All The Best Things to Do In Moscow, Russia During Your First Trip

Moscow is the biggest city in Russia and along with Saint Petersburg, the most popular among tourists. You will find numerous things to do in Moscow Russia and some say that the city may become one of your best travel experiences. The city is interesting indeed, you can spend a week there without getting bored.

As a starting point, I’d recommend to spend two-three days in Moscow. I may not be objective because I left my heart in Saint Petersburg and I will always recommend to spend more time there 🙂 But we saw the below list of Moscow landmarks (with a few exceptions) in three days without rush or waking up at dawn.

Top Things To Do In Moscow, Russia

Red Square, Moscow

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: Red Square

You can’t visit Moscow without seeing the Red Square, that’s for sure 🙂 330 meters long, it became the symbol of the city. All important national events take place here. The square’s name doesn’t relate to Soviet times but it comes from old Slavonic word for “beautiful”. Currently, Russian language evolved and the word “krasnyi” means “red”.

On the Red Square, you will see a couple of top Moscow attractions.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: Red Square

The cathedral was built in 16th century while Ivan the Terrible was tsar and it is now one of the top things to see in Moscow. Legend has it that after the building was finished, the tsar ordered to make the architects blind so that they never build anything equally beautiful ever again. The cathedral commemorates the victory over the Tatars and conquering Kazan. It consists of eight separate churches, symbols of 8 days of fighting for Kazan – connected with one base.

Lenin’s Mausoleum

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: Lenin Mausoleum

The leader of October revolution, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known as Lenin – against his and his family’s will is buried in the mausoleum on the Red Square. His body is preserved and on public display. Visiting Lenin is always mentioned if you ask what to do in Moscow. You can visit the Mausoleum for free, however every day crowds of people queue to see the leader. Usually you will need to wait around 1 hour. After reviewing all things to do in Moscow, Russia – I decided to pass. But I leave the decision to you 🙂

GUM Department Store

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: GUM

Another building you should see on the Red Square is the department store built in 19th century. The architecture connects steel and glass with traditional old Russian architecture. You can visit over 1000 stores there.

Alexander Gardens

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: Alexander Garden

One of the first public parks in Moscow. Tourist attractions you can find there include the Tomb of an Unknown Soldier, plaques listing cities-heroes of the war, beautiful fountain with sculptures of horses as well as Russian cartoon characters. You can also relax and enjoy a bit of nature here – and all this along the Kremlin walls.

When I visited Moscow for the first time during my volunteering time, we ate our lunch on a bench here – four people all together, directly from one yellow pot with flowers 🙂 We definitely became one of Moscow points of interest… 😉

Moscow Kremlin – cathedrals and the Armory

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: The Kremlin

Kremlin in Moscow – things to do behind its walls include visiting the Cathedral Square and cathedrals inside. You can do that on the basic ticket. Inside the Kremlin you will see three cathedrals – each of them covered in beautiful icons.

Even for a person who doesn’t know much about art, they are impressive and they are unique Moscow sights. Many tsars were crowned and buried there, including tsar Ivan the Terrible. If you wonder what to see in Moscow, don’t miss the insides of Kremlin walls.

If one of Moscow sites you’d like to see is the Armory, make sure to book your visit in advance. Tickets disappear almost instantly! You can book them 17 days in advance. Check availability here.

In the Armory you can see not only unique weapons but also many other gems, like Ivan the Terrible’s throne or the Imperial Crown of Russia used by tsars from Catherine the Great.

Zaryadie Park

Moscow, Zaryadie Park

One of the newest tourist attractions in Moscow, a modern park close to the Red Square where you can relax since 2017. Old hotel Russia used to be in this spot before. During Moscow sightseeing check out the concert hall, educational exhibitions available around the park and a bridge hanging over the river.

Personally, I wasn’t amazed with the park. Not enough of plants and places to relax for me 😉 It is worth seeing though for lovely views at other parts of the city.

Cathedral of Christ the Savior

Cathedral of Christ the Savior

The biggest orthodox church in the world with an interesting history. Definitely one of the places to visit in Moscow. Initially planned in 1812 as thank you for protecting Russia from Napoleon. A big amount of money was handed over to the architect and then… mysteriously disappeared 😉 Another architect took over the project and works started in 1839 to last 44 years. The Cathedral started operating in 1883 – not for long though.

In 1931 Stalin decided to… blow the cathedral up. He wanted to build Palace of the Soviets there. The cathedral survived one explosion, only the second one demolished it. Palace of the Soviets was never built eventually – just a public swimming pool operated here.

The Cathedral is reconstructed now and visiting it is one of the best things to do in Moscow.

Re-construction started in 1990 and fully finished at the beginning of 2000.

I must admit the cathedral is stunning. It is HUGE both from the outside and inside and leaves you speechless.

Entrance is free, remember however that you can’t enter in shorts, short skirt or with uncovered shoulders.

Monument of Peter the Great

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: Monument of Peter the great

This massive monument is one of the famous landmarks in Russia, Moscow. It is the tallest statue in Russia and eighth in the world. Governors of Moscow decided to have it built to commemorate 300-years of Russian Navy, which Peter the Great established. You can also hear that it is referred to as one of the ugliest in the world – you’ll need to decide by yourself 😉

Old Arbat

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: Old Arbat

Old Arbat is one of those places in Moscow I can only recommend if you like typical touristy places with cheap souvenirs and people dressed like teddy bears trying to hug you. But… At least you can eat well and have a good beer there 🙂

Izmailovsky Kremlin

Kremlin in Izmailovo

I think it’s my favorite place in the city even though it’s still not mentioned in most Moscow travel guides. Kremlin in Izmailovo is a fairly new building (from 2007) but in old Russian style. It’s a mix of traditional architecture with fairy-tale images of it.

Izmailovsky Kremlin is a cultural centre. You can get souvenirs here, see traditional Russian craft, you can visit interesting museums, eat a traditional meal. You will also see a wooden church – the biggest wooden cathedral in Russia.

Obviously you will clearly notice this place is made for tourists. Anyway, I think it is a lovely tourist trap that lets you travel back in time and enjoy a colourful, fairy-tale beauty.

Bolshoi Theatre

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: Bolshoi Theatre

If you have time and enough money in your travel budget, consider seeing a ballet or an opera in Bolshoi Theatre. Its groups are among the oldest and the best in the world. If it-s not for you – take a look at the neoclassical building from the outside. You might have seen it before – on a 100 roubles banknote 🙂

Moscow metro

Moscow is the first city in Russia which had a metro system. Currently it is one of the most busy ones in the world! But metro in the city is not only for efficient transportation. Visiting some of numerous metro stations (over 260!) is one of the top things to do in Moscow, Russia. Some stations are so beautifully designed you may wonder if you ended up in some kind of palace instead of a transportation system. Which stations should you see?

All stations I mentioned below are on the brown, Ring Line (Koltsevaya). Just hop on a train and do a circle 🙂

Taganskaya

Taganskaya station

Park Kultury

Park kultury station

Kyievskaya

Kyievskaya station

Bielorusskaya

Belorusskaya

Novoslobodskaya

Novoslobodskaya station

Komsomolskaya

Komsomolskaya station

Other Things To Do In Moscow, Russia

Moscow University (and Seven Sisters)

Places to visit in Russia, Moscow also include so called Seven Sisters. They are seven skyscrapers in Stalinist style. Moscow University is one of them and it is the tallest of the seven. I’ve read that there were plans of building the eighth sister – but eventually the project got modified and used to build the Palace of Culture in Warsaw.

If you like this kind of architecture, check the university out. Also, you will see a nice view over Moscow from the hills 🙂

Cruise on river Moscow

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: Cruise on the river

If you feel like taking a look at Moscow attractions from a different side, hop on a cruise. This way you will be able to admire Moscow tourist sites from the river.

Museum of Cosmonautics

Things to do in Moscow, Russia: Museum of Cosmonautics

An interesting museum which shows the story of space explorations – not only from the perspective of Russia (USSR). You will find out a lot about achievements of other countries as well. Don’t let the first part with information in Russian only discourage you – it gets better and more interesting 🙂

Gorky Park

If you feel like relaxing in the nature, Gorky park is a good choice. It’s not only a big green area, you can also see museums, interesting buildings and gardens there. You can grab a coffee in one of the cafes, enjoy your time and rest from busy Moscow top attractions.

Moscow City

Moscow City

If you enjoy the atmosphere of glass and steel, go to Moscow International Business Center. Some of the skyscrapers used to be the tallest in Europe! Currently Lakhta Centr in Saint Petersburg beats them all.

Tretyakov Gallery

One of the biggest collections of Russian art in the world. If you’re interested in art, this is one of the top things to do in Moscow, Russia for you. But even if you are not an art-aficionado, you will recognize some painters’ names from the gallery. Let’s only mention famous painter of orthodox icons, Andrei Rublev.

Soviet arcade machines museum

One of quirky and unusual attractions in Moscow 🙂 I visited a similar one in San Francisco and it was great! In the museum you will see a collection of old arcade game machines. The best part is – you can play them!

Even though I didn’t eventually manage to get there because the museum changed locations just a few days before – I am sure it’s a place worth seeing 🙂

Kalashnikov shooting

If you feel like trying an even more unusual activity, shooting the most famous Russian weapon can be one of them. You will be able to shoot Kalashnikov in the training place of Russian army. Interesting, even though I’ve never shot anything heavier than air gun… 🙂

Accommodation in Moscow

Hostel Chistye Prudy – a hostel located 2,5 km from the Red Square with awesome opinions and at a great price, considering the location. You can find a metro station Chistye Prudy nearby too.

Hotel Moskvich – located far from the city centre but close to a metro station Tekstilschiki. For this reason, it is a cheaper option. If you want to save money and you don’t mind taking a 20 minutes metro ride to the centre – I totally recommend this option!

Hotel Bulgakov – a small hotel in a perfect location near Tverska street. You can reach the Red Square on foot in 15 minutes. Helpful personnel and considering the location – a good price.

Design Hotel Senator – a four stars hotel in the very heart of Moscow. You can walk to most best things to do in Moscow, Russia. It won’t take you more than 10 minutes to reach anything you may need 🙂 The price is higher but so is quality. Consider getting their great breakfast.

I hope I helped you decide how to spend your time in the capital of the biggest country in the world 🙂 Let me know what were the best things to do in Moscow, Russia for you.

And if you’d like to read other articles related to traveling Russia, check these out:

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One Comment

  1. An Indian Traveler said:

    Superb post! Very insightful and thorough. I had a short stay in moscow

    June 19, 2018
    Reply

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