Get ready for your trip to Russia’s capital city by reading up on cool and usual things to do in Moscow. 

Moscow, Russia is a pretty incredible place. Did you know that it wasn’t always Russia’s capital? St. Petersburg was the country’s capital from 1712 to 1918. The capital moved to Moscow when Peter the Great took over and wanted to westernize the Russian Empire Moscow has a long history. The city was founded in 1147, therefore it is knee-deep in visual and cultural history to explore. That being said, there are so many things to do in Moscow for tourists to enjoy. 

Be forewarned: Moscow is regularly named one of the most expensive cities in the world. Luckily there are still plenty of affordable sites worth seeing. The historic city center in Moscow is complete with palaces, churches, and monuments. The modernized portion of Moscow is worth exploring, as well.

Considering more than 11.5 million people live there, you will find that you’ll never be lacking things to do in Moscow. By the end of the trip you’ll be feeling like a true Muscovite, or a Moscow citizen. 

Ready? Let’s get started on our list of all the incredible things to do in Moscow, Russia!

1. Visit the famous Red Square

Things To Do In Moscow - Red Square

Credit: Raul P.

It is practically impossible to visit Moscow without coming across this site. The Red Square is arguable the best known and most visited attraction in all of Moscow. The beautiful cobblestone square is lined with beautiful historic buildings and architecture. The Red Square is the heart of Moscow physically and historically, as this is the location where many major events in Moscow’s history unfolded. The Red Square was originally a market where traders would trade and sell goods. The square is still an important site today that is home to the Kremlin, St.Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum and other popular attractions. 

The Red Square used to be known as a sketchy part of town, despite its grandness today. A “collection of peddlers, criminals, and drunks whose status left them outside the boundaries of the Medieval city” used to populate the streets. However, that lowly status could not be less true today. There is so much to do and see within The Red Square alone, making it one of the best things to do in Moscow during your stay. 

2. Step into St. Basil’s Cathedral

One of the beautiful buildings lining The Red Square is the famous St. Basil’s Cathedral. The official name of the cathedral is “The Cathedral of the Intercession of the Virgin by the Moat” and the site is dedicated to Basil the Blessed, who is buried on the site. The cathedral was founded in 1552. Ivan the Terrible constructed it to mark the capture of Kazan from Mongol forces. Construction on the cathedral ended in 1560. To this day, the site is a popular attraction for visitors far and wide. According to a Russian legend, Ivan the Terrible ordered to have the cathedral’s builders, Barma and Postnik Yakovlev, blinded after its construction so they could never build anything as beautiful again. The cathedral’s rich history and aesthetic beauty makes it one of the most popular things to do in Moscow. 

St. Basil’s Cathedral is also a museum. One service is held in the cathedral every year in October on the Day of Intercession. When it was restored in the seventies, a wooden spiral staircase was discovered inside one of the cathedral’s walls. This is now the route visitors take to enter the central church. St. Basil’s Cathedral is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is closed on Tuesdays. 

3. Look through Lenin’s Mausoleum 

Things To Do In Moscow -  Lenin's Mausoleum

Credit: Bernt Rostad

Another reason The Red Square is one of the most popular things to do in Moscow is because it is home to Lenin’s Mausoleum. The attracted is also known as Lenin’s Tomb. This is the resting place of the Soviet leader, Vladimir Lenin. The builders constructed the mausoleum shortly after Putin’s death in death in August 1924. Visitors usually have strong and mixed feelings about this attraction. Regardless, the site attracts roughly 2.5 million visitors every year. Therefore it continues to be one of the most visited sites and popular things to do in Moscow, Russia. 

There is always a long line of tourists waiting to get inside. In addition to waiting some time to get in, you will be pat down and body searched before entering. Inside, you will see the glass sarcophagus that contains the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin. This attraction is a strong example of all there is to see pertaining to Russia’s history in Moscow. The mausoleum is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Visit the attraction’s website to learn more. 

4. Take in the Moscow Kremlin

All right, Trekbible readers. We know you’ve heard about this next one. The Moscow Kremlin, more commonly referred to as simply the “Kremlin,” is also located in the heart of The Red Square. The Kremlin, which overlooks the gorgeous Moskva River, includes five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing – and somewhat intimidating – Kremlin Wall and Kremlin tours. The Kremlin had always been home to the tsar of Russia until Peter the Great took power. He preferred to have an entire city rather than just a citadel to call home, therefore St. Petersburg was born. However, when Vladimir Lenin took power in the early 20th century, the Kremlin returned to being the heart of power in Russia. 

Today, the Kremlin is the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. It is also a museum. In 2017, approximately 2,746,405 visitors visited the Kremlin museum. Its rich history and air of mysteriousness makes it easily one of the most popular things to do in Moscow. The attraction is so big that you could easily spend an entire week visiting the Kremlin and still not take in all that is has to offer. Behind the 2,235 meter-long kremlin walls, there are five squares the wander around in, countless buildings, and 20 towers to explore. Inside you are sure to sure the Tsar Cannon, which is the largest cannon in the world. 

5. Tour the Tretyakov Gallery

Things To Do In Moscow - Tretyakov Gallery

Credit: Tretyakov Gallery

Built between 1900 and 1905, the famous Tretyakov Gallery began as a private collection of the Tretyakov brothers, members of the merchant Tretyakov family. The gallery was designed by Viktor Vasnetov and today is home to one of the largest collections of Russian art in the entire world. The gallery operates off of three basic principles: to “study, preserve, represent and popularize” Russian art, to shed light on the important role art has played in Russia’s history and culture, and to improve the lives of the gallery’s visitors by exposing them to Russian masterpieces. Whether you are an art museum nut or not, you will find this is one of the most incredible things to do in Moscow. 

The Tretyakov Gallery houses a wide collection of masterpieces, including Girl with Peaches by Valentin Serov and Rooks Have Come Back by Alexei Savrasov. The gallery preserves the most incredible collections of Russian art, many of which you can take a sneak peek at online. In its efforts to continue enlightening the lives of its visitors, the gallery is continuously bringing new exhibits and collections in through its doors. Current collections worth seeing are Border Poetics. Estonian Art 1918-2018 and VMayakovsky Atlas, a multimedia presentation of art and artifacts. 

The Tretyakov Gallery is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Thursdays to Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The gallery is closed on Mondays. Visit its website to learn more. 

6. Take a walk along Arbat Street

A beautiful historic street located in the city’s center, Arbat Street is easily one of the most toursity things to do in Moscow. The street is lined with countless cafes and restaurants. Live music and painters are scattered all throughout. In addition, there are dozens of souvenir shops, tattoo parlors, theaters, and other beautiful monuments. Needless to say, Arbat Street is the place to check off marks on your list of the most touristy things to do in Moscow during your trip. 

Arbat Street is one of the oldest roads in Moscow. Its name first appeared in history in 1493 in connection to a fire that had started in the Church of St. Nicholas. Arbat Street has changed greatly throughout the years. Originally, this district was crowded with merchants and craftsmen selling their goods. In the 18th century it became a favorite site for aristocrats to stroll through. Because of Arbat Street’s wealth, only the most noble families resided there. Fun fact: Arbat Street was once home to the Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin. He resided in House Number 53, which has since been turned into a museum dedicated to Pushkin’s work. Another famous writer, Leo Tolstoy, resided in the building right next door. It is said this is where he got the inspiration for the famous character and novel Anna Karenina. 

7. Seek out the State Historical Museum

Things To Do In Moscow - State Historical Museum

Credit: State Historical Museum Facebook

This is one of the best things to do in Moscow for tourists interested in learning more about Russia’s history. The State Historical Museum, nestled between The Red Square and Manege Square, is the largest national museum in Russia. The museum is dedicated to Russian history and has been collecting relics and artifacts for more than 100 years. Today, the State Historical Museum houses more than 4.5 millions items telling stories from “prehistoric tribes that lived on the territory of present-day Russia, through priceless artworks acquired by members of the Romanov dynasty.”

The halls of the museum are divided into different eras of Russia’s past. The tour of the museum begins in the Ceremonial Entrance Hall with “The Genealogical Tree of Russian Rulers,” or a visual display of the families that have ruled Russia, painted on the vaults. The first seven halls introduce visitors to ancient history, including overviews on the development of human civilization in the Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages. The following exhibits in halls 8-14 each represent aspects of Old Russian state. The halls are filled with archaeological gems, monuments, handwritten letters and manuscripts, and other fascinating relics from Russia’s past. 

Next, hallways 15-21 are dedicated to the “centralized state formation.” The tour through the State Historical Museum ends on the second floor with hallways 22-35. Here, visitors will see the history of the Russian Empire between the 18th and 20th centuries. 

8. Peddle on to the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts

Continue your museum tour with the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts. This museum is the largest museum of European art in Moscow houses the country’s most representative collections of foreign art. Collections at the museum date from ancient to modern days and include pieces of medieval and Renaissance sculptures. This is one of the best things to do in Moscow for tourists who appreciate fine art and visual history. 

The museum is comprised of three branches that each house collections from different eras. Visitors will take in masterpieces from the Italian Reaissance, the Dutch Golden Age, and more. On the ground floor, you’ll find all of the museum’s “original works.” These include works of art from Ancient Egypt, carefully curated antiques, and other European painting. The first floor also houses rooms full of casts of Ancient Greece, Rome, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance. Inside the main building of the museum you will find works of art by the renowned Botticelli, Tiepolo, Veronese and Rembrandt. In fact, many of these works at the museum have never been displayed before. 

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is a worthwhile outing for all tourists. We promise this is one of the things to do in Moscow that you will not regret. The museum is open from Friday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Visit their website to learn more. 

9. Spring on over to Sparrow Hills

Things To Do In Moscow - Sparrow Hills

Credit: Public Domain Pictures

If you want to stand on the highest point in Moscow, then take a stroll on over to Sparrow Hills. Located along the Moskva River, Sparrow Hills is one of the most legendary and well visited parks in Moscow. The top of the hill, which stands 85 meters above the river, is where you can get a beautiful panoramic view of the entire city. Though it may  not seem as though Sparrow Hills has much to offer, this location has long been an inspiration for many Russian poets and writers. It is said that in ancient times, travelers would climb to the top of the hill to take in the view of their final destination: the beautiful Moscow.

Sparrow Hill has also been known to attract many Russian architects. In fact, the Cathedral of Christ the Savior was originally planned to be built there, though it was built instead by the Kremlin near The Red Square (of course.) Instead, the famous Moscow State University took its place on Sparrow Hills. Visiting Sparrow Hills is one of the best things to do in Moscow for tourists looking for a relaxing but beauty filled outing. It is a great place to set up a picnic and feast on borscht and beef stroganoff.  

The view from Sparrow Hills is beautiful during the day, and arguably more gorgeous at night. This is one of those things in Moscow that all tourists need to do. Standing on Sparrow Hill will give you a different perceptive of this beautiful city that millions of people call home. 

10. Treat yourself at the Izmailovsky Market

Remember how we mentioned that Moscow, Russia is one of the most expensive cities in the world? We figured we’d end on an activity that won’t completely break the bank. The Izmailovsky Market is the best flea market in all of Russia. This is one of the best things to do in Moscow for thrifters and budget shoppers alike. It is an incredible place to find unique souvenirs to bring home. Tourists of all ages will have fun rifling through the artisan crafts and works by local artists. You are sure to stumble upon many matryoshka dolls, or the classic Russian stacking dolls we all know and love. 

The Izmailovsky Market offers more than just a shopping spree. If you’re lucky, you will stumble upon some bits of history, as well. People have been known to find fascinating Soviet memorabilia and artifacts nestled in the piles of treasure at the market. Once you’re finished perusing all the unique Russian goodies, treat yourself to a meal at one of the market cafes at Izmailovsky. You will find countless vendors warming up some mulled wine to get you going again before you continue on your treasure hunt. 

Visiting the market it one of the best things to do in Moscow for tourists who want a little bit of everything. 

As you can see, there are so many places to explore and things to do in Moscow, Russia during your stay. 

Things To Do In Moscow

This list offers just a small handful of all the things to do in Moscow. Seriously, there’s still Moscow City, Kolomenskoye, and the Ostankino TV Tower for you to research before your trip! While you’re at it, make sure to freshen up on some key Russian phrases to help you get around. 

Don’t believe what everyone says about Russian winters being unbearable. In reality, a Moscow winter isn’t bad at all, so don’t be afraid to book a less expensive flight there during the winter or late-summer. This is one of the most expensive cities in the world, after all. We don’t want a tight budget to stop your from doing enjoying all of the best things to do in Moscow. 

What are some of your favorite sites to explore in the beautiful city of Moscow? Leave us a comment and let us know! We’re always looking for new places to go to help our travelers plan the best trips of their lives.

Related Article: Russian Phrases: Helpful Tips for When You Travel

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