Moscow, the classic city of the Romanov Empire, renowned writer Leo Tolstoy and the cute onion domed cathedrals. But what makes this city so unique is the perfect mix between the pre-revolutionary architecture and the remaining legacy of the soviet era. As a history lover I was absolutely dying to visit this place!
After spending three days in this city filled with alluring historical landmarks, I would like to share with you my top 10 favorite sights that you absolutely cannot miss on your first time in Moscow.
1. Red Square
The Red Square is the place to be as the majority of the city’s popular sights are clustered around this area! The colorful and dreamy St. Basil Cathedral, being probably Moscow’s most famous landmark, is there accompanied by the Kremlin Fortress, Lenin Mausoleum, the GUM mall and the State History Museum. Seeing as my favorite color is red… this place absolutely fascinated me.
2. The St. Basil Cathedral
There is no doubt that this is the first thing that comes up in everyone’s mind once thinking about Russia. This impressive, crazy patterned and colourful architecture has become the symbol of the country! It looks relatively small in the large red square but it doesn’t make it less extraordinary.
Opening Times: Closed every first Wednesday of the month Fee: ~ $300 RUB
The Kremlin, located next to the Red Square, is a fortress that guards squares, palaces, gardens, churches and museums inside its walls. It is also the seat of the Russian Government making Moscow the country’s political capital.
There are three different entrance fees for the Kremlin; one to visit the architectural complex of the Cathedral Square, another for the Armoury Chamber Museum and the last for the Ivan the Great Bell Tower.
I definitely recommend you to check out the architectural complex for two reasons:
- The Romanovs lived here so it’s pretty exciting to see one of their palaces
- The Cathedral of the Dormition is where all the Tsars were crowned. So for history lovers this is a must see!
To continue this ‘historic journey’ check out the Armoury Chamber Museum as it exhibits most of the Tsars treasury like the coronation clothing, cerimonial weapons and carriages.
Opening Times: 10am-5pm except on Thursdays
Entrance Fee to:
- Architectural complex of the Cathedral Square: $500 RUB
- Armoury Chamber Museum $700 RUB
- Bell Tower $250 RUB
4. GUM Shopping Mall
The state department store was briefly used by Stalin as his office but at the end of the Soviet Union era it was put back to its original purpose, becoming a sumptuous shopping mall housing the Worlds most luxurious brands such as Prada, Chanel, Gucci and many more.
5. Bolshoi Theatre
Russia has the most prestigious and one of the oldest schools of ballet in the World! So I definitely recommend you to visit one of its ballet or opera shows. Unfortunately we couldn’t get tickets for a show as they were completely sold out. Therefore, if you are planning to come to Moscow and want to see a ballet show, make sure to reserve your tickets at least six months in advance!
Opening Times: 11am-8pm Ticket prices: ~ $9000 RUB
6. Lenin Mausoleum
The Lenin Mausoleum is easy to spot as it is facing the monumental GUM shopping mall at the Red Square – ironically placing him right in front of a grand capitalist symbol. If you have never seen a dead embalmed body before, it can be pretty shocking if not kind of creepy! It looks like he is just in a very deep sleep laying inside a glass box with bright red lights over him. Sadly but also understandable it is not allowed to take photos out of respect and due to preservation reasons.
Once completing the sometimes very large line, we arrived into a dark room where your hands need to be visible at all times for the guards. Moreover, stopping to get a better glance at Lenin’s body is not an option as you are required to continue walking at all times. Seeing as it is just a little room, we were just allowed to spend 30 seconds in total inside! However this was enough to not forget the face of the man who lead the Russian Revolution.
This is definetly a must see as in the last years there were some rumors about the removal of Lenin’s body after more than 90 years of exposure. Knowing that, make sure you check Lenin’s mausoleum before it isn’t possible anymore.
7. Metro Station
Although it sounds a bit weird to go sightseeing in the subway but in Moscow it is obligatory as all the metro lines are a piece of art! It wasn’t a joke when Stalin called it ‘The Palace of the People’. So trust me on this one, you cannot leave this out of your planning! Below you can find some of the metro-lines that we were able to check out.
Opening Times: 5:30am-1am Fee: 1 ride 50 RUB
8. VDNKh Park
VDNKh (Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy) is a park that holds plenty of interesting sights such the Cosmonautics Museum, pavillions, fountains, a rocket and even a buran spacecraft! You can spend the whole day here as we eventually did.
Insiders tip: During the winter time all fountain operations are ceased
Opening Times: 24 hours Fee: FREE
9. Ostankino Tv Tower
Near the VDNKh park is the Ostankino Tv Tower, which has an amazing panoramic view of the city. However the excursion is only offered in Russian so that was a thumbs down – sadly Moscow is not as equipped to catering tourists as St. Petersburg is.
Opening hour: 10am- 10pm (weekends until 11pm) Fee: 600 RUB before 12am then 1000 RUB
10. Word Cup Counting Down Clock
I admit it, it is not really something to be on a top 10 list but as a true Brazilian I could not miss the World Cup 2018 count-down clock, especially as it will be gone soon. Are you guys just as excited as I am?!
Until we meet again, mother Russia!
If you liked this post you might also like St. Petersburg, our first destination in Russia!