If you’ve never traveled to Russia, you’re probably struggling to imagine what Moscow is like. Moscow is a city that longs to be explored. With a rich history and tons of museums and monuments to visit, history buffs will never be bored and for sure an unforgettable experience.
Best time to visit Moscow
Of course, the best period is summer, when the city is warm and bustling. Winters are brutally cold, but this is when you’ll get a true glimpse into the Moscow experience.
How to reach Moscow
The best way to reach Moscow is by plane.
There are three major airports in Moscow: Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo.
If you come from abroad you will arrive either to Sheremetyevo international airport (all major international airlines and Aeroflot) or to Domodedovo international airport (Swiss Airlines, AirMalta, British Airways, Emirates, El Al, China Eastern, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and most of the Central Asian airlines, plus most domestic airlines, except Aeroflot).
The new and renovated Vnukovo airport serves mostly domestic flights, as well as German Wings flights to/from Germany.
There are 9 train stations in Moscow. Each has the name of the main direction for the trains that depart from this railway station. All the railway stations are located close to the center of the city.
The “Kazanski”, “Yaroslavki” and “Leningradski” train stations are to be used most likely to go to St. Petersburg or Trans-Siberian.
Schyolkovsky Bus Terminal is the main bus station in Moscow located at the east of the city (25 mins by metro from the center).
How to get to the city center
You can take Aeroexpress train from each of the airports, which is the fastest and easiest way to get to the city. A one-way train ride takes about 35-40 minutes and costs about 500Rub (about 7 euros). Tickets can be purchased from the vending machines in the airports.
Moscow public transportation is horrible and the city traffic is in constant jams. The best way to get around very fast, efficient is via Metro. Although, you have to avoid using it in the peak hours, it will be verry crowded.
Another thing about Moscow is that instead of using the buses you can use any car on the street that can stop and give you a lift for money.
And the good news is that there is Uber in Moscow. It’s good to use it as you don’t have to negotiate the price or to speak with the driver.
Using the metro
It is not that easy to use it. There are no English signs and there are over 190 metro stations, it is so crowded that it is so easy to feel puzzled. But keep the following things in mind:
- Metro entrances are marked with a large red letter “M”.
- Each line had its own color.
- There’s no time limit for using your ticket.
- You can also save money and buy tickets for 5, 10, 20 or 40 trips– they are less expensive. You can buy from the “CASA” right in the metro station.
Moscow metro is beautifully decorated, in fact, it looks like an underground museum. One of the reasons is that when it was built it was supposed to be an underground shelter in case of war, so it was built to be pleasing to the eyes and to “promote” communist way of life. I just loved it.
Where to stay
Russia has one of the world’s most luxurious accommodation. But of course there is a place for any budget. You can find a wide range of hotels with reasonable prices just outside the city center. And with metro system there are so easy to access.
First we looked at hotels in the city center but soon we realized that the prices were huge and it didn’t offer good accommodation conditions. So, we looked for something just outside the center. We found the Izmailovo Hotels which is a four-building hotel. It was built for the 1980 Summer Olympics, because Moscow lacked enough hotel rooms. It is usually rated a four star hotels (Gamma-Delta is rated as three star hotels).
Its 3,500-person capacity, with 2,000 rooms, made it the world’s largest hotel from 1980. The prices are good the rooms are clean and spacious. The nearest subway stations is Partizanskaya which is taking you directly to the city center. We were very pleased with it.
Places to visit:
- Have a walk in the Red Square
- Go inside the Kremlin
- Enjoy the ride on Moscow’s metro
- Glam up at The Bolshoi Theatre
- Shop for communist memorabilia at the Flea Market in Izmailovo
- Visit the Wooden Palace of Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich
- Uncover the Cold War Museum (Bunker 42 on Taganka)
- Look down from Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory)
- Go up to the Ostankino TV Tower
- Take a boat tour on Moscow River
- Have a stroll on Tsaritsyno Museum and Park
- Walk along Arbat Street
- Hang out at Gorky Park
- Visit one of the Seven Sisters
- Party all night long
What to eat
Through Russian food you can get a taste of the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Russia. Cooked well with quality ingredients Russian cuisine can be delicious! It is not spicy, features a lot of meat, fish, vegetables, baked pies and pastries, as well as a variety of alcoholic and non-alcohol drinks, such as ‘kvas’ (a drink made from fermented bread) and, of course, the vodka, which everyone should try while in Moscow! It has perhaps one of the most diverse cuisines in the world due to its incredibly varied ingredients that can be locally grown and hunted.
But you will have to find these typical restaurants, because Russian people like to eat home-cooked food at home. And when they go out, they like to try something different. Sushi grew to become Russia’s favorite fast food. But you can find everything from American fast food to Georgian, Vietnamese, Italian food and so on.
Every day we were looking to eat something traditional but every time we end up in another type of cuisine.
The only place where we manage to eat Russian food, although it was touristic attraction, was in Gum mall at Stolovaya 57 which simply means “Canteen No. 57”. In soviet times, these were government ran restaurants where people could go for a hot meal. This place is not a cheap eat but, still it’s quite affordable by Moscow standards and you can get to taste the Russian cuisine.
Here are 6 of the most famous traditional Russian dishes and drinks:
- Bliny (pancakes) and it is preferred sided with mushrooms, Russian caviar, salmon, sour cream or jam.
- Russian Caviar – There are two types of caviar – black and red. Black caviar is generally indicative of a romantic dinner or a luxurious celebrity party as it is very expensive, red caviar is more popular and affordable. But caviar is always associated with fine dining.
- Vodka – It’s hard to know, where to begin with vodka! There are hundreds of brands of varying quality; the best quality brands are Russian Standard Gold and Pure Crystal. The best appetizers for vodka are pickled cucumbers and dark bread.
- Shchi (Russian cabbage soup) is a delicious Russian soup made with cabbage, potato, carrots, meat, onions and tomatoes.
- Borshch is similar to shchi, with the addition of beetroot. It’s extremely tasty.
Pelmeni is similar to Chinese dumplings and is made with meat, mushrooms or potato. But pelmeni with meat is the most popular among Russian people. Many Russians make it at home and eat it boiled or fried. It is usually served with sour cream and butter.
- Kholodets is a mixture of meat and vegetables which are eaten cold and jellied.
- ‘Herring in a fur coat’ is a popular Russian salad that is popular on New Year’s Eve and at parties. It is made with herring, beetroot, peas, potato, carrots and mayonnaise.