Moscow: The Top 20 Attractions

Vovka Slovesnyy

Vovka Slovesnyy

Vovka Slovesnyy is the Local Contributing Writer at Global Storybook (Moscow, Russia).

Vovka was born in Mongolia, raised in Russia, and had worked in such diverse countries as Uganda and Thailand. He loves to travel and discover various cultures by communicating with the locals.

Vovka currently lives in Moscow and works as a freelance translator and a news editor. He’s happy to share the most useful and important information about the Russian capital.
Vovka Slovesnyy

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Once you come to visit the Russian capital for the first time, you will quickly run into the problem of choosing among the most exciting sights.  Although there’s little doubt that such famous places like the Red Square and Kremlin are on the “must see” list of every traveler, there’s also a large number of interesting, yet not so well-known, attractions.

Moscow’s vast and diverse history begun in 1147.  Since that time it acquired a ton of impressive and historically significant landmarks.  In addition to that, after the election of a new mayor in 2010, Moscow grew and developed incredibly fast – ending with a massive renovation of 2017.  Nowadays, there’s an abundance of newly constructed pedestrian zones, cozy streets, tiny cafes and splendid parks, showcasing numerous modern art installations.

As you will discover, the “new” Moscow is now an exquisite blend of ancient history and unique architecture with modern solutions and innovative technologies of the 21st century.  Below you will find a list of the top 20 attractions in Moscow, which you shouldn’t miss if you want to get an ultimate experience of this vibrant megapolis.

Moscow - The Top 20 Attractions

1. The Moscow Kremlin (Москoвский Кремль)

Kremlin is one of the most famous places of interest among both local citizens and visitors to Moscow.  You will find it right in the heart of the city, in its most ancient part.  The Moscow Kremlin is also the main sociopolitical and historic site which also currently serves as the official residence of the Russian President.

The site’s earliest settlements date back to the Bronze Age.  The first documented information about Kremlin appeared in 1147; the first fortifications around it were built in the year of 1156.  Its original walls were made of wood.  However, in the XIV century, they were rebuilt with chalkstone, earning Moscow its famous nickname – “The White-Stoned City.”

Nowadays, Kremlin is the most popular sight in Moscow which attracts thousands of daily visitors from all over the world.  Visit it to experience the ancient spirit of the city, as well as survey such incredible artifacts, like the Tsar’s Cannon and the Tsar’s Bell.  If you are lucky enough, you will also get a chance to eyeball some of the highest ranked officials or even the President himself.

  • Address: Moscow, Kremlin (Borovitskaya Metro)
  • Time required: 2 hours
  • Hours of operation: daily (except Thursday) from 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Price: 500 RUB (+700 RUB for the Armory Chamber)
  • Official website: http://www.kreml.ru/en-Us

2. The Red Square (Красная Площадь) and the Saint Basil’s Cathedral (Храм Василия Блаженного)

The Red Square is the main square of Moscow, located right in the center of the city, next to Kremlin (sight #1).   All the roads in Moscow start from this site, so make sure to check out the “Kilometer Zero” monument.  Walk around the square to enjoy the astonishing Saint Basil’s Cathedral, the Monument to Minin and Pozharsky, the Spasskaya Tower, as well as other popular attractions like the Lenin’s Mausoleum.

Many people think that the square’s name comes from the color of the surrounding walls, while others associate it with the Communist regime.  However, the truth is a bit more complex.  The word ‘Krasnaya’ (red) means beautiful in the old Russian language.  Hence, the square which occupied this site in the XVI century was called ‘the beautiful square,’ and its name survived to this day.

The Saint Basil’s Cathedral (or the Pokrovsky Cathedral or the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed as it is also known) is probably one of the most recognizable sights in the World.  It is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, and it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful churches ever built.

It was initially established in the mid-1500s, and it now operates as a museum which you can explore for a small entry fee.  The museum’s exhibits include an impressive collection of beautiful and historical artworks, including fabrics, icons, and manuscripts, though it’s stunning interior design and architectural details are worth a visit entirely on their own.

  • Address: Moscow, Red Square (Okhotny Ryad Metro)
  • Time required: 3-4 hours
  • Hours of operation: 24/7; Saint Basil’s Cathedral: open daily 11:00am – 5:00pm
  • Price: free; the Saint Basil’s Cathedral: 350 RUB adults; 600 RUB combined ticket with the Museum of the Patriotic War of 1812
  • Official website: (Saint Basil’s Cathedral) http://en.shm.ru/?page_id=59

3. Gorky Park (Парк Горького)

This park is one of the biggest and most popular parks not only in Moscow but also in Russia.  It was established on August 12, 1928; its name – Gorky, given in the honor of the famous Russian writer Maxim Gorky, was assigned to the park in 1932.

During the most recent renovation in 2015, some of the amusement rides and illegal cafes were removed from the site, and the entire green space was transformed into a giant relaxation area.  These days you can find a ton of unique modern art installations, recreational zones and even a spacious ‘Olive beach,’ which can accommodate up to 500 people.

Gorky Park is an amazing sight during both Summer and Winter seasons.  It allows you to enjoy some fresh air in the center of the city, walk among its imposing, giant trees while observing some adorable tiny animals running around the ground.  As a final bonus, the park offers free wifi around its entire area.

4. The Bolshoi Theatre (Большой Театр)

The history of the most famous theatre in Moscow dates back to 1776.   The Russian Empress Ekaterina II gave an order to design a place for “various theatrical performances, concerts, Vauxhall pleasure gardens and masquerades.”

In 2005, this grand theatre closed its doors for reconstruction, which was planned to be finished by 2008.  However, the world’s financial crisis plus numerous management issues had delayed the date of re-opening until 2011.

Nowadays you can walk around the Bolshoi Theater to admire its grace and incredibly beautiful and elegant style.  If you have some time and would like to see a theatrical performance – then do not miss one of its magnificent evening shows.  Please note – you need to book your tickets online in advance since they tend to sell out incredibly quickly due to high popular demand.

  • Address: Teatralnaya Square, 1 (Teatralnaya Metro)
  • Time required: 2-5 hours (depending on the show)
  • Hours of operation: open daily from 11:00am – 8:00pm (lunch break from 3:00pm – 4:00pm)
  • Price: free to enter; 100 – 15,000 RUB for a show
  • Official website: https://www.bolshoi.ru/en/

5. Poklonnaya Gora/ Hill (Поклонная Гора)  

This large park is beautiful, green and spacious.  Though surprisingly, most of the city visitors have not even heard about it.  This stunning park covers the total area of 135 hectares.  It was opened on May 9th, 1995, and it’s dedicated to the memory of the Great Patriotic War.

You can find a number of fun attractions here, including a set of spectacular fountains, which change their colors at night from the bright white to the deep red.  While walking around the park you will also stumble upon different historic monuments, a beautiful mosque, a church, and a synagogue.

Furthermore, you can also stop by the Museum of the Great Patriotic War.  It is dedicated to the Second World War and it displays a number of deeply moving exhibitions.  There’s also a large number of military equipment, like tanks, planes, ships and even submarines, collected and delivered here right from the battlefields across the country.  You will surely be amazed just observing these mighty machines resting in peace, displaying their eternal spirit of war.

6. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior (Храм Христа Спасителя)

This is one of the most important Russian Orthodox cathedrals.  The current edifice is an exact replicate of the one built here in the XIIX century, which was later destroyed by Joseph Stalin in 1931.  During that period, the city was undergoing massive reconstruction, and sadly there was no space for this exquisite temple.  The original cathedral took almost 44 years to built and lasted from 1839 to 1883.

Nowadays, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior is considered one of the most important churches in Russia.  It attracts around 65,000 laymen during numerous annual religious ceremonies and special events.  Inside the cathedral, visitors will find an impressive number of Orthodox relics and objects of worship, such as the chasuble of Jesus Christ, and the five grand masterpieces of the famous Russian artist, Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin.

  • Address: Volkhonka Street, 15 (Kropotkinskaya Metro)
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily (except Monday) from 10:00am – 5:00pm
  • Price: free
  • Official website: http://new.xxc.ru/ (only in Russian)

7. Zaryadye Park (Парк Зарядье)

Zaryadye Park is one of the newest attractions in Moscow, which draws countless people from both Russia and other foreign countries.  It was built between 2014 – 2017 by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, on the site of an old Russian hotel ‘Rossiya,’ which was closed and demolished many years ago.

This park offers several pedestrian zones with distinct landscape designs, including the boreal forest, the coniferous woods, the riparian forest, the temperate grasslands, the bottomland and the temperate forest.

The main point of interest is the ‘hovering’ bridge that was erected above the Moscow River and provides some memorable and picturesque views of the capital.  Come here in the evening to enjoy the spectacular nighttime panoramas of Moscow, overlooking the river as well as the stunning Cathedral of Christ the Savior (sight #6).

  • Address: Varvarka Street, 6-1 (Okhotny Ryad Metro)
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily from 7:00am – 12:00am
  • Price: free (parking fee is 250 RUB per hour)
  • Official website: http://www.zaryadyepark.ru/en/

8. Kolomenskoye (Колoменское)

Many years ago this small village near Moscow was the official residence of Russian Tsars.  In the 16th century, Vasili III Ivanovich, the Grand Prince of Moscow, built the first church of resurrection here, which served as the foundation of the future residence.

Nowadays this area is widely popular among the locals who often spend their weekends here, enjoying the picturesque lakes, forests and even some barbecue.  Furthermore, history buffs can also explore several outstanding museums here, including the former grand residence of Russian Tsars.

  • Address: 39 Andropova Avenue (Kolomenskoye Metro)
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Hours of operation: the park is open 24/7, the museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00am – 6:00pm; closed on Mondays
  • Price: free (600 RUB for the museum ticket)
  • Official website: http://mgomz.com/kolomenskoe

9. Novodevichy Convent (Новодeвичий Mонасты́рь)

This historic convent is located right next to the Gorky Park (sight #3).  It was founded by Vasili III Ivanovich in 1524 and was once used as a confinement place for some imperial women, for around two centuries.

The site is now owned by the Russian Orthodox Church, and it not only hosts the convent itself, but also an important, historic cemetery and a couple of interesting museums.  Among the numerous accomplished individuals who were buried here, are Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Bulgakov, Dmitri Shostakovich (a talented composer), Vladimir Mayakovsky (a famous poet), Yuri Nikulin (beloved Russian comedian actor and clown), Sergei Eisenstein (a famous film director) and many others.

Another popular sight here is the tower of Sofia.  According to a legend, Sofia was a young ‘czarevna’ (daughter of a Tzar) who was held as a prisoner inside this tower for many years.  Some locals believe that if you write a secret wish on a small piece of paper and then tuck it into the tower’s wall, Sofia might make it come true.

  • Address: Novodevichy Passage, 1 (Sportivnaya Metro)
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily from 7:00am – 7:00pm
  • Price: 300 RUB for adults, 100 RUB for students and retired people
  • Official website: http://novodev.msk.ru/ (only in Russian)

10. VDNH (ВДНХ)

The name of this historic site is a Soviet abbreviation which stands for the “Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy” (Выставка Достижений Народного Хозяйства).  For many years, this exhibition center showcased various products, and innovations brought here from every corner of the USSR and then Russia.  Later on, it was converted into an amusement park with several fun attractions, plus numerous trendy cafes and bars.

During the last renovation of 2017, the park’s area was remodeled into a beautiful, green and spacious site.  In addition, you will also find the Museum of Cosmonautics, several ice-skating rinks, and a giant aquarium here.  Finally, the park’s observation wheel allows its visitors to enjoy admirable panoramic views over Moscow.

  • Address: Prospect Mira Avenue, 119 (VDNKh Metro)
  • Time required: 3-4 hours
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free
  • Official website: http://vdnh.ru/en/

11. Sparrow Hills (Воробьёвы Го́ры) and the Lomonosov Moscow State University (Московский Государственный Университет)

This site’s first settlement dates back to the 1st century BC.  In the past, it was also known as the “Lenin Hills.”  Sparrow Hills hosts one of the highest viewing points in the city, as well as the iconic Lomonosov Moscow State University, which is located right on the top.  In January 1947, Stalin gave an order to construct eight high towers in Moscow.  One of them is the stunning Moscow State University.

Nowadays this part of the city is also widely known for its racetrack, which holds illegal night races.  Furthermore, it is one of the most popular destinations for wedding pictures.  You will find numerous couples holding hands while strolling around the area.  So make sure to stop by this site to spend a quiet, relaxing evening in one of the most beautiful parts of the Russian capital.

  • Address: Leninskie Gory, 1 (Vorobyovy Gory Metro)
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free
  • Official website: https://www.msu.ru/en/

12. The Moscow Zoo (Московский Зоопарк)

This is one of the oldest zoos in Europe and it’s also the fourth largest zoo in Russia.  It was founded in 1984 and it quickly became one of the most popular attractions in Moscow.  Every day the zoo draws countless people coming to admire its more than 1,100 wildlife species, brought here from all over the world.

After the last renovation, it now offers its guests several wide walking trails, plus a lot of bright pavilions with lively and cute birds, various mammals and even exotic fishes.  You can grab a cup of coffee or tea, and stroll around the area enjoying its sounds and the undisturbed ecosystem.

In addition, you can also climb one of the hovering bridges where you can observe the park from a bird’s eye view perspective.

  • Address: Bolshaya Gruzinskaya Street, 1 (Barrikadnaya Metro)
  • Time required: 3-5 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily from 9:00am – 5:00pm
  • Price: 500 RUB for adults, free for students (up to 17 years old), retired people, soldiers, and disabled people
  • Official website: http://moscowzoo.su/

13. Mosquarium (Москвариум)

Mosquarium is one of the newest additions to the cultural scene of Moscow.  Though it was built just a couple of years ago – it features a large variety of entertainment shows and attractions.  For example, you can walk across the underwater tunnels, gazing at sharks, guitarfish, crabs and majestic sturgeons.  You can also feed and swim with beautiful creatures, interact with dolphins and enjoy some unforgettable moments.

Book your ticket online in advance if you want to participate in one of the aquarium’s signature programs.  There are also several recreational zones where you can enjoy a hot beverage, as well as some traditional Russian delicacies surrounded by colorful fishes and sea creatures.

  • Address: Prospect Mira Avenue, 119-23 (VDNKh Metro)
  • Time required: 2-6 hours (depending on the show)
  • Hours of operation: open daily from 10:00am – 10:00pm
  • Price: 1,000 RUB for adults, 2,400 and 3,200 for families (2+1 and 2+2)
  • Official website: https://www.moskvarium.ru/en/
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14. Ostankino Tower (Останкинская Телебашня)

This tower, which transmits a TV and radio signal around the entire region, is one of the tallest landmarks in Moscow.  Inside the Ostankino, you will find a viewing deck, plus “The Seventh Sky” restaurant where you can taste some delicious platters, as well as enjoy incredible panoramas over the city.

The tower was built in November 1967, and it measures 540.1 meters (1,772 ft) in height.  It went through several fires, and some even thought that it might collapse.  However, its competent workers managed to save and to fully restore the tower, hence it is still in use today.

During the past few years, the tower was included in the “Circle of Light” festival program and was used as a prop for an incredible and vibrant lights show.  To this day, it is one of the most recognizable and iconic landmarks in Moscow.

  • Address: Akademika Korolyova Street, 15 – 2 (VDNKh Metro)
  • Time required: 1-2 hours
  • Hours of operation: the park is open 24/7, the tower is open daily from 10:00am – 11:00pm
  • Price: 600 – 1,000 RUB (depending on the time of the day)
  • Official website: http://tvtower.ru/en/

15. The State Tretyakov Gallery (Государственная Третьяковская Галерея)

The State Tretyakov Gallery is probably one of the most well-known and respected art galleries not only in Russia but also in the whole world.  Located right in the heart of Moscow, the gallery hosts numerous works of talented Russian artists, such as Vasily Vereshchagin, Alexei Savrasov, Ilya Repin, Vasily Surikov, Mikhail Vrubel and many others.

Its history dates back to the year 1856, when an affluent Russian merchant Tretyakov, acquired a large number of paintings.  This early private exhibition was later transformed into a museum, named after its original owner.  Presently, the Tretyakov gallery hosts more than 140,000 artworks, including some modern and classical painters.  Furthermore, the gallery now owns several separate buildings spread all over Moscow, hence you might want to decide which one you’d like to visit first.

  • Address: Lavrushinsky Lane (Tretyakovskaya Metro)
  • Time required: 3-6 hours
  • Hours of operation: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday – from 10:00am – 6:00pm, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday – from 10:00am – 9:00pm; closed on Mondays
  • Price: 500 RUB for adults, free of charge for children under 18 years
  • Official website: https://www.tretyakovgallery.ru/en/

16. The Zhivopisny (Picturesque) Bridge (Живописный Мост)

This remarkable cable-stayed bridge was built at the same time as a new highway.  Since the early days of its opening in 2007, the bridge has become exceedingly popular due to its interesting and unique S-shape, painted in a bright red color.  It connects two districts located on the left and the right banks across the Moscow River.

Originally there were also plans to create a viewing deck and a wedding hall on top of the bridge.  However, its peculiar shape makes it quite impossible to install any elevators, and its original owner can’t seem to find any solution to this day.  Regardless, one can still walk up to the bridge via the stairs and enjoy splendid views of the ‘Silver’ pine woods surrounding one of the most famous beaches in Moscow.

  • Address: Picturesque Avenue (Horoshevskaya Metro)
  • Time required: 30 minutes – 1 hour
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free (the viewing deck is currently closed to the visitors)

17. Moscow International Business Center (Московский Международный Деловой Центр)

Many years ago this part of the city looked identical to all the other similar districts.  The idea to create a new business center came in 1991, and it took almost 25 years to complete.  Nowadays, the Moscow International Business Center or the “Moskva-City” as it’s popularly known, consists of several high-rising office towers, a giant shopping mall built by a Turkish company, plus a residential complex with numerous studios and apartments.

Among the numerous activities, you can visit an observation deck located in one of the towers, taste some yummy local dishes in “Ruski” restaurant, as well as have fun skating on the open rink, installed on top of one of the skyscrapers.

Lastly, this sight has quite a convenient location.  It has its own metro line which connects it with the rest of the city.  You should definitely stop by this area especially if you want to see a different side of Moscow.

  • Address: Presnenskaya Naberezhnaya, 8-1 (Vystavochnaya Metro)
  • Time required: 2-4 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily from 10:00am – 11:00pm
  • Price: free (tickets to the observation deck start from 500 RUB)
  • Official website: http://smotricity.ru/ (only in Russian)

18. Kuskovo Park and Museums (Кусково)

Many years ago this breathtaking place was count Sheremetiev’s official residence.  It is located in the western part of Moscow and can be easily accessed by metro or car.  The park consists of a gorgeous historic palace, several charming parks, as well as the Museum of Ceramics.

The history of this sight dates back to the year 1623, the time when the first church and some noble houses accompanied by bondservants were built.  Nowadays, this beautiful open area attracts countless visitors, especially on the weekends.  You can go for a nice stroll here, watch the local ducks swimming in its shimmering lakes, read a book on one of its numerous benches, and spend some quality time in a very peaceful and scenic atmosphere.

  • Address: Yunosti Street, 2 (Vykhino Metro)
  • Time required: 2-3 hours
  • Hours of operation: 24/7
  • Price: free (museum tickets start from 200 RUB)
  • Official website: http://kuskovo.ru/en/

19. Moscow State Circus: The Nikulin Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoi Bulvar (Московский Цирк Никулина на Цветном Бульваре)

Actually, there are two circuses fighting for the official name of the Moscow State Circus.  However, the one located on the Tsvetnoy Boulevard is very well-known and regarded by locals for its exciting daily shows.

This particular circus is one of the oldest in Russia.  It got its present name after the famous comedian and clown from the former USSR, Yuri Nikulin.  It was first opened on October 20th, 1880, and it was the original project of August Weber.  During the Soviet period, the circus was nationalized and then demolished.  Its new building was constructed in 1989, on the same spot as the original one.

The Nikulin Moscow Circus offers a large number of live entertainment shows and programs for people of all ages.  If you have some free time during your visit, you should definitely consider checking out this amazing place.  Fun times, wide smiles, plus a full charge of positive emotions are surely guaranteed.

  • Address: Tsvetnoy Boulevard, 13 (Tsvetnoy Bulvar Metro)
  • Time required: 3-4 hours
  • Hours of operation: open daily from 11:00am – 7:00pm
  • Price: 1,500 – 5,000 RUB
  • Official website: http://www.circusnikulin.ru/ (only in Russian)

20. Arbat Street (Улица Арбат)

This is one of the oldest, as well as most elegant pedestrian streets in Moscow.  It is located right in the heart of the city and it represents Moscow’s rich history, dating back to the 15th century.  The total length of the Arbat Street is around one kilometer, and it’s filled with swanky cafes, art galleries, and restaurants.

This place is also popular among the local street artists.  So get your portrait done here, to take it back home as a long-lasting memory.  Since the 18th century, this area has also been considered one of the most upscale and extravagant, hence you will probably enjoy gazing at its stunning architecture.

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