Top 10 Things to Do in Moscow

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This list takes a look at the top 10 things to do in Moscow for first time visitors – including classic cultural haunts such as the Bolshoi theatre and the Saint Basil’s Cathedral, through to your less traditional ideas such as high-end shopping malls and opulent cafes resembling old Russia.

1. Red Square

Visitors to Moscow often know of at least one attraction to visit – Red Square. Though not all will know the history of the square and instead visit to gain a 360 view of Moscow’s most important sites situated around the square – St Basil’s, the Kremlin, GUM, and Lenin’s Mausoleum.

2. The Kremlin

The heart of Russia in contemporary Moscow lies at the Kremlin. Several buildings inside are open to the public – including the Armoury (see below) – and are well worth a visit whilst in the Russian capital.

3. St Basil’s Cathedral

This architectural masterpiece was originally constructed by Ivan the Terrible in the 1550s, and to this day remains in terrific condition, attracting a large number of tourists daily. While it is unfathomably beautiful from the Red Square, be sure to set aside some time to go inside and marvel at this magnificent religious structure.

4. Moscow Metro

The Moscow Metro is one of the cities’ greatest sites that must be seen to be believed. There are some more pleasing to the eye over others, and common highlights include Komsomol’skaya; Kazan’skaya; and Novoslobodskaya.

5. Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin’s tomb is situated in the Red Square of Moscow and is the final resting place of Vladimir Lenin. Surprisingly this is a popular attraction so be prepared for lines or better yet arrive early to avoid them altogether.

6. GUM and TSUM

With more billionaires than any other city, Moscow is a mecca for extravagance and excess. Shopping malls are of course no exception. The two most celebrated malls are GUM and TSUM, with Moscow’s crème de la crème of international designers and boutiques residing here in opulent surrounds.

7. Bolshoi Theatre

As the oldest theatre in Moscow, the Bolshoi Theatre has an unrivalled history to much its’ unrivalled line up of talented ballet dancers and opera singers frequenting the stage to bring Moscow nightly world class performances.

8. The Armoury

While the name might suggest otherwise, The Armoury is actually a National Museum filled with interesting and unique National treasures. Sure there are weapons and arms, but also horse carriages, crowns, jewels, Faberge eggs, and much more. Expect crowds and if you can budget to hire a guide, this makes it not only easier to navigate but also a more informative experience.

9. Café Pushkin

Café Pushkin will take patrons back in time to the golden era of Russia that has been adapted into film – the times of secret police, secret meetings, and all-round conspiracy. While you will be faced with tourist prices, it’s well worth a visit to enjoy the faux creation of a typical KGB meeting point in library-like surrounds.

10. Sapsan train to St Petersburg

No visit to Russia would be complete without taking the journey through to Peter the Great’s city; St. Petersburg. The Sapsan cuts transportation time significantly, as opposed to the traditional over-night trains taking passengers between the two cities. The journey will instead only take around 4 hours, but be sure to book in advance and be prepared to ay around double the price of a normal train ticket.

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    October 15, 2015 at 6:35 am

    Dear Brooke, there is big issue with the description of your sight #1. The name “Red Square” has absolutely nothing to do with executions, military parades, nor communism, blood, or even the color of the Kremlin walls on its western border. I am not sure which source you used for this rather gruesome and tainting etymology, but it is absolutely erroneous, and for a born and raised Moscovite like myself is pretty insulting to boot.

    The actual origin of the name is pretty much the opposite. In Russian, Red Square = Krasnaya Ploshad, and the word “Krasnaya”, which today means “Red”, in the not-so-olden days meant “Beautiful” (a pretty girl would be called a Krasnaya Devitsa). So Moscow’s Red Square simply means Beautiful Square. As it is. I hope you will update your post with a correct description.

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    Iya Tikhomirova
    March 24, 2015 at 6:08 am

    There are so much moreee, you should definitely come once again and ask some locals to show you around (locals like me 🙂 You will love Moscow then

    • Brooke Saward
      March 24, 2015 at 7:39 am

      I would love to come back soon it is definitely on my radar!