Things to do in Moscow are abundant. Russia's pulsing capital city is among the top destinations in the country, and visitors come from all over the world to see the colorful buildings and intricately detailed architecture as well as experience the culture and history. From a visit to Red Square to see St. Basil’s Cathedral or the Kremlin for its illustrious walls, your vacation will be filled with countless extraordinary Moscow attractions.
This is usually the first on tourists’ lists of things to do in Moscow. The word red does not refer to the color, but to an old Russian word meaning beautiful, and though the square was the center of Moscow since the fifteenth century, the name was established in the seventeenth century. Red Square leads the list of most popular Moscow attractions, and with so many things to do and see here, it may take an entire day to cover this attraction thoroughly. St. Basil’s Cathedral commands the square with its colorful onion tops and slightly off-balance design due to the ninth chapel, housing the tomb of St. Basil. The entrance to the Red Square is the Resurrection Gate, and though Stalin destroyed it to make way for military parades, it has been recently reconstructed and is a lovely feature.
Also located in Red Square, the mausoleum of this famous Russian leader is open to the public several days a week and has free admission. Plan ahead and make sure to check that the tomb is open on the day you’d like to visit, and also be aware that lines can be long. However, it’s a fascinating site for anyone interested in Russia’s history, and seeing the embalmed body of Lenin on display is surely an unforgettable experience.
The Kremlin is often paired with a Red Square tour, and together, visiting these is certainly an all-day event. This is one of the Moscow attractions that offer a great deal in the way of monumental buildings and architecture. Many guests snap pictures of the walls alone for their beauty and structural magnificence. Within the walls are various cathedrals, museums, and historical monuments, including the Cathedral of the Assumption, the oldest in the Kremlin; the State Armory, housing royal treasures and artifacts of the state; and Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the highest location with the walls. Four churches can be found inside the Kremlin walls, and each one is unique in build and history. Many of the past Tsar’s of Russia have been crowned in the oldest cathedral, the Cathedral of the Assumption. The smallest church, the Cathedral of the Deposition of the Robe was a private house of worship for patriarch leaders. The Cathedral of St. Michael the Archangel houses the tombs of a handful of Russian leaders. There is even a church that was reserved for the royalty to worship, the Cathedral of the Annunciation.
If, after visiting St Basil’s and the many Kremlin churches, you’re interested in seeing similar attractions, this is probably the best-known of the Moscow churches. Established in the sixteenth century, the convent was built to also serve as a fortress and helped defend Moscow in times of trouble. Virtually intact since the seventeenth century, Novodevichy was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.
Also known as Gorky Street, Tverskaya Street dates back to the Middle Ages. Throughout history, this was an important connecting thoroughfare running towards Tver. Today, it is the most fashionable street in the city, and visitors can take advantage of a host of things to do in Moscow on this street as well from restaurants and cafes to Moscow hotels and shopping. The world’s busiest McDonald’s is located on Tverskaya Street, for instance, and the Yeliseev Grocery Store has an interestingly ornate interior. One of the best ways to tour the most celebrated street in Moscow is to travel from Red Square to the Belorusski Train Station.
For those visitors looking for more low-key or everyday activities in Moscow, the GUM department store offers plenty of shopping opportunities. The store is located along the east side of Red Square and hosts a number of designer stores within the complex, as well as a beautifully decorated interior. There are also plenty of shopping streets throughout the city for those seeking specific items, such as food and liquor, crafts, and souvenirs.
Among the countless things to do in Moscow, there are a few absolutes that should be included on your vacation itinerary. The number of Moscow attractions makes it difficult to fit everything into one vacation, but a trip to the major historic sites in the capital city is unforgettable and ensures a vacation that will be packed with fond memories.