This post will be slightly different than those about other destinations, since it’s not a “new” experience for us (Sergey is actually a native Muscovite and lived in the city full time until he was 16). We also did less sightseeing and more hanging out with family friends than we typically would if we were traveling to a ‘new to us’ destination. That said, the bonus in this post is that we know what we are talking about — all of the suggestions are best of the best personal favorites.
see & do
There is a lot to experience and take in in Moscow. By all means, do not miss the Red Square – you might want to do both — a day time and a night time excursion. While there, do the tours of the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral. All of these are iconic, should not be missed sites. The other big one is Novodevichy Monastery – if the weather is good, you should definitely make this a priority destination – fewer tourists, beautiful grounds, and several churches and cathedrals built in various architectural styles.
Moscow has plenty of museums to take your pick. We prefer smaller, niche venues. Two favorites are Vinzavod – a hip gallery of the most happening art in Moscow. And Bulgakov’s apartment museum, where the writer lived in early 1920s. The flat is an amalgam of his personal space as it were and representation of his novels, most famously Master and Margarita.
If you can get your hands on Bolshoi theater tickets — consider you Moscow experience complete. It’s very expensive, but very splendid. It’s a once in a life time kind of thing. The building was recently renovated to its stately glory. Just going there to be surrounded by the fabulous people and jaw-dropping decor is quite something, and then the actual performances are breathtaking (personal favorite by far is ballet.) Don’t forget to dress up and drink champagne and have a caviar sandwich during the intermission.
Favorite outdoor destinations: Gorkiy Park, which is Moscow’s awesomely renovated park space; in the summer all the beautiful Muscovites hang out on the wood boardwalk ‘beach’ and in the winter there is a huge skating park fun for both adults and kids. There are also dance floors, outdoor yoga classes, ping pong tables, etc. If you want more art, there is also a Garage contemporary art center in the park. Bonus: free wifi everywhere – instagram your heart out.
Patriarch’s Pond – located in a beautiful, affluent part of central Moscow, this pond was made famous by Bulgakov’s novel Master and Margarita. There are lots of small home design, accessories and knickknack boutiques in this area.
Moscow has an amazing array of cool spots to hang. It will cost you a pretty penny, but this experience is quintessential Moscow, kind of like there is iconic New York sites and then there is the experience of every day new yorkers who are much more likely to be in the cool bar / café / shop than at the Empire State building or Statue of Liberty.
Olditch – probably the most awesome interior design wise. We didn’t have food here, but cocktails are great. Expensive, but totally worth it for the atmosphere and the beautiful people around you. They have an amazing terrace, which is a particularly great an night.
Bar Simachev – excellent cuisine downstairs, best in the summer time when you can sit on the outdoor veranda. The kitschy/funky decor is done by Russian designer Dennis Simachev. Don’t miss the upstairs where you can purchase the designer’s line. After 11pm this place can turn into a wild dance party.
Strelka – located right across from Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, you are in for a treat if you prefer drinks and views combined into one, however, food is rather tasty as well. The last image in this post is taken at Strelka. Given its central location, you can wonder around Red October art galleries or venture across the bridge and walk down Moscow green boulevards on the other side of the Cathedral
Mari-Vanna – If you want the traditional, old school, turned-hip Soviet look come here! You will take pictures of everything, including the servers who are part of the act. The food is really, really good too! *there is one in NYC and DC as well, but I would still go here too, by the virtue of being in Moscow, you’ll get more of a cultural experience.
Delicatessen – One of the myriad of the new, very-hip, you might think you–are–in–London–or–New York restaurants/ bars that opened in the last couple of years in Moscow. See our 4’oclock shot at Delicatessen here.
Volkonsky Bakery – named after Count Volkonsky in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, these cafes are all over Moscow and offer excellent tea, lattes, and pastries. The bakery is official rep for Maison Kayser of the Paris fame.
Eliseevskiy Grocery Store – One of the oldest, and probably the most famous grocery store in Russia. This place is absolutely regal, chandeliers, gold, marble, statues. Despite the mark up, its absolutely worth a visit, and by no means you don’t have to purchase anything. But it a good one stop shop for all the food delicacies if you do plan on stocking up.
Want a real deal, no holds barred Russian experience? Go to the banya – Russian bath house. Try the Sanduno Bath House – the most famous in Moscow, housed in the 19th century mansion like structure.
Please don’t leave Moscow without going dancing! This is the “it” thing to do in Russia’s capital. Consider Love Boat night at Solyanka night club located in an old Soviet flat. Before 10 pm Solyanaka is a restaurant, with very good food. Also Bar Smichev mentioned above, Club FF(Клуб FF), Club Che Guevara or Gypsy Bar(face control ensured).