Enjoy a trip to Moscow, Russia
Top tourist spots
Before you visit our quirky alternatives you’re sure to want to see Moscow’s most famous sights.
- The Kremlin – you’ll be hard pushed to buy a postcard which doesn’t feature this stunning complex of palaces and cathedrals. Entrance tickets cost R500 and include access to five church-museums and the Patriarch’s Palace.Visit www.kreml.ru
- Red Square – outside the walls of the Kremlin, this cobbled square is at the heart of Moscow. Make sure to take your camera.
- St Basil’s Cathedral – keep walking through Red Square and you can’t fail to spot the psychedelic colourful domes of this landmark which dates back to the 16th Century. Inside, there are an amazing nine chapels to explore. Entrance costs R250. Visit www.saintbasil.ru
Up, up and away
Since the historic space race of the Sixties, Russia and space travel go hand in hand. Find out more about the Soviet space programme at the Cosmonautics Museum which is set inside a dramatic titanium obelisk outside the All-Russia Exhibition Centre, built to commemorate the launch of Sputnik. If you grew up in that era, pictures of Laika, the first dog to orbit the Earth, as well as seeing the space capsule used by astronaut Yuri Gagarin are sure to spark some memories.
- Closed Mondays. Tickets cost R250. Visit www.kosmo-museum.ru
While Russia is renowned for its dramatic winters, in the summer you should find it perfectly pleasant (around 19°C in July). Enjoy the sunshine – or wrap up warm in the winter – to explore Maxim Gorky’s Central Park of Culture and Leisure.
The former funfair is now a great spot to bike, play table tennis or just take a stroll. In winter the flooded ponds make the city’s biggest ice skating rink.
Designed in the Twenties to be a communist utopia, the architecture alone is of interest. There are numerous places to eat and various art exhibitions to enjoy, too.
A taste of history
Travel back in time to communist Russia at Kommunalka restaurant. It’s designed to feel like a communal apartment, a flat shared by two or more families (the accepted way of life until the Eighties). As well as the food, which is typically traditional fare – potato salads, borsch and meatballs – there are many authentic details to enjoy, from vintage newspapers on the walls to old radios and TV sets from the Soviet era. Naturally, there are plenty of varieties of vodka to be sampled as well.
- Prices from R170 for soup. Find it on Strastnoi Bulvar
For a bleaker – but instructive – exploration of the country’s history, plan a trip to the Gulag History Museum. Enter via a courtyard lined with pictures of political prisoners and meet guides dressed as guards to learn the horrifying history of these enforced labour camps which were still in existence as recently as the Eighties.
- Tickets R150. Call 495 621 7310 or visit www.gmig.ru
Anyone with a passion for music will love the Glinka Museum of Musical Culture. The collection boasts more than 3,000 handcrafted instruments from all over the world, including a violin made by Antonio Stradivari.
- Tickets cost R200. Call 495 739 6226, find it on Fadeeva Street
A night of culture
For a special occasion, you can’t beat a night at the opera – or ballet – at the world-famous Bolshoi. Recently renovated, the building dates back 200 years and hosts many of the best performers from around the globe.
- Prices R200-4000. Visit www.bolshoi.ru (Closed in July and August)
Take a train tour
The city is packed with options for unusual sightseeing. Train spotters will get steamed up over private Moscow Metro Tours that last for two or three hours and involve journeys to ten or 15 famously beautiful stations. You might spot an unusual Aquarelle train with exquisite painted carriages or hear tales of Metro-2, a secret underground line that supposedly connected the Kremlin with the KGB.
- Starts from £52 per person. Available through English-based company Viator, call 020 3318 0421 or visit www.viator.com
Don’t forget... you’ll need a visa before visiting Russia, unless you’re travelling with an organised group. Apply well in advance as they can take ten working days or longer. Visit www.rusemb.org.uk
We’ve included local phone numbers to use once in Russia, but if you want to call from the UK just add 007 to the start of each number. Obviously international rates will be higher.
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