17 Interesting Things to do in Moscow, Russia

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Moscow has a legendary place in Russian history, dating back hundreds of years to the 12th century when the first known references to a small village on the Moskva River were made in medieval texts.

From humble beginnings on the edge of Europe, Moscow has since grown into the global powerhouse it is today, being the Russian capital and home to millions of people in the world’s largest northern city.

With such illustrious history, there are a lot of things to do in Moscow, and first-time visitors to the city may be daunted by the size and scale of this metropolis. To help you to make the most of your trip to the Russian capital though, we put together this guide on the best places to go and the best sights to see.

From iconic attractions such as the Red Square and the Kremlin to delving into the legacy of the USSR at Lenin’s Mausoleum or at the Museum of Cosmonautics.

Get ready for a packed trip to the city, because here are the best things to do in Moscow!

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Russia (Travel Guide)

17 Best Things to do in Moscow, Russia

Red Square - things to do in Moscow

1. Red Square

Red Square is a must-see part of Moscow, and it’s a classic stop on any visit to the city. This is the main central plaza, and it’s the best place to start your sightseeing, as from here, you can get anywhere.

Red Square has for centuries been the center of life in Moscow, a place where tumultuous decisions have been announced, where rulers have been crowned and where vast military parades were held by the Soviets.

The square is close to many of the city’s other major sights too, offering views of the Kremlin and cathedrals. It’s one of the best things to do in Moscow, and you can’t miss a visit to Red Square.

Our top recommended tours of the Red Square:

2. Pushkin Museum

The Pushkin Museum is the premier art museum in the city, and a visit here is one of the best things to do in Moscow. The building dates from the turn of the century and is home to one of the largest collections of art in Europe.

The museum is named in honor of Alexander Pushkin, the renowned Russian writer, and poet.

Our top recommended tours of Pushkin Museum:

Kremlin in Moscow

3. The Kremlin

Next to Red Square, you can find the Kremlin, which is always high up on any list of the best things to do in Moscow. That’s because this is a symbol of the Russian capital, a mighty fortress that has stood guard over the city for centuries and that now serves as the official residence of the President of Russia.

This is a sprawling complex though, one built over hundreds of years and extended in some shape or form through each era of Russian history.

The complex is found on the banks of the river, with tall, red walls and high towers surrounding it. Inside are museums, the presidential palace, Soviet congress rooms and much, much more.

Our top recommended tours of The Kremlin:

4. The Armoury Chamber

If you’re interested in history, then the Armoury Chamber is a great museum to visit when you are in Moscow. It’s part of the large Kremlin complex, and one of the many museums within the red walls of the fortress, and it’s packed full of historic relics.

The Armoury Chamber was the old weapons store for the capital when the Kremlin was still primarily used as a fortress, and many of the artifacts here are ancient weapons from the medieval days, displayed alongside more modern weaponry from the Soviet days.

Moscow Hermitage Garden

5. Moscow Hermitage Garden

The Hermitage Garden is a classic public space in the city that dates back to the end of the 19th century. It’s a great place to escape the busy streets and will be a welcome relief from the metropolis.

The gardens are delightful and are also host to many events throughout the year, including concerts and small festivals.

Our top recommended tour of Moscow Hermitage Garden: Romantic Moscow Private Tour

6. Ostankino Television Tower

You might not be able to get into space, but you can rise high above the city by visiting the Ostankino Television Tower. At over 500 meters in height, this is the tallest tower in Europe, and it offers unbeatable views over Moscow.

You can take the elevator to the observation deck high up in the clouds, where you can gaze across the city or even enjoy a meal or a drink at the restaurant.

Our top recommended tours of Ostankino Television Tower:

Saint Basil's Catehdral in Moscow

7. Saint Basil’s Cathedral

A classic postcard or tourism advertisement of Moscow will likely depict Saint Basil’s Cathedral, one of the most recognizable sights in the city. It’s one of the best things to do in Moscow, as this historic Russian Orthodox Cathedral was built in the 1500s in a style that’s never really been matched by any other church in the country since.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral is well known for its distinctive, colorful domes, patterned with elaborate swirls and motifs that would seem more at home in the middle east, rather than in the cold climes of Russia.

It’s still a functioning cathedral, and very much the center of religious activity in Moscow.

Our top recommended tours of Saint Basil’s Cathedral:

Lenin's Tomb in Moscow

8. Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin’s Mausoleum is the resting place of the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin, the famous Bolshevik who led the Russian revolution during World War I that irrevocably changed world history forever.

Regarded as a hero by the Russian people, since his death in 1924 Lenin has been on display for all to see.

It’s perhaps slightly macabre, but it’s an intriguing piece of Russian heritage. The fact that even after the fall of communism in the 1990s, Lenin is still held here, shows how highly he is regarded.

Our top recommended tours of the Lenin’s Mausoleum:

State Historical Museum in Moscow

9. State Historical Museum

Located on one side of Red Square, the distinctive red walls of the State Historical Museum are another landmark of the city. This is another of the best things to do in Moscow, as it’s a fantastic place to learn more about the history of Russia after sightseeing through Red Square.

The elegant building is home to a vast array of exhibits that have been collated through Russian history, starting with the Czars and continuing into the Soviet-era.

The museum will take you on a journey from the prehistoric, through to the first modern human settlers in the region, and into the modern era.

Our top recommended tours of the State Historical Museum:

Cosmonaut Museum in Moscow, Russia

10. Museum of Cosmonautics

Another great Soviet legacy to explore is the Museum of Cosmonautics, which is one of the best things to do in Moscow. The museum is a real treasure trove of exhibits dedicated to space travel, and you can find some hugely important relics from the space race during the days of the USSR.

The huge building is very brutalist in design, with the enormous Monument to the Conquerors of Space rising from the roof and reaching towards the skies.

Inside you can find satellites, rockets, and even the capsule that took Yuri Gagarin far above the earth’s atmosphere to be the first man in space.

Our top recommended tours of the Museum of Cosmonautics:

Inside the Moscow Metro in Russia

11. Moscow Metro

In most capital cities, the metro is just a means to get around, but in Moscow, the metro is a tourist attraction of its own. As well as being a convenient means of transport, riding the metro is one of the best things to do in Moscow, as the stations are lavishly designed and intricately crafted.

Each underground station is a work of art, and the system was designed by the Soviets to outdo any in the world. Different stations have different themes, from artistic renditions of space travel to 1950s idealizations of the future.

Our top recommended tours of the Moscow Metro:

12. Gorky Park

Gorky Park is one of the most iconic public spaces in Moscow, which in recent years has seen a revival that has led to it becoming one of the most interesting cultural spaces in the city, where not only can you find beautifully landscaped gardens, but a packed events schedule too.

The park is named for Maxim Gorky, a Soviet writer who lived through the 19th and early 20th centuries and produced many works of socialist literature.

Our top recommended tours of Gorky Park:

Sunset over the canals in Moscow

13. Moskva River Cruise

If you would rather travel above ground though, then one of the best things to do is to take a cruise along the Moskva River. The city is built along the banks of this wide river, and there are boats and ferries churning through the water all through the day.

It’s a great way to enjoy the city’s skyline from a unique angle, and there are cruises to suit all types of travelers, from simple sightseeing, trips to elaborate dinner and entertainment shows.

Our top recommended Moskva River Cruise:

14. Bolshoi Theatre

The Bolshoi Theatre is the most famous theatre in Russia, dating back to the days of the Czars in the 19th century when neoclassicism was all the rage in Europe. It’s a grand, elegant building, and one of the best things to do in Moscow is to call in for a performance.

The theatre hosts opera and ballet, but getting hold of tickets at such a prestigious venue can be a challenge at the best of times!

Our top recommended tours of Bolshoi Theatre:

GUM in Moscow

15. GUM

If you’re looking for a spot of shopping when you are in the capital, then look no further than GUM, the classic Russian department store. This flagship department store is found on the edge of Red Square, and for over a century has been the most important shopping center in the city.

During the Soviet-era, the department store became a socialist enterprise and more stores opened up in cities across the country.

Our top recommended tours including GUM:

Sergiev Posad and Trinity Monastery, Russia

16. Day Trip to Sergiev Posad and Trinity Monastery

When the Russian capital moved to St. Petersburg, the Trinity Monastery remained the center of the Russian Church until 1920. It was then closed by the Bolshevik government. Stalin permitted the reopening of the monastery as part of victory celebrations in 1946.

The structure is ripe with Russian history and a beautiful place to visit on a visit to Russia.

Enea Fountain, Moscow, Russia

17. Enea Fountain

The Enea Fountain, which stands for Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy, is probably the most ornate fountain you will ever see in your life. So if you find yourself in Moscow, you should definitely pay it a visit. 

The fountain is well known for its intricately detailed gold statues of people around the perimeter.

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17 Interesting Things to do in Moscow, Russia


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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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