A Weekend In: Moscow

Posted - 25th July 2017

Arriving in Moscow, we realised what a huge city this capital was, we understood that if we wanted to see as much as possible of the city, we had to be prepared to walk a lot and to have quite long days. Yes, it is indeed possible to see all of Moscow in one long weekend. Everyone always thinks that Russia is cold and snowy, but we were quite lucky with the weather, with most days being sunny and warm. As I am originally from Eastern Europe (Moldova), being in Russia was almost like being at home because of the food, the atmosphere and most importantly the Russian language. We didn’t have difficulties getting around but I must warn you, if you don’t speak Russian, you will struggle with getting around and speaking/understanding people.

This is a quick itinerary on how to spend your 2.5 days in Moscow.

Day 1 – Bolishoy Theater / Red Square / GUM

We arrived in Moscow in the afternoon, so we still had half an afternoon / evening to walk around the city and explore the places around our Hotel. Luckily, we had a hotel that was very central, so walking around was convenient. The thing that surprised us was how clean the city was, and how bid the pavements (sidewalks) were, so it was nice to walk around. We made our way into the heart of Moscow, passing the Bolishoy Theatre, the most famous theatre in Moscow. We tried to get tickets to go and see the ballet, but unfortunately they were sold out.

Once we’ve taken enough photos of the theater, we walked towards the Red Square they are very close to each other so it only took around 5 minutes to reach the square.

Tip: We would definitely recommend visiting the square by night and by day, the views are phenomenal, and completely different.

There are so many people walking around here in the evening, everyone just walking around, enjoying some fresh air. You can see the mausoleum of Lenin, St. Basil’s Cathedral all lit up and colourful, and the big shopping centre GUM.

What is stunning about GUM is that it is lit up beautifully, and you can access it until 8pm in the evening. It has the most expensive shops in town, and testy restaurants, but if this doesn’t sound appealing, I would still recommend going inside just to see how beautiful the shopping center is. In addition, there is a Historic Toilet, which you can access for 150 Rub, and according to some, it is the most beautiful toilet they have ever seen.

Day 2 – Novodevichy Monastery / Vorobioviy Hills (Sparrow Hills) / Moscow State University / Kolomenskoe Park Museum / Trade European Center / Arbat District

We started our day bright and early, by going to the Novodevichy Monastery (by the Sportivnaia Metro Station). This Monastery, was built in 1524, but has been closed for a very long time, but it has been re-opened and currently restored since 2010. The entry is free to all the churches, but if you wish to see the exposition of all the old icons, you will have to pay an entry fee. The gardens of the Monastery as very nice so you can spend some time sitting around on the nice benches.

Tip: Ladies, remember to wear a headscarf when entering the churches, as this is respectful to the religion.

Next we took the subway to the Moscow State University, where you can also find the big circus. The University itself is so big!! You’d be surprised, and completely stunned on how beautiful this building is. It looks more like a parliament building than a university to me…

The University overlooks the most beautiful view of the city, and this is also called the Vorobioviy Hills (Sparrow Hills). Many newly weds come to this view to take stunning photos of the university as well as of the view of Moscow. From here, you can even see the new part of Moscow called Moscow City, which sort of reminds me of how New York looks like.

You can then walk down the Sparrow Hills towards the metro station there, which is a nice walk down in the woods, and get glimpses of the city overlooking the river.

We then decided to travel all the way to the Kolomenskoe Park Museum by the metro station Kolomenskaia. This park is free to access, and when we went there, the weather was just stunning, so a lot of local people would just go to the park to sit in the sun. The park itself used to just be an old village/district, and now it is a collection of different churches and a nice wooden castle. The churches are very nice, definitely worth to go inside, and when the bells are ringing, sitting by the churches and listening to them is lovely.

Even though it was a bit of a walk (2km) to walk through the park by the river, all the way to the other side, all the way to the wooden castle, we would say it is definitely worth it. The castle is stunning and colourful and shows how the castles and cities looked like in the olden days. We decided not to go inside, but you can buy tickets to visit the castle inside.

From this old par of town, we decided to do some shopping and visit the Trade European Center in town. This is a very new shopping mall, with lots and lots of shops and cafes/restaurants, which are good for a little break.

As it was a nice Sunday evening, we decided to go to the old Arbat Street in the Arbat District. It is quite an old street, with many souvenir shops, restaurants, people walking everywhere, artists drawing on the street and places for children to play around. It’s a perfect place to sit around on the terrace and have a nice drink. And in the middle of this street, there are these stunning trees, which light up in the evening.

Day 3 – Kremlin / The Armory Museum/ Red Square / Christ the Saviour Church / Ismailovskii Kremlin / Chistie Prudi

On our last full day in Moscow, we went to the Kremlin. Visiting the Kremlin may take a whole day or half a day, depending on how long you like to walk around.

Tip: We strongly advise to buy your tickets to visit the Kremlin and the Armory online, to avoid queuing for hours. There is only one website you can purchase these tickets on that are official. (http://www.kreml.ru/en-Us/about-museums/) You will need to buy separate tickets depending on what you want to visit.

We decided that we wanted to only visit the Kremlin Cathedral Square (with all the churches inside) and the Armory. After doing a lot of research online, we read that visiting the Almaznii Fund, where all the precious stones are kept, was not worth it, and that you get to see much more beautiful treasures if you go to the Armory. We were at first worried that it would just be war things that were kept there, but it was so much more. Lots of beautiful golden icons, clothes, carriages, thrones, golden statues and treasures, crowns and much more… The fun part is that you get a free audio guide to walk around with, that tells a story of most of the treasures in there, so we would not recommend booking any tours for the museum.

Tip: Unfortunately you are not able to take photos in there, but I did sneak a few to show.

We then made our way to the Cathedral Square, to visit every church one by one. Each church was built many centuries ago, and have now been restored to have their beautiful golden roofs. They were all used for different occasions, such as christenings, burials, crowning etc.. And each of them has walls covered with icons and beautiful ceilings. Unfortunately we weren’t able to take any photos inside.

On one side you also have the statues Tsari Canon and Tsari Bell. These are huge statues that you can get very close to and take some nice photos. Legend has it, that the bell was in use before, but once in a battle, it fell and a big part of it broke off. The bell weighs many many tonnes, and the canon weighs around 200 tonnes!!

We then decided to have a stroll through the Red Square and GUM during the day, again, a very different site to what it looks like in the evenings. Once we were done, we strolled through the Alexander Gardens, where you can have a nice seat and relax and then we walked all the way towards the Christ the Saviour Church. Unfortunately, as the queues were very long to get in, we did not have the patience we decided to look at it from the outside only.

Once we were done in the city center, we made our way towards the outskirts of the city, to the Ismailovskii Kremlin, which is by the Partizanskaia metro station. This place looks so magical, and as if you are in a fairy tale, and best thing is that the entry is free. We would definitely recommend going there. Here you can find many souvenir stalls, old style cafes/restaurants, Vodka museums and many more.

Tip: For a maximum experience, best time to visit here is on a Saturday or Sunday, when everything is open. On weekdays the park itself is also open, but all the stalls and shops are closed.

Once we’ve walked all around this magical city, we made our way back into town, to Chistie Prudi. This is a nice park that has a beautiful lake, so if you are staying around this area, it is a nice place to stroll around in the evening.

Our overall feel about Moscow was that it was a very clean and taken care of city. Everyone was helpful when you asked them questions, but bear in mind that you would need to speak Russian to be fully comfortable getting around the city. We also felt very safe, there was a lot of police everywhere and checks in the metro stations and shops, and even though it was a bit annoying to get checked all the time, we felt safe, even at night.

If you would like some tips on where to eat in the city or how to get around the city, feel free to read our blogs: Eating out in: Moscow and Getting around: Moscow.

Xoxo Ani and Sam

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