Welcome to Moscow, one of the world's most enchanting cities. You've undoubtedly heard tales of its splendor, particularly in the winter. You can live a winter fairy tale right here, feeling like a prince or princess in a castle full of elegance and magnificence. Moscow is a truly unique city that deserves to be introduced appropriately. As a result, we shall share with you the most well-known attractions that will illustrate the city’s character. You will learn about its history and culture - all that by exploring its landmarks. We’ve gathered them all in one place for you. So sit back and relax as we take you on a journey through the magical city of Moscow. Here are just some of the interesting places you'll read about:
Moscow - Basic Information
Москва, as the Russians call this city, is much more than the capital of the Russian Federation. It’s the national treasure of the country and the most significant economic and political center of the whole of Eastern Europe. You will learn some of the most information about Moscow you need to know before exploring its wonders.
Where is Moscow?
Even though most of Russia lies on the Asian continent, Moscow is located in Europe. It has a total area of more than 2.500 square kilometers and a population of 12.6 million people, making it Europe's largest metropolis. It's difficult to imagine a city only based on numbers, but perhaps describing Moscow as the size of seven Viennas can help. The city is set along the Moskva River, after which the town got its name. Moscow is home to many important institutions, for example, to the seat of the President, the government, and the State Duma.
Best time to visit Moscow
As for any inland city, we recommend visiting Moscow during the spring or fall. Nevertheless, this city is the most beautiful during the winter, and if you have the chance, don’t miss it to see Moscow in its all splendor. But, let’s talk about all seasons.
- Summer here lasts from June to August, when the days are the longest, and the climate is pleasant, with an average temperature of around 25°C. It’s the time when Moscow is the most crowded, so if you want to avoid waiting in lines to visit some of the museums, it’s better to skip this part of the year.
- During the spring and early fall, you’ll have the chance to spare some money going around Moscow. This is the period when prices are usually lower, so you can find excellent accommodation and flight tickets at a great deal.
- If you want an authentic Russian experience, get ready for cold winters. In December, January and February, temperatures can fall under 10°C. Moscow is a relatively wintry city than the rest of Europe, so bring cold-weather socks, a knit scarf, and buy an ushanka - you’ll need it. Snow in Moscow goes without saying. Even though you will have to pack some bulky winter clothing, you will surely enjoy time spent in Moscow during this season.
What is Moscow famous for?
From its role that played in the world’s history to the present significance in many fields, Moscow is one of the most important metropolises in the world. Moscow was previously the capital of the Soviet Union, one of the countries that significantly impacted significant world events. Moscow is famed for its architectural marvels, in addition to its rich and turbulent past. Naryshkin Baroque, commonly known as Moscow Baroque, is a style of architecture. It refers to the city's one-of-a-kind building design that you won't find anywhere else. Religion, which played a significant role in the state's operation, inspired this type of architecture.
Top attractions in Moscow
Many sources claim that two or three days will be sufficient to tour Moscow. We don't completely agree on that. The truth is that Moscow has so many worthwhile attractions that it's challenging to list them all. Of course, if you only have a limited amount of time, you should stick to the ones that draw the most attention and are the city's main symbols. Moscow is huge, and making a plan is the best way to get to know it. This means you make the itinerary that takes you to the city's most impressive landmarks. We'll do our best to assist you by introducing you to some of the attractions that should undoubtedly be on your Moscow list.
There is no better place to kick off your tour than Red Square or, in Russian, Krasnaya Ploshchad. Even though you may connect its name to 20th-century history symbolically colored in red, those two are not related. The term comes from the Old Russian word krasnyi, which initially meant beautiful but eventually came to imply red. Its origins date to the late 15th century and take us to prince Ivan the Great, who made sure that the square developed and became a prominent marketplace at the time. Many notable buildings were erected here, especially during the 16th century and the state's Soviet Era, when Red Square was the central place for many military parades and events. Today, Red Square is under UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. This place represents the meeting point and the heart, not just of Moscow, but of the whole of Russia. You can tell that by just watching the map, as all the big streets spread from this place. We will glance at some of the most famous landmarks that stand right on this square.
St Basil's Cathedral
Well, the motif of this cathedral you will find on most postcards, fridge magnets, and other souvenirs in Moscow. Why? Because the Cathedral of Saint Basil the Blessed is the most famous landmark of the city, if not the whole country. The cathedral dates back to the 16th century, and it was built by order of Ivan the Terrible. This is undoubtedly the most beautiful church in Russia since it was constructed in a unique and unusual architectural style. To that testifies the comment of the Marquis de Custine, who once told that domes of the church look like "The scales of a golden fish, the enameled skin of a serpent, the changeful hues of the lizard, the glossy rose and azure of the pigeon's neck.” And really, this would be a perfect description of them. The entire structure stands 65 meters tall. The St Basil's Cathedral has nine domes, each representing a separate church, and looks like a bonfire flame reaching into the sky. But the church hasn’t always looked like this. The vivid colors that represent it today were added during the 17th and 18th centuries. Before that time, the cathedral was mostly painted in red and white. And the interior is much as impressive as its outside appearance. Richly decorated walls instill awe and religious thoughts.
Opening hours of St Basil's Cathedral and ticket prices
- In 1928 St Basil's Cathedral became a museum, and it has remained ever since. This means that no services are held inside, and you have to purchase a ticket to see the interior. It will take you around an hour to explore it thoroughly, and you can do that for 700 rubles per ticket (children and teenagers up to 16 years can enter for free). If you want to get an audio guide during your tour, you will have to pay 1.200 rubles.
- When it comes to working hours, they change depending on the time of the year. You can visit the cathedral in the following hours: June – August: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m; September, October, May: 11 a.m. – 6 p.m; November – April: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
You can visit the official website of St Basil's Cathedral for additional information on tickets, working hours, and tours.
The first thing you should know about this place is the meaning of its name. GUM stands for Главный универсальный магазин which translates into English as the Main Universal Store. Now, this explains a lot. You’ve learned that in GUM, you can buy things, and what things! This is the home department store of Russia. Here, more than 100 world-wide-famous fashion brands sell their products. And how did it all start? Formerly, the building constructed in the 1890s was known as Upper Trading Arcade. It was built in the Pseudo-Russian style or Neo-Russian style, which was extremely popular at the time. Its appearance resembles 19th-century railway stations of London and, after all the time, still looks pretty impressive. Even though it was converted to office space in 1928, under Stalin's rule, it was reopened as a department store in 1953. This structure has survived various periods of history and remains one of Moscow's most important buildings.
So, what can you do in Moscow's most important shopping center? Start by doing some window shopping. Many well-known fashion brands, including Dior, Fendi, Calvin Klein, Chanel, and others, have their headquarters in GUM. Of course, you may buy many other goods, including accessories, souvenirs, and home decor. If you opt to go shopping, you'll be glad to know that you may relax afterward in one of GUM's many elegant restaurants. Also, you shouldn’t miss the chance to try the famous ice cream - it’s a part of the grand GUM tour. You can visit the center every day from 10 am to 10 pm.
This park, located along the Moskva River, is a true city treasure. Its beauty is comparable to Central Park in New York City, and its entry is equivalent to the Brandenburg Gate. The park, known as Maxim Gorky Central Park of Culture and Recreation, was named after Soviet writer Maxim Gorky and opened in 1928. This vast green area is home to many monuments, museums, and gardens. It is divided into four areas:
- Muzeon - This is a magnificent park of arts filled with more than 1.000 sculptures dedicated mainly to the Soviet period of the country. You can see the works of many significant Russian and Soviet artists such as Vladimir Lemport, Sergey Merkurov, Vera Mukhina, and others.
Parterre - Parterre is the central part of the Gorky Park, which opened in 1928 and grew out of a post-Russian Revolution agricultural exhibition conducted in this area.
- Neskuchny Garden - This is the most historic part of Gorky Park. It spreads on over 59 hectares, and it’s a perfect place for relaxation in quiet. The main inhabitants of this part of the park are birds and squirrels. They are very friendly and let people feed and pet them. So if you are an animal lover, you will find this area just ideal! Except for the animals and green trees, you can enjoy visiting some of the buildings located here, such as the hunting lodge, the summer house of Count Orlov, the Bather Fountain, the Grotesque Bridge, or the Stas Namin Theater and Music Theater.
- Vorobyovy Gory - At this place, the first settlements were recorded more than 2500 years ago. This part of the park is maybe the most green. It’s actually a hill, to which top leads a nature reserve. You can spend hours and hours taking walks, meditating, and appreciating nature. When you get to the top of the hill, a magnificent view will appear in front of you. One of the main attractions of this area is a cable car that leads from this hill to the other part of the Moskva River.
To get around the whole park, you’ll need around two hours. Fortunately, the park is open 24/7, so you will be able to visit it any time and spend some quality time inside of this green oasis.
Moscow undoubtedly has one of the most beautiful metros in the world. It’s not just a transportation system but also a particular museum opened in 1935 for everyone to see and admire. And you will not miss seeing it yourself! Taking the metro is the best way to get around the city, so take your time, and explore it. Some of the stations are worth visiting, as they look astonishing. Besides its beauty, this metro is known for its largeness. It’s one of the world’s most vast metro systems, with 15 lines and around 270 stations. Considering its size, you should make your tour or choose some of the guided ones to see all the beauties of the Moscow Metro. If you decide to wander the metro alone with your friends, make sure not to miss the following stations:
- Mayakovskaya Metro Station - This station was opened in 1938, and it is the world’s first deep column station. Explained, this means the station has a central hall and halls on each side supported by columns. At the ceiling, you can see numerous mosaics that together make a serial work 24 Hours in the Land of the Soviets. Materials such as marble and stainless steel are used to complete this marvelous station.
- Novoslobodskaya Metro Station - Also known as stone flower, Novoslobodskaya Metro Station opened in 1952. The station owes its nickname to the unique stained-glass panels with Social Realist motives covering the interior. The main attraction at this station may be the World Peace mosaic which shows a woman with a baby pulling her hands towards a dove.
- Novokuznetskaya Metro Station - Although the station was designed to look like a Roman temple, it was built during WWII. It intended to demonstrate the Soviets' power and bravery at the time. It’s made of marble and is richly decorated with carvings and mosaics.
- Rasskazovka Metro Station - If you are, like many other people, a great fan of Russian literature, you should not miss the chance to check out this station. Its name translates into English as storytelling, which illustrates the nature of its style. Constructed in 2018, this station celebrates writers of the country. Rasskazovka Metro Station was designed to look like a library, with walls depicted as bookshelves with the most famous pieces of Russian literature. The bonus of this station is that you can scan a QR code and download an e-book you like.
The Moscow Metro is open every day from 5.30 am to 1 am. Tickets are cheap, so for around 55 rubles, you can enjoy a ride in one of the most imposing metros in the world.
Christ The Savior Cathedral
This majestic church you will quickly recognize by its heavenly white facade and golden domes. The Christ The Savior Cathedral was initially built between 1839 and 1883 by order of Tsar Alexander I. It resembles the iconic Hagia Sophia, a mosque in Istanbul that once stood as a church. Even though the cathedral was built in recognition of people who fell in the Patriotic War of 1812, it couldn’t survive the Soviet regime. The church was demolished, and in its place was created the world's largest open-air swimming pool, which worked throughout all year. We must admit, this swimming pool looked incredible, but in 1995 the church got back its old place and a new building. The pool was closed, and in 2000 the new Cathedral of Christ the Savior opened its door to the visitors. This five-domed cathedral is as remarkable on the inside as it is outside. Besides its beautiful interior adornments, you can also see the part dedicated to the church’s history. Numerous photos and pictures show how the building looked like before it was destroyed, as well as the swimming pool. The domes you can climb and enjoy the view over Moscow.
Opening hours and ticket prices
The church is open every day from 10 am to 5 pm except on Mondays, when the opening hours are from 1 till 5 pm. The entrance to the cathedral is free, but if you would like to climb the domes, set aside 400 rubles.
Bolshoi Theatre is recognized as one of the most important theatres in the world, where well-known ballet and opera pieces are regularly played. Its story started around 1780 when the theater was opened as the Petrovsky Theatre. Unfortunately, this building was destroyed in 1812 as a consequence of the war of Russia against Napoleon. And this was not the only time theatre faced a fatal end. In 1825 the building was rebuilt to host more than 2.000 people. That one construction was destroyed as well. The same happened during WWII. But the Russians never gave up. They started restoration in 1942, and from that moment on, the Bolshoi Theatre was open.
You can visit Bolshoi Theatre to attend an opera or ballet performance or within a guided tour. We recommend you choose to hear some of the many events - in that way, you’ll get to know the theater’s spirit and understand why this is a must-see place in Moscow. One of the most impressive ballet performances that take place in Bolshoi Theatre is The Nutcracker. If you are visiting Moscow during the winter, you should check out this famous piece. Generally, depending on the program and seats, tickets may cost you from 100 to 15.000 Rubles, and for that price, it’s really worth seeing.
In the southern part of Moscow, on 390 hectares spreads the Kolomenskoye museum estate, the former summer residence of the Russian tsars. Here you can relax and escape the Moscovite bustle, enjoying the impressive architecture, beautiful nature, and Moskva River. This place is rich in archeological sites that date back to the Stone Age. But first, written record leads us to the 14th century, where Kolomenskoye appeared as a small village. By the 17th century, Tsar Alexei Romanov made it his royal residence. After relocating the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, this estate got forgotten. The Russian Revolution had made many buildings close until 1980 when the estate was renovated for the Olympics. Today, this museum complex has numerous buildings, with the reproduction of Tsar’s Alexei palace as one of the main attractions. Here’s what you can visit within Kolomenskoye.
- Church of the Ascension - This church was built in honor of the newborn prince Ivan, later known as Tsar Ivan the Terrible. The first tent-roofed church built in stone found its place on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. Nearby the church stands St. George the Victorious Bell Tower, Water Tower, and Hunting Pavilion.
- Kolomenskoye wooden palace - is a famous wooden construction that is a faithful replica of the Tsar’s palace. This fairytale-like building is divided into the male and female parts, both counting more than 270 rooms with 3.000 windows. You can enter the palace and explore royal rooms.
- Peter the Great cottage - Unlike the Tsar’s palace, the house of Peter the Great is quite simple and small. Today it serves as the Moscow memorial museum.
- Kolomenskoye park - refers to the whole area where the complex is located. Here you can rest a bit and enjoy the view over Moscow. Here is also planted and oak-trees grove, with one of the oldest oaks in the city.
Working hours of Kolomenskoye and ticket prices
Kolomenskoye is a magical place where many architectural achievements can be seen. Opening hours of the park depend on the time of the year. During the summer, the park is open from 7 am to midnight. From 1st of October to the 30th of March the park is open from 8 am to 9 pm. Museums have different opening hours, from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm, except on Saturday, when they open at 11 am and close at 7 pm. On Mondays, museums are closed. You can find more information about tours and exhibitions on the official website of Kolomeskoye.
Last but not least is the Moscow Kremlin. Let’s first explain the name. The Russian word Кремль means fortification in English. Several cities in Russia have their kremlins, but the most important and certainly the most famous one is the Moscow Kremlin. Now, let’s focus on the significance of this landmark. Kremlin is a fortified complex that has stood on Red Square since the 15th century. Its significance was immense over time, and this structure followed many Russian leaders. In the past, this place represented Soviet power and today exists as the official residence of the president of the Russian Federation. What can you visit within the complex that spreads on 27 hectares? We will list some of the buildings that make the Kremlin such a stunning complex.
- The Cathedral Square - at just one place, you can see three monumental cathedrals and two churches. Cathedral of the Dormition, Cathedral of the Archangel, Cathedral of the Annunciation, the Church of the Deposition of the Robe, and the Church of the Twelve Apostles. Besides being one of the famous landmarks with these great attractions, the Cathedral Square is the place where the ceremony for the inauguration of the President of Russia is held.
- The Tsar Bell - this may be the largest bell in the world, with its 216 tons and diameter of 6.6 meters. This gigantic bell made out of bronze was broken during a fire, and its broken part can still be seen.
- Tsar Cannon - Some people say that his cannon has never been fired, but those are just the stories. But the truth is it was used in a war. Still, this piece of artillery was included in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest bombard by caliber in the world. This colossal gun made by order of the Tsar Fiodor I weighs impressive 38 tonnes.
- Grand Kremlin Palace - You can count yourself lucky if the President of Russia invites you to visit the palace where he works since it is not open for regular visits. Still, this place is worth seeing on the outside as well. Many official meetings and conferences are held at this place, and you can visit it just by taking a private tour. But, keep in mind, even though you made a reservation for the tour, it may get canceled if any official event comes up at that time. Also, keep in mind that you will have to have your passport with you at the entrance.
Kremlin State Palace - This building was constructed in 1961 and served as the Congressional Palace and as a concert hall.
- The Armory Museum - is a must-see museum that keeps huge collections from the 5th to the 20th century. Here you will see a large collection of famous Faberge eggs, royal personal belongings, and many other fascinating artifacts. The regular tickets cost 1.000 roubles, and we highly recommend you visit this place during your stay in Moscow. The museum is open from 10 am to 6 pm.
Opening hours of the Kremlin are from 9 am to 5 pm. One ticket that costs 700 rubles will get you into all the cathedrals, generally the grounds of the Kremlin. Remember that you must buy a separate ticket for the Armory Museum. If you want to know more about Kremlin and its attractions, you can check out the official site of Kremlin.
Moscow on Map - What to see in Moscow
To help you get a better perspective of the city and its wonders we've created a map with all the fun attractions mentioned in the blog. Fell free to use it while prepping for your trip, as you can easily measure distances, check the best driving routs, discover the closest metro or bus stations. The possibilities are almost endless.
Museums in Moscow
More than 400 public and private museums are located in Moscow. Because Russia played such a significant role in so many historical events, it's no wonder that numerous artifacts from the country have ended up in museum collections. By visiting museums and galleries, you can learn about the country's history and culture. And Moscow made sure you did it properly. We'll take you on a tour of the city's most famous and visited places of cultural significance. You will get an insight into many treasures of Russia hidden in Moscow museums.
State Historical Museum
The State Historical Museum is the largest national museum in Russia. Here you can really explore the country’s rich history and heritage. You would be surprised to hear that more than 4.5 million items are kept here. They make parts of archeological, numismatics, arts, and many other collections. The museum is made of two floors which contain 39 halls. You can just imagine how much time it would take to get through the whole museum. But it’s really worth taking aside one whole afternoon, or more, to enjoy it. Halls from 1st to 7th illustrate the history of human civilization, and halls 8 - 14 show the period of the Old Russian state. In halls from 15th to 21st, you can see collections dedicated to the country’s expansion, and on the second floor, halls 22-35 will lead you through the history of the Russian Empire from the 18th to 20th century.
Since the museum is located on Red Square, it won’t be any problem to get to it. Working hours on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday are from 10 am to 6 pm. On Fridays and Saturdays, opening hours are from 10 am to 9 pm, and on Tuesday, the museum is closed. Interestingly, the entrance fee is different over the year. From May 15 to August 31 the price is 700 roubles, but from September 1 to May 14 the ticket costs 500 roubles.
One of the main landmarks of Russia and one of the central buildings in Moscow is Lenin’s Mausoleum. And the name itself reveals what awaits you at this place. Nobody indeed listened to Lenin’s wish to be buried in the ground after his death. Instead, he was embalmed and kept in a mausoleum for people to visit. Even though the former plan was to lay him in the ground, many people wanted his body to be preserved to still admire him, even after his death. So the mausoleum was built five years after Lenin’s death, and his remains are being preserved to this day. Before the mausoleum we know today, the Soviet leader’s tomb was a wooden mausoleum. But in 1930, architect Alexey Shchusev made an Avante-Garde and Art Deco structure to keep Lenin’s body. Many embalmers now take care of Lenin’s body, and because of that job, the mausoleum is often closed for visitors. Lenin gets his new clothes every three years, a new silk suit.
You can visit Lenin's Mausoleum every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday, free of charge from 10 am to 1 pm. Some say it may be wrong now to keep Lenin’s body as a symbol of the communist regime in today’s world, but it is still worth seeing.
Officially called The State Tretyakov Gallery is one of the largest galleries in the whole country. In one place, Zamoskvorechye, not far from the Kremlin, are kept some of the most important pieces of Russian art. What can you see here? More than 180.000 artworks, from painting to sculptures and graphics, all of them being a part of the state’s art. This gallery was funded by the Moscow merchant Pavel Mikhailovich Tretyakov, a collection of art. He started collecting in 1856, and by 1892 he had already displayed around 2.000 works. The famed Russian painter V. Vasnetsov designed the central facade of the gallery's main building, which dates from 1902 to 1904.
By visiting the museum, you’ll get the chance to see some of the works of Russia’s most famous artists, such as George Costakis, Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and many others. Even after Tretyakov’s death, the museum kept working and collecting many new pieces of art. Especially after the October Revolution, many arts were donated or sold to the Tretyakov Gallery. In 1985 the gallery was merged with the Gallery of Contemporary Art. This part of the museum hosts an essential collection of Social Realism sculptures. The 86-meter-tall statue of Peter the Great by Zurab Tsereteli, one of the world's highest outdoor monuments, sits nearby. Aside from that, you may visit The Graveyard of Fallen Monuments, a sculpture garden that now houses Soviet sculptures that were transferred from their original locations after the Soviet Union fell.
Opening hours of Tretyakov Gallery and ticket prices
When it comes to visiting the gallery, you can do that every day except Mondays, from 10 am to 6 pm. The regular ticket price is 500 roubles.
Famous Streets in Moscow
This is the part of the blog dedicated to the most beautiful streets of Moscow. In them, you will find many stores, shopping malls, places to go out for a coffee or have a nice meal. And what is a tour without tasting local food and buying some souvenirs?
Welcome to the main street of Moscow, and one of the oldest as well. You may want to know that Tverskaya street is also ranked in the top 10 most world’s expensive cities. But don’t be afraid, you won’t need to spend enormous amounts of money to enjoy this beautiful street. What can you find here? Being the 5th Avenue of Moscow, this is the main shopping street in the city. Yes, shopping, shopping, shopping. Many Russians are in love with this activity. And why would they be? This is a perfect place to spend money on elegant clothes. Except for the most famous brand names in the world, you can visit Moskva bookshop. This is the meeting place for many Russian authors, who organize numerous literary events here. So if you are a book fan, this should be just perfect for you! After making your grand tour through the street, choose one of many restaurants to enjoy your Russian dinner. Being there, you should not miss checking out the famous Café Pushkin.
Arbat is an Arab word for suburbs. And this particular street is a pedestrian zone long, around one kilometer. It is located in the city’s historical center, and it’s been there since the 15th century. You’ll reach it on just 800 meters on the west of the walls of the Kremlin. Since it is located in the city’s heart, this street is visited by many tourists. Once, this was the place where many artists and nobilities lived. It was back then a desirable part of the city to live in. And it still is even today. Well, how it wouldn’t be if you knew that famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin used to rent a flat on the same street. That is also one of the places you can visit on your tour since it is open for visitors. We recommend, while here, try the famous Soviet-style ice cream - it’s one of the symbols of Moscow. And if you are in for more museum visits, go to the Museum of Corporal Punishment or the Museum of Optical Illusions.
This is another pedestrian street in Moscow you should visit. This one connects Red Square with Lubyanka Square. Nikolskaya Street is perfect for visiting bars and shops. It’s a vibrant street full of pedestrians who enjoy their walk. Before 2013, this was a regular street where vehicles passed, but fortunately, it was changed to serve pedestrians. A nice walk and taking photos after the visit to Red Square will be a must-do. Of course, if you are interested in shopping in Russian style, visit some of the many luxury shops in the area. Of course, this street was as well one of the main places for the life of many high-class Russians. The traces of that can be found on many elegant buildings, whose architectural style reveals its importance in the past.
After reading this blog, you will be ready to travel to Moscow and discover its beauties. As already said, Moscow is a huge city where you can easily get lost in its attractions. You would need more than a month to explore it thoroughly. Maybe even that time wouldn’t be enough since this city offers something new almost every day. Still, take your chance to meet the capital city of one of the greatest countries in the world. And if we’ve persuaded you to visit Moscow, we recommend getting some basic information on how to get around the city, what to look after, and what more places to visit. Of big help will be the website Bookaweb which offers basic and the most important information about Moscow you should know before visiting the city. The only thing left is to wish you a lovely trip and a magical Moscow fairy tale!