Moscow is a city of vivid and expressive colors.
From golden cathedral domes glinting in the evening sun, to the crimson towers of the Kremlin Wall looming over Red Square, this massive city makes for an intoxicating visual journey.
Traditionally, Moscow has been regarded as an exotic, enigmatic, and powerful metropolis, with this notion being reinforced in the Communist Era when the entire USSR was heavily guarded from Western influence.
Westerners can’t help but feel a strange allure to discover what is lurking behind the Iron Curtain that was once tightly drawn for so many years.
Now that Moscow and the rest of Russia has been open to tourists for over two decades, more and more people have been venturing to the east to explore the truly unique sights, sounds, and smells of the Russian capital.
Things to do in Moscow
Housing over 11 million inhabitants, the most populous city in Europe is home to a number of interesting juxtapositions, stereotypes, and paradoxes.
While it can cost a fortune to enjoy a cocktail at the exclusive O2 Lounge bar atop the Ritz-Carlton on Tverskaya street, a bottle of vodka from the local supermarket can be as cheap as a pound or two.
While Russians you pass on the street may sometimes look miserable and unapproachable, they are actually some of the warmest and most genuine people around.
Such stark contrasts add to the dynamics and electric mood of the city, encouraging you to dig deeper, as not everything is what it seems at first glance.
I spent almost four months in Moscow, making sure to go once the winter snow had started to melt, inviting Spring to show her face.
Winters in Russia are typically long, extremely cold, and snowy, and although there is a certain charm to seeing the city enveloped in a blanket of luminescent, white powder, I would recommend going in the spring/summer to really see the city come alive.
Below are a few of my personal recommendations on what to see when you’re visiting Moscow.
No trip to the Russian capital would be complete without a visit to the enchanting Red Square.
Here you can see Lenin’s embalmed body, gaze at the candy-like, iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral (a personal favourite of mine), and do your shopping at the famous (and pricey) GUM department store, all within short walking distance of each other.
Moscow Metro Stations
It may sound like a strange suggestion to make, but definitely opt to use Moscow’s underground metro system during your stay and visit as many stations as you can.
Each stop is unique and emanates a different mood, with the regal Komsomolskaya station resembling an underground palace, while the futuristic arches of Mayakovskaya look like something out of Orwell’s ‘Nineteen-Eighty Four’.
Upon visiting this Muscovite cloister, I sauntered around the grounds in awe and wonderment, mesmerised by the well-preserved beauty of the building and its natural surrounding.
The convent, which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, is built around a curve in the Moskva river, allowing the red and gold spires to perfectly reflect in the water to create a truly magical experience.
This majestic group of buildings stand as a reminder of formidable Stalinist ambitions, when the USSR was a force to be reckoned with and communism was in full swing.
The towers seem to personify the high, daunting goals that were inherent to Stalin’s policies and remain as icons of a different past.
While some people dislike the geometric Baroque and Gothic style, I loved looking upon these monolithic structures and made a point of visiting each Sister while I was in Moscow.
If you only have time to see a few, don’t miss Moscow State University (with a great panoramic viewing point on the city) and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Plan Your Trip to Moscow, Russia
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Tours in Moscow