Moscow is supposed to be something impressive and it really is. It’s a totally insane city full of raw and chaotic energy, concentrating 80% of the country’s money and 10% of its population. Moscow is uncomfortable and charming, filthy rich and desperately poor, fast-paced and lazy, trendy and kitschy – all at the same time. Unlikely contrasts are everywhere: fancy shops neighbor concrete shacks left from the Soviet times; crowds of star-gazing happy hipsters mix with rugged tired people with solemn and unhappy faces; Bentleys and BMWs share the busy chaotic traffic with half-destroyed old Ladas; and so on…
As everywhere in Russia it’s like a mix of two worlds: Europe and Asia, democracy and communism, joy and grief, prosperity and poverty. Moscow could be just another capital, but it isn’t. Rather, the city is an exaggerated version of everything you can get in Russia, as if conforming to the local stereotype: take everything to extremes.
Today we will share with you tips for getting the most out of your visit in Moscow.
The thought of traveling around a country with an alphabet and a culture that is completely unfamiliar can be intimidating. We will try to make your job easy.
1. Russia really is as cold as they say it is.
We visited Moscow in June and although we knew what to expect, still we had a surprising weather. It was raining, snowing and in the next second it was sunny and then windy. I think we experienced the all 4 seasons.
Summer time in Russia is beautiful and it is the perfect time to visit this country. But since most of your travel will requires lot of walking, you must feel comfortable. So, take the appropriate clothing, shoes and an umbrella. Regardless of what part of Russia you are going to visit, it is better to take with you some warm clothes, as it can be cool even in summer.
2. Come with an open mind
You have to be prepared for everything. Things here don’t work like in most western countries. So what you think is logical or common sense, may not apply. Take it as it is, and don’t try to compare it. This way you will enjoy the experience, the culture and everything that Russia has to offer.
In order to apply you need to have a letter of invitation, in Russian. This letter is a tourist voucher and reservation confirmation and which state the dates you will be in the country along with details of your staying. The letter can be obtained from various hotels or tour operators, usually for a fee between 30-50 euros. Visa will be valid for the specific dates from your letter invitation.
4. Don’t expect too many Russians to speak English
Language is the first mystery for tourists coming to Russia. You will not understand a word without special preparation. There are not many signs with English translation, so it will be extremely difficult to navigate in the city without knowing Russian alphabet.
If you don’t have time to learn some basic Russian words, just download some application what can translate from English to Russian.
5. Walk like a Russian
Russians walk at lightning speeds without making eye contact or smiling, and don’t be surprised if you get pushed and shoved in a line, on the metro, or in a bus. This is normal. It doesn’t mean they are upset.
6. Buy yourself a metro card and used it
First of all, remember that Moscow is famous for its traffic jams, so underground metro is the best way to get around Moscow. However, there are some things to know before entering in a metro tunnel. Everything is written in Russian. When you buy a map, make sure to buy a map that has Russian letters and the English transliteration. You don’t need to know Russian to navigate the metro, you just need to be able to recognize the letters and the metro line colors.
7. Always carry a passport with you
Police officer can check your passport “just because”, so it is better to be prepared. |
You might also be asked to show your passport when entering some of the buildings.
8. Moscow is not that expensive
Of course it depends of the level of the luxury that you choose. But generally speaking, I didn’t find Moscow very expensive.
9. There are other things to see in Moscow, except Kremlin and the Red Square
The city is teeming with museum, galleries, churches, theaters, huge parks. One could easily spend five day in Moscow without getting bored.
10. Plan well your Kremlin visit
Expect longer lines in summer months and plan on getting there early. There are several combination of ticket to buy from:
The general grounds admission
Ivan the Great Bell Tower
The Armory Museum
The Diamond Fund
Be aware and check the Kremlin the following website in advance.
11. Take cash
Credit cards are not accepted everywhere, so it is better to have some cash in your pocket. Change money in banks or hotels.
12. Prepare for a challenging experience
It is not a traditional tourist destination. First because of the language barrier, second because the country isn’t tourist friendly, so it will be a challenge to handle while in Moscow.