Moscow (or Russia in general) might not be the first destination to come up when people start thinking about their next vacation. Even myself who lives practically next door to them haven’t given much thought about it. I guess the mainstream media is to blame on this one for making Russia so unattractive for some travelers.
Since I had Elbrus expedition coming up this summer which usually requires layover in Moscow then it was an ideal chance for me to visit one of Europe’s biggest city as well.
I planned spending 2 days in Moscow which later turned out was obviously not enough for such a metropolis. My returning there is quite realistic because I couldn’t visit so many places. However, those 2 days in Moscow definitely managed to reshape my “outdated” image of Russia’s biggest city. Here is my version of how to spend a weekend in Moscow (also good for 2 weekdays in Moscow).
How to get to Moscow?
Well, depending on where are you traveling from but the easiest way to get to Moscow is by flying. You just need to remember to check if you need a visa (sounds quite obvious, right?) and not to leave getting it for the last minute.
Now that I have mentioned the easiest way, the most adventurous way I would say is by taking a train. It adds so much flavor for your experience in Russia. Drinking some shots of vodka or eating Russian cuisine in a restaurant car while getting a feel of the local atmosphere is totally worth it.
How to spend a weekend in Moscow?
The area of Moscow is very large and even if you have nothing against walking I recommend to use some kind of public transport. Just to save some time since it’s only a weekend there, remember? Based on my research the Moscow taxi business didn’t seem to be very reliable/safe/cheap for a budget traveler like myself. So, instead of trying to verify my research I just decided to use metro. Which by the way is one of the world’s longest and deepest.
And no matter how strange it might sound the Moscow metro itself is already one worthy sight to check out. The metro stations to be exact. Some of them were opened already in 1935.
And since the metro fares are quite reasonably priced then why not go and check out the local architecture while getting from one point to another at the same time. There are actually even tours for this.
Visiting Moscow you can’t go without checking out the world famous Red Square and it’s surroundings (at least when it’s your first time). You could really spend a whole day there strolling around admiring architecture and visiting Kremlin museums. Only thing that might start bothering is the amount of tourists but that comes with fame I guess. Nevertheless I recommend to step by and take a look at Russia’s “heart”.
Other museums and galleries
If you decide you have enough of fellow tourists then just a short walk away from Red Square are a lot of museums and galleries where most of the tourists won’t get. For example we went to Moscow Museum of Modern Art (MMOMA). At this time there was a very entertaining and interactive Alexandra Dementieva’s “10 Installations” and the designs of Barcelona’s architect Antoni Gaudi. It sure kept us busy for a couple of hours.
Another art gallery we visited during our quick weekend in Moscow was Garage also known as Museum of Contemporary Art. I personally liked this one more. Specially memorable was an exhibition called Congo Art Works. In their cinema hall it was possible to also watch music videos by Congo’s artists. Some of them were really cool…
Parks of Moscow
Definitely visit-worthy are Moscow’s parks where it’s really nice to stroll around and enjoy different art forms or museums. One such park is a little further from the city central (but easily accessible by metro) and it’s called Kolomenskoye park. Main attraction of this park is the summer residence of Alexis Mikhailovich. It’s a very impressive medieval wooden palace (restored in 2010) and you can even go inside to see how they were living back in the day. Good thing is there were also information available in English (though I didn’t hear anyone speaking it).
The park is actually really large (larger than Central Park in NYC) and in addition to the palace there are other interesting spots to visit. Plus in the middle of the park is the mystic Golosov Ravine where according to the legends some time-travelings took place…
A good way to visit the park is to take a metro to Kashirskaya station that is in one end of the park and then after strolling through the park take a metro from Kolomenskaya station to get back to city center. Or the other way around. Just keep in mind the park is huge and might take at least half a day.
In case you still have some energy left then I recommend to also visit Gorky park which is much closer to the city center. The park is very lively and offers something for everybody. There are many museums (also before mentioned Garage art museum), sport fields, cafes, history monuments and much more. Even on a Sunday evening was the park full of people (in a good way). That says a lot about it’s popularity.
A smaller and rather park looking spot is Bolotnaya Square basically just outside the Kremlin. Over there you’ll find very originally crafted bronze statues symbolizing adult vices that affect children. And just on a nearby bridge there is the romantic Padlock Tree Park.
Where did I sleep?
A perfect hostel with a reasonable price and a good location where you can easily spend a few nights without having to stay in some party hostel to save money. As seen above then most of the time we spent outside the hostel since it was only a weekend in Moscow. But the impression it left us was nothing but a clean and nice place. Customer service was also very friendly and helpful.
In case you need something different then I bet you will find something suitable from HERE.