size. This unique feature makes Moscow one of the coziest large cities.

There are two things that attract the attention of the building of the Moscow University: its imposing dimensions and its incredible beauty. Taking a cruise on the Moskva River is an excellent way to get to know the city from another perspective. There are several companies that offer the tour with different modalities.

4. Moscow Kremlin

Next, there is the Kremlin, a fortified complex home to the current President of the Russian Federation, and Red Square, the city’s central square that separates the Kremlin from a historic merchant quarter named Kitai-Gorod (also known as China Town). Many of the city's major streets, which connect to Russia's major highways, originate here at Red square. Both the Kremlin and Red Square were nominated World Heritage Sites in 1990.

Located in the heart of Moscow, facing the Moskva River and east of the Red Square, the Kremlin is a place of invaluable historical and cultural value. The Kremlin Fortress of the 12th century was once the symbol of Russia's political power. In its 28 hectares surrounded by walls some of the most important palaces, monuments, churches and cathedrals of Russia rise.

5. Lenin's Mausoleum

The visit to Lenin's mausoleum has become a must in Moscow. In a striking pyramid of the Red Square the embalmed remains of the leader of the Bolshevik revolution are preserved.

Bunker 42 is one of the many nuclear shelters that were built in the city during the Cold War. It is also known as the Stalin Bunker.

6. Bolshoi Theater

The city of Moscow is quite unique. Moscow is the heart of Russian performing arts, including ballet and film home to several famous Russian artists, scientists, and sports figures as well as culturally significant museums, academic and political institutions and theatres. The famous Bolshoi theater is the most important in Russia and one of the most famous in the world. Its enormous dimensions make it the second largest theater in Europe.

7. Novodevichy Convent

The Novodévichi Monastery is one of the best known in Moscow. It is an architectural ensemble of Baroque style that is exceptionally preserved. The Novodévichi Monastery is a church and cemetery complex that was founded as a convent in 1524. It is worth knowing this architectural and historical jewel surrounded by walls and a huge park.

8. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

The Cathedral of Christ the Savior is one of the most imposing buildings in the country. Located in the center of Moscow, near the Kremlin and on the banks of the Moskva River, the original, from the 19th century, was destroyed by Stalin and rebuilt after the World War II.

9. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Another must-see museum is the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, which exhibits works and objects from the 8th to the 20th centuries.

10. Museum of Cosmonautics

One of the most famous museums in Moscow is the Museum of Cosmonautics. It is an interesting visit to learn about the history of the Russian space program and the space race between Russia and the United States.

11. Ostankino Tower

Moscow’s Ostankino TV and Radio Tower is still the tallest building in Europe and the 14th tallest building ever erected. So, it is visually impressive. The view from it is also impressive. It is a symbol of Russia’s state media. And it houses the eighth tallest restaurant in the world (the third tallest revolving restaurant in the world).

12. Arbat Street

Another famous street is the pedestrian Arbat Street, where you will also see many historic buildings. You will enjoy its cafes and restaurants and its almost bohemian atmosphere. One of the most wonderful things about traveling is that it allows you to know other customs and cultures. And Arbat Street is the perfect place to beat the current daily life of Muscovites.

13. Tverskaya Street

To the north of the Red Square, connecting the Manege square with the Garden Ring, the main street of Moscow extends: Tverskaya. One of the most popular streets in Moscow is the Tverskaya or Gorsky Street. On the sides are neoclassical mansions and modernist buildings and houses the most famous and expensive shops.

Tverskaya Street is one of the busiest shopping streets in Moscow, many equate this bustling boulevard to London’s Oxford Street or Paris' Champs Elysees.

Stores are everywhere, filled with everything you may need and much more. The shopping malls are so huge and so accessible that you simply won’t find anything similar in an American city. It is almost overwhelming that half of subway stations have a huge mall with every imaginable brand name store, a movie theater and 10–20 restaurants right next to them.

Typical street food vendors in Moscow include shoarma/shawarma kiosks. Usually its chicken wrapped up in flatbread with cabbage, some ketchup and mayonnaise that is re-grilled on a sandwich press. Hot dogs have a tenuous hold on Muscovites, whether from the famous Stardogs aka crapdogs or some other kiosk selling them baked into the buns. Hot dogs were a leading street food in Moscow for years but the chain has seen better days.

Kroshka-kartoshka aka Crummy Potatoes sells baked potatoes with a wide range of Russia-core toppings such as marinated mushrooms, whipped feta with dill and imitation crab sticks with cheese. Iceberry and other ice cream stands have always been popular and they’re still going strong. Ironically, sales go up in the winter.

Teremok sells blini and other Russia-core foods such as kvas, oliver salad and boiled buckwheat with meat cutlets. Teremok has gone strip mall as a franchise and its pretty safe to eat at these places when they’re located indoors. The food is ok - cheap and interesting carbs for foreigners to try.

Grilled chicken kiosks used to be everywhere in Moscow, but they are thinning out now. Georgian baked goods, typically khachapuri, were once a Moscow street food staple. You can still find joints selling the classic Georgian hot cheese bread. Nowadays, however, almost all Georgian food has gone indoors/restaurant format.

Salát olivyé, a pizza with Russian salad for topping is a typical celebratory dish for Xmas and New Year. True to the synthetic nature of Russian civilization, Italian dough here embraces typical Russian food that bears a French name, with American ketchup keeping them company.

Kiosks and hole in the wall shops selling pirozhki and pirogi - those sweet and savory pies and pastries that Russia is famous for - are still pretty ubiquitous. They face stiff competition from fancy bread shops cum cafes that have largely taken over the market for such baked goods however. Why pay 15 rubles for bread when you can pay 250 rubles?

The coffee craze in Moscow is now in full swing. Outfits like One Buck’s Coffee are shamelessly schmoozing off the Starbucks brand and Russians think its funny. They’re literally everywhere. The coffee is often pretty good. Some Western outfits have gone native with kiosk versions of their franchises. In the early 2000’s a few fake Chinese joints tried their luck with the kiosk format. The place Khyuan Khe was fairly popular.

Today a more broadly defined ‘Asian’ style is the rage with this place, Wokker, serving up stir fry cooked to order on site. They have tweaked the kiosk format to be an outdoor mini-sit down restaurant, but they are far more successful in shopping malls and office food court clusters. They have vegetarian dishes, even.

Kiosks selling the ubiquitous chebureki, a fried meat pie typical of the Southern Republics, used to be popular street food venues even in Soviet times and they still have hold out representatives today. The outfit, literally called Cheburechnaya USSR, capitalizes on the Soviet past to attract older consumers.

Kiosks selling beer seem to have died out. They sold crappy Russian beer and sometimes crappy foreign beer made in Russia along with classic beer snacks, especially sunflower seeds, dried fish jerky and stale chips and nuts. Dried bread rusks, called sukhariki in Russian, remain the most popular snack to have with beer. Moscow has also been caught up in a craft beer revolution that has generally been a good thing, but this has also moved beer things indoors and off the street.

Mini-hole in the wall draft beer on tap stores have spring up all over Moscow for every price range, from lowbrow stores that will sell a 1 liter plain brown plastic bottle of homemade beer-hootch for as low as 200 rubles to high end brand beer bars that come with restaurants attached.

Discover the Russian food in Moscow just like a local! Visit hidden gems, learn about local cuisine and Russian culture while smelling, touching, and tasting delicious food and drinks! Enjoy delicious tastings as you walk through the city, including breakfast, desserts, salads, a Monastery visit for tea, dumplings, etc.

When people come to Russia, they are often underwhelmed by the national cuisine. The Western mindset has this idea that national foods are on their best behavior and wearing their best clothes when they are in a restaurant. So the foreigners go to this or that restaurant to try borscht or blini or olivier salad. But in Russia, shchi is just as popular. It is borscht minus beets, hence, the cabbage & veggies soup.

The most popular other soups are chicken and noodles, fish soups, and various veggie soups. A popular summer food is cold Kvass Soup! The ubiquitous sauce and garnish for many dishes are smetana (natural sour cream) and dill (one of the few greens that grow well in Russia). Some people may add mayo.

The traditional first course - one of the oldest in Russian cuisine - of course is cabbage soup. They are lean, only with vegetables and onions, or with meat. Cabbage soup was cooked in Russia, and everyone loved them - from peasants to noble masters. Cabbage soup was cooked in the oven, and then they acquired a special characteristic taste.

Borsch is better known than cabbage soup - it is popular all over the world. Hot aromatic nourishing borsch instantly cheer up and relieve fatigue - this is what the Russian people know very well. Okroshka is a cold dish, and very peculiar. Foreigners may find it unusual to try this soup. The fact is that the basis of okroshka is kvass.

It also includes eggs, onions, herbs, cucumbers, boiled meat, radish - all this finely crumbles. It turns out okroshka, which is eaten in the hot summer. On the second, Russian people like to eat side dishes and meat or fish. Often, the main course serves appetizers in the form of salads and various pickles - sauerkraut, pickled mushrooms, pickles.

The fact is, Russian food is not at its best in a restaurant, but in someone’s home kitchen. The surprising star of the Russian food scene is Georgian cuisine. This stuff takes the cake in a restaurant or at someone’s home and there are many Georgian restaurants in Moscow ranging from the affordable cafe type to world class Georgian restaurants.

If you come to Russia and you want to eat out, get Georgian food. They’ve got the eponymous khachapuri, a kind of baked flatbread with cheese which is probably the best thing to eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and delicious roast meats and curious minced root vegetable salads called pkhali. Khachapuri can come plain with smokey, goey Georgian cheese or with other stuff like a pizza.

Pkhali is actually vegan - made with beetroots, spinach or eggplant and walnuts, it is a superb snack on its own or in combination with other food and drinks. Some people eat buterbrody (sandwiches) with cheese and ham or some kind of sausage. And eggs. Pirog can have any fillings, be sweet or savory: ground meat, sauteed cabbage, fish, mushrooms, or berry jam - that’s for desserts, of course.

Ikra. Salmon caviar/eggs. Red coloured and delicious on toast with unsalted butter.

Shashlik. BBQ skewers Russian style. Marinated lamb and vegetables cooked outside in all weathers.

Golubtsy. Cabbage leaves stuffed with minced meat, rice, herbs etc. and then steamed or boiled. Served with sour cream on top.

Ukha. Fish soup. It is a grey dish-water slop with vague bits of something in it and a fish skeleton. Yep, a fish skeleton exactly like the cat gets given in a cartoon. Then everyone gnaws on their respective fish carcasses (like Gollum) and gets watery-eyed about how mother used to make Ukha just like it. Slightly less appealing than vomit… avoid.

Other ethnic foods of the Southern Republics and beyond abound in Moscow and they make dining out a treat when you can’t manage to get invited to some tiny Russian apartment where someone’s grandmother makes you 7.3 metric tons of Pelmeni, little pasta like dumplings with a meaty filling, often served in the stock they were boiled in, homemade pickled apples and Nastoyka.

Restaurants are of a very high quality, and you can have an upscale meal at half the cost of the same meal in Europe or the United States. There are Stabuckses and a dozen other coffee shop chains all over the place. Even fast food places like McDonald’s in Russia feel much more upscale than they do in American cities, and the service is much better, at a cheaper cost.

Hotels in Moscow

Moscow’s city center is the perfect base for both leisure and business travelers. The centrally located Radisson Collection Hotel, Moscow is a striking and modern accommodation option seeing as it is one of the city’s most iconic architectural symbols nestled along the banks of the Moskva River.

Due to its location directly on the river, this hotel commands a small fleet of yachts, offering year-round river cruises for a unique perspective of the city’s main landmarks. No visit to Moscow would be complete without taking a cruise down the Moskva River.

The key to visiting a city like Moscow is finding centrally located accommodation in the center of all the action offering excellent transportation to the Moscow metro, to top attractions anywhere in the city, to the railway station that offers trains from Kiev, Bucharest, Budapest, Venice, and more, and to the four surrounding international airports.

Transportation in Moscow

Transportation is extremely easy. You can either take the subway and get to any point in the city in less than 40 minutes for 85 cents, or you can download a taxi app like YandexTaxi or Uber and get a cheap cab to pick you up within a few minutes at any location in the city and take you where you need to go at a fixed low rate, usually around $5-$15.

Moscow has one of the most comprehensive, fastest and dynamic transportation systems with 4 airports, 9 major railways stations, a fabulous Moscow subway, and all kinds of other transportation systems from trolleys, trams and buses to monorail, CarShare and even electric scooters. The Moscow taxi cab system is one of the most convenient and most affordable.

Moscow is served by a transit network that includes, 9 railway terminals, a monorail system and the Metro system. The Moscow Metro is the busiest in Europe and the fourth largest in the world. It is also said to be one of the deepest underground rapid transit systems in the world. Subway stations feature a unique architectural style.

The Moscow metro is one of the main attractions of the city. The first ten stations were opened in 1935 and its construction and renovation continues today.

Moscow metro stations are a fantastic example of monumental architecture. Those that are part of the Golden Ring, in particular, are worth a visit. Accompanied by a guide, see the most famous and beautiful metro stations and learn incredible stories about the underground life of Moscow.

One of the most memorable things about the subway is that some of its stations display eye-catching works of art and architecture such as stained-glass windows among the arched and vaulted glittery ceilings. You get to travel and marvel all for the price of a subway ticket. In fact, it is rumored that folks travel those lines not to get from A to B but to hang and bathe in the art and space of those museum stations.

Best time to visit Moscow

Russia is not the warmest country in Europe, but it certainly isn’t the land of always winter, as the movies and videogames always portray it to be. The average temperature in Moscow in the summer is about 19°C, and the average winter temperature is -6°C. This might be misleading, however, as Moscow has the continental climate, meaning temperatures vary more.

Take advantage of your visit to Moscow to get to know the second largest city in the country, St. Petersburg. Its landscape bridges, canals and domes, its wonderful architecture, its magical atmosphere and its white nights make it a difficult city to forget.

Interesting fact: Moscow is one of the dozen or so Hero Cities and designated one of three federal cities of Russia—the others being Saint Petersburg in the north and Sevastopol in the south. The hero moniker serves to highlight the superhuman sacrifices made by all those cities and a fortress in World War Two in repelling the invaders and saving the entire nation from being overrun and conquered.
Kalyan Panja