Things to do in Moscow for one day

You only have one day in Moscow / Russia and still don’t want to miss the best things to do and highlights during your city trip? No problem with the travel tips and BIG5 checklists from JOURNICATION! This Moscow travel guide shows you with maps the route to the best places within the Russian capital. In addition to my personal experience report, you’ll get recommendations on the best hotels, restaurants and photo spots in Moscow and an overview of costs. You’ll see, in 24 hours in Moscow there are more things to do and sights to discover than just Red Square, the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral with its colorful onion domes. Let’s go for a perfect day in Moscow in 2021!

What do you learn in this article?

BIG5 Things to do in MOSCOW

You don’t want to miss any sights? Find all the tips and your checklist for the city trip to MOSCOW  here:

BIG5 MOSCOW – Speed Date

Outstanding: The Historic Buildings

Moscow is home to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, known for Russian Architecture, especially the historic Red Square, and other building i.e., the Moscow Kremlin(which is the seat power of the Government of Russia) and Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

Sucks: The Communication

Many locals do not understand or speak English, although many of the (street) signs are also in English.

DO: Visit the Historic and Modern architecture

Use subways and railroads to travel around the city and see architectural sights from all eras of history in just one city.

DO NOT: No Go Areas

Garage Valley that locals dub ‘Shanghai’
Bitsevskipark – even locals avoid this place so tourists are advised not to go there.

Especially at night you should not dare to experiment with new ways – especially not on foot and alone

Don’t tell your mother: Expensiveness

Especially Moscow is very expensive, even compared to European standards for basic things like hotel, food, transportation, etc.

BIG5 Moscow – Rapid Fire Q&A

  • How many days should I plan for Moscow? – If you only want to visit the center of Moscow, 2-3 days are enough to explore the whole city – if you have a good plan. If you only have one day, this article will tell you how to make the most of one day in Moscow to cover as many of the city’s sights as possible.
  • Can Moscow be a bit crowded? – Yes, Moscow is a very crowded city with a population of about 12 million. On top of that, there are a lot of tourists every year! Pickpockets are especially prevalent in major tourist spots like Red Square or museums, so caution is advised!
  • Doesn’t anyone speak English there? – Since Moscow is the capital and a lot of tourists arrive year after year, you are lucky with especially the young people to meet someone who can speak English. However, it is advisable to always have a translator tool with you…. Cyrillic subway station indications are especially challenging.
  • What is public transportation like? – Moscow has a large network of subways and railroads covering almost the entire city. Especially in the center of the city you will find many different metro lines and stations that will take you comfortably everywhere.
    Is Moscow very expensive? – Yes, Moscow is a bit expensive even compared to London. And if you want to travel economically, you need to travel by public transport.
  • How can I save money when traveling to Moscow? – Use public transport for easy routes in the center, but also beyond. Cabs are really expensive. Since the tap water is pretty good, you can usually drink it. It’s best to check again at your accommodation.

BIG5 Moscow – Orga

Best travel time for Moscow

Since Russia is known for its cold winters and snowfalls, the best time to travel to Moscow is between April and August, when the sun shines for a decent part of the day and you have no trouble traveling and touring the city. So the golden time for a perfect day in Moscow is summer (which usually lasts from June to mid-August), when Moscow is warm and bustling.

Arrival & Departure to Moscow

Visa: Check here whether you need a visa for Moscow with your passport

  • Flight: Moscow has 5 international airports; Sheremetyevo Airport (IATA: SVO) offers direct flights from all over the world.
  • Bus: An airport transfer and public buses, as well as Uber and cabs, will get you to the capital in comfort.
  • Train: Once you arrive in the capital, you will find major train stations such as Kazansky and Leningradsky, from where you can easily continue your journey.
  • Car: If you have a friend or family with a local car, it is really convenient. Many accommodations and hotels in Moscow offer parking, but you usually have to pay extra. Renting a car in Moscow is very expensive, as rental prices are quite high. Locally, the good public transport is quite sufficient to get to the highlights of Moscow

Next it goes to … Zelenograd, St. Petersburg or Kaluga

Accommodation / Hotels in Moscow

Recommended location: The best location for hotels in Moscow is the city center, so most highlights are within walking distance or a short drive. For a comfortable and easy discovery tour, your accommodation should be at least near a metro station, from where you can quickly get to all Moscow sights.

  • Budget: ALL MUSIC Hostel #1 Mayakovskaya (Sadovaya-Triumfal’naya Ulitsa 12/14, Tverskoy, 127006 Moscow; ~10 euros in a dorm room) – top-equipped, affordable hostel near the metro. Attention was paid to important details like the power socket right by the bed 😛
  • Budget: Christal Lubyanka (Krivokolennyy Pereulok 4с3, Basmanny, 101000 Moscow; ~10 Euro in a dorm) – from this hostel, Red Square with all its sights is within walking distance – the metro is also around the corner!
  • Medium: Moscow Center Apart Hotel (20/1 Ulitsa Petrovka, 5 podyezd, 4 floor, apt. 35, Tverskoy, 127051 Moscow; ~60 Euro in a double room) – super equipped apartments in the heart of Moscow.
  • Medium: Premium Apartment Old Arbat (15 Sivtsev Vrazhek Pereulok, Khamovniki, 119002 Moscow; ~70 Euro in double room) – top equipped apartments in super location in the Arbat quarter with its many bars and restaurants
  • Nobel: PR Myasnitsky Boutique Hotel (Myasnitskaya Ulitsa 13 build 3, Krasnoselsky, 101000 Moscow; ~150 Euro in double room) – modern 4* boutique hotel, great ambience in a historic building from the 19th century
  • Noble: Russo-Balt Hotel (Gogolevsky Boulevard 31, Bldg 1, Arbat, 119019 Moscow; from 170 Euro in a double room) – superbly located in the Arbat district with excellent transport links (including to the airport), terrific breakfast with farm-fresh organic produce and within easy walking distance of Red Square

Price Level

In Moscow you pay with Russian Ruble (RUB)

Withdraw money: There are ATMs all over the city where you can easily withdraw your money with credit cards (Visa or Mastercard).

Beer indicator: In any Russian bar you can buy a glass of beer between 250 and 300 rubles (4 to 5 US dollars).

Cost of a cab: The cost of hiring a cab in Moscow is average, the normal cab has a starting price of about 150 rubles and 25 rubles for each additional kilometer

Restaurants, Bars & Cafés in Moscow

  • Varenichnaya №1 (Arbat St, 29, Moscow, 119002) – with great decor: time travel back to the Soviet Union, authentic Russian food.
  • Metropol (Teatral’nyy Proyezd, 2, Moscow, 109012) – grand, upscale ambiance in a historic Art Nouveau building in the heart of Moscow
  • Sabor de la Vida (1905 Goda St., 10/1, Moscow 123022) – here you’ll find a wide variety of food, including international cuisine and Italian fare, at a very good price/quality ratio
  • Hishnik Steaks & Burgers (Kuznetskiy Most St., 18/7 entrance is located on Rozhdestvenka Street, Moscow 107031) – this restaurant is famous for delicious burgers and fancy food creations
  • Einstein Lounge (Taganskaya St., 29/1, Moscow 109147) – a great location for beers and alcoholic drinks at reasonable prices

BIG5 Moscow- Activities

  • Stroll through the Red Square – THE sight of Moscow, if not of all Russia.
  • Visit the Moscow Kremlin, still today the seat of the Russian government. It is a massive fortified complex dating back to the 15th century, covering an area of about 275,000 square meters – and right in the middle of the city.
  • Once to store to your heart’s content in Moscow’s oldest and most upscale shopping center, GUM. The prices here may not be the cheapest, but the charm and splendor of the 18th-century galleries certainly lend a special atmosphere to the shopping spree
  • Enjoy the magnificent streets in the center of Moscow such as Tverskaya and Nikolskaya 
  • Climb to the top of Ostankino Tower – the tallest building in Moscow with an incredible view of the whole city

BIG5 Moscow – Photo spots

  • St. Basil’s Cathedral – THE photo motif with the famous colorful onion domes
  • Moscow Kremlin – the seat of the Russian government for centuries
  • Galleries of the GUM shopping center
  • Christ the Savior Cathedral – brilliant white and gold
  • Sparrow Hills – great view of Moscow skyline

 

 

BIG5 Moscow – Things to do off the beaten track

  • Secret Bolshevik Printing Press – This was once the oldest museum in the Soviet Union, a trip back in time.
  • Visit the Cosmonautics Museum, where you’ll learn all about Russian space missions and related activities
  • Descend into the GO-42 Bunker, a secret hideout in the center of Moscow and now an impressive Cold War museum
  • Marvel at the huge monument to Peter the Great, nearly 100 meters high
  • Just outside Moscow’s city center is Kolomenskoye. Once a royal estate, it has been converted into a museum. The adjacent garden is also worth seeing.

BIG5 Moscow – Culinary Journey

  • You will find Craft Beer spots in city’s every corner.
  • Bliny – a Russian special pancake mostly you can find it in breakfasts
  • Kasha –a local Russian food which every person can afford.
  • Mors – a local Russian drink often available in summers.
  • Sbiten – traditional Russian hot beverage mostly loved in winters.

BIG5 Moscow – Communication

In Moscow you speak Russian

  • thank you – Спасибо (spasibo – spoken: spasiba)
  • yes – да (da)
  • no – Нет (net)
  • Hello – Здравствуй (zdravstvuy)
  • Goodbye – до свидания (do svidaniya)

BIG5 Moscow – Helpful Websites / Links

  • Here all tourists may find some useful info: Discover Moscow
  • Being able to read Cyrillic to some extent can be very helpful in Moscow. Here you can find the Cyrillic alphabet with pronunciation

BIG5 Moscow – Overview map for your city trip

Moscow Russia things to do highlights one day travel tips hotel recommendation: Moscow City with the distinctive Evolution Tower in the sunset

A perfect day in Moscow 🇷🇺 – here is your overview

Best suited for screenshots 📷📝

Your morning in Moscow

  • Red Square
  • St. Basil’s Cathedral
  • GUM Shopping Mall
  • Lenin Mausoleum
  • Moscow Kremlin
  • Alexander Park
  • Bolshoi Theater

Your afternoon in Moscow

  • Christ the Savior Cathedral
  • Sparrow Mountains
  • Alternative: Gorky Park
  • Arbat

Your evening in Moscow

  • Ostankino Tower
  • Bolshoi Theatre
  • Red Square by night

 

In addition to the BIG5, I have summarized the things to do in Moscow and the circular route for you in an overview map:

Click on the icon at the top left to use the full range of map options!

Things to do in Moscow in the morning

Welcome to Красная площадь – Red Square

Let’s go, a full program awaits in such an extraordinary city as Moscow. You must have guessed it, rather feared it: For a perfect day in Moscow you should get up early! There are so many sights and highlights waiting for you! You will start your tour of the Russian capital on the most famous square in the country and one of the most famous in the world: Red Square. Okay, this is not a surprise. No matter where exactly your accommodation is, all roads lead to Rome, ehhh … to Red Square. Taking the metro is especially convenient, the best stations to get there are: Okhotnyy ryad, Teatralnaya and Ploshchad’ Revolyutsii.

The best way to enter Red Square is coming from Ploshchad’ Revolyutsii, a good orientation is the equestrian monument of Marshal Zhukov.
It makes you feel quite reverent: You walk up the slight incline full of expectation and through the archway of the Resurrection Gate you see St. Basil’s Cathedral for the first time – THE photo motif of Moscow and one of the most striking buildings around Red Square.

And there you are, standing on “Krasnaya Ploshchad” (Красная площадь), Red Square. The name “krasnaya” (meaning “red”), however, in contrast to the common association with the communist Soviet Union, comes from a time when krasnaya was equated with “beautiful, pretty.” A special highlight of a city trip to Moscow is to see the sunrise on Red Square, but it’s up to you to decide how much sleep and rest you want to give up.

 

Red Square and surroundings are full of highlights

Red Square is framed by world-famous sights such as the Moscow Kremlin – still the seat of the Russian government – the Lenin Mausoleum, the State Historical Museum, Kazan Cathedral, the magnificent GUM shopping mall and the beautiful St. Basil’s Cathedral with its colorful onion domes.
Be sure to take a look inside the cathedral. Quite different from what the glamorous exterior might lead you to expect, it is rather dark and cramped inside. The many corridors and winding staircases give the holy place something pleasantly mystical.

 

Take a souvenir photo in front of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow

 

You can take as much time as you like on Red Square, there is soooo much to see and discover: Take a stroll through the many stores and galleries of the 18th century GUM. Here you’ll find a great selection of chic cafes and bars for a first break if you feel like it. If the queue is not too long, you can take a look at Lenin’s body in the Lenin Mausoleum. You don’t see such a mausoleum every day.

And of course: Don’t forget the obligatory photos in front of the St. Basil’s Cathedral and everywhere on the Red Square! If you still have some time, you can take a look at the beautiful Nikolskaya Street, which branches off from Red Square near Kazan Cathedral. Great architecture and gorgeous lighting also make it a destination worth seeing in the evening.

 

 

Now we move on to the next highlight, the splendor of which is already casting its shadow:

Things to do Moscow: Visit the venerable Kremlin

Many refer to the Moscow Kremlin, synonymous with the seat of the Russian government, only briefly as “THE Kremlin”. It is interesting to know that there are many Kremlins all over Russia. A Kremlin is quite a strongly fortified citadel, typical in Moscow with a high wall of red bricks, surrounded by towers. Today, large parts as well as 5 (!) cathedrals of the Kremlin are open to travelers. A special highlight is the treasury and armory with impressive exhibits from the tsarist era.

For the visit of the Kremlin you should plan about two hours.

After so many impressions you deserve a break! For this, the spacious Alexander Garden right outside the gates of the Kremlin comes in handy! Enjoy the atmosphere in the heart of Moscow from one of the many benches.

Things to do Moscow: Admire the Russian architecture

Passing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier you will come back to Tverskaya Street. Here you will find buildings in typical Russian architecture. Passing the large shopping center Okhotnyy ryad and the Duma (the lower house of the Russian government) you come to the magnificent Bolshoi Theater. A visit to the theater is absolutely recommended, you can put it right on the idea list for the evening activities. If you run out of time, be sure to check out the miniature representations of the magnificent theater hall near the entrance.

At the fountain in front of the theater, you’ll find a statue of Karl Marx with the famous cry, “Proletarians of all countries, unite!” You have to keep reminding yourself that the Soviet era was not so long ago….

The magnificent Bolshoi Theater in central Moscow

Things to do in Moscow in the afternoon

In the afternoon you will leave the Red Square area. The first stop is the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral has a very checkered history and was only rebuilt in 1990. Today, its gleaming white facades and golden domes dominate the cityscape of Moscow. The many ornate frescoes inside are also worth seeing.

You can walk across Patriarshiy Bridge to the imposing monument to Peter I – or at least take great pictures of the cathedral. Take your time to look around the area, which is already much less crowded with tourists than Red Square.

The best metro station to get there is Kropotkinskaya.

 

 

Moscow highlight with a wide view: The Sparrow Hills

Next it’s off to the countryside again! My absolute favorite: The Sparrow Hills! From here you have a great view over Moscow with its skyline. You see the Moscow City with the striking skyscrapers, the especially since the World Cup 2018 famous Lushniki Stadium directly in front of you, almost just a stone’s throw away across the Moskva River.

A large campus of the University of Moscow is located here. The Faculty of Geography is housed in one of the “Seven Sisters“. These 7 skyscrapers in the style of Socialist Classicism were built by order of Stalin all over Moscow and are nicknamed by the population “Stalin Cathedrals” or “Stalin Fingers”.

 

 

The Sparrow Mountains are also a great place for sunset.

Metro stations: Lomonosovskiy prospekt or Universitet.

 

Alternatively, you can relax in the spacious Gorky Park. Here you will meet many locals with their families. Boats are also available for rent on the lake, especially in the summer – it would be great to sail “through” Moscow on a pedal boat!
You can get to Gorky Park very easily from the metro station Park kul’tury and over the Crimean Bridge. The metro station alone with its magnificent marble paneling is worth a visit.

Gorky Park is the green oasis of the Russian capital Moscow

 

A great area to end the afternoon relaxing is the Arbat. The spacious pedestrian street is full of cafes, bars and restaurants. But also if you are looking for souvenirs of all kinds, the Arbat is the right address. The area is popular not only with tourists, but also with locals. The best metro station to get there is Arbatskaya station. Alternatively, you can walk over from Ploshchad Revolutsii.

Things to do Moscow in the evening

You can get an incomparable view of Moscow from the Ostankino Tower, the tallest building in the Russian capital. Especially for the sunset the visit is highly recommended. You should book your tickets in advance to make sure you get the time slot you want.

 

 

As mentioned in the morning, you can round off a perfect day in Moscow with a visit to the Bolshoi Theater, a paradise for art lovers. It’s best to find out about the current program before your visit and book tickets in advance.

In Moscow you will find an almost inexhaustible choice of restaurants, bars and clubs. For me personally, the restaurant Varenichnaya №1 was particularly fun. Here everything is decorated in the style of the Soviet era, you feel like you’re traveling back in time.

 

 

Ok, it was really a long day already… but especially recommended is a walk over the Red Square illuminated at night, at least as impressive as during the day!

 

 

Then, true to the motto “Moscow never sleeps“, plunge into the colorful nightlife of the Russian capital.

If you have more time than one day in Moscow

  • Moskvarium is a must-see for those interested in marine biology and oceanography. Worth seeing is the modern architecture in the middle of historic Moscow
  • A must for all art lovers is the Tretyakov Gallery. It is the largest collection of Russian art with over 180,000 paintings, sculptures and religious artworks from all periods of Russia’s history
  • If you feel more like walking, escape the hustle and bustle of Moscow’s center to Gorki Leninskiye 
  • Peterhof Palace is known for its cultural significance, and the sprawling grounds include many palaces and gardens. Be sure not to miss the magnificent Chesma Hall here
  • The big cities like Moscow rarely give the feeling of peace and relaxation. Take the metro or a cab to head out to Krestovsky Stadium. Here you can start your day with a relaxing walk (if you are a morning person). This stadium hosts many big and important games, it can be visited

Now you know how to spend a perfect day in Moscow to fully enjoy the historical and modern architecture of this beautiful city. You see, Moscow has far more sights and highlights to offer, but with smart planning, you can already experience a lot in one day in Moscow. Don’t miss out on this exciting city!

 

Хорошей поездки (Khoroshey poyezdki) – Good trip 🇷🇺

 

 

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