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GUM Department Store, Moscow
GUM Department Store, Moscow © Josef F. Stuefer

Moscow Travel Guide

Now an attractive and expensive commercial powerhouse, Moscow still retains an aura of mystery which intrigues travellers, inviting them to explore the heart of modern Russia as well as the legacy of Soviet Socialism and the opulent rule of the Tsars. 

It was the remote, largely inaccessible headquarters of the Soviet Union for decades, but now a holiday in Moscow is not only possible but a top choice for all those whose imaginations were captured by life behind the Iron Curtain. Beside the 'must see' sights like the Kremlin and Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow has numerous other attractions, including many military memorials and museums. Most who travel to Moscow, however, get the biggest kick out of just strolling its old neighbourhoods, soaking up the history and culture and admiring the many newly-restored churches and the unique Russian architecture.

Moscow is a playground for the wealthy, with glamour and glitz enough to satisfy the most fashionable of visitors. Shopping in Moscow is a delight and the city is home to droves of good restaurants and entertainment venues, making Moscow's nightlife varied and fun. Even getting around Moscow is a pleasure because the Moscow Metro is one of the city's greatest tourist attractions!

Best time to visit Moscow

The best time to holiday in Moscow is either during the hot summer months, from May until late August, which is the peak tourist season; or to beat the rush by visiting in spring (April to May) when the days are longer and warmer than winter, while the rates are lower than summer. Winters are best avoided except for the most determined tourists because they are bitterly cold and snowy with very short, dull days. Read more on Moscow's Climate and Weather.

What to see in Moscow

-Relive the defeat of Napoleon by the 'invincible' Russians at the Borodino Panorama Museum.

-Visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, one of the largest Orthodox Churches in the world.

-Enjoy the best of traditional Russian art at Moscow's Tretyakov Gallery.

-Photograph the colourful domes of the iconic St Basil's Cathedral.

What to do in Moscow

-Take in a world-class ballet or opera at the famous Bolshoi Theatre.

-Marvel at the beautiful interiors of the Moscow Metro.

-Stroll around Red Square, the bustling heart of Moscow.

-Explore the many museums, palaces and churches of the Kremlin, the oldest part of the city.

Beyond Moscow

The Golden Ring, a circular route winding through about eight historic towns near Moscow, includes many attractive manor houses and museums and takes in some impressive architecture while still giving travellers a taste or the Russian countryside. Favourite stops on this route include the cities of Sergiev Posad and Suzdal. Other popular excursions from Moscow include the Arkhangelskoye Palace and Yasnaya Polyana, former home of author Leo Tolstoy.

Getting there

Travellers most commonly arrive at Moscow Sheremetyevo International Airport, located 32 miles (51km) northwest of central Moscow, or Moscow Domodedovo International Airport, located 22 miles (35km) south of the city centre. Get more information on Airports in Moscow.

Did you know?

-Moscow is home to a whopping 12 million people.

-Until 1918 St Petersburg was the capital of Russia.

-Moscow is said to be the home of more billionaire residents than any other city in the world.


Moscow is the capital of the world's biggest country, situated in the centre of the European part of Russia. At the very heart of the city, and indeed the country, is the Kremlin, the Russian centre of governmental and religious power for almost eight centuries, including five palaces and four cathedrals. The view over Red Square and the exquisite, colourful domes of Saint Basil's Cathedral is likely the most iconic image of the Soviet Union.

The city of Moscow is a fusion of both splendour and ugliness that is evident in the massive concrete slabs and high-rise apartments of the Stalinist era, but also in the ornate churches, beautiful neo-classical houses, and impressive architecture of the old city. Wide grey thoroughfares give way to narrow winding inner city streets, and golden church domes gleam between the looming skyscrapers. Moscow attracts all those eager to embrace new business and free enterprise, and the divide between affluence and poverty are always evident.

Since the fall of communism Moscow has been injected with a sense of urgency to change the face of its capital, embracing capitalism and shaking off the years of communism with flashy shop fronts housing Western franchises, new restaurants, glossy hotels, and the frenzied restoration of lavish Orthodox churches. The once dreary streets are now a vibrant commotion of life with markets and eager vendors offering an assortment of goods that were unavailable during the Soviet years.

It is also a city of entertainment, with theatres and the renowned Moscow Circus, museums and art galleries. It boasts the world's largest and most efficient metro system with gleaming stations deep underground, astonishingly decorated in elegant marble, with glittering chandeliers and magnificent mosaics. Moscow is the soul of the new Russia and an intriguing mix of history and politics, business and culture.

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