Best Places to Visit in Moscow
Moscow is one of Europe’s most hidden destinations, with a fascinating history and colorful, stunning architecture you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Moscow may be one of the most populous cities in the world with over 11 million inhabitants, but that hasn’t changed its strong cultural and social traditions. Walking along the cobblestone streets of Red Square in the early morning or along the banks of the Moscow River, it’s hard to tell what century you are in.
Tsarist architecture, must-see churches and fascinating shopping come together for an unforgettable visual experience. To get an idea of what to see and do while visiting Russia, have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Moscow and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Moscow
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Moscow:
1. Bolshoi Theater
The Bolshoi Theater is home to one of the largest and oldest ballets and opera companies in the world. Although the theater has undergone several major renovations over the past century, including one in 2011 to restore some key architectural details, it has retained all of its neoclassical splendor.
The Bolshoi Theater you see today opened in 1824 after several older versions burned down. Inside, red velvet, triple crystal chandeliers and gilded moldings lend the space Byzantine-Renaissance splendor.
The resident ballet and opera troupes are a pleasure to watch, as the theater often puts on many classical performances such as Tchaikovsky’s Mazeppa and Rachmaninoff’s Francesca da Rimini.
Official website: https://www.bolshoi.ru/en/
Moscow’s oldest and most exclusive shopping center is an architectural marvel. GUM (short for Glávnyj Universálnyj Magazín or “Main Universal Store”) was built in the Neo-Russian style in the late 1800s and showcases a beautiful combination of steel skeletons with 20,000 glass panels forming a vaulted roof.
It was a unique construction at the time, as the glass had to be strong enough to support Russia’s snowy winters. The building is equally impressive from the outside, with all three floors covered in marble and granite.
While GUM is no longer the largest shopping mall in Moscow, it is by far the most beautiful. Home to brands like Gucci and Manolo Blahnik, it may not be the ideal destination for most budget-conscious travelers, but the beauty of the architecture is worth seeing.
The third floor also features excellent dining options, including a Soviet-style canteen serving traditional Russian cuisine and a handmade ice cream counter using an original recipe originally approved by the Soviet government in 1954.
Official website: https://gumrussia.com/
3. Lenin’s Mausoleum
The final resting place of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin, Lenin’s Mausoleum is located in the center of Red Square. His remains have been in the mausoleum since his death in 1924 – plans soon changed, although the original plan was for him to be buried after a brief public exhibition.
After more than 100,000 people visited the mausoleum in six weeks, it was decided to build a new sarcophagus and a more permanent exhibition space that would preserve Lenin’s relics for much longer than expected – Lenin’s Mausoleum was completed. Over the years, the mausoleum and its marble staircase became the main place for Soviet leaders to watch parades and events on Red Square.
Lenin’s mummified body is still visible today, lying as if asleep in a bulletproof glass sarcophagus. While a visit to the mausoleum is certainly unusual, it has become a must for history buffs who want to learn about how Lenin’s legacy truly changed the country. Be prepared to wait though – usually in a queue.
4. Red Square
All the main streets of Moscow begin on Red Square, so it is easy to understand why this place is considered the center of the city. The square measures 330 meters by 70 meters and is surrounded by the Kremlin, Lenin’s Mausoleum, two cathedrals and the State Historical Museum. In 1945, a grand victory parade was held here to celebrate the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Soviet armed forces.
St. Basil’s Cathedral, built in 1555, is one of the most recognizable structures on the square. This unique cathedral features architectural details inspired by Byzantine and Asian designs, as well as details similar to the famous mosque. The church has nine separate chapels, all of which are decorated with colorful frescoes.
Both the square itself and the Kremlin are listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. On weekends, stalls selling souvenirs and traditional items such as matryoshka (Matryoshka) sometimes appear at the entrance of the square.
5. Museum of Cosmonautics
Once upon a time, Russia and the United States were equally paired in space exploration. While this is no longer the case, the museum’s staggering collection of over 85,000 objects remains awe-inspiring.
Key exhibits include the capsule used by Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, a Soviet flag with moon debris, a Soviet spacesuit, and a rocket propulsion unit from the 1960s. A special two-story hall showcases the interiors of the Mir space station, as well as a model of the first artificial satellite and a replica miniature spacecraft.
Tours are available in English, and there is a movie theater showing subtitled short films about the history of the space exploration program and the first manned spaceflight. The museum is located at the base of the Space Conquerors Monument, which was built nearly 20 years before its opening.
Official website: http://www.kosmo-museum.ru/?locale=en
6. Moscow Metro
Riding the Moscow Metro is an experience in itself, but even getting from the station to the underground is something tourists shouldn’t miss. However, with 223 stations and 12 metro lines running through Moscow, this can be difficult, so visiting at least some of the most impressive stations is a good start.
Arbatskaya Station was designed by a skyscraper architect, so it’s no surprise that it features multicolored granite slabs and impressive bronze chandeliers. Park Kultury station next to Gorky Park is covered with marble with reliefs of people playing sports, while Teatralnaya station is decorated with porcelain figures dancing in traditional Russian costumes.
The metro is open from 5:30am to 1am, but gets very crowded early and after 4pm, so it’s best to visit late in the morning or early in the afternoon to really appreciate the building without the crowds.
7. Moscow State Integrated Museum-Reserve
Moscow State Comprehensive Museum of Art and Historical Buildings and Natural Landscape Reserve is a cultural open-air museum complex consisting of four different historical sites.
The highlight is the Kolomenskoye estate, which was the summer residence of the tsars in the 14th century. The complex, which covers an area of approximately 300 hectares, includes a fairy-tale wooden palace, a stone church with a tent roof built in the 1500s, a water tower, a castle tower and structure, and Tsar Alexei I’s restaurant.
Beautifully manicured gardens, riverside picnic areas, and a wealth of artifacts and architecture make this a great place to help you learn what medieval Russia was like. Tours are offered in English, but you are also free to wander around on your own.
Official website: http://mgomz.com
8. Tretyakov Gallery
It houses the world’s largest collection of Russian art, with more than 180,000 paintings, sculptures and religious art from a thousand years ago. Built in the beautiful red and white colors of classical Russian architecture, the gallery is located near the Kremlin and was built in the early 20th century.
Notable artworks include Vladimir the Mother of God; Virgin and Child icons from the 1100s in Byzantium; Andrei Rublev’s 15th-century icon of the Holy Trinity; and several paintings by Ilya Repin, Russia’s most famous realist painter. . There are also a number of statues of socialist realism, as well as the 86-metre-high statue of Peter the Great.
Official website: https://www.tretyakovgallery.ru/en/
9. Arbat Street
A kilometer long pedestrian street in Moscow has existed since the 15th century. Originally a trade route on the outskirts of the city, Arbat Street is now in the city center with its luxury buildings and many dining and shopping options.
Beautiful streetlights and two notable statues – a Princess Turandot (from Puccini’s last opera) and a Soviet-era poet, Blatter Okuzava – adorn the streets at night and swarm with locals and tourists on the weekends.
Arbat Street is a great place to shop for souvenirs or sit in an open-air cafe, as well as visit the house of the poet Alexander Pushkin and the cafes that Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy once visited.
10. VDNKh All-Russian Exhibition Center
Although originally designed as a general trade fair venue, the park complex now features rides for all ages, an ice rink, and many galleries and other attractions. The park’s most famous landmarks are the Moskvarium, a marine life center home to more than 8,000 species of marine animals, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, and a shopping mall selling traditional items from the former Soviet countries.
There’s even a film museum showing Soviet cartoons and even a feature film and a training center that offers master classes on everything from barista to video montages. Soviet-era pavilions, statues and fountains abound as well, including the famous Fountain of People’s Friendship with costumed statues of women from various post-Soviet countries.
Official website: http://vdnh.ru/en/
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Moscow. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Moscow, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.