Moscow at first glance appears immense and dispersive. The dimensions of everything are gigantic, streets, buildings, squares… everything is oversized. Turn a corner, in the center, you find yourself an 8 lane street just behind the Red Square!
It is a monumental city like St. Petersburg, rich in monuments and historic buildings (the Kremlin above all ... of course!), but you have to know where to go: if you wander around the center randomly (as is done in most other European capitals), you risk see almost nothing!
If you want to get an idea of the city immediately I recommend you join a free tour (in English !!) of 2 hours and a half which will allow you to orient yourself and explore the entire historic center starting from the magnificent Red Square.
Health Insurance is required
Before we get down to business, let me remind you that in Russia our health coverage is not valid. My advice is to always take out medical-luggage insurance that can cover you during the trip. I am very happy with many insurance companies, a site that compares the policies of different companies and proposes the most convenient policy for that particular trip. To do this you will have to enter the data relating to your trip (country, duration, etc.) and they will send you an email with the best proposal that you can then buy directly online (!!!).
What to see in Moscow: all the places not to be missed
I was very curious to see it and it made the same impression on me that I felt when I saw Tiennammen Square in Beijing: it is so big that you don't even understand where it begins and where it ends! Overall, however, it is beautiful, especially thanks to the St. Basil's Cathedral. Makes it much more at sunset or in the evening! In the center of the square is the funeral monument with the body of Lenin: a must see. It is also worth entering the Cathedral of San Basilio if only to see the whole square from above, from the second floor of the church.
The thousand bumps that need to be done to enter the Kremlin complex (queues for tickets, metal detectors, etc.) are amply rewarded by the visit (all beats that you can avoid by participating in a 2h Kremlin tour in English including skip-the-line ticket - to be booked at least 7 days in advance). the 3 cathedrals that overlook the Sobornaya square I liked very much: they are the cathedrals of the Assumption, the Archangel and the Annunciation. They are the 3 most important Orthodox churches in Russia, they are very old and inside they have magnificent decorations / icons.
If you are lucky (and it was not my case), you can also buy tickets (a few a day!) To get on the Bell tower of Ivan the Great and to see i treasures of the Armory. Take a walk in the gardens inside the walls too: from there you have a beautiful view of the river.
Novodevichy convent and cemetery
This convent, which is located outside the center, is worth a visit for the two churches that are inside, for the gardens and for the cemetery ... especially if you can read Russian (and therefore understand who they are from). the tombs!). There many greats of Russian culture are buried: Chekhov, Gogol, Mayakovsky and many others (we have tried, but we have not even identified half of them!).
This area, in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, has become the new trendy / radical area of Moscow. Red October was an old chocolate factory on the island of Bolotny, which was forced to close a few years ago and has become Moscow's new avant-garde cultural hub. It's a area full of bars, restaurants, clubs and cultural centers. Have an aperitif at Stelka! The view of the Cathedral and the river at sunset is gorgeous !!
The most beautiful subway in the world
The oldest metro in the world (and one of the largest) is a true work of art. Each stop is decorated differently from the other, following a specific theme. The most beautiful are those found on the circular line (N.5) : Komsomolskaya, Prospekt Mira, Novoslobodskaya, Kiyevskaya, ma anche Arbatskaya, e tante altre.
This bar / restaurant deserves at least a coffee (but also a lunch or dinner if you have cash to spend!). It is located in a 3-storey cottage (complete with a roof terrace), and is beautifully decorated, with antiques and old astronomical, medical instruments, etc. Really gorgeous !!
Garage Museum of Contemporary Art
Born thanks to the model engaged to the poor Roman Abramovich, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art hosts exhibitions, artistic performances, film screenings and fashion shows. It has recently changed location (don't follow the Lonely Planet directions about it!) And now it is located inside the Gorky Park, in a super modern and minimal structure designed by a Japanese architect. Worth the visit!
Other areas to see are: Arbat (pedestrian street full of portrait painters and musicians) and the Sculpture Park (next to the terrifying and imposing statue of Peter the Great).
When to go to Moscow
I was there for a weekend in August (before leaving for the trans-Siberian) and it was as hot as in Spain. Temperatures above 30 degrees during the day and 25 degrees in the evening. Many argue that the best time to visit is May / June, with the sun never setting and mild temperatures. In winter it is obviously very cold, even down to -20 °, but seeing it in the snow certainly has its charm (especially if you are not too cold!).
How to get a visa for Russia
To go to Moscow you need to get a Russian visa. Find all the info in the article Visa for Russia: how to get it (costs, times, etc.).
How much does a trip to Moscow cost
The ruble has plummeted in recent years, which has made Russia significantly more affordable for us. The current cost of living is somewhat lower than in Spain.
How to get around Moscow
Metro: undoubtedly the best way to get around the city! The subway network is widespread and the subways really run every 2 '. The only problem (at least when I was there, which was before the Olympics) is that there is very little written in the non-Cyrillic alphabet. Get used to asking practically all the time and counting the metro stops (as long as you understand which is the right direction to take).
Taxi: practically everyone is a taxi driver in Moscow! As soon as you approach a sidewalk someone arrives, stops and asks you if you are looking for a taxi. Official taxi drivers also do not use the meter. You have to negotiate the price before going up… the series .. if you can go on foot or use the metro which works very well (one passes every minute even on holidays!).
Where to eat in Moscow
- Strelka: bar / restaurant with terrace overlooking the river in the Red October area. Really nice to have an aperitif at sunset overlooking the river and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Also in the same area there are many other restaurants of all kinds (Italian, Asian, etc.) and take away.
- Puskin coffee: see paragraph in the article
- Marivanna: very nice design restaurant. The cuisine is Russian. There is also in St. Petersburg
- Khahapuri: easy but very nice restaurant of Caucasian cuisine.
- O2 Lounge al Ritz Carlton: if you want to feel a little posh, come here. From the terrace of the hotel you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Kremlin. It is obviously expensive, but it is worth it!
Where to sleep in Moscow
People Red Square Hotel: Simple but nice and clean hotel from which you can enjoy a magnificent view of the Kremlin and convenient for walking around the center (the Red Square can be reached on foot in 15 '). The staff are helpful and speak English.
Hotel Vremena Goda: a higher-end hotel which is located near Arbat, the famous pedestrian street. The Red Square is less than 10 'on foot, as well as many other attractions. Great breakfast !!