Top Tips for Touring Moscow
With so much excitement around the Soccer in Russia this summer, Moscow is center stage to a global audience of travelers. Having recently celebrated its 870th anniversary, the city not only has a strong history but vast dining and sightseeing options for the most versed of travelers. While a true touristic gem, Moscow is still somewhat under the radar in terms of popularity in comparison to a lot of its neighboring European capitals, here are some of the top travel tips to help you plan your trip to Moscow.
It seems like a no-brainer to suggest planning for a trip— whether that means packing two weeks in advance or writing a very detailed daily itinerary. However, if you are planning your first trip to Russia, especially if you’re visiting from countries such as the United States, research effectively to make sure you have all of the proper documents needed for travel well in advance. If you have the time, try to learn or pick up a few Russian keywords you might need, such as ‘where is the bathroom’ or ‘can I get the check.’ With a population of just under 12 million people, residentially it is not as diverse as you might expect and many locals do not speak English. Translation apps can provide additional assistance in translating signs and menus in case you aren’t familiar with Cyrillic script. If you do not have a strict agenda for your trip due to special events or sporting events, make sure to contact a travel agent or research events taking place in Moscow during your desired travel dates. You may want to avoid some national holidays as you may find that access to public spaces and museums will be limited or altogether off limits. While it is not necessary to have a tour guide along with you, it certainly helps to ensure you make the most of your time during your trip, hop on a double-decker bus or find your way around the city via suggestions by your hotel concierge.
Venture Out To Shop
Moscow is a big city with plenty of great shopping options, head over to the Red Square at the historic GUM shopping center, this shopping center opened in 1893 and features top luxury brands and restaurants including the popular Beluga Caviar Bar and Bosco Café which offers patio sitting with direct views of the famous Saint Basil’s Cathedral. If you have time for a more adventurous shopping excursion, visit Izmaylovskiy Vernisazh, a unique center for culture, entertainment and classic Russian crafts such Matryoshka dolls, or antique staples such as a souvenir Samovar, posters and unique finds. No matter what you might be looking for, you are bound to find a variety of options in Moscow, including the popular Tsum and Petrovsky Passage department store or by strolling around the city and dropping into local and luxury boutiques along the way.
Moscow is rich with diverse dining options, from street food such as the Cheburek or Blini, to Michelin-starred dining, you won’t be disappointed by the variety. Plan ahead and book a reservation at one of the top restaurants in the world, White Rabbit by famed chef Vladimir Mukhin. The restaurant sits on the top floor of the Smolenskiy Passage, offering Russian cuisine with a very modern twist and equally stunning views. In case you worry about an overwhelming menu, try the Chef’s Table, sit back and enjoy one of the best meals you can indulge in. For those longing for a more classically Russian yet modern vibe, grab an Uber to Dr. Zhivago, a gorgeous café for any meal or even a casual dessert and coffee. Be prepared for a “scene”, with an upscale, trendy vibe, many of the locals are dressed to the nines—a great spot for people watching and it is also very popular with Russian celebrities. Fresh from wrapping up a classic Russian novel? Stop by Café Pushkin, you’ll want to linger and taste local nobility cuisine in a historic aristocratic mansion. Are you craving classic Russian cuisine such as great caviar? This will lead you to another Moscow hotspot, Beluga, they serve a versatile selection of fish and caviar and classic desserts like their meringue-based Pavlova cake, named after the famed ballerina, Anna Pavlova. If you feel ready to try some other unique dishes, Georgian food is quite popular with locals, or try fun spots such as Uilliam’s, nearby the popular Patriarch Ponds and Vogue Café.
Sightseeing For Days
Save plenty of time sightseeing—there is a lot to see and experience in Moscow and the city is big. Walking the entire city is just not possible if you plan to spend less than a week in the city. Take Uber to get around the city—it is easily available and very affordable. Make sure to have WiFi access and you won’t be disappointed using this transportation method throughout your visit. Russians have a rich cultural history, and there are plenty of great museums such as the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, carrying a collection of Impressionists and many other world masterpieces. Add the Tretyakov Gallery to your itinerary for Russian art of the 11th to early 20th century, the Diamond Fund, as well as a tour of the Kremlin. Look ahead online and book your tickets to the famed and arguably most popular ballet theater in the world—the Bolshoi, and experience a night out in the city that gives ballerinas celebrity status for good reason. If you have more time, squeeze in a tour of the famous Tolstoy House Museum and see where War and Peace author, Leo Tolstoy, lived and wrote some of his incredible works.
Plan ahead and enjoy an unforgettable trip to Moscow. This city is full of rich culture, delicious food, and amazing sightseeing. Plan ahead to get the most out of your trip and enjoy this capital city for everything it has to offer.