What to see in Russia
Tourist attractions Moscow
The capital and most populated city in Russia. The city is an important political, economic, cultural and scientific centre for Russia and the continent. Moscow is the most northern mega city in the world, the second most populated in Europe after Istanbul. The city is served by an ample transport network which includes three international airports, nine railway stations and one of the most comprehensive metro systems in the world, the Moscow Metro, only trumped by that of Tokyo in terms of numbers of passengers. Moscow's underground railway system is recognised as one of the most architecturally rich and varied, across the 185 stations which cover the breadth of the city.
What to see in Moscow
Visiting Moscow is one of the best decisions you can ever take. At least as far as travel is concerned. The capital of Russia is a city of contrasts. The candy-striped domes of Red Square stand out against the newly-built skyscrapers. There are charming parks next to the museum that pays homage to the country's space race. Cutting-edge technology and tradition come together in a capital that will give you back much more than you put into it.
Red Square: first obligatory stop in Moscow
There is much more to see in this beautiful city, but Red Square is always a must for travellers who arrive in Moscow. It is in the centre of the city and occupies an area of more than 23,000 square metres. But it is not only its size that made UNESCO declare it a World Heritage Site.
Here you can find buildings as beautiful and emblematic as the Kremlin, Lenin's mausoleum. The cathedrals of Kazan and St. Basil, the GUM department store and the Russian History Museum.
Take a walk around the outside, see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Alexander Gardens before entering the buildings.
The Bolshoi Theatre
A visit to Red Square and all the treasures it holds is a good aperitif before going to see the famous Bolshoi Theatre. The building's beautiful exterior is iconic. But nothing compares to watching a ballet or an opera performance. In the latter case, the evening will last about three hours and if you want a quintessential Muscovite night you can finish up at the Bolshoi restaurant.
If you don't go to the ballet and haven't bought anything at GUM, you might want to go to TsUM department store. You'll recognize the place because it's in a six-story neo-Gothic building.
You could say that this Moscow street is the Russian equivalent of Piccadilly Circus, a commercial thoroughfare full of shops and adverts vying with each other to attract passers-by to luxury shops and trendy restaurants.
At 14 Tverskaya you will find Eliseevsky, a shop specialising in Russian cuisine that opened in 1901 and whose interior will leave you breathless. If you want to go home laden with vodka or caviar, you'll find high-quality versions here.
You can also find restaurants serving traditional Russian food, such as Café Pushkin and Mu-Mu on this street and others nearby. Both are well known and you will have to book in advance, but they are by no means the only ones. So, if plans aren't your thing, don't worry: the chances are you'll find a good place to eat.
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Although the Kazan Cathedral, located on Red Square, is the most famous in Moscow, the most important for Muscovites is the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the tallest Orthodox church in the world.
From the Tretyakov Gallery you can walk to the Cathedral Temple of Christ the Saviour (Redeemer) of the Moscow Patriarch. Located in the centre of the city, it is the tallest Orthodox church in the world. The sight of its white facades crowned by golden domes is sure to dazzle you as you approach from the Patriarshy Bridge. This is not a cliché. On sunny days the colours of the cathedral reflect the light very effectively.
Men are not allowed to enter wearing shorts and women may be asked to cover their hair. Keep this in mind when you prepare your visit.
The Moscow Metro
Visiting Moscow and not taking the metro is simply impossible. The Moscow underground is the fastest, most efficient and safest means of transport in the capital. Of course, you always have to keep an eye on your wallet. And, what's more, it's considered a tourist attraction in its own right.
The Arbatskaya station is very beautiful and rivals the Ploshchad Revolyutsii (Revolution Square) station in terms of fame. This latter station has the famous statue of the metro guard and his bronze dog. Stroke the dog's nose for good luck.
Moskva River Cruise
The Moskva River offers a completely different view of the city, so if you've decided to see Moscow and want to know it inside out, you can take a small boat in Gorky Park to reach the city's financial district, where impressive skyscrapers loom. An urban landscape that few tourists expect to see in the Russian capital.
Sparrows Hills, or Vorobiovy Gory, offer a different view of the city than the one you get walking the streets or from the river.
Many of the attractions that await you when you travel to Moscow have been left out of this mini guide, but don't worry, we'll show you all of them when you visit Moscow with Exoticca.