Getting off the beaten path in a capital city such as Moscow may be a little challenging, but the former USSR capital has some surprises in store for the visitors.
  • Spend a day in Gorky Park. Walk along the banks of River Moscow, read a book, have a picnic or just engage in some people watching.
  • Walk along the Bulvar, from Chistiye Prudiy to Pushkin Square. Feed the pigeons.
  • Read a book on a bench near Patriarshy Prudiy. Surrounded by Stalin-era apartments, the “pond” is a lovely place to just escape the hustle and bustle of Moscow. And by the way: this is one of the places that the outsiders usually miss.
  • Take a walk in the neighborhood of Kitai Gorod, which certainly rivals the Red Square in architectural stile. Without the crowds, though.
  • Try your luck at finding interesting stuff at the Izmailovo Flea Market.

Why you should add Moscow to your RTW travel list

Of course, visiting Moscow wouldn’t be complete without seeing some of the sights which makes it famous. Here are some ideas on what to do if you’ve never been there or plan on staying for a while.
  • The Red Square is literally the center of Moscow. But it’s also over-crowded.
  • St. Basil’s Cathedral is probably the iconic sight of Moscow. It was the city’s tallest building until the completion of Ivan the Great Bell Tower.
  • See the imposing walls of Kremlin. Better not think of what might have happened behind those wars before the USSR collapsed. Allow for an entire day to visit the Kremlin.
  • Visit the Cathedral of Christ the Savior , built in mid 19th century as the largest cathedral in Russia.
  • Lenin’s Tomb might be the kitschiest thing you’ll ever do in Moscow , but being right in the middle of the Red Square , it screams for attention. Tip: don’t bring handbags or backpacks (because you won’t be able to take them inside).
  • Try the blinchiki (Russian pancakes) and the pelmeni (dumplings). Make sure include some vodka , too. Look for a stolovaya (choose-and-point cafeteria) when you get hungry.
  • Window shopping at GUM . Bonus : check out the stunning architecture.
  • Dance the night away in a club. Moscow has become a hub for high-end nightlife thanks to the many models and millionaires.
  • See a show at the Bolshoi Theater.
  • The metro stations are filled with artworks and each station was designed by a famous soviet architect.

Why you shouldn’t add Moscow to your RTW travel list

  • Moscow has come a long way since the USSR era but it’s still a challenging city to visit, complete with language barriers.
  • The city can surely compete with Scandinavian capitals when it comes to affordability. While certainly not that expensive, it’s a particularly cheap city to visit, either.

Overview

Moscow is changing and becoming more Westernized every day, but it had a long way to go when the USSR collapsed and this is still not one of the easier cities to visit. This is a fascinating place, but it isn’t particularly cheap and there are parts of the city that are considered to be unsafe for tourists. Locals don’t eat out much so restaurants are considered (and usually priced as) a luxury, but there are more fast food places and other local choices if you look around.

What To Do

The Kremlin a major highlight for any visitor. This walled complex dates back to the 11th Century and contains the Kutafya Tower as well as several churches and other interesting structures including Ivan the Great Belltower. The Kremlin borders Red Square, which itself is a tourist draw and is also where you’ll find the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral with it’s brightly colored onion domes.

Lenin’s Tomb is also on Red Square. Since his death in 1924, Lenin’s mummified body has been on display here and still draws crowds of curious onlookers. Leave your camera outside, as photos are not possible. On a less morbid note, Gorky Park is a giant park along the river housing amusement park rides among other things. It’s obviously popular in summer, but during winter ice-skating is available.

Getting There

Being a long way from everywhere, Moscow isn’t an easy place to get to by train. The track gauge is different from Europe so trains must stop and switch trucks entering Belarus, making a long journey even longer. It’s best to book a flight into Sheremetyevo International Airport (code: SVO), which is where most international flights arrive. A few carriers are switching to Domodedovo International Airport (code DME) so it’s worth checking that one as well.

Where To Stay

This is a huge city so it pays to be careful of the location when booking a hostel in Moscow or a hotel in Moscow. It’s probably worth paying a bit more to be closer to the tourist center, particularly if you don’t speak Russian all that well.