Moscow is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with a deep history.

There are many museum and major attractions around Red Square, but there is plenty more to do within driving distance.

Here are our 19 best things to do in Moscow.

1. Red Square

Located in the very heart of Moscow’s center, Red Square offers a mix of free attractions as well as guided tours of various museums.

Red Square today is filled with tourists from around the world but it is still easy to imagine the cobblestone square filled with military parades or great political gatherings.

Red Square features stunning views of St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Kremlin, and GUM.

It also serves as the final resting place for Lenin himself.

Red Square is a must-see for every tourist in Moscow.

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2. Moscow Kremlin

The Moscow Kremlin, initially built in the 14th century, is a large, red-walled fortress in the very center of Moscow.

The Kremlin’s walls house the Armoury building and many religious icons like Assumption Cathedral, Archangel’s and Annunciation Cathedrals, and the Patriarch’s Palace.

The Kremlin is also the residence of the President of the Russian Federation.

Lines are usually quite long.

To avoid hours of waiting time, arrive as early as possible or arrange your tours in advance.

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3. GUM Department Store

GUM (Russian for “Main Department Store”) is the premiere shopping center in Moscow.

It is located directly across from the Kremlin on Red Square.

Now filled with high-end fashion designers, the beautiful GUM building has functioned as a shopping center since its completion in 1893.

There are over 200 stores of well known brands for fashion, jewellery, gifts as wells as restaurants and cafes.

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4. Saint Basil’s Cathedral

Saint Basil’s Cathedral is the spectacular building at the far end of Red Square.

The religious icon has served as Moscow’s center ever since 1561.

Nine separate churches built on a single foundation make up the cathedral.

Saint Basil’s Tower is the tallest of all nine parts and was dedicated to Ivan the Terrible.

The church and its iconic coloured onion domes is one of the most unique building designs in Moscow.

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5. Lenin’s Mausoleum

Lenin’s Mausoleum (also known as Lenin’s Tomb) is the final resting place of Russia’s first Soviet leader, Vladimir Ilych Lenin.

He has been here since 1924, even though he had originally asked to be buried next to his mother in Saint Petersburg.

Outside of the Mausoleum is the most prestigious burial site in Russia.

For instance, The likes of notorious leader Joseph Stalin and famed cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin have their graves along the Kremlin wall.

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6. Moscow Planetarium

The Moscow Planetarium was opened in 1929 as an education center for the Soviet Union’s first cosmonauts.

You’ll see detailed exhibits, 4D movie theater, and an observatory.

Kids will love Lunarium since its the most interactive part of the museum.

For example, you can launch a hydrogen missile, ride a bicycle through the Solar System, and even save the world from asteroids.

The Large Star Hall is another impressive attraction.

You can see the night skies of Moscow with the use of a high-tech projector.

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7. Tretyakov Gallery

The Tretyakov Gallery houses around 100,000 works showing Russian fine art from the 10th-19th century.

It has 62 rooms displaying religious and secular art .

In 1985, the original Tretyakov Gallery expanded to include the “New” Tretyakov Gallery of Modern art.

This second section includes Russian art of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

The outside of the building also has art decor.

Walk around the building and see some of the fantastical mosaics that line the walls.

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8. Pushkin Museum

Considered the premiere art gallery in all of Russia, the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts houses work by some of the most well-known artists in the world.

For example, there are paintings from artists like Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, and Matisse in the museum’s halls. 

You’ll also see permanent exhibits including the Ancient World, the Renaissance, and 19th to 20th Century Art.

During the year, some temporary exhibits are on display.

The Pushkin Museum is always busy, so it’s best to book a tour.

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9. Roerich Museum

The Roerich Museum celebrates the life of Nicholas Roerich and his family.

Roerich was a well-travelled artist and philosopher in the first half of the twentieth century.

You’ll see exhibits that will give you insights to his life.

For example, there are paintings, manuscripts, and artifacts.

All his work is divided into different halls, with the most interesting being the Hall of Living Ethics.

This is where he tries to explain his philosophy on life.

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10. Garage Center for Contemporary Culture

Darya Zhukova founded The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture was founded in 2008.

Garage is one of the largest art exhibition centers of Moscow with a total area of about 8,500 square meters.

It has an exhibition space, cinema, bookshop, and a cafe.

In warmer months, the museum also opens a summer pavilion.

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11. Moscow Museum of Modern Art

The Moscow Museum of Modern Art was opened in December 1999.

It was the first statue museum in Russia that focuses on contemporary art (20th and 21st century).

The first director donated the 2,000+ works that make up the museum’s permanent collection which focuses on the beginning stages of the avant-garde movement.

Moscow Museum of Modern Art also has a series of changing collections that feature both Russian and international artists.

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12. Sparrow Hills

Sparrow Hills is a famous Moscow park.

The two main attractions of Sparrow Hills are the observation deck and the view of the main building of Moscow State University.

Sparrow Hills is also a wonderful place for people watching.

Many students from Moscow State University come to Sparrow Hills to impress visitors with their dancing, singing, and music.

At over 700 feet above the Moscow River, Sparrow Hills Park is one of the highest locations in Moscow.

The best time to visit is at night, when you can see the city light up the night skies. 

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13. Gorky Park

Gorky Park, originally opened in 1928, is a large park area in the center of Moscow.

It recently underwent major changes in order to make the park more updated and current.

Many of the old amusement attractions were taken down and were replaced by modern activities such as dance lessons, yoga, and stages.

On any given day Gorky Park is full of locals and tourists.

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14. Cathedral Christ Saviour

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour dominates the skyline with its huge golden domes.

You can see religious ceremonies, tour the building, or buy traditional icons from the shop inside.

Around the huge building are scenes of religious and historical significance.

There are various Russian patron saints and battle scenes from the War of 1812.

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15. Tsaritsyno Palace and Park

Tsaritsyno Park is a large park in the south of Moscow.

The area is most famous for its Grand Palace estate.

This was constructed as a summer home for Empress Catherine the Great in the late 18th century.

Unfortunately, there was a lack of state funds to complete the landmark.

So Tsaritsyno was never occupied until almost 200 years after construction began.

However, the legacy of her opulence remains to this day.

You can now explore the beautiful grounds, lavish palace, and even burial mounds dating almost 1000 years old.

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16. Bolshoi Theater

The Bolshoi Theater was built in 1856.

Recent renovations improved the interiors and exterior of the building.

It also contains a museum that offers tours through the historical parts of the building.

The Bolshoi Theater now offers ballets and operas of the highest calibre from performers all over the world.

If you’re planning to watch a show, book the tickets early since they do fill up quickly. 

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17. Izmailovo Estate

Izmailovo Estate was once a royal building located outside Moscow city limits.

However, it became part of the city in the 20th century.

It now provides a small oasis in the middle of the city to locals.

Izmailovo Estate is contained on a small island and is made up of buildings dating back to the late 17th century.

There is also a small display of 17th century art in the Barbican Tower. 

Perfect for a casual stroll through history, Izmailovo Estate is located next to the Izmailovo Market and Park.

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18. Izmailovo Market

Marked by the colorful Kremlin at its entrance, Izmailovo Market is perfect for buying souvenirs.

On the first level you’ll find classic Russian nesting dolls, clothing and art.

Further from the entrance are antiques and second hand goods which might hold some undiscovered treasure.

Bartering is expected at Izmailovo Market, however, don’t expect prices to come down too much.

Most vendors speak some English.

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19. State Historical Museum

The Moscow State Historical Museum is located at the entrance of Red Square.

Immediately identified by its brick red, jagged facade, the museum features artefacts from all periods of Russian history.

You’ll see prehistoric tribal tools and art collected by the Romanov dynasty.

The museum offers both permanent collections and a rotating roster of temporary exhibitions.

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echo
For all new cities, I go overboard on my itinerary, just to see every major attraction. Countries I've visited include New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Cambodia, Japan and Thailand. Mostly Asian countries. Next target - Europe!