I welcomed my first visitors to Russia this past week – my friend Meg came from Korea and her boyfriend Niek from Holland. They were ace guests and we had a fantastic time catching up. They covered a great amount of Moscow while still enjoying a chill vacation. They didn’t even let the lingering snow squalls get them down! Inspired by their wanderings, here is my Moscow Top Ten.
Roll into town on one of Moscow’s fabulous Aeroexpress trains – there’s one from each of Moscow’s three airports.
Make your way down to Red Square fairly quick for selfies in front of St. Basil’s Cathedral (bluebird day on order, of course).
Explore the ridiculously ornate confines of St. Basil’s itself (not what I expected, I’ll admit!) with special ambiance from a men’s choir who just happened to be performing inside. 300 rubles to get in – no line, no waiting.
Book a cruise on the Moscow River out of the Radisson Ukraina Hotel – fine dining and a 2.5 hour tour of Moscow’s sites from the water. Highly recommended: the early evening cruise to watch the lights come up over the city in dramatic fashion.
Not to be missed – drinks at the Mercedes Bar on the 31st Floor of the Hotel Ukraina. Book a comfy couch and enjoy the 360 view of Moscow, including the Russian White House and new Moscow City.
Strelka Bar in the student neighborhood of Bolotnyy is always an exciting spot. From the rich but casual decor to the fabulous food and drink, it’s a stop not to be missed.
After you’ve had your dinner fill, enjoy the breathtaking views across at Cathedral of Christ the Savior. Once the world’s largest outdoor swimming pool, this site has been restored to its original trappings, in all it’s golden glory. Don’t miss the views from the top deck nor the surprisingly cool crypt below – discovered by Meg & Niek!
If the snow is falling, a tour of the Moscow metro is perfect no matter the weather! My four favorite stations not to miss – Komsomolskaya, Arbatskaya, Elektrozavodskaya, and Novoslobodskaya.
Gorgeous stained glass at Novoslobodskaya
And, finally, #10 – a ballet at the Bolshoi. Although I have yet to accomplish this one, I have a feeling that all may change with the arrival of another set of visitors next month… Book your tickets decidedly in advance! In the event they’re all sold out, the theater offers tours of the venue in English on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I’m told the line for English forms on the left. God speed 😉
A few other items of note before endeavoring to visit Moscow…
- Learning the Cyrillic alphabet really helps – with many letters similar to English, it’s really not hard!
- Downloading wayfinding apps like Uber (yes, they have it!) and Metropolitan (metro map) will go a long way
- Buying a SIM card also helps for wayfinding – 700 rubles (roughly $11) for 1 month is available at any airport
I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual tour of my current home city – and that my attempts to entice future visitors will not be in vain (direct flights from JFK, just sayin’…)! I’ve really come to appreciate Moscow and all of its wonderful surprises. Please come see what all the fuss is about – I have plenty of room!