There are many ways to see Moscow and get a feel of the city, before you begin to focus on specific activities. Tourists can always opt for the traditional guided tour of the city, but in Moscow, you might want to consider taking a boat ride down the Moskva River. Visitors also have the option of an icebreaker cruise in winter, when the river is frozen over, and dining aboard a boat as it ploughs through thick layers of ice in sub-zero temperatures is an experience unique to Moscow. Aside from boats, tourists are also bound to enjoy Moscow’s metro stations, which boast splendid architecture.
Moscow offers a host of options to satisfy even the most insatiable of shoppers, and Tverskaya Street and Tretyakovsky Proyezd house upscale boutiques that sell world-famous brands. However, the biggest attention-grabbers as far as shopping in Moscow is concerned, are GUM (pronounced goom) and TSUM (pronounced tsoom). Quite possibly the largest and most elaborately designed shopping malls in the city, both buildings are examples of stunning architecture, and while it might not be wise to spend too much of your money here, it’s worth a visit simply to admire the splendid hallways. GUM is built facing the Red Square, while TSUM is located just across the street, opposite the Karl Marx Place.
If you are looking to sightsee, you will never be short of things to do in Moscow. Usually the top-three places tourists visit are the Moscow Kremlin (the seat of the government, which houses museums, palaces, and churches), the colourful St. Basil's Cathedral (which is the most well-known symbol of Russia, and located at a prominent spot on the Red Square), and Lenin's tomb (where visitors gather to pay their respects to the Father of the Revolution). Other sightseeing options include the Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the Red Square itself, the Novodevichy Convent, and the Patriarch's Ponds.
To get a taste of luxury in Moscow, tourists may opt to visit the O2 Lounge or the Swiss Ôtel, both of which offer top-notch food and entertainment, alongside a great view of the city. The City Space Bar & Lounge located on the 34th floor of the Swiss Otel is a great late-night option, and boasts an impressive menu. Nightclubs also abound in Moscow, and among these is the Krysha Mira – an exclusive roof-top establishment which offers a superior atmosphere and is notoriously difficult to get in to.
There are endless ways to steep yourself in Russian culture in Moscow, one of which is to visit the numerous museums the city has to offer. Art aficionados will delight in exploring the world-famous Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, as well as the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, where you can get a taste of Moscow’s contemporary art scene. For a unique experience, you can also visit the Gallery of Russian Ice Sculpture.
The literary will never be at a loss in Moscow, as a number of museums dedicated to famous Russian authors (as well as the homes of various writers) are dotted all over the city, among these the Pushkin Memorial Museum, the Tolstoy House Museum, the Dostoevsky House Museum, and the Mayakovsky Museum. Establishments dedicated to Bulgakov, Gogol, Gorky, and Chekhov are also present.
Alongside museum-hopping, visitors can also attend classical music concerts at venues such as the House of Music, or a ballet performance at the world-famous Bolshoi (Big) Theater. Moscow also houses the 35 MM – a historic cinema, which shows foreign films in the original language late into the night.
Moscow hosts a wide range of seasonal festivals, and depending on when you plan to visit the city, you are bound to end up partaking in one of the festivals on offer. The Moscow Easter Festival heralds the arrival of spring, while Maslenitsa festival bids farewell to the winter season. Festivals are a great way to tap into the spirit of the city, and experience Russian food and tradition while mingling with Muscovites. In addition, St. Patrick's Day, Christmas, and New Years’ Eve are all celebrated in spectacular fashion in Moscow.
Moscow is a foodie’s dream, and visitors are bound to delight in the rich Russian fare the city has to offer. Traditional dishes such as borshch (rich beet soup), pirozhki (savoury pastries), ikra (Russian caviar), and pelmeni (pastry dumplings stuffed with meatballs) are all worth a try, and Russian food is generally served with black bread and liberal amounts of butter. Russian ice cream, called morozhenoe, is a popular dessert, and is available all over the city, while street food, such as stuffed blini (Russian pancakes) can be found everywhere.
No visit to Moscow would be complete without a shot or two of the world-renowned Russian vodka, and tourists can also visit the Vodka Museum for good measure. Meanwhile, beer is also a popular beverage in Russia. However, if you’re looking to sip on something less strong, the Russian tea culture is worth exploring.