A must visit for all those who love big cities, Moscow is much more than the capital of Russia. One of the largest cities altogether, Moscow’s as influential in Eastern Europe as New York is throughout the West. Moscow sightseeing includes some of the most iconic buildings on the planet. Here, you can satisfy any whim under the sun, as shopping here is a unique experience and if you like food, you will be swept away by the wide range of top notch restaurants and roof tops in Moscow!
It’s a gargantuan city that was built to impress. Everything here is huge, often bordering on kitsch. It bears architectonic testimony to centuries past, including majestic buildings from the 20th century. Moscow sightseeing is a journey into the incredibly active recent history of Russia and even world politics.
The city’s Russian Orthodox cathedrals are the most beautiful I’ve seen, a testament to the power of religion. Also, among the most astonishing bits of Moscow sightseeing are the Seven Sisters. Built under Josef Stalin’s vision, they’re seven massive skyscrapers overlooking the city.
This is a megalopolis, an amazing city unlike any other, and Moscow sightseeing will forever stay in your heart. Since it’s such a huge place, I’d recommend staying for at least 3 full days. Explore and fall in love with Moscow with my Moscow travel guide.
Not too long ago, I had the amazing opportunity of writing a guide of exciting things to do in Moscow for world-renowned travel blog The Planet D. Check out my entry HERE!
You want to know where to stay? Have a look at my Moscow Hotel Review of the Radisson Royal – A Russian Luxury Experience! Do not miss one of my most popular post about TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN MOSCOW BEYOND THE CROWD!
6 Things to Know Before Reaching Moscow
For all practical information needed to book your trip, head to the Booking Support Section in the end of the post. Before you begin to play your Moscow sightseeing, keep in mind that:
To Get There…
- Make sure to check Visa well in advance: Check iVisa or at your nearest Russian consulate, but you’ll most likely need a visa. Avoid misunderstandings by having all the necessary information and paperwork long before hopping on the plane.
- Keep Cash at Hand: Russia’s still a very cash-oriented country, so be sure to have your share of rubles with you. This is currently changing, but you still need cash to get to know the Moscow nights and do enough shopping!
- Pick the Right Airport: As a huge city and portal between East and West, Moscow has 4 airports. Whenever possible, arrive via Sheremetyevo, which has the best terminal and is easiest to access. Domodedovo is much more crowded and farther from the city, so not recommended. Book a taxi ahead, so you won’t get overcharged by drivers outside the terminal. I would strongly recommend to book a TRANSFER FROM THE AIRPORT as it is a bit messy when you arrive and once again, most of the drivers do not speak English.
To Move Around…
- Google Translate will be Your Best Friend: This is also improving, but it’s a matter of giving it a try around the city. Just start talking and hope for the best! If you ask beforehand, Moscovites will always say they don’t speak the language.
- Download Taxi Apps & Explore the World Down Under: Taxis are very cheap. Uber used to work in Moscow but nowadays it does not and I would recommend you to do use Gettaxi instead! If you want to avoid traffic jams, then the metro is the best choice. Nowadays it is easier to navigate as most signs are bi-lingual and some staff even speak English.
- Book tickets & tours online in advance: Moscow is not the easiest city to travel to due to the language but luckily you can book most of the things online in advance to make your experience as smooth as possible. For the best guides & tours in Moscow check out all the GET YOUR GUIDE TOURS HERE . I can also strongly recommend booking a tour with local for a personal and authentic experience. Check out the cool HI, HI SITE HERE.
Top 18 Things to Do in Moscow at the Majestic City Centre
The most iconic landmarks of any Moscow sightseeing tour are located in the city center. Keep in mind that Russia is a big and proud country and city centre landmarks are a sight to behold!
You can easily spend half a day or a full day downtown and cover the basics. If you want to visit more museums, a couple of days should do it. Of course, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in case you’re looking to check those off your list!
Foodies will have the time of their lives visiting Moscow, with its broad variety of restaurants. I’ve written a lot about them to help you choose where to eat when you visit. There are many great eateries here. If you want an in-depth Russian cuisine experience, go to Dr. Zhivago. They serve classic Russian flavors with a modern twist, in an almost kitsch décor with lots of red and gold. For a relaxed lunch, Jamie’s offers great Italian.
Once you’re done eating, go up the O2 Rooftop, at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. After some Moscow sightseeing, look at the city from above.
1. Walk Around the Red Square & Kremlin
Moscow sightseeing musts here include the Kremlin, the red “fortress inside a city,” which has been the seat of Russian politics for centuries. It has housed tsars, Soviet comrades and, currently, President Vladimir Putin. By tickets in advance and BOOK A TOUR for all interesting facts about this place!
Steps away lies the Red Square, another Moscow sightseeing icon. Once home to the main city market, the Red Square is now best known as a Soviet landmark. Throughout the 80 years of communism, it was the site of government and parades. The square is oozing with history and remains, to this day, Vladimir Lenin’s resting place. I can strongly recommend a guided tour here if you are interested in the history and stories behind. BOOK IT HERE!
2. Fall in Love with St. Basil’s Cathedral
The Red Square is lined by the most iconic landmarks in Moscow like the historic museum – also a red beauty and the most recognized building in town – St. Basil’s Cathedral. A unique Byzantine-style church, it’s been around since the 16th century. Confiscated from the Russian Orthodox Church in the early Soviet years, it remains a State property. It’s perhaps the most iconic building in all of Russia, a symbol of the city and its grandeur.
For a unique experience at the most iconic building in Russia, check out this PRIVATE TOUR!
3. See a Show at Bolshoi Theatre
Another place you cannot miss in the Moscow city centre is the Bolshoi Theater, which is located just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Red Square. A unique Moscow sightseeing experience, art lovers shouldn’t miss a ballet performance here. As home to arguably the most famous ballet on Earth, you can imagine there’s a long wait to shows, particularly if you want to get decently-priced tickets. Whether you’re planning on seeing a ballet or an opera, be sure to book your tickets between 3 and 6 months in advance.
Get an insider’s look into this beautiful old theatre with this Bolshoi Theater Backstage Tour with Hotel Pick-Up!
4. Shop Your Heart Away at GUM & TSUM
Once you’ve seen all these majestic buildings of yore, take a break from history and enter GUM, the most iconic Russian department store. All the fanciest brands are here, so it’s perfect for a pause from Moscow sightseeing! In any case, it’s a great place to stop for a cup of coffee in a cute café and a must-see to indulge a bit in Russian luxury!
Next to Bolshoi, you will find the second big mall in Moscow – TSUM. Another upscale shopping centre, here you can find anything from premium brands to more affordable options like Zara and Nike.
The Park, the River & the Peace
As a large and hectic city, Moscow’s life happens fast – so fast that Moscovites need a lot of places to unwind. As a result, there are plenty of beautiful parks – and one reigns supreme above all others. Enjoy a beautiful sunny summer day or a winter extravaganza, just as the locals do!
This area also has a few fabulous eateries and places to hang out in – most notoriously, the Radisson Royal Collection. An incredible luxury hotel on one of Stalin’s Seven Sister skyscrapers, the dining experience here is absolutely superb. Perfect for a nightcap after a long day walking around Gorky!
5. The Imposing Christ the Savior
Your first next landmark should be the Christ the Savior Cathedral. Built after the fall of the Soviet Union, it’s the most impressive church in Moscow. It was built after Russia opened up to religion after a near-century against it, and you can tell by the grandeur. It is for sure worth a visit inside.
6. Hang Out in Gorky Park
The bridge behind the cathedral is the perfect walking route to Gorky Park – a nice walk along the river for 20 to 30 minutes. Gorky Park is a must see and Moscow’s equivalent to Manhattan’s Central Park.
This is the ultimate Muscovite weekend hangout. There’s always something to do here, between its kid-friendly fair attractions and its beautiful gardens and lakes. The park is a point of pride for locals. Also, do not miss its majestic entrance! In the winter Gorky turns into a big skating rink, just one of the many marvels of Moscow’s cold months.
7. Cruise the Moskva River
Once you’ve enjoyed the vibes and nature, it’s a great time to walk by the Moskva River and see the sights. The city perspective here is quite unique, and you’ll find yourself mesmerized.
You can even take a boat ride along its waters: I’d recommend the Radisson’s. If possible, do this after sunset for a gorgeous view of the Moscow night! CHECK IT OUT HERE!
8. Party at Red October & Strelka
If the promenade has awakened your hipster senses, be sure to drop by Red October afterward. The city’s party island is the place to see the young vibe. You can also check out one of the most impressive museums here! The Tretyakov has the largest collection of Russian fine arts on Earth. There’s also an exhibition outside, in case you’re not up for the inside tour.
Red October is the fun, hip place where trendy Moscovites go to party. Once a chocolate factory for the famous Alenka brand, the entire island has been recreated as a party place. You’ll find nightclubs and bars everywhere, all of them full of beautiful young people ready to dance until their feet can’t stand it.
If you’re visiting in summer, go to the area’s iconic bar & terrace – Strelka! Have lunch or an early drink here, and prepare for the ultimate Moscow sunset.
9. Arbatskaya – Where Moscow’s Art Scene Lives
This is a small and artsy area around Novy Arbat street, with a lot of tourist-focused shops. Here you can find souvenir shops, cafés and art happenings. To get away from crowds, navigate the smaller inner streets to find where artists live!
For the history and soul of this place, BOOK A WALKING TOUR HERE!
10. Moscow City – Another Side of Town
As it happens with all metropoles, Moscow is more than one city: it has many faces. One of the newest is Moscow City, a sort of mini Dubai due to its skyscrapers and modern look. First and foremost, this is where you should see Moscow at night: the best rooftops, Ruski and Sixty, are here!
For a unique experience at this futuristic side of the Russian capital, take this amazing Moscow City Sightseeing Platform and River Cruise!
Moscow City is also a great area to do some shopping. The most modern malls in town are around here, including Afimall City, home of many international brands.
11. Metro Hopping on the World’s Most Breathtaking Subway
An 80-year-old system, don’t let the Moscow metro’s old age fool you: it’s still magnificent. Inaugurated during Stalin’s leadership, it shares the grandeur of all architecture from the period. The stations resemble underground palaces and they’re Moscow sightseeing spots themselves!
Each station has a distinct look and feel, but seeing as there are over 200, you should prioritize. The most impressive are Komsomolskaya, Mayakovskaya, Kropotkinskaya and those around/below the Red Square.
It’s easy to navigate the metro thanks to its color coding; plus, the signs are also in English but unf,ortunately the trains are not as impressive as its stations! If you want a tour then check out this 2 HOUR METRO TOUR!
12. Travel Back in Time at the Russian Market
Izmailovsky Market is a Moscow sightseeing must-visit for lovers of unique objects. The definite Muscovite shopping experience, going there is like taking a time machine to another era. The place is beautiful: a colorful extravaganza with castles straight out of a fairytale!
The most unique shopping in town can be done here. Find great bargains on iconic Russian items like Matryoshka dolls and fur hats. When visiting, try the delicious Russian barbecue, shashlik, at a food stand.
Learn more about this dreamy flea market by taking an incredible 3-HOUR TOUR!
13. Unmissable Museums in Moscow
The hometown of great writers and all types of artists, the Russian capital is a very cultural city. There are endless museums to choose from, both traditional and contemporary.
Among must-visit museums is the Tretyakov Gallery, hosting the largest collection of Russian fine art of all Moscow sightseeing. There’s also, of course, the Kremlin, with centuries of history. Other personal favorites include Pushkin, Tolstoy (both traditional), Garage for modern art lovers and hip ArtPlay block, right outside the city center.
14. Moscow State University’s One-of-a-Kind View
Located in the tallest of the Stalin-built Seven Sisters skyscrapers, Moscow State University offers privileged Moscow sightseeing. Once the tallest building outside NYC, it still offers a magnificent panorama of old Moscow. Grab some lunch here at Grill Bar & Terrace Sparrows, with the park and fountains beneath you. Plus, this is Russia’s most prestigious university, with 13 affiliated Nobels!
On Sundays, it becomes a meeting point for motorcycles and race cars – perfect for auto enthusiasts.
15. See Moscow Beyond the Crowds
Grand as it is, Moscow’s landmarks will certainly impress you – yet there’s so much more to the city. As it usually happens, the city beyond the crowds is even better, as you get to explore life as a true local. Get the pulse of the town!
My favourite area in Moscow is Patriarshiye Prudy, known as Patriarch Ponds in English. While the rest of Moscow is fast and hectic, Patriks is something of an oasis. Once residential and now bohemian, it’s now the hub of Moscow’s foodie scene. Here, you’ll find adventurous flavors, exotic cooking, and incredible fusions.
For an artsier vibe, ArtPlay is the place to be. As it’s happened with other former Soviet constructions, ArtPlay resides on what was once a factory. Now, it’s a place of incredible architecture and design, exhibitions, showrooms and so much more. The best location to get into Moscow’s art scene!
Tsvetnoy Central Market is the perfect shopping place for people looking for a uniquely Russian experience. Here, you’ll find the top European luxury brands, plus plenty of wonderful and local designers. Boutiques, pop-ups, Instagrammable cafés, and even a rooftop bar await at Tsvetnoy!
Read more about the Russian capital off the beaten path in my post of Moscow beyond the crowds!
16. Wine & Dine
As you can imagine, the dining options in Moscow are very varied!
Wonderful Russian restaurants like Café Pushkin, Dr. Zhivago, and Turandot. There are also delicious options for international cuisine, like exceptional Italian Probka. From Moscow sightseeing to incredible gastronomy, this city has everything!
If you’re into unique little eateries, the Patriarshiye Prudy neighborhood is the place for your perfect Moscow sightseeing pause. Hipster restaurants, burger joints, and Asian fusion await! It’s a unique Moscow area with narrow little streets and lots of great places.
For an even more exotic experience, Moscow has a myriad of incredible food markets where you can try incredible flavours made from fresh and organic products. Danilovsky and Usachevsky are my fave markets – don’t miss out on their Vietnamese options!
And then get even more in-depth knowledge by CHECKING OUT THIS FOOD TOUR!
17. Moscow Rooftops
Great cities like Moscow deserve to be seen from above – especially if it involves delicious cocktails and beautiful sunsets. Some of the greatest drinking experiences in town are rooftops – many of which offer white dining.
White Rabbit is one of the prime white dining experiences in Moscow. Co-owned by famous chef Vladimir Mukhin, the menu is focused on upscale Russian food, with a few extra international flavours.
O2, the Ritz Carlton’s fancy lounge, has an advantage no other Moscow rooftop has: it’s right next to the Red Square. In other words, its main view of that of the classic city landmarks, perfect for a long day of city walking!
The Radisson Royal Hotel has two wonderful rooftops: Buono, an Italian restaurant with perhaps the most romantic setting in town, and the Mercedes, a hip bar with incredible cocktails and a fun scene.
Sky Lounge is located atop a very peculiar building, where Soviet architecture mixes with copper for an almost steampunk look. It’s a rare mix of past and future!
For an in-depth approach at Moscow from above, check out my list of rooftop bars and restaurants.
18. Moscow Sightseeing by Night
Patriarshiye Prudy has many great bars to spend the night drinking with friends after a day of Moscow sightseeing. If dancing is your thing, small private club Klava has a great vibe and eclectic crowd!
Red October Island is the party classic of Moscow sightseeing, with stylish bars and clubs. So the hottest is Gipsy, a great experience in the hotter months because it’s on a rooftop. Jagger, a bit outside city center, is fantastic to party, with strong garden vibes. SohoRooms provides a traditional Muscovite extravaganza, including all-night go-go dancers – like entering another world!
Always dress to the nines for Moscow sightseeing in the evening, as a casual look will keep you out of clubs. Also, groups with more men than women will get into places easier!
Moscow is a city like no other, a city built to impress and I hope this guide has helped you to get the most out of your trip. And don’t forget to check out my post for iconic travel blog The Planet D, HERE!
More from Travel with a Silver Lining
- If you want to experience Moscow like a local beyond the crowd, then check out MY MOSCOW BEYOND THE CROWD POST.
- Want to read more about how it is to live in this cosmopolitan city in the East? Then have a look at all my posts about Moscow Living – to see Moscow from a local’s eye!
- Want to experience true Russian luxury? Then read about my days at the RADISSION ROYAL HOTEL.
Moscow is heaven for foodies and I have written 5 posts so you can get the best food experience. Check them all out below!
- THE 10 BEST RUSSIAN RESTAURANTS
- THE 5 BEST INTERNATIONAL RESTAURANTS
- 8 MAGIC ROOFTOPS FOR DINING AMONG THE STARS
- THE TOP 5 BREAKFAST SPOTS IN MOSCOW
Booking Support & Input
- Visa. Use iVisa to check how to get your Russian visa for the trip.
- Flight. For the best flight deals to Moscow, click HERE. Momondo is my Go To All in One Travel App. If you have not downloaded it yet – just CLICK HERE!
- Transfer. Booking a transfer from the airport to your hotel is always a good idea – particularly in Moscow, as many drivers don’t speak English. Book your driver HERE!
- Hotels. Want to stay at the luxurious Radisson Royal? THEN BOOK IT HERE! For more Moscow hotels, check out Booking’s Moscow city page!
- Guide. I can also strongly recommend booking a tour with a LOCAL GUIDE AT THE NEW COOL SERVICE HI,HI as Moscow is full of hidden gems!
- Tours. For the best guides & tours in Moscow check out all the GET YOUR GUIDE TOURS HERE! Moscow is huge and if you want a full-day guided tour, I can strongly recommend THIS ONE! You should also book a PRIVATE MOSCOW BY NIGHT TOUR to see all the beauty this city has to offer!
- See the Moscow city guide, below!
I hope above will help you plan your trip!