The Russian capital is alive with history, art, and culture, and it’s the perfect place for a short (or long) break. Architecture that manages to be intimidating and intricate at the same time, museums with incredible collections of art, and delicious restaurants and slick bars make Moscow a vibrant and must-visit capital city. Many of the attractions are inside the Garden Ring, the wide boulevard that encircles the city centre. However, stray off the beaten track and you’ll be rewarded with some cool and unusual things to do in Moscow too.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best places to visit in Moscow. Hopefully, we can help you make the most of your trip to this amazing city!
Best Places to stay in Moscow
Whether you want to be surrounded by one of the best neighbourhoods in Moscow or your just happy with somewhere to crash each night, you’ll not have any trouble finding a place in Moscow. In fact, the problem will be narrowing down all that choice! Here is a quick list of three of the best places to stay in Moscow.
Best Hostel in Moscow: ART Hostel
Not sure where to stay in Moscow if you’re travelling on a budget? Well, at ART Hostel, it’s easy to meet other travellers, and you’re sure to love the dreamy rooms based on art, literature, music, and cinema! Choose between your own space in a comfortable private room or getting acquainted with your fellow travellers in the dorm. There’s no shortage of opportunities to meet people here, with a summer terrace and a book room available at your leisure!View on HostelWorld
For more hostels options, check out our Best Hostels in Moscow guide!
Best Airbnb in Moscow: Exclusive Apartment in Old Moscow
Modern and cozy, this apartment is in the heart of Old Moscow. Bordering the Basmanny and Kitay-Gorod districts, this two-bedroom flat is walking distance to the Kremlin and Red Square. Safe, quiet, and comfortable, this is the best Airbnb in Moscow, no question!View on Airbnb
Best Budget Hotel in Moscow: Aristocrat Mini Hotel
Want the best place to stay in Moscow on a budget but don’t fancy a hostel? Then let us present this excellent alternative, the Aristrocrat Mini Hotel. Tverskoy, where the hotel is located, has some of Moscow’s most popular attractions including St Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square. It’s safe to say that even though it’s a budget hotel, it’s still in one of the coolest neighbourhoods in Moscow! Rooms feature cable TV and a shared bathroom. This property has great ratings on booking.com!View on Booking.com
Best Luxury Hotel in Moscow: StandArt Hotel Moscow. A Member of Design Hotels
Want a luxury hotel but not sure where to stay in Moscow? Let us take care of that. This five star hotel has so much on offer that you’ll have to set aside time to do everything it has to offer. Only after you’ve finished visiting the best places in Moscow according to our list, of course! Enjoy the hotel’s rooftop terrace and observation deck for fantastic views across Moscow. If it’s a bit chilly, head in and enjoy the hammam and on-site spa. Then, retire back to the modern rooms to enjoy a movie on the flat screen TV!View on Booking.com
Need a place quick? Here’s the best neighbourhood in Moscow:
- Enjoy cheap beer, table games, and Russian techno tunes at Gogol, one of Moscow’s oldest and most popular clubs.
- Spend an evening enjoying the ballet or an opera at the Bolshoi Theatre: the heart and soul of Moscow’s arts and culture scene.
- Enjoy luxury boutiques and upscale restaurants as you walk along the lively and grand Tverskaya Street.
These are the BEST Places to Visit in Moscow!
#1 – Red Square
A great place to see in Moscow if you love architecture!
- Moscow’s largest public square
- Lined with some of the most important landmarks in Moscow
- Be amazed by the onion-shaped domes of St Basil’s Cathedral
Why it’s awesome: The top of our Moscow itinerary with good reason. Red Square has some of the most famous places in Moscow. St. Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, and the Kremlin are all centred around the former market square. The cobblestoned square is arguably the most popular point of interest in Moscow, and this site has seen a lot of historical Russian events unfold. Those historical events include everything from public executions to protests, to parades. An intercontinental ballistic missile has even made its way across the square. Thankfully, it wasn’t armed at the time!
What to do there: Where do we start? First of all, take a walk across the square itself. Admiring all the beautiful architecture that surrounds it and taking photos will certainly eat up a chunk of time here. Then it’s deciding what to do first. You could easily spend a whole day at Red Square. Do you head into the most important Russian Orthodox church, St. Basil’s Cathedral? Or you could head to the Kremlin, one of the hotspots of Moscow’s politics and history. Lenin’s Mausoleum and the State History Museum are other landmarks in Moscow that you shouldn’t miss during your Red Square day.
#2 – Bolshoi Theatre
Possibly one of the most important places to visit in Moscow!
- One of the most famous places in Moscow
- Choose between watching an opera or ballet performance
- Take a guided tour of this iconic Russian institution
Why it’s awesome: If you love music, art, or culture, you can’t miss visiting the Bolshoi theatre when you travel to Moscow. 150 years after it first opened, it’s still one of the most romantic and entertaining places to head out to for an evening! The Russian Ballet and Opera perform in the six-tier auditorium throughout the year. If you do want to see a performance at the Bolshoi Theatre, it’s very hard getting last minute tickets. So, if this is on your Moscow itinerary, book as soon as you know when you’ll be travelling!
What to do there: The first and most obvious thing is to see a show! A packed events calendar with world class and experimental performance of Russian and foreign classics is not to be sniffed at. The only downside of this is performances can be expensive, and they sell out quickly! If one is out of your price range, or more likely fully booked, not to worry. You can take part in a guided tour of the theatre, which lasts for over one hour. Therefore, you don’t have to miss out on seeing one of the most iconic landmarks in Moscow!
#3 – Gorky Park
- Escape the hustle and bustle in Moscow’s premier green space
- Visit the open-air movie theatre
- Enjoy a range of fun and entertaining outdoor activities.
Why it’s awesome: This 300-acre park is the ideal way to trade the fast pace of city life for some well-deserved chill time. One of the best places in Moscow for a whole host of different activities, Gorky Park is a favourite among locals and tourists alike. You can find Russian pensioners challenging each other to a battle of wits over chess, cats sunning themselves on the wide-open green fields, and families enjoying a day out together. It’s a lovely atmosphere that’s impossible not to fall in love with!
What to do there: Gorky Park is a great place to visit if you’re running low on Moscow vacation ideas, no matter what time of year you travel. Visiting Moscow in winter? Enjoy one of the city’s biggest ice-skating rinks. Summer presents you with lots of options too. Yoga and fitness classes, volleyball, and boat rentals are just some of the fun activities on offer! And a leisurely stroll isn’t the only way to get around the park. Use the wide paths to cycle, rollerblade, skateboard, and Segway! Also, don’t miss the open-air movie theatre, the perfect place to catch a film under the stars.
#4 – The Moscow Metro
- Visit some of the world’s most beautiful metro stations
- Enjoy its museum-like quality trains on the Red Line
- Learn about the world’s largest urban transit system at the metro museum
Why it’s awesome: You probably think there’s not that much do to in Moscow and we’ve run out of ideas after 3 great attractions. But hold your horses! You’ve probably considered the metro when thinking about how to see Moscow, but did you have any idea how amazing it is?! Rather than your standard dark and dingy underground stations, Moscow’s are like luxurious great halls. And every single one is different! Statues, paintings, mosaics and dramatic archways are just some of the things to keep an eye for when exploring the Russian capital.
What to do there: It sounds crazy but there’s so much to look out for on the Moscow Metro. In addition to the beautiful stations, some of the cars themselves are works of art. If you’re travelling on the red line, keep an eye out for the Aquarelle train. Translated to the ‘watercolour’ train, it looks like a painting in motion when it passes you! There’s also a public metro museum, and a statue dedicated to a stray dog that used to ride every day. The Moscow Metro might just be the most bizarre yet interesting public transport system in the world!
#5 – Golosov Ravine
A beautiful and scenic place to check out in Moscow!
- Take a stroll in one of Moscow’s largest green spaces
- Learn about Golosov Ravine’s time-travel mist
- Meditate in sacred Russian orthodox springs
Why it’s awesome: Golosov Ravine is a fascinating place. It may not seem that much at first glance, but this verdant green space is 15% larger than New York’s Central Park! It scythes right through the middle of Kolomenskoye Park and was a former royal estate. The most interesting thing about Golosov Ravine is the mysteries that surround it. In fact, it’s one of the best places in Moscow to experience tall tales, myths, and legends.
What to do there: If you feel brave enough to take a walk in the Golosov Ravine, there’s every chance that you may be transported to another dimension. That is of course if you believe the stories about the place. Some claim that there is a mist that descends on the ravine that traps you for an inordinate amount of time. When you get back to civilisation, up to 50 years could have passed! There are also legends of large, hairy, Bigfoot-type creatures in the ravine. Whatever your thoughts on the stories, it’s a Moscow must see if you want to get some fresh air in a delightful green space!
#6 – Izmailovo Kremlin
Quite the quirky place in Moscow
- Check out this wooden cultural centre and marketplace
- Visit a load of single-subject museums dedicated to vodka, folk art, and bread among others.
- Get off the beaten track and really explore Moscow!
Why it’s awesome: Yes, the Kremlin is clearly one of the best places to visit in Moscow. However, it’s not the only one! The Izmailovo Kremlin was only completed in 2008, yet it looks like it comes from deep in the past. That’s partly because it was modelled on fairy tales set in Old Russia! Although it’s only been around for just over 10 years, a visit to the Izamilovo Kremlin is like stepping back in time. Locals and tourists alike have a soft spot for it, and it’s a charming place to spend a day out away from the city centre hustle and bustle!
What to do there: Next to this particular Kremlin, you’ll find Izmailovo’s traditional market, dating back to the 17th century. It’s connected by a wooden bridge, and this is the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs and handicrafts for those back home. Artisans come not only from Moscow but all over Russia, so you can get some pretty cool gifts! There are several single-subject museums worth a visit here, about important parts of Russian culture. Head to the replica of the Tsar’s summer palace to try some local Moscow delicacies too!
#7 – Sparrow Hills
- Admire the views of the Stalinist Skyscrapers
- Take a cable car ride
- The highest point in Moscow – with a great view over the city
Why it’s awesome: Another of Moscow’s best-loved green spaces. It may not have the sheer range of activities as Gorky Park, but this is the perfect place to relax, contemplate, and admire the sublime views of Muscovite architecture. The park is named after the nearby village of Vorobyovy, which translates as sparrow in English. It has long been an inspirational spot for poets and writers who came here to get their first view of their final destination: Moscow!
What to do there: You can’t visit Sparrow Hills without heading to the observation deck. From here, you can see the whole of Moscow city centre set out in front of you. Look out for the Luzhniki Stadium, the home of Russian football and the 1980 Olympic Games. You should also see the Kremlin churches, the Novodevichy convent, and the 7 sisters. These are a group of 7 Stalinist skyscrapers which are intimidating and imposing in equal measure! The most recognisable of those is the Moscow State University building.
Quick Note – Staying Safe in Moscow
Moscow gets over 17 million tourists each year, and the vast majority come home with smiles on their faces and all their belongings still in their backpacks. As with most major capital cities, the most common crime is pickpocketing and petty theft. So, make sure you know where your valuables are or hide them and that you’re always aware of your surroundings.
Solo and female travellers should be cautious but should also feel safe in the city. LGBT+ travellers should take caution when travelling to Moscow and further into Russia. Although Moscow does have a thriving gay scene, it is advisable to be discreet. Since the anti-LGBT propaganda laws were passed in 2013, hate crimes and harassment have risen.
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
#8 – GUM
A great place in Moscow if you love to shop
- Russia’s main department store
- Shop till you drop at high-end labels and affordable ones too
- Houses some of the best places to eat in Moscow
Why it’s awesome: Even if you don’t like shopping, GUM is a Moscow must see. Just over the road from the iconic Red Square, this should be your first stop if you’re planning a bit of retail therapy at any point during your Moscow travel. The store was built in the 1890s and the architecture is simply sublime. It’s been added too since then, and the glass-roofed arcade is a stunning place to walk through! There are a number of restaurants in GUM too – perfect if walking round Red Square and the Kremlin has built up your appetite!
What to do there: Well, since this is Russia’s premier department store, the obvious answer is shop! Boutiques like Cartier, Bvlgari, and Dior all have stores in GUM. However, if you’re budget doesn’t stretch that far, there are more budget-friendly options like Zara if you’ve forgotten to pack anything really important! Not only is GUM a shopping centre, but you’ll also find plenty of restaurants and cafes here. There’s a cinema too, so you should be able to find something to keep the kids quiet for a couple of hours!
#9 – The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts
- The largest collection of foreign art in Moscow
- Holds an international music festival
- A Moscow must see for art lovers!
Why it’s awesome: Set over three branches, the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts has one of the largest collections of European art in Europe. It has impressionist, post-impressionist, and Renaissance masterpieces beyond the imposing entrance hall. Some of the most incredible artwork in the museum belongs to the Golden Age of Dutch art from the 17th century. Works include several Rembrandt’s and lots of other important European artists! As well as paintings, you can enjoy the Ancient Civilisation exhibits too. These include Egyptian weaponry, jewellery, and ritual items!
What to do there: This stunning art gallery is split into a few different sections, and if you plan to spend a whole day at the museum taking in the exhibits, you should have time to get around all of it. The main building holds the Renaissance masterpieces and eastern antiquities, so it’s best to start here! The Gallery holds most of the impressionist and post-impressionist artworks, largely by French artists. Don’t miss picking up a souvenir of your day at the gift shop!
#10 – Museum of Soviet Arcade Games
Easily one of the most fun places to check out in Moscow!
- Play on over 50 arcade games for the days of the USSR
- See what constituted as entertainment behind the Iron Curtain
- Without a doubt one of the most unusual things to do in Moscow!
Why it’s awesome: A museum dedicated to arcade games that you can actually play? That sounds pretty awesome, right! However, there’s a little more to it than just a cool amusement arcade with games from the past. The museum is actually in the basement of a technical school, and students have preserved the games. They include pinball, video games, and collaborative hockey foosball. The games were built in secret in the 80s and many of them have sat for a long time just waiting for someone to enjoy them!
What to do there: Pay the entry fee of around $8 USD and get some kopek coins. Yes, they do come with a hammer and a sickle on them! Then, put them in whichever arcade game you desire. It may be a bit overwhelming at first when you realise they’re in Russian, but most of the games are pretty easy to work out. For example, in Tankodrome, you shoot at enemies in a tank (who’d have thought it?!). This isn’t on many Moscow itineraries but put it on yours and you’re guaranteed a fun time!
#11 – Ostankino TV Tower
- Speed up the tallest freestanding building in Europe
- Get panoramic views of the whole of Moscow
- Test your fear of heights with the observation deck’s glass floor!
Why it’s awesome: We mentioned earlier that Sparrow Hills was the highest point in Moscow. And that’s true if we’re not including buildings. However, the Ostankino TV Tower dwarves the 85m hill. In fact, it was the world’s tallest freestanding building when it was constructed in 1967, at 540 metres tall! When the antenna is fully extended, it’s still the tallest building in Europe and the 11th tallest in the world! You’ll have to be content to explore Moscow views from the observation deck, at 337 metres.
What to do there: Well, being so high up you can’t miss an opportunity to snap some unforgettable photos of Moscow! Tours are hourly and a great way to see the city from above while learning about its history. The lifts are super quick and will whisk you up to the observation deck, 340m above ground, in a matter of seconds. This probably isn’t the best idea for travellers who are afraid of heights, unfortunately. Especially when you take into consideration that the floor of the observation deck is made of glass. It’s a long way down, but totally worth it for some stunning Moscow snapshots!
Get insured for your trip to Moscow!
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So, that concludes our list of the best places to visit in Moscow. Ideally, you’ll have found this list informative and useful when planning your break in the Russian capital. Not only will you have found some cool spots to visit but found the coolest and best neighbourhoods in Moscow to stay in too!
Whatever you want from a city break, you should be able to find it when you travel to Moscow. World-class museums, fine art, stunning architecture, and gorgeous green spaces are all just waiting for you to discover!
This guide doesn’t just show you the best places in Moscow but should help you to enjoy some local attractions too. We’ve mixed the Moscow must-sees with places that aren’t in the guidebook, giving you a comprehensive guide of how to make the most of the Russian capital. All that’s left now is for you to book your accommodation, flights, and have a great time!
Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you book your accommodation through the site, The Broke Backpacker will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Your support helps me keep the site going.
Need More Inspiration?
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