Right from the start: In Moscow you won’t find just vodka everywhere and polar bears don’t walk the streets . This joke only causes eyes to roll or a tired smile in locals, so leave it at home right away. What to take with you instead is plenty of time. There are so many exciting sights in the city that are beautiful and unique that they cannot be missed.
Moscow is one of the most expensive cities in the world.
Moscow is one of the most dangerous cities in the world.
Moscow is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
There are many stereotypes associated with this city. But only those who have visited the city themselves can describe what this city is like. Opulent facades, historical masterpieces and cultural treasures lurk around every corner. In our blog post, we have summarized the most popular sights that you should definitely see on your first visit to Moscow . In our other posts we will give tips for your future visits. Because anyone who has already been to Moscow will want to come here again. Guaranteed!
Take the metro – ride the train and admire the very special atmosphere
Standing in traffic jams for hours is everyday life in Moscow. That is why 9 million people are out and about in the underground metro every day. Anyone who has found the Paris Metro to be hectic will no longer notice it after a trip in the Moscow Metro. The Подземка ( Padsemka – the emphasis on E), as the locals call the metro , is fascinating and exhausting at the same time. The escalators are long and the transitions between the stations are often endless. In some places, however, only the noise of the approaching trains reminds you that you are in the metro. Inside it is partly as beautiful as in a palace.The metro, with its curved ceilings and crystal chandeliers, is a sight in itself. Marble on the floor, mosaics on the walls – nowhere else in the world are there such beautiful metro stations.
A ride on the Moscow Metro is a challenge for the inexperienced. Especially at rush hour. Those who are used to getting into the car slowly will feel stressed here. Those who dawdle are literally pushed into the train by the crowd. It’s very loud inside, although hardly anyone is talking to each other and the train is fast. If you hurry to get on, you can get a seat, which is often worthwhile – the journey from one sight to another can take a good 40 minutes. An absolute advantage of the Moscow Metro is its intelligibility. If you know which station to get off at, you will find them easily – the structure of the metro is very simple.
The red square – a must stop on the Moscow trip
Actually, the place is “beautiful” and not “red”. The name was simply translated literally without taking into account that krasnij means not only “red” but also “beautiful” in Old Russian. A visit to the red square is a must on your program. It is located right in the center and directly borders the Kremlin. There you immediately feel like you’re in a fairy tale: several centuries of history meet here. The square is virtually framed by the beautiful historical masterpieces. The Historical Museum, the Gate of Resurrection, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, the mausoleum, the GUM department store – you need at least one day to get to know these great sights.
The red square has existed since the times of Ivan III, i.e. since the 15th century. At that time the square served as a place for trade and was later also used to proclaim the laws of the rulers. The square has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990 .
GUM: Russian Luxury
The luxurious GUM is located directly on Red Square, opposite the Lenin Mausoleum and the Kremlin . Russia is often associated with luxury and wealth. In GUM you can experience this up close. One of the largest department stores in Russia is a must to admire the pseuso-Russian style , take a mandatory photo with the fountain, admire great shops and the audience. The GUM was opened in 1893 and in the 70s-80s it was the address not for luxury, but for normal goods. Today GUM is not only the fashion temple for the upper-class, but also a historical monument of the late 19th century.
The Kremlin is the seat of the Russian President. But it’s more than just that. The Kremlin is a place of majestic cathedrals, museums and churches. When the weather is good, the view from both inside and outside is breathtaking: the gleaming gold dome and magnificent facades are truly unique. Not to be missed is the Cathedral of the Assumption , which by the way is the oldest church in the city.
You should definitely check out the armory and diamond fund. There you can admire the status symbols of the Russian tsar, everyday objects, church objects and the unique collection of diamonds and precious stones that were cut in the Kremlin factories or were donated from abroad.
St. Basil’s Cathedral
One of the most famous Russian churches in the world is even more majestic in reality than in the pictures. No photo can truly reproduce the splendor of the colorful onion domes, frescoes and iconostases. The cathedral was built in 1560 by the Russian masters Barma and Postnik. The popular saying goes that Ivan the Great was so enthusiastic about the church that he blinded the architects so that they could no longer repeat this masterpiece.
St. Basil’s Cathedral was built to honor victory in the battle for the Tatar-Mongolian capital Kazan. Both the colors and the shapes used in its construction are remarkable. The church consists of nine chapels, each chapel represents a special event in this war. The chapels and the main church are set up so that they point in all four directions. Even if the church looks so big from the outside, it is also very narrow inside.
There have already been several attempts to destroy the church: Napoleon, who actually wanted to take the church with him to Paris, but what was not possible, had his soldiers blow it up. But the rain that started suddenly ruined his plans.
Communists have also tried several times to destroy the church. The most famous story is how Stalin prevented the church from being demolished. According to plans, it should be demolished to allow parades to take place. The bells have already melted. When the plan was presented to Stalin, his adviser wanted to remove the cathedral with a wave of the hand, to which Stalin replied: “Leave it there, Lasar!”
A few years later a new attempt was made and the preparation of the demolition was given to the architect Petr Baranowsky. But he holed up in the church and yelled with him if it was to be torn down. So he saved the masterpiece, but not himself – years later he was imprisoned in a labor camp.
In 2003 St. Basil’s Cathedral was thoroughly restored and since then it has been mainly used as a museum, but occasional services are also held there.
Even if you are not a big art lover, you should definitely visit one of the largest art museums in Moscow . There you will find mostly paintings by Russian artists from 18-19 centuries, including a large collection of Russian icons. If you want to get to know Russian culture better, you should plan plenty of time for the visit. There is no other way – you stroll from one hall to the other, admire the greatest masterpieces of Russian culture and just want more of them.
The museum got its name from the Russian merchant Pawel Michailowitsch Tretyakov, who started collecting works of art in the mid-19th century. When he died, his brother donated the works of art along with the building where he lived to the state. All private collections that Communists later confiscated also moved to the museum – this is how this huge collection (over 100,000 works of art) comes together.
Russian cuisine in a charming ambience
Pelmeni, pirogi, borsch – don’t miss out on these delicacies from Russian cuisine. Especially since the offer is really enormous. Those who want to treat themselves to something special, you should definitely the Café Pushkin visit. Not exactly cheap, but the ambience is unique. Not only old-fashioned waiters and violins create the atmosphere from the 18th century. Rooms full of books, candles and samovars make you forget time here.
Another great location is Mama’s “Mari vanna” room , delicious and very original. You can enjoy pelmeni and vareniki in a sixties-style apartment. At that time, many Russians lived in so-called communal apartments . Each family only had one room, the bathroom and kitchen were shared by all families. The atmosphere of a Russian communal apartment was thought out in every detail. You dine comfortably close to other guests like in a communal kitchen and with a bit of luck you might even meet the in-house tomcat Wen jamin . The food is very delicious and absolutely Russian.
Sparrow Hills and Gorky Park
Here you can experience the most beautiful sunrise, relax after a long tour of discovery or enjoy the view of the city. “The mountains” are around 70 m high and offer an unforgettable panorama. The highlight is the Lomonosov University building, a beautiful building and an architectural monument from the Stalin era. A walk to Sparrow Hills is best combined with a visit to Gorky Park.
The world-famous Gorki Park, 1.2 square kilometers in size, is the popular recreational spot for locals. Do sports, play, go for a walk, go boating in summer or ice skating in winter – the green oasis in the middle of the city offers family relaxation for everyone.
The Bolshoi Theater
A visit to the Bolshoj Theater is also a must for all opera and ballet fans . The building was built in the classicism style and was only restored a few years ago. It was built in 1780 and was previously called the Petrowski Theater, like the street of the same name where it used to be. Since then the building has burned down twice and has been rebuilt from scratch.
For over 225 years the theater has been the world symbol of Russian culture and attracts thousands of visitors every season. “Swan Lake”, “The Nutcracker” – the unique ballet troupe masters their work like no one else in the world. The tickets for the ballet and opera are not too expensive, but they sell out very quickly. It is therefore best to order the tickets before your visit. You will be entranced by both masterful performances and majestic ambience . Before the performance begins, you can enjoy the splendid decoration in the hall: shining gold, noble red velvet set the tone for the spectacle. And if you come to the performance yourself in an evening outfit, you are well prepared for the very special evening.
Remember: In Bolshoj you must n’t miss the third gong , otherwise you will spend the whole act at the very back, even if you have paid for good seats. Video and photo recordings are also strictly prohibited. Leave the cell phone and camera aside and enjoy the unique experience.
5 things you should definitely take with you on a trip to Moscow
Safe storage for
your money Europeans in Russia have always been recognized by their loosely hanging half-open rucksacks, by women’s bags that are carried behind the back and do not have a zipper. But even if there is a lot of security in the city, you are never safe from pickpockets. Especially in the places where there are many tourists. Avoid unsafe luggage and always keep an eye on your bag.
Where do you stay when you visit the city? Do you have a hotel reservation or are you staying with your friends? If you want to spend more than three days in the city, you have to arrange a registration. This could be your hotel booking or a document that your hosts have to organize for you when you arrive. You should always have this registration with you and show it during inspections. If you are leaving on the same day, your train or plane ticket is sufficient.
So really comfortable shoes. Even if you don’t plan on walking a lot, it is inevitable. Also, for example, when you are out and about in the metro. The transitions are sometimes so long that you need a good 10 minutes to switch.
A good physical condition
The city is big and is always in a rush. Even if you plan a relaxed daily routine, the hurry will catch up with you faster than you think. Your walk will be faster, you will also be in a hurry, although you don’t have to. It’s infected faster than you think. Visiting many sights also requires a good physical condition.
You can often recognize Europeans by their casual look, which is worn both during the day and in the evening. Russians like to wear chic clothes, high shoes and expensive jewelry in the evening. So be sure to take your chic clothes with you – you will probably not have as many options as in Moscow again soon.