Moscow is the largest city in Russia, and the second largest city in Europe, with around 13 million inhabitants. Since it’s such a huge city, it can be difficult to decide where to go and what to see. This list of some of the top destinations to visit in Moscow can help you make some decisions.
Some people worry about the level of English among Russians. If you go to Moscow, this shouldn’t be a problem in most (touristic) places, as some people speak basic English. Though if you want to get the most out of your trip, it won’t hurt to learn some basic Russian words.
Chances are big you’ve already seen the Red Square on TV when Putin gives a speech. It’s the square located right in front of the Kremlin, and you can find several interesting things to see and do here:
- the colorful Saint Basil’s Cathedral;
- Lenin’s mausoleum;
- State Historical Museum;
- Shopping mall TSUM (expensive!);
- in winter there’s a big ice skating rink;
- if you walk a little closer to the riverside, there’s a new park called park Zaryadye.
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
If you walk from the Kremlin along the riverbanks to the south, you will see a large cathedral with a golden top; The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. While it may seem like an old cathedral, it was actually built in 1995. That’s because the original Cathedral was demolished in 1931 on orders of Stalin. In the time between, the place was used to build the largest open air swimming pool in the world. You can visit the cathedral to see it from the inside.
From the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour you can follow two bridges over the Moskva river. Then turn right to go to Gorky park. It’s a large park in the center of Moscow, that boasts a lot of interesting things to do:
- you can rent roller skates, bikes, steps and more to ride along the little alleys in the park or along the river.
- in winter the entire park gets turned into a huge ice skating maze.
- there are many little places to get food and drinks.
- you can rent a small boat on the park’s ponds.
- take a tour on the Moskva river by boat.
Here’s a video I shot for my YouTube channel last winter at the entrance of Gorky Park. It’s in Russian, but it shows you the atmosphere.
One more absolute must in Moscow is to travel by Moscow metro. Not only is it a sure way to skip some of the horrible traffic jams – it’s also a cheap ticket to see one of the most beautiful ‘museums’ the city is rich. Many of the stations were built during soviet times, and in 1941 during the Second World War, the stations also functioned as bomb shelters. Nowadays the metro is one of the most efficient and largest metro in the world.
Moscow State University
Moscow State University is Moscow’s most prestigious university, and you can find it along the banks of the Moskva river in the south. It’s located on a hill and offers a good view of the center of the city. The university itself is also one of ‘the 7 sisters’. That’s the name of 7 Soviet skyscrapers scattered around the city.
VDNK: Or, The Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy
The name of what’s commonly known at the VDNK in Moscow is in English translated as “Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy.” It’s located in the north of the city, and you can find the following things here:
- a luna-park;
- Cosmonautics Museum;
- a rocket and even a Buran spaceсraft;
- Moscow Oceanarium;
- and in winter there’s another large ice skating rink.
Another sight in the center of the city is the Bolshoi Theatre. Literally translated this means ‘’large theatre.’’.And once you see it in real life, you’ll surely agree with that. The theatre was opened on the 20th of October 1856, the day Tsar Alexander II was crowned. To this day the theatre is fully operational and boasts many interesting plays each day.
If you’re walking through Moscow, you virtually only see large buildings and wide streets. If you’re looking for something more cozy, it’s good to go to Stary Arbat. It’s a shopping street with souvenir shops, restaurants and street artists. You can also find the first McDonalds that was opened in Russia in the beginning of the street.
From many places in the city you can see the skyscraper district of Moscow: Moscow City. The first skyscraper there was built in 1995, and it’s located in the West of the city on (again) the Moskva river banks. Apart from offices, you can also find a large shopping mall, restaurants and living quarters here.
After several days of being surrounded by buildings and concrete, you want to see nature. Moscow is actually one of the greenest cities of Europe, with many large parks. One of those parks is the Tsaritsyno park, located in the south east. You can get there by going to the metro station with the same name. In the park, you can enjoy nature, ponds and pavilions. Or go to the Tsaritsyno museum which used to be an 18th century palace.
Destinations to Visit in Moscow
A visit to Russia, including Moscow is on many people’s bucket list. I hope this list of top destinations to visit in Moscow gives you a good start in planning your own trip or just enjoying a few moments of armchair travel.
On our site: A Contemplative Trip to Krakow, Poland
-Photos as credited. Cover photo by Image by Falco on Pixabay