Moscow is the city that will impress literally everyone. It can be compared to the big machine that works 24/7 and lives in the fast lane every day. The metropolis has both beautiful historical and amazing modern side. Moreover, Saint Basil’s Cathedral is definitely one of the most spectacular structures in the world. Here you will find out everything you need to know about gorgeous Moscow!
How To Get To Moscow
Arriving in Moscow by plane is the most convenient option. The city has a couple of airports, but only three of them really matter:
Sheremetyevo – the biggest airport in Russia and operated by traditional carriers. It connects Russian capital with almost the whole world, but lack of low-cost airlines makes tickets pretty expensive
Domodedovo – second airport of Moscow. It also has a large flight network, but hosts some cheap connections as well. From Domodedovo you can find many non-expensive flights from every corner of the country and even a few international ones too.
Vnukovo – it’s much smaller airport than ones mentioned above, but its advantage is that there’s a lot of cheap flights, both local and international.
There are many railway routes that lead to Moscow, but probably the easiest and most comfortable one is from Saint Petersburg. Here you can find out more about it and literally All You Need To Know About Petersburg.
Many tourists use this way as it’s a natural idea to visit Russia like that: making your starting point in Petersburg then having a stop in Moscow and then finally heading to the Far East by Transsiberian train – the longest train route in the world!
If you wanna get to know more about Transsiberian Train, check our post How To Survive 88-Hours Train Ride!
How To Get Around Moscow
Moscow is such a big city, but getting around is easier than you may think! Wonder how? Of course, metro is the answer. Moscow has perfectly organized subway. Moscow has 15 metro lines that cover almost every corner in the city. What’s more, line no. 5 has a shape of a circle and connects many other lines around the downtown, which make metro changes very convenient. As a result, you don’t have to make more than 2 changes, no matter where you are and where you go!
Single ticket costs 57 RUB, but if you’re going to use the metro often, it’s worth to buy a prepaid card “Troika”, which decreases the price of one ride to 40 RUB. The card is free, but it requires a refundable deposit of 50 RUB.
What To See in Moscow?
SAINT BASIL’S CATHEDRAL & THE RED SQUARE
No trip to Moscow would be complete without a visit to Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It’s a must see. Real breath-taking structure. It’s located on the Red Square, next to other big attractions. Visiting the cathedral inside is not necessary because it’s all about the colorful domes. Plan more time for this spot – it’s the most “Instagrammable” place in Russia, so make sure you took a perfect shot.
The Red Square was the witness of some memorable events in Russian history. Also, every year on May 9 it holds the Moscow Victory Day Parade – impressive show of the power of Russian army with thousands of soldiers and plentiful military equipment. Would you like to see it? No way! Invites are reserved for Russian establishment and special guests. On the day of the event you won’t be allowed to come even close to the Moscow’s center.
Interesting fact about the parade: Every year the sky is super clear over the Red Square and there’s no single cloud. You wonder why? Before this special day, the gov uses jets to spread chemicals over the cloud to disperse them – it guarantees no rain over the downtown during the parade.
One more interesting fact: The color of bricks on the Red Square is actually… blue ;)
Another “must” in Moscow. Surrounded by high and thick walls the old center of Moscow consists of many historical, political and religious elements. The area of Kremlin is so large that it looks like a town inside the city. In Kremlin you can find the Armoury, Patriarch’s Palace State Kremlin Palace, a few cathedrals and Kremlin Senate. Btw, the last building works as the office of President of Russia. You can see only the one side of the building and you are not allowed to come too close.
The entrance gates are in the opposite side of the Red Square. The entrance fares depend on how many extra spots you plan to visit inside. The basic fare is 700 RUB. You can book your tickets online, but it’s not necessary – even in summer you can easily get your ticket on the spot and queues are not long. Kremlin is fully closed on Thursdays.
The small building in the middle of the Red Square. What is inside it? The preserved body of Vladimir Lenin – the leader of the communist Soviet Union. He lies in the glass, transparent coffin in a dark, quiet room surrounded by soldiers.
To visit this place, you should go to the line on the right side of the mausoleum. During peak season and public holidays queues can be long, even up to 2 hours. The shrine is open only on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 1pm. It’s worth to arrive a quarter before the opening as the waiting time is shorter then. The entrance is always free of charge. Before entering the mausoleum, you should expect the security control just like at the airport.
The most known shopping mall in Moscow. Its façade is kept in a classical style and looks impressive from the Red Square. It’s well located to have a dinner when visiting the center. There are both posh and reasonably priced options available.
That’s a typical financial district with many skyscrapers like you can see in most of metropolises around the world. In Moscow City you can find some of the highest buildings in Europe (however the highest one is placed in Petersburg). Any country in Europe can’t compete with Russia in terms of modern architecture.
Sleeping, Eating, Safety & Other Tips
✓ Moscow is such a popular metropolis, however lodging is still fairly inexpensive compared to other big European capitals. Prices of double rooms start from $12-13 and dorm beds are even cheaper. In high season prices usually increase, but still won’t hurt your wallet, especially when you book well in advance.
✓ If you want to eat like a local and try some traditional Russian dishes, the best way is to visit Stolovaya. This is the type of old-school Soviet-style canteen that serves only traditional Russian cuisine. There are many of them in the city, but it’s better to look for them outside the proper center. Types of served food, quality and prices may vary a bit from one place to another, but some standard things are the same – the most famous Russian dishes are always available, like Borscht or Chicken Kiev. Also, Stolovaya restaurants provide the cheapest dinners you can get – around 300 RUB ($5). Keep in mind these places are so popular in Russia that sometimes you can hardly find a free table.
✓ Moscow is a safe city and Russian people are very friendly. They never have objections to help tourists. Just follow common sense and you will be fine.
✓ English is not widely spoken in this country, so ability to have a basic conversation in Russian would help you a lot. Remember that Russian language has its own alphabet (Cyrillic), so if you don’t know the letters, you won’t be able to read anything.
✓ Weather! During winter the temperature falls strongly below the freezing point, so bring very thick clothes with you. In summer it’s usually warm, but from time to time heavy and very long-duration rain can be expected. Be prepared!
How Much Does It Cost? (per person)
Train Petersburg-Moscow: FREE (with a Word Cup match ticket) – normally at least $15
Train Moscow-Irkutsk: $110
Transport: $4 a day
Accommodation: FREE (couchsurfing) – normally at least $12-13 a night
Food: 1000 RUB a day ($13)
Entrance ticket to Kremlin: 700 RUB ($9)
TOTAL (for 2 days): $151