Russia, although often portrayed negatively, is one of the most intriguing countries on Earth. The pulsing and often confusing metropolis of Moscow is a feast for the eyes. Here are the top picks of what to see in Moscow.
What to do in Moscow: myth and legend
Moscow is no small feat and time is needed to really appreciate everything that this city has to offer. The wide boulevards are filled with everything from designer shops to small, artisan souvenir sellers. No matter what you may think, Moscow is an absolute must-see in a package holiday in Russia.
Start your time by gazing over the pond at Patriarshy Prudiy, a monument to Stalinism that still stands today. The pond is surrounded by Stalinist-era apartments and has a beautiful sculpture garden. Many scenes from the country´s history took place here and the pond is a centrepiece of Bulgakov´s The Master and Margarita. The gardens themselves are quite pretty and allow a break from the hustle and bustle of the central Moscow.
After strolling around the park, follow the Bulvar, a huge road that splits the centre of Moscow in two. This will eventually lead you to Pushkin Square, one of the most famous squares in all of Russia. There is an enormous statue of Pushkin in the centre, and this is one of the most well-known sights in Moscow. Take some time to people watch, because the joy of visiting the city is not what you do, but what you see in Russia.
If this has tempted you to become familiar with locals in Moscow, another must see in Russia is Gorky Park. Here you can see the city inhabitants relaxing by the river, and enjoy music from bands that often play here. The real spectacle of the park is the adjoining metro station, which is reminiscent of European architecture. You can also take in the sights of the city from this park, which are entirely free. Many tourists often pay to take photos from the sky lobby of hotels but being in the heart of the action allows you to see Moscow from a local perspective.
The real must see in Russia is Red Square, the Kremlin and all that it has stood for over the years. Here you can also visit Lenin´s Tomb, which some argue is unmissable.
Further exploring Moscow
Red Square could consist of a whole book only dedicated to this most iconic of sights in Russia. The imposing presence of the Kremlin and the multi-coloured onion domes of St. Basil´s mean that you will never forget one of the most beautiful squares to see in Russia. You can often find markets, street performances and costumed people waiting to take a selfie with tourists. Take some time to soak in the sights of the square and to drink in the atmosphere.
Close by is another Moscow institution, but of an entirely different era. The GUM department store is a must-see in Russia, purely for its entertainment value. It is full to the brim with designer stores, chic cafes and often lavish window displays. This is most evident at night when the whole facade of the building lights up, one of the most beautiful decorative displays to see in Moscow.
Another place that any tourist must see in Russia is the Bolshoi Theatre. This has traditionally only displayed the best in dance, theatre and opera over the years and is a world famous institution. The building itself is worth visiting even if you cannot see a performance. The Bolshoi is a striking testament to Russia´s imperial past.
As you gaze out over the city, you cannot avoid a building that can be seen from almost every angle. This is the seat of Russian Orthodoxy and is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. This was originally built over an old Soviet swimming pool, previously the largest in the world. Now the site houses a magnificent church which allows tourists a glimpse into the heart of modern day Russian religious life.
To finish off your trip, take a look at the largest flea market in Moscow, something mesmerizing to see in Russia. The Izmailovsky Market is full of stalls selling traditional Russian souvenirs, such as matryoshka dolls and fur hats. There are also stalls dedicated to selling Soviet memorabilia, which can be an interesting addition to your suitcase. The market also has plenty of cafes for you to relax in. Try the vodka, at least once. Try sampling some of the local food, such as hot dumplings or blinis, pancakes with a variety of fillings.
As you will see, travel to Russia is a truly unforgettable one and should be made once in a lifetime.