You’ll be in the city for a long time, there is so much to catch up besides the football during the FIFA World Cup. We give you a low-down on the 10 best places to visit in Moscow.
For the next month and a half, the eyes of the sporting and especially the footballing world will be on Russia. After all, the World Cup comes to the Soviet Nation. You might have already booked your tickets and made your plans about the match that you’ve been waiting to watch. With the capital Moscow playing host to 10 matches in total (seven at the Luzhniki Stadium and three at the Otkritie Arena), one can expect the city to be absolutely packed during the footballing extravaganza. You’ll be in the city for a long time, there is so much to catch up besides the football. We give you a low-down on the best places to visit in Moscow.
1) PAY A VISIT TO RED SQUARE
This place surely figures at the top of the list of places to visit in Moscow. More so because it has a host of important landmarks in the same vicinity making sure you don’t go from here to there and waste much time. The heart of Russia’s capital, Red Square is arguably Moscow’s most visited attraction. The cobblestone square is surrounded by beautiful architecture, and is the place where most of the city’s (and country’s) history unfolded. What was once a market square where traders would sell their goods is now a key location in the city filled with people and a festive atmosphere.
St Basil’s Cathedral – Get ready to soak up the archetypal image of Russia’s capital with the glistening rainbow domes of St Basil’s cathedral. The onion-shaped domes were designed to make the building look like the shape of a flame on a bonfire. The cathedral was commissioned in the 1500s by Ivan the Terrible and according to legend, the Tsar thought it so beautiful he ordered that the architect be blinded so that he would never surpass this creation. Talk about Russia’s very own version of Shah Jahan.
GUM – You cannot go to Moscow and come back without visiting GUM. It’s the main department store in many cities of the country with the most famous store being the one located in the Red Square. With more than 100 world-famous brands being sold at the mall, you can be sure of your shopping basket being overfilled.
LENIN’S MAUSOLEUM – First opened to the public in August 1924, the place serves as the resting place of the leader of the communist movement, Vladimir Lenin. Visiting the Mausoleum is free of charge but it’s only open on Tuesdays to Thursday and Saturday from 10 to 13; more details on it here. Keep in mind that no photos and even no loud talking is allowed inside the Mausoleum. That doesn’t keep the place from being a popular tourist attraction that attracts around 2.5 million visitors every year, who don’t mind standing in line and going through a thorough body search to get into the illustrious building.
Kremlin – The Kremlin is the official residency of the President of the Russian Federation. You can see it from the outside – the red walls that surround the Red Square, or you can take an excursion to one of the museums located inside. Once you get behind the 2,235 metre-long kremlin walls, there are five squares to wander around, various buildings to explore, 20 towers to learn the names of, and the world’s largest bell and cannon to see.
2) BOLSHOI THEATER
Since its inception, the world has been fascinated by Russian ballet. The Bolshoi Theatre (translated as The Big Theatre from Russian) is an iconic building that hosts both ballet and opera performances. Even if you aren’t a big fan of the dance form, it’s well worth paying a visit to the theatre for you are guaranteed to be fascinated by the neo-classical building interiors
3) MOSCOW METRO
Even if you’re traveling by taxi or hired a private car, we’d recommend taking out some time and hopping onto the metro in Moscow. After all, most of the stations truly look like museums! Every station has its own unique decoration, a theme and a fascinating story behind it. We’d recommend having a guide at the stations who will narrate stories of forgotten stations and how the history of the country interconnected with the metro development.
The stations to definitely check out are: Mayakovskaya, Ploshad Revolutsii, Kievskaya, Kropotkinskaya, Kurskaya, Komsomolskaya the ring side and Novoslobodskaya etc.
4) MUSEUM OF COSMONAUTICS
Russia is a world superpower when it comes to space. After all, it was a Russian man named Yuri Gagarin who was the first man to go to space. In Moscow, a visit to the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics provides insight into the achievements of Russia in space. There are about 85,000 items in display, including taxidermy space dogs. Apart from seeing Russian space achievements, you can also experience what it was like being a cosmonaut by eating authentic space food at the All-Russian Exhibition Center, a public park and exhibition space.
VDNKh is short for All Russian Exhibition center (in Russian). It was created during the USSR time when we had many other countries (Georgia, Armenia, Kazakhstan etc) as part of Russia. The idea of the park was to showcase different cultures and its agrarian methods in one place. VDNKh now serves as an open-air (free) museum. The park complex is home to a number of shopping pavilions, museums and places to ride a bicycle, the largest skate park in Europe, many nice restaurants etc.
Mostly known for the city’s largest and best known flea market, the district of Izmaylovo is home to a maze of shops where you can get just about anything: from handmade items to Soviet antiquities. You will find everything from matreshkas and magnets to ancient Russian artifacts or other more creative gift ideas for your loved ones. Remember – if there is no price tag, you can always try to bargain a bit!
7) OSTANKINSKAYA TV TOWER
Being in Moscow, one would surely want to visit the Ostankino TV Tower. Built in 1967, the tower was the tallest free-standing construction in the world at the time. It currently is the 8th tallest building in the world and the tallest in Europe that offers one the best observation deck with glass floor and breathtaking 360-degree views. You can also visit a revolving restaurant inside the tower which turns on its axis twice every 40 minutes so diners get the full panoramic view of Moscow. You can dine there only with a prior purchased entrance ticket.
8) VODKA MUSEUM
You’re in the heart of Russia and in the land where nothing but Vodka does the talking. A visit to the city’s vodlka museum surely has to be on the list of places to go to. What’s the best part about going here? You get to sample various brands of vodka in the museum’s restaurant! Can you really ask for more now?
9) MUSEUM OF SOVIET ARCADE GAMES
This is one of the places to visit in Moscow brings out the kid hidden inside you. It is a great way to spend a couple of hours if you are tired of visiting museums and Russian palaces. The staff speaks excellent English, so they will be happy to explain how some of them work.
10) BUNKER 42 (COLD WAR MUSEUM)
It’s time to go underground in the capital of Russia. How about visiting a Bunker located 65 meters below the ground? What’s more, you get the opportunity to try on a nuclear survival kit and even watch a movie in an underground cinema if you wish to. So here you have it, the best places to visit in Moscow. Get ready for a football fever that you’ll never forget