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Best things to do in Moscow

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Russia  /  Central Russia  /  Moscow

Top 15 things to do in Moscow

1. Red Square

Located at the heart of Moscow, Red Square offers easy access to most of the city's major attractions. Surrounded by landmark buildings representative of Moscow's rich architectural heritage, the vast square is the first destination for most visitors to the city. Its name comes not from the color of the cobbles or its link to communist history, but from one interpretation of the Russian word "krasniy," meaning "beautiful." Most of the city's major streets originate from this square, but the majority of tourists come to this World Heritage Site to take pictures and visit the surrounding buildings, including a mausoleum housing the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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2. State Tretyakov Gallery

To see one of the world's biggest collections of Russian art, head to State Tretyakov Gallery. Established in 1856, the museum began as a private collection of artworks acquired by merchant Pavel Tretyakov and housed inside a building designed by artist Viktor Vasnetsov. Today, this national repository of art contains over 170,000 pieces, including notable works by Repin, Kandinsky, and Malevich. The museum's vast collection also includes a series of 12th-century icons painted on wood by unknown artists. Pick up a floor plan at the entrance, and be sure to visit the halls housing sculptures by Shubin, Prokofiev, and Martos.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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3. Moscow Kremlin

A fortified complex at the heart of the city, Moscow Kremlin serves as the official residence of the country's president, and is designated as a World Heritage Site. Overlooking the city's central square, this "fortress inside a city," as its name roughly translates, includes five palaces and four cathedrals. The giant complex sits on the north bank of the Moscow River, enclosed by a protective brick wall just over 2 km (1.2 mi) long. Although the best views of the exterior are from the other side of the river, be sure to visit the citadel's museums to see collections of Russian state regalia, arms, and armor. Check the website for special events and guided tours.
Suggested duration: 6 hours
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4. Saint Basil's Cathedral

The symbol of Moscow for over four centuries, centrally located Saint Basil's Cathedral seems like an image plucked out of a book of fairy tales. Constructed in the 1550s on the orders of Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral features vividly colored onion-shaped domes and an asymmetrical design unusual in traditional Russian architecture. Four of the eight side churches surrounding the main cathedral structure sit on raised platforms, designed to make them appear suspended in air. The massive structure contains a maze of vaulted corridors and vertical cylinders, the largest of which is 46 m (150 ft) tall. Walk inside to see the elaborate Baroque iconostasis, decorated with gilded cornices and corbel arches.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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5. Armoury Chamber

A collection of crown jewels makes Armoury Chamber one of Moscow's most popular tourist attractions. Part of the city's centrally located World Heritage Site, this museum houses 15,000 royal dresses, including those worn by the Empress Elizabeth during her coronation ceremonies. Other highlights include a pair of Peter the Great's boots, numerous royal carriages and sledges, and a lavish throne studded with over 800 diamonds. Be sure to visit the upstairs galleries, which contain a vast collection of silver artworks produced between the 12th and 17th centuries, as well as 10 world-famous Easter eggs made by celebrated jeweler Faberge. Ease your journey through Russian art history with an audio guide, available at the on-site ticket office.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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6. Walking tours

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. New Tretyakov Gallery

View a special collection of Russian masterpieces spanning over a thousand years at New Tretyakov Gallery. Visit the museum, which was founded in 1892 from a collection donated to the city by Pavel Tretyakov, a merchant and art patron. Now the exhibits contain over 170,000 Russian works of art from different eras. The new building of the gallery boasts modern works from 20th-century artists, including Chagall, Kandinsky, and Malevich. As you tour the gallery, notice its fairy-tale architectural style. Outside, take time to walk through the on-site sculpture park.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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8. Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Moscow's largest museum of Western art, Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts holds one of the most significant collections of Impressionist and post-Impressionist works in the world. Opened in 1912, this institution also displays Renaissance masterpieces, notably works by Botticelli, Tiepolo, Veronese, and Rembrandt. An exhibit dedicated to ancient civilizations, a major draw for history buffs, contains examples of Egyptian ritual items, sarcophagi, jewelry, and weapons. Pay special attention to the displays featuring 2000-year-old artifacts from the purported site of ancient Troy, excavated in the 1870s by German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann. Pick up an audio guide at the info desk in front of the museum shop.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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9. Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve

Immerse yourself in the world of Catherine the Great with a visit to Tsaritsyno Museum-Reserve, located in the southeastern section of Moscow. Designed on the Empress's orders and built on a truly grand scale, this vast estate features a grand palace surrounded by landscaped gardens, artificial grottos, picnic pavilions, decorative bridges, dense forests, and rolling fields. Unfinished during Catherine's life, the sprawling complex remained abandoned for nearly two centuries. Extensively redesigned and finally completed in 2007, the complex offers visitors a rare insight into the lifestyle of European royalty. The easiest way to explore the grounds is by guided tour, so make your arrangements before you make the trip.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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10. Room Escape Games

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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11. Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory)

For panoramic views over Moscow, head to Sparrow Hills (Vorobyovy Gory), the highest point in the city. Located on the right bank of the Moscow River, this hill rises to about 220 m (720 ft) above river level and features a large observation platform. Named after a nearby village, the tree-covered hill has provided inspiration for generations of Russian poets, painters, and architects. Today, the lookout draws both foreign visitors and local picnickers, who come here to take photographs with the entire city as their backdrop. Visit on a clear day and try to spot the domes of some of the city's famous churches, or climb the hill at night to see Moscow lit up by streetlights.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. GUM

Blending modern shopping with history and architecture, GUM remains the country's largest shopping mall. Constructed during the 1890s, the trapezoidal building combines elements of traditional Russian and 19th-century English architecture, including a steel framework and glass roof. A major feat of engineering, the structure gets most of its illumination from giant arched skylights, each one containing more than 20,000 panes of glass. The centrally located mall houses about 200 upscale boutiques, selling internationally known clothing brands, household goods, jewelry, sports equipment, cosmetics, and souvenirs. The building's ground level offers access to cafes, restrooms, and ATMs.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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13. Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

Celebrated in countless books, movies, and songs, Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure draws visitors with its cafes, contemporary public art projects, food stands, and sports facilities. Once packed with theme park attractions, the park underwent a major renovation in 2011, losing most of its old-fashioned amusement rides to become an eco-friendly recreational zone. Designed by avant-garde architect Konstantin Melnikov and opened in 1928, the sprawling park now features an open-air theater and free Wi-Fi throughout its 120 hectares (300 acres). Nearly 40,000 visitors come every day to bike, walk, jog, and rollerblade. During the colder months, the park becomes a winter wonderland, its frozen ponds turning into giant skating rinks. Avoid traffic congestion by coming on foot or by public bus.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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14. Tserkov' Uspeniya Presvyatoy Bogoroditsy V Novodevich'yem Monastyre

A World Heritage Site, Tserkov' Uspeniya Presvyatoy Bogoroditsy V Novodevich'yem Monastyre counts among Moscow's top cultural attractions. The convent grounds include a majestic five-domed cathedral, built in the early 16th century. The cathedral's lofty ground floor, typical of religious structures built on the orders of Ivan the Terrible, contains some of the country's finest frescoes, as well as a large gilded iconostasis. The complex also includes a six-tier bell tower, which was the tallest structure in 18th-century Moscow. The monastic cemetery, long coveted by prominent Muscovites as a prestigious place of burial, contains the tombs of writers Anton Chekov and Nikolai Gogol.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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15. Lomonosov Moscow State University (MGU)

A renowned educational establishment, Lomonosov Moscow State University (MGU) also features a striking example of Stalinist architecture. The university was established in 1755 and is one of the oldest in Moscow. Take a tour of its massive main building, which was completed in 1953 and is the tallest member of a group of skyscrapers known as "Stalin's Seven Sisters." The school is home to over 40,000 students and supports the largest library system in Russia, but it is best known for its state-funded, Soviet-style structures.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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