Moscow is one of the biggest cities in Europe that should be on the top of your must-see list. Not because it’s big but for a once in a lifetime experience, the historic world-class architecture, culture, and ancient historical places such as Red Square, Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral is among the many things to see in the capital city of Russia.

Over the years as a world traveler, I had the opportunity to visit Moscow more than half a dozen times and finally taking the liberty to share my experience through this post.

Things You Need To Know

It will always be an excellent time to visit Moscow, even in winter, depending on your interest. If you are adventurous, then visiting Russia in Winter can be rewarding, particularly once you leave the big cities. But in my opinion, Spring between April to May is the best time to visit Moscow when the temperature crawls into the 50s and 60s, and the daylight is much longer. Perfect weather for outdoor activities such as sightseeing, hiking, etc. On the other hand, hotel rates still remain affordable. 

Without a doubt, the peak travel season is summer when the weather is warm to hot, and schools are closed for summer vacations. However, during summer months, places of interest will be crowded and sometimes need to spend more time waiting in line. You need to pay more for Airline, transportation, accommodation as the demands skyrocket into the peak.

Early Fall between September to October is also an excellent time to visit Moscow when the weather gets colder, and the summer crowds disappear. I had the opportunity to experience Moscow in June, August, and in winter (January) cold, and I loved them all.

Getting There

There are direct flights to Moscow from all over the world, including the USA, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. You can find bargains air fairs depending on the seasons. Summer is the most expensive season to fly to Moscow. Off seasons like August, November and March would be the cheapest to travel to Moscow. But you will always find some exciting deals if your dates are flexible.

Moscow has five airports Sheremetyevo, and Domodedovo International airports are the major ones that handle most of the international airlines.

Getting To/From Sheremetyevo Airport

Sheremetyevo airport is about 18 miles (29 km) from Moscow city center. Mostly used by Aeroflot but there are a few other airlines that also use this airport.

If you are arriving during the service hours between 5:00 am, and 12:30 am then Aeorexpress train is the best option to get to the city. The train departs every 30 minutes from the airport and takes 35 to 40 minutes to get to Belorussky station. One way ticket costs 420 RUB, which can be purchased from the machine or the ticket windows. Getting to your final destination from Belorussky station is easy since this station is well connected by the metro.

Alternatively, you can hire UBER, Yandex taxi if you have access to the internet; otherwise, taxies and shuttle buses are also available at all terminals. Travelers tend to avoid taxi to and from Sheremetyevo due to the worst traffic conditions in Moscow.

Getting To/From Domodedovo Airport

Domodedovo airport is about 26 miles (42 km) from Moscow city center and the largest airport in Moscow, mostly used by major international airlines connecting Asia, Europe, USA, North Africa, and the Middle East.

If you are arriving during the hours between 6:00 am, and 12:00 am, then Aeorexpress train is the best option to get to the city. The train departs every 30 minutes from the airport and takes about 45 minutes to get to Paveletsky Station. One way ticket costs 400 RUB, which can be purchased from the machine or the ticket windows. Getting to your final destination from Paveletsky Station is easy since this station is well connected by other metro lines.

Alternatively, you can hire UBER, or Yandex taxi if you have access to the internet; otherwise, taxies and shuttle buses are also available at all terminals. Travelers tend to avoid taxi to and from Domodedovo due to the worst traffic conditions in Moscow but not as bad as Sheremetyevo.

Getting Around

The traffic condition in Moscow is terrible, so the best option to getting around is by Metro even though there are public buses, trolleys, trams, and taxis available.


Moscow metro service consists of 12 different lines, and they are easily identifiable by the color-coded sign, particularly making it easy for tourists like me with difficulties in reading Cyrillic scripts. Services run between 5:30 am – 1:00 am, and during peak hours, the services run as frequently as every 90 seconds.

There are different ticket types; for tourists, the most suitable ones are the single ride for 40 RUB, one-day unlimited rides for 200 RUB, and 30 days unlimited rides for 2200 RUB. Tickets can be purchased from the vending machine or the ticket window.

Buses, Trams, and Trolleys

These services are available throughout the city between 5:30 am to 1:00 am, but the service is not as frequent as Metro. Unlike the metro, buses, trams or trolleys are not a good option considering traffic jams in Moscow. Tickets are available onboard or from the ticket booths.

Taxi / UBER

In Moscow, it is legal for any car to pick up passengers. At first, it sounded strange and unsafe, but since we were traveling in a group, so tried a couple of times without any second thought. Meter taxies are also available, but they are usually reluctant to go by the meter, so you need to have negotiation skills to settle the fare before getting in.

Since Uber is available in Moscow so, it is a much reliable and safer option, in my opinion.

Russian Tourist Visa

Russia is well known for its extensive and costly visa application process, but that should not discourage travelers from visiting this incredible country. 

Things you need to know for Russian Visa.

  1. Your original passport (valid for at least 6 months after intended departure from Russia, and at least two blank visa pages.)
  2. Completed and signed two copies of the Russian visa application form.
  3. Two copies of passport size photos (signed on the back)
  4. Hotel confirmation for individual travelers, and letter from tour company or cruise line confirming itinerary and including a copy of the confirmation letter.
  5. Russian Visa Support Authorization (invitation letter) 

In the USA we have two choices to apply for a visa.

Like me you can apply it by yourself by filling out an online application and making a trip to the consulate with all your supporting documents, for me it costed me less but had to make two trips (drop off and pick up) to the NYC consulate.

Breakdown of consulate fee (direct application)

Consulate Fee                                     $160.00

Alternatively, you can apply through Russian Visa Center ILS (Washington DC. New York, Houston, San Francisco) for an extra fee. You can apply in person or via mail. The advantage is no need to go anywhere, just give them your passport and they will do everything on your behalf.

Breakdown of the visa center fee

Number of Entries – Single/Double (Rush 1-2 weeks)

Consulate Fee                                    $198.00
Visa Center Processing Fee             $100.00

Invitation Letter (Letter of Support)

In addition to all other documents, you will also need a letter of support (invitation letter) to obtain a Russian visa that will add cost. The fee varies from company to company between $50 and up. I recommend shopping online. I have used one of the companies here is the link you can try and compare with others.

Local Currency

The Russian currency is called “Rubel” at the time of this writing the value was 1 US$ = 75.75 RUB

ATM and Money Exchange

There are Money Exchange places and ATMs at the border crossing, at the  Airports as well as all over in the city. 

SIM Card for Cell Phone

Getting a local SIM card in a foreign country makes your travel more convenient. It gives you the ability to be online, check direction, places of interest, book your ride, and much more. 

You can buy a SIM card at Moscow airports as long as you arrive at the airport during service hours. They are affordable, cost should be about 400 RUB a month for 5GB of data. 

Safety in Moscow

Like many other big cities, Moscow is no exception when it comes to safety concerns when traveling on public transportation. Pickpocketer loves crowded places like metros, buses, stations, and elevators/escalators so, be extra alert in those places. I suggest to carry your backpack on your front and not to carry valuable in your pockets. Avoid gathering like street music; ignore people approaching you to keep you occupied. Keep your belongings close to you at all times, especially at the airports, bus stations, and train stations.

Staying Healthy

First of all travel insurance is recommended for Russia. Bring water purifier, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, mosquito repellant if you are traveling remote places, and medication for stomach upsets.

Top Things To Do In Moscow

Visit Red Square

Red Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the main square and the heart of Russia. A trip to Moscow is incomplete without visiting this most famous landmark in Russia. This huge open space is a meeting place for locals and tourists alike, surrounded by most of the historical sites Moscow has to offer.

Red Square, Moscow
Red Square, Moscow

Beautiful Saint Basil’s Cathedral

St. Basil’s Cathedral is one of the iconic churches in Moscow located at the center of Red Square by the Moskva River. The 16th-century cathedral is well known for its beautiful architecture, nine chapels, colorful onion domes, and tenacious legend that the chief architect was blinded by Ivan the Terrible so that he can no longer design anything as beautiful as St. Basil’s.

saint basil’s cathedral
Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square

Check-out Kazan Cathedral

Kazan Cathedral is located in Red Square next to the resurrection gate, one of the most famous Russian Orthodox churches in Russia. It is a beautiful pink-and-white gold-domed structure church that was initially built in 1636, but again it was reconstructed and re-opened in 1993 after Stalin destroyed it during the Soviet era.

Kazan Cathedral, Moscow
Kazan Cathedral on at the entrance of Red Square, Moscow

Visit Lenin’s Mausoleum

While in Red Square, Lenin’s Mausoleum is another attraction you could consider visiting where Vladimir Lenin’s body is preserved for almost a century. Visitors are allowed on Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday only from 10 am to 1 pm, and it’s free of charge.

Lenin’s Mausoleum in Red Square, Moscow

Lunch At GUM Department Store

GUM is one of the leading department stores in Russia, and while in Red Square, it worth paying a visit. Once state-owned during the Soviet era now is privately owned with several hundred stores, the majority of them selling high-end products.

GUM Department Store
GUM Department Store in Red Square, Moscow

Guided City Tour

There are guided tours available in Moscow, they usually combine sightseeing, lunch and a few sightseeing stops on the way. Get Your Guide is the one I recommend.

Walk to Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour

The Cathedral of Christ The Saviour is famous and the largest Orthodox church in the World. A walkable distance from the Red Square a few hundred meters on the northern bank of Moskva River.

Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour
Cathedral Of Christ The Saviour, Moscow

Kremlin From Other Side of Moskva River

Originally the Kremlin one of Moscow’s UNESCO World Heritage Site was first constructed in the 13th-century later; the 700 room huge Kremlin we see today was built as home to Russian Tsars, fortified by thick red-brick walls as tall as 26 to 60 feet. Later as the official residence of President of the Russian Federation.

The numerous important churches of the Moscow Kremlin are situated on the Cathedral Square; they are the Dormition Cathedral, Church of the Annunciation, the bell tower of Ivan Veliki, and Church of the Archangel.

Moscow Kremlin
Moscow Kremlin From The other Side of Moskva River

Visit Armoury Chamber

Kremlin Armoury is a fantastic treasure house museum that displays unique collections located inside the Kremlin wall. But long ago, this place was used as a royal workshop for gunsmiths and icon painters. If you are interested in royal artifacts, belongings of Russian tsars, valuable gifts, carriages, ancient weapons, etc. then visiting Armoury is a great place to visit.

Kremlin Armory
Kremlin Armory is one of oldest museums, established in Moscow

Take Guided Cathedral Square Tour

Throughout history, the Kremlin remains the symbol of both Russia and Soviet power and influence. Cathedral Square is around the center of Kremlin, where a group of three majestic cathedrals is located. The Cathedrals are perfect illustrations of Russian Church architecture at its rise between the late 15th and early 16th centuries.

The Cathedral Square
The Cathedral Square in Moscow kremlin

The Great Bell Tower of Ivan The Terrible

The highlight of the Kremlin tour is to climb the 265 feet (81 m) tall historic bell tower and see the fantastic birdseye scene from the top. The tower is the tallest building in the Kremlin once; it was forbidden to build anything taller than this structure. You will find the most photographed huge Tsar Bell at the base of the tower. This is considered as the world’s largest bell over 20 feet high and weighing over 440,000 lbs (200,000 kg).

The ground floor of Bell Tower is converted as an exhibition hall, which showcases how the Kremlin has evolved and transformed since the 12th-century.


Enjoy Moscow River Cruise

Taking a Moskva river cruise is the best way to see Moscow without spending much time in traffic jams and walking miles after miles. The tour usually lasts 3 or 5 hours, depending on the route and river cruise company. During the cruise, you will be able to witness the beautiful historic architecture of Moscow from a different perspective. The boat will pass by Kotelnicheskaya embankment building, St Basil’s Cathedral, The Kremlin, House of Embankment, Christ the Savior Cathedral, Monument to Peter I, Gorky Park, Moscow State University, Luzhniki Stadium, Kiev railway station, Moscow City Hall, Expocentre Moscow and much more.

Moscow River Cruise
Moscow River Cruise

Discover Moscow Metro

Moscow metro does not only get you from place to place faster and cheaper but also will definitely surprise you with its fascinating architecture. Every station looks like a museum, has its uncommon design, a theme, and an engaging story behind it. The best time to visit and take a closer look without the crowds is during midday and again early in the morning or late at night.

I would definitely worth visiting Kievskaya, Mayakovskaya, Kurskaya, Ploshad Revolutsii, Komsomolskaya, Kropotkinskaya, Novoslobodskaya, etc.

Komsomolskaya (Koltsevaya Line) station of Moscow metro
Komsomolskaya (Koltsevaya Line) station of Moscow metro

Explore What VDNKh Has To Offer

The All Russian Exhibition Center is also called as VDHKh by the locals in short. It was built during the Soviet Union era. In current days it is a place for an open-air museum, shopping complexes, park, skating area, and many other exciting spots of recreation.

The Stone Flower Fountain in All-Russia Exhibition Center (VDNKh).

Relax in Zaryadye Park

Newly opened Zaryadye Park is a great place to visit located close to the Red Square with an area of 94,000 Square Yard (78,000 m2). Fabulous place for photographers to enjoy a magnificent view of Moskva River, Moscow skyline, Moscow Kremlin, from the newly built floating bridge. A great place to visit during the sunset.

Floating pedestrian Bridge Zaryadye park
Floating pedestrian Bridge Zaryadye park, in front of the Moscow Kremlin, Russia

Visit Bolshoi Theatre

Bolshoi Theatre is widely admired not only for its opera and ballet performance but also for its artistic architecture. So even though I am not a huge fan of this show, but still wanted to visit this place.

Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow
Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow

Birdseye View From Sparrow Hills

Sparrow Hills is located about 8 km southwest of the Kremlin by the Moskva River. From its elevation of 720 feet (220 m), one of the highest spots in Moscow, you will have a stunning panoramic view of the city. MSU (Moscow State University) is only a short walk from here.

Sparrow Hills
A view from Sparrow Hills

Shopping in Old Arbat Streets

Arbat Street is one of the oldest streets in Moscow. A great place for shopping souvenirs, street performances, people watching, restaurants, street vendors, and much more.

Old Arbat Streets, Moscow

Where Did I Stay In Moscow, Russia

Hotel Cosmos, VDNKh, Moscow

Hotel Cosmos, is located across the street from VDNKh Metro station. This Hotel is a short walking distance from All Russian Exhibition Center.  

Holiday Inn Moscow Lesnaya, Moscow

I loved staying in Holiday Inn Moscow Lesnaya hotel. I liked the location of this hotel, tram station right infant. And definitely the clean and spacious rooms with one queen size bed for a solo traveler. The breakfast was excellent. 

Have Local Food in Moscow

White Rabbit Restaurant & Bar

This beautiful modern glass dome restaurant is located on a 16th floor with a beautiful view. They serve delicious veal tongue, fried crucians fish, baked beans, and turnip crisps.

Matryoshka Restaurant 

Matryoshka is a stylish modern restaurant of authentic Russian cuisine motivated by old traditions. A well-known restaurant for Beetroot soups, sour cabbage soup, lamb meat, Pelmeni – Russian dumplings, and more.

Selfie Restaurant, Moscow

This is a great place to have traditional Russian cuisine. Delicious Pozharsky cutlet prepared with breaded ground chicken or veal patty, Halibut fillets from Murmansk, and many other mouth-watering dishes, to name a few. The Restaurant has a beautiful interior design and a fantastic panoramic view from the restaurant.

A few of the local dishes I recommend to try:

Borsh (red beetroot soup with sour cream), Pelmeni (Russian dumplings), Piorgi (with different fillings), Blini (Russian Pancakes), Solyanka (mixed soup), Russian Salad, Golubtsy (stuffed cabbage with meat and rice), Amul Soup, Smoked Amul, etc.

My Opinion and Last Word

Have you been to Moscow, Russia? Any cool tips to share?

I loved being to this country down under and want to go back again. Hope my story has motivated you to visit. 

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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