Things to do in Moscow

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

Kremlin Cathedral Moscow
Kremlin Cathedral

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.

Red Square

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.

St Basil's Cathedral Moscow
St Basil’s Cathedral

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’.

Novodevichy Convent

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.

Novodevichy Convent Moscow

Seven Sisters

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.

Moscow Seven Sisters
Photo: Eldar

Plan Your Trip to Moscow, Russia

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This is a sponsored post. Paulina Stankiewicz writes for Essential Travel magazine and travel blog.

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22 thoughts on “Things to do in Moscow”

  1. Looks SO amazing! The train stations look like they’re worth the trip alone! Russia has got to be one of my top 5 ‘Must See’ countries in the world and Moscow, well, how could I NOT want to walk the streets of Moscow? Excellent! Thanks for the article!

    1. I’ve never been that enthusiastic to go to Russia, but this post has definitely tweaked my interest. The stations do look pretty amazing.

      1. I’m glad you’ve been inspired to visit after reading my article! Moscow is so much more than what people expect and it’s definitely a great place to explore and experience when you get a chance 🙂 I hear St. Petersburg is incredible too.

  2. Apart from the Kremlin I didn’t know a lot about Moscow. It looks beautiful, and it is surprising how the subway stations look. They are usually such glum places that you just want to get out of. Nice post.

    1. Thanks for sharing some more tips on Russia with us. It’s great to know the people are so warm and kind there. Definitely the place I want to hang out!

    1. Hi Roy, the visa process is not so bad. My friend from the UK came to visit me for a week while I was there and had no trouble obtaining a tourist visa. It’s much more tricky if you’re going for an extended amount of time, however, because then you require a ‘letter of invitation’ from a host or company, but if you only plan to go for a week or two, shouldn’t be a problem!

  3. Moscow is very worth a visit. It can be very costly, but it can be managed if you dont eat in ‘expat’ restaurants. Contrasts of old, modern and 50’s/60’s architecture is worth noting. And, Russian as most Slavs are very warm inside even if they appear cold on the outside. Well written.

  4. The Kremlin Cathedral with golden hues is absolutely amazing! Looking at these photos makes me want to travel to Moscow. But I have a deep seated fear (obviously irrational) about going to Russia.

  5. Andrew - The Unframed World

    Great photos and a great post! You’ve certainly won me over to see Moscow in the spring time. I’m a fan of winter wonderlands though so I wouldn’t mind seeing it with the snow cover either =)

  6. I lived in Moscow for 5 years and there’s really much more to this city than what people expect. You can go to London, Paris, New York and Moscow. And several years later you will find yourself talking to people you know about Moscow…

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