Here are 10 reasons why I make Moscow a compulsory stop 2 times annually, and I am still planning on doing so for the years to come. Moscow never cease to inspire, you will never run out of things to do, now let me break it down for you.
1. Get from point A to point Z on the Moscow
Let’s start with my favorite activity in Moscow. I used to think that the Moscow metro is not as modern as those in the west. Boy, I was wrong! It does not only serve as a rapid transit system, it is also a network of luxurious Art Museums buried underground! The seats are made of marble and granite, ceilings decorated with mosaic art and the walls are covered with stained glass panels! Some of my favorite stations: Novoslobodskaya, Elektrozavodskaya, Komsomolskaya, and some new futuristic ones towards the end of the red line... all of these for only 50 rubles entrance fee (metro ticket)!
2. Check out Red Square ( the staple).
No matter how many times I’ve been to Moscow, I never fail to pay a visit to the Red Square. Conveniently located right in the heart of Moscow, this is one of the classic destinations highlighted in all guidebooks. The candy-structured St Basil Cathedral, the lavishly decorated GUM (State Department Store), the colorful Kazan Cathedral and many more, located just a stone throw away from each other on the square!
3. Discover Russian history in Kremlin.
Think Russian “White House”. Only one-third of the citadel territory welcomes visitors, but even with only one third, the attractions are enough to keep history buffs busy for days! Do not try to schedule anything else on Kremlin day, the walls, towers, churches and the stories behind each structure will surely get you hooked. Note: the Kremlin closes on Thursday.
4. Enjoy people-watching on Arbat Street.
Surprisingly, staying in a backpacker’s hostel in this prime location doesn’t cost too much. During my second visit to Moscow, I dedicated one whole afternoon people watching from the hostel’s balcony. It is a lively pedestrian street lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, and fine arts.
5. Enjoy a Ballet show.
Just like the Broadway shows in New York City and Cirque du Soleil performances in Las Vegas, watching a Bolshoi Ballet’s production is a staple here. The Bolshoi Ballet is a renowned classical ballet company well known in Russia and the world. They are famous for their colorful and bold performing style.
6. Breathe the fresh air.
People’s gardens in cities fascinate me. To my delight, so do Moscovites. Almost 40 percent of Moscow territory is covered by green oasis. With over 100 gardens and parks, that is an impressive 16 meter square of greenery per person! My favorite garden to spend a day pretending to read a book (I couldn’t concentrate anyway!) is the Alexandrovsky Garden, situated just in front of the Kremlin wall. If you have some extra time to kill, I highly suggest a stroll in Elk Island National Nature Park or visit the Moscow Zoo.
7. Be amazed by the Circus crew.
Nikulin Circus on Tsvetnoi Boulevard and Bolshoi Circus on Vernadsky Avenue are the most famous 2 in Moscow. Tickets are quite cheap, ranging from 500 to 2500 Rubles. Now, let me assure you that it is worth every penny.
8. Ice Cream with a story to tell.
In Russia, you do not have ice cream. Ice cream has you! Stoyn Ice Cream is a line of uniquely designed ice cream figures, created in Moscow. My recommendation is to try a “Vladimir Mayakovsky” (cranberry and vodka) and “Dark Vader” (blueberry & licorice)!
9. Take a trip out of the city center.
Ever heard of the “Moscow Golden Ring Road”? This is a perfect route to plan a road trip if you are into culture. Even if you do not feel like driving, there are a lot of local tour companies operating “Golden Ring Road” trips. However, if you are running short of time, I strongly suggest you visiting Sergiev Posad over other cities. Not only it is the former religious center of all Russia, it is also the birthplace of the widely adored “Matroshka” nesting dolls!
10. Admire fine arts at Tretyakov Gallery
Attention all art-buffs! I am 90% positive that you will love Tretyakov Gallery to bits! The gallery possesses an array of unique Russian most sought-after masterpieces. Friendly reminder: It closes on Monday.