Best Things To Do in Moscow
Art, museums and history reign supreme in Moscow, one of the most pristinely and magnificently preserved cities. This beautiful walking city is also recommended for couples. Here you can stroll through 15th-century cathedrals, explore Russian iconography and see the masters of European post-impressionism all in one day's visit. Don't miss the Red Square and the Kremlin, and if you like fine art you should also drop by the Tretyakov Gallery. Moscow's nightlife and shopping scenes are some of the most exclusive (aka expensive) and lavish in the world. Be sure to bring a lot of money and dress well for a night out, -- or you might not pass "face control" at the front door.
Updated June 28, 2016
- #1View all Photos
One of the world's most famous public squares, the Red Square sits at the physical center of Moscow and is considered the symbolic center of all of Russia. Bluntly speaking, Red Square is a must-see in the city. Allot a decent amount of time to take in the views, capture them on your camera and to just soak in the atmosphere of the place.
- #2View all Photos
Many say the Tretyakov Gallery features the best collection of Russian fine art in the world. This museum is filled to the brim with masterpieces ranging from the 11th century to the 20th century. The gallery is actually comprised of two buildings, often referred to as the "Old Tretyakov" and the "New Tretyakov."
If you make time for only one museum in Moscow, make sure it's this one. Frommer's says, "This collection of masterpieces awes both newcomers to Russian art and connoisseurs." With works from Russian icons like Vrubel and Kadinsky dotted throughout the museum, you could easily find yourself whiling away the whole day here.
- #3View all Photos
St. Basil's Cathedral, also known by its much longer title as the Cathedral of Intercession of Theotokos on the Moat, is the most iconic landmark in Russia. It's located in Red Square, immediately recognizable by its unique bonfire-style design.
Built in the mid-16th century under the orders of Ivan the Terrible himself, (a popular legend says he had the architect blinded to prevent him from duplicating the beauty) St. Basil's Cathedral is most known for its vibrantly colored onion domes. Frommer's says the cathedral is "essentially a union of nine different churches and styles, and nine different chapels, beneath nine domes, each unique in size, form, and color."
- #4View all Photos
The Cathedral of Christ the Savior is located along the bank of the Moscow River and only a few blocks away from the Kremlin. Tourists come to the cathedral for its impressive architecture and design, as well as for its equally impressive (and strange) history.
The cathedral was originally built to commemorate the Russian victory over Napoleon in 1812 and to honor the soldiers who gave their lives fighting him. Then in 1931, Stalin had the structure dynamited to make room for his Palace of the Soviets project -- an ambitious skyscraper (it would have been the tallest structure in the world) that never materialized. Instead, the site was transformed in 1958 into the Moscow Pool, one of the largest public swimming pools in the world. The pool closed in 1994 and the cathedral was rebuilt in its place in 1997.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Moscow0.5 miles to city centerSightseeingTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND0.5 miles to city centerSightseeingTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Often referred to simply as "The Kremlin," this fortress is located in the center of Moscow, off of the Red Square. It is the most well known of the Kremlins (Russian citadels) and serves as the official residence of the Russian President. The Kremlin encompasses four cathedrals, four palaces and a number of towers.
One of the major highlights here is the Armory Palace, one of the city's oldest museums. The Armory Palace was originally the royal Russian arsenal where weapons were produced and stored. It wasn't until the early 1800s that it was converted into a museum. Now, it showcases Western European, Asian and Russian weapons and armor, as well as several collections of work from goldsmiths, silversmiths and jewelers. Don't miss the Fabergé egg exhibit.
- #6View all Photos
Lenin's Mausoleum is located in Red Square and is probably one of the stranger tourist attractions you'll ever come across. It contains the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin, a disturbing site that has been on display almost every day since his death in 1924.
Lonely Planet says, "Whether for the creepiness value or an interest in mummification, the granite tomb of Lenin is a must-see, especially since (if some people get their way) the former leader may eventually end up beside his mum in St Petersburg." Apparently, the Bolsheviks leader made a specific request to be buried alongside his mother before he died.
- #7View all Photos
The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts is located on Volkhonka Street across from the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. It houses the largest collection of European art in Moscow, and it was named in honor of one of Russia's premier poets, Alexander Pushkin.
You don't go here to read sonnets, though. Instead, you should look to find art spanning a wide range of eras and movements, from ancient Greece to the Renaissance to French Impressionism. Masterpieces from the likes of Renoir, Cézanne, Picasso and Van Gogh easily make this museum deserving of a visit.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Moscow2.2 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND2.2 miles to city centerZoos and AquariumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Originally founded in 1864, the Moscow Zoo is home to more than 6,000 animals and more than 1,000 different species.
The zoo is a popular destination for families and a nice reward for kids that have had to endure long lines and one too many Moscow cathedrals. One satisfied TripAdvisor user says, "The park was clean, kid-friendly, and the animals are always in plain sight and not a football field away as they are in North American zoos." However, a few visitors felt the animals' living conditions were not up to par.
Explore More of Moscow
If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.