Here’s a list of the 15 best things to do in Moscow (Russia), along with famous landmarks, museums, and other points of interest.
Moscow is the capital of Russia, and with a population of roughly 12,5 million people, it’s also one of the largest European capitals.
This city is famous for many things, including its extravagant metro stations and being home to Kreml and the iconic Red Square. Moscow is also the economic and political center of Russia, and for more than 600 years, it has been the center of the Russian Orthodox Church.
In this article, I’m sharing some of the best places to visit in Moscow as well as attractions and museums that shouldn’t be missed while visiting.
St Basil’s Cathedral
St Basil’s Cathedral is not just one of Moscow’s most popular landmarks but also a symbol of the nation of Russia. The cathedral was built in the 16th century on the order of Ivan the Terrible and consists of nine separate chapels, each featuring its own ”onion dome”.
The beautifully decorated insides of the cathedral can be visited for a fee of 700 rubles. It comes as no surprise that the famous St Basil’s Cathedral is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bolshoi Theater is not just Russia’s most prestigious ballet and opera house but is also considered one of the world’s best. The same can be said for the ballet academy housed here as many of the best ballet dancers were trained here.
The monumental Bolshoi Theater was built in 1825 and has been a landmark of Moscow since then. The might and splendor of the building and its fantastic neoclassical façade is truly awe-inspiring.
Constant renovation and preservation work ensures that the theater is still a world-class venue today for live events and offers fantastic acoustics.
Kremlin is the country’s center of power and serves as the official residence of the president of Russia as well as many critical governmental institutions.
Most parts of the fortified area can be visited and coming here is definitely not to be missed because the Kremlin is not just the center of political Russia but also home to a fantastic concentration of beautiful palaces and churches.
The highlights of the Kremlin are the monumental Grand Kremlin Palace, the Belltower of Ivan the Great, and the Annunciation Cathedral
The mausoleum of the former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin is one of Moscow’s most prominent tourist attractions. It is situated on the Red Square in proximity to the Kremlin and the St Basil’s Cathedral.
Lenin’s mausoleum was built using beautiful red marble creating an elegant structure that allows thousands of visitors each day. The body of Vladimir Lenin, despite its old age, is very well preserved and can be seen when visiting the insides of the mausoleum.
Keep in mind that visiting days and hours are limited and you should check the schedule before planning a visit to Lenin’s final resting place.
Tsaritsyno consists of a splendid palace created as a residence for Empress Catherine II in the 18th century and a beautiful park surrounding it.
There is also a museum found here that displays interesting artifacts of Russia’s past aiming at informing its visitors about the lives of the ruling Tsar families.
This site is a great destination for half-day trips as the combination of the beautiful palace, the well-kept 405-hectare gardens, and the interesting museum is a great combination promising relaxation and a pleasant contrast to Moscow’s busy streets.
Kolomenskoye estate is another former Tsar residence. It is situated right on the banks of the Moskva River a few kilometers south of the city center. The estate is huge, encompassing 390 hectares of greenery and historic architecture.
The Church of the Ascension is the highlight of the estate and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built to honor Ivan the Terrible.
Apart from this beautiful white church, there is also the Cottage of Peter I. and the Spasskiye Vorota, a beautifully decorated gate, both are worth exploring.
Novodevichy Convent is a religious highlight of the city and is another one of Moscow’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The beautiful white convent is located on the banks of the Moskva River in a park, south-west of Moscow’s center.
It is known for its fresco-lined 5-domed cathedral and its ornate soaring bell tower. There is also a beautiful cemetery adjacent.
Moreover, Luzhniki Stadium and its surrounding park are nearby, making a combined visit to the convent and its surroundings an ideal excursion from the busy city center.
Izmailovsky Market is a great alternative to the famous Arbat shopping street. The market offers a great variety of locally made souvenirs such as Matryoshki dolls, Soviet memorabilia, chess sets, and lacquerware.
This market is not just a great place for buying Russian souvenirs but is also beautiful from an architectural point of view. Its design was influenced by Russian fairy tales which makes the Izmailovsky almost look like a Russian version of a Disney castle.
This market is where you should come if you are looking for authentic souvenirs as the things sold on Arbat are mostly not locally made.
State Tretyakov Gallery
The State Tretyakov Gallery is Moscow’s best art museum and is known for offering the best collection of Russian fine art in the world. It was back in 1856 when the museum was founded by a passionate art collector.
His goal was to create one of the first Russian art collections of its time. Today the gallery houses around 130,000 artworks ranging from all eras of Russia’s history.
Moscow’s Metro is much more than just a mass-transport system connecting almost all areas of the city. It is widely considered the world’s most beautiful subway as its stations are unbelievably beautiful.
Many of them are very well decorated with frescoes, marble columns, and ornate chandeliers. If you are looking to take in the incredible beauty of the city’s metro you should head to the Taganskaya, Komsomolskaya, Novoslobodskaya, and Kievskaya stations.
These are some of the most impressive examples of the Moscow Metro and offer Soviet-era murals and fantastic vaulted ceilings.
Museum of Soviet Arcade Games
The Museum of Soviet Arcade Games is a unique museum displaying a collection of arcade machines produced in the Soviet Union. It was inaugurated in 2007 and since then entertained many visitors with its unique charm.
Every visitor gets 15 coins and is allowed to use them to try out the machines. The museum also tells the story of how these machines were produced in the Soviet Union. Despite its young age, the museum has already been awarded several awards.
The Sokol District is an interesting neighborhood and features not just the Synergy University but also the interesting Memorial Park, it is dedicated to the fallen heroes of the First World War and teaches interested visitors a lot about its history.
This area is located north-west of the city center and also neighbors the Berezovaya Roshcha Park and Petrovsky Park. The Sokol District can be described as more authentic, which resembles a typical residential area instead of a busy touristic hotspot.
The Museum of Cosmonautics
The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is a museum dedicated to the space programs of the Soviet Union and the Russian Republic after 1991. It offers a great collection of exhibits relating to the proud space exploration history of the country.
This museum also touches on related subjects such as space technology and astronomy. One of the highlights of the museum is the Space Capsule of Yuri Gagarin, the first human to ever travel to space.
The department store GUM is the city’s shopping destination number one and offers an unbelievable array of shops. GUM is located right on the Red Square and can be found just opposite the Lenin Mausoleum and Kremlin.
GUM impresses its visitors with a fantastic facade that is inseparable from the Red Square. Most of the shops found here are quite luxurious and comes with an expensive price tag. All the big names of the fashion world can be found here.
State Historical Museum
This museum was founded in 1872 and is set in an impressive red neo-Russian structure that fits perfectly to the surrounding Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral.
The beautiful architecture and interior decorations are as much of an attraction as the exhibitions on display here. The State Historical Museum is dedicated to the history of Russian civilization and offers many artifacts like coins, books, and birch-bark scrolls.
There’s even an excavated longboat from the Volga River. According to the museum, the total number of exhibits surpasses four million.
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