[Moscow] Due to the World Cup, more people are noticing Moscow as a tourist destination.
It never really crossed my mind to visit Russia at this point in my life – I thought I might just save it when I retire, but why not now? In the end it happened because I asked a friend where the best restaurant in the world was, and she commented ”
White Rabbit“ without thinking twice.
Then I went.
The traveler’s Visa was expensive to get, transport tricky to get out from the airport, and metro slightly confusing at first, but when you get used to the pace and system, it all worked all well.
To be honest, Moscow is a city so rich in culture, history and the arts, that if I were to come back again, I will probably do more reading.
It is true that Russians did not seem to smile at much (perhaps due to the very harsh winter), but those I met were polite and ever ready to help.
Nestled on the edge of the Moskva River, Moscow is Europe’s most populated inland city and one of the largest in the world. It is known for its bubbly architecture, brightly colored domes, and one-of-a-kind towers and skyscrapers.
Visitors can amble through the easily recognizable Saint Basil’s Cathedral, tour the Kremlin, or even window shop at one of the many department stores. Afterward, grab a cup of coffee or dinner at one of the new-age restaurants popping up across the city.
Here are the some 10 of the top places and restaurants to visit in Moscow:
Saint Basil’s Cathedral
Red Square, Moskva, Russia, 109012
Tel: +812 303 8647
Opening Hours: 11:00am – 6:00pm (Wed – Mon)
Most iconic building in all of Moscow
Saint Basil’s Cathedral is undoubtedly one of Moscow’s most breath-taking buildings, with its sharp and brightly colored architecture dedicated to the Virgin Mary herself.
The building is situated right on the edge of the Red Square, and has been named one of the most famous symbols of the Russian capital.
The church, with colored domes, appears to be the exact opposite of the mono-colored Kremlin—which is probably why it is one of the most recognized buildings in the world.
The majestic Russian church in Moscow’s “heart” consists of nine chapels, and their diverse colors create an extremely impressive building. Visitors arriving in October will be treated to the once-a-year ceremony in the cathedral.
But if you miss it—don’t fret! St. Basil’s remains open throughout the year for tours, photographs, and historical education.
Accessing the Church of St. Basil is easy since it is located in the Red Square, which is the very center of Moscow. Guests can get there either by using a trolley, bus or metro. The entrance fee to the church is 500 rubles for adults and free for children up to 16 years old.
Red Square, Moskva, Russia, 109012
Tel: +812 303 8647
Opening Hours: Individual locations will vary
Tour the largest city square in all of Russia
Considered the central square of Russia, the Red Square is one of the largest city centers in the world.
Originally designed to serve as the main Moscow market, it has been used for several official ceremonies and government events throughout history as well.
Contrary to popular belief, the name of the square comes neither from the color of the bricks used in its construction nor from the relationship of the color red with communism. It actually comes from the root of the Russian word krasnaya, which means red or beautiful.
This name was originally applied to adjacent church of St. Basil, but then moved to the square itself.
In May, visitors are treated to a once-a-year military parade that marches through the Red Square. It is a very honorable day and tradition, so remember to leave those flip flops at home.
If you visit the square at night, you will be treated to a vast array of nightlife, city lights, and unique dining opportunities.
Many visitors choose to explore the Red Square, then walk the short distance to St. Basil’s, Ivan Tower, or the Kremlin as they are dotted along the perimeter.
Moscow, Russia, 103073
Tel: +495 695 4187
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 5:00pm (Fri – Wed)
One of the largest architectural ensembles in the world
The Kremlin lies right in the heart of the Russian capital. This building is one of the largest architectural ensembles in the world, including historic buildings built during the 15th to 20th century.
It has consistently been listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, thanks to the breathtaking colors and architecture on both the interior and exterior.
All of the buildings that comprise the Kremlin are unique, representing different architectural faculties and seasons, as they were built by famous architects and craftsmen.
The Kremlin is Europe’s largest fortress, which remains up and running to this day. Tickets go on sale 45 minutes before each tour, but they book fast so get there early or order online.
After taking a tour, feel free to purchase tickets for the Cathedral Square and the Diamond Fund at the same booth. Courageous tourists may even want to climb the Bell Tower of Ivan for the most spectacular, breath-taking city views.
Just remember: most government-run locations are closed for holiday every Thursday, so be sure to plan around that.
Sobornaya Ploshad, Kremlin, Moscow, 103073, Russia
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 2:00pm, 4:30pm – 6:30pm (Fri- Wed)
Explore Moscow’s largest armory museum
The armory, which is housed in the Kremlin, includes one of the most impressive armory collections in the world.
Take note: photo taking is NOT allowed, not even your mobile phones (photos above from their official website). You should still come out of this museum with memories you will not forget.
In the museum, you can admire uniforms and armors of the Russian army, as well as banners and decorations from past wars. Emperor’s dresses, such as Catherine’s bridal gown, golden gospel books, the astonishing collection of Faberge eggs, and stunning jewelry compositions are displayed throughout.
Then visit the throne room, filled with thrones of the tsars, their crowns, and the crown donated to Russia by the emperor of Constantine the Gladiator—all of which are displayed in all their former-glory for your admiration.
The entrance fee is 700 rubles (SGD15.10) for adults and free for kids up to 16 years old. However, tickets are limited in number, so you need to arrive early or order them online. (Take note of their long lunch break mid-noon, I learnt it the hard way.)
Red Square, Moskva, Russia, 109012
Tel: +495 623 5527
Opening Hours: 10:00am-3:00pm (Closed Monday & Friday)
One of Russia’s most respected locations
Vladimir Lenin’s mausoleum, located in the Red Square, houses the embalmed body of the leader of the Soviet revolution.
Lenin’s body has remained within this location since the day of his death on Jan. 21, 1924, and millions of tourists and locals have visited him location since.
Immediately after Lenin’s death, a massive mobilization of the Soviet authority brought together the most famous chemists and physicians of the time with the aim of preserving his body perfectly. The building of the mausoleum is the work of the famous Russian architect, Alexey Sutchev.
Almost every day, a huge queue of visitors will wait outside patiently for their entry into the monument.
Since the mausoleum sits right on the edge of the Red Square, feel free to explore a bit while you wait. Although tickets are affordable, it is important to note that proper attire is encouraged and pictures are not allowed.
Red Square 3, Moskva, Russia, 109012
Tel: +495 788 4343
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 10:00pm (Daily)
Shop, shop, shop ‘til you drop at GUM
GUM Shopping Center is a paradise for those who love shopping, as they will find the boutiques of the biggest fashion brands and the most famous designers dotted throughout.
I found prices expensive though, and so didn’t buy anything… except for Caviar, which you should consume quite immediately.
While some are Western brands, others are solely found in Eastern countries like Russia. In the most popular stores, a platinum card is necessary to avoid waiting in the queue, but these can be purchased on-site.
The building has an impressive all-glass ceiling that was destroyed by a fire in 1520 and rebuilt in 1893 by two famous Russian architects. By the late 19th century, it was Europe’s largest shopping mall with more than 1,200 shops. Nowadays, you will find clothes, cosmetics, shoes, fur, electronics stores, and grocery stores spread across three stores.
As for dining, GUM has several restaurants, snack stands, and MANY ice cream shops. You won’t regret getting a scoop or two.
There is even a restaurant located on the very top floor for a 360 degree view of the surrounding areas. After exploring and eating, step outside and explore one of the many other locations lining the perimeter of the Red Square.
When you are there at the supermarket, do not forget to pick up some Alenka Chocolates, which is the most recognized brand of Russian-made chocolate.
Moscow Metro Station
Opening Hours: 5:30am – 1:00am Daily
Soon to be the 4th largest subway station in the world
I took a day tour to visit the metro stations, and it became a big historical lesson for me. Both interesting and insightful.
The Moscow subway is an underground paradise: chandeliers, marbles, mosaics, and statues create a space of abundance and prosperity accessible to locals. It is like visiting different art museums.
With plans to expand it, it will bring it to the 4th largest underground network in 2020.
A huge portrait of Lenin adorns Biblioteka Imeni Lenina, one of the first stations ever put into operation. The Ploshchad Revolutsii station was another among those opened in 1938. It is decorated with bronze sculptures of Matvey Manizer and abstract pieces that depict the creators of the new socialist class.
Tourist tip: Find the dog statue and rub its nose for some luck. Therefore you will see that the nose is shinier than the rest of the body.
Visitors can also view the deco art pillars and the vaulted ceilings decorated with mosaics by Aleksandr Deyneka in the Mayakovskaya station. Pavel Morin’s stained-glass window at Novoslobodskaya Station, which was renovated about a decade ago, remains one of the most beautiful stations of the metro to this day.
Additional facts about the Metro:
• WiFi access is free all over the metro stations.
• It will cost you about 30 rubles (65 cents) to take the metro.
• Almost ten million people take the metro every day.
Smolenskaya Square, 3, Moskva, Russia, 121099
Tel: +495 510 5101
Opening Hours: 12:00pm-2:00am (Daily)
World’s 50 Best Restaurants
This spectacular restaurant is located in the middle of Moscow, at the end of Arbat Street amongst the high-rise buildings.
Visitors will find this eatery located on the sixteenth floor, allowing them the most beautiful view in the entire city.
The menu, which consists of local and international dishes, has frequently been named a favorite amongst tourists and locals alike. It has also been ranked as one of the
World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018.
It is the first joint project of restaurateur Boris Zarkov and chef Vladimir Mukhin, hailed as a “Legendary Chef” by French guide Gault & Millau.
Chef Vladimir (who has cooked for President Vladimir Putin 3 times) is a strong advocate of Russian ingredients.
For 8500 rubles (SGD195.12), you can have the 9-course Tasting Set, featuring Scallop, Pomegranate & Salted Tomatoes; Caviar of Sea Urchin, Sea Buckthorn & Sea Water; Cabbage & Caviar; Cod, Sour Malt & Sour Spelt; Gooseberries and Aged Honey; Duck, Elderberry & Coffee; Borodino Bread, Sour Cream & Sea Water; Sea Buckthorn Pearls; and Willow Herb & Honey. White Rabbit (Smolenskaya Square, Moscow)
Coffee Mania Moscow
Bol’shaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa, 13/6, Moskva, Russia, 125009
Tel: +495 775 5188
Opening Hours: 24/7 (Closed Monday & Tuesday)
For the coffee lovers out there. 24/7 at certain locations
In Moscow, there are Starbucks and also Coffee Mania – take your pick.
Patrons can stop by for coffee, lunch, or dinner after a long day of exploring in Moscow, though it seems like a regular hangout place for Russians after work.
There are various stores around the city, and can be quite popular during both the day and night for visitors of all ages.
They serve up Russian dishes such as Borsch, Boletus Mushroom, Farus, Ukha and Lapsha.
One of the most interesting dishes I found on the menu was the Singapore Fried Noodles (850 rubles, SGD18.33) – it is like rice noodles fried with calamari, tiger shrimp, and bell pepper. Close to our Sin Chow Bee hoon I guess.
Upside Down Cake & Co. (Bolshaya Gruzinskaya)
125047 Moscow, Bolshaya Gruzinskaya, 76 (Nearest Metro: Belorusskaya)
Б. Грузинская ул., 76, Москва, 125047
Tel: +7 499 250 2712
Opening Hours: 8:00am – 11:00pm (Mon – Fri); 10:00am – 11:00pm (Sat – Sun)
One Of Moscow’s Best Cake Shop & Cafe, With Insta-worthy Desserts
After that many historical places, I thought I should introduce some sweet treats to end this off.
Founded in 2011 as a small confectionery, Upside Down Cake Co. has grown into a network of 8 stores all over Moscow, the latest of which opened April 2017 in Paveletskaya Square.
The one in Bolsyaha Gruzinskaya, in the neighborhood of Belarruskaya, is the first store.
For sweet tooths, it is a paradise with its tantalizing array of classic American desserts, from mini cupcakes to Strawberry Daiquiri Icebox Cakes and Southern Sour Cherry Pies.
The Signature Upside Down Cake (430 RUB, SGD10.00) features an Oreo cookies base with meringue, cream cheese, fresh strawberries and berries, and finished with Chantilly cream.
Upside Down Cake Co. (Bolshaya Gruzinskaya, Moscow)