From its inception, Moscow was never intended to be a modest city with a cozy atmosphere. Instead, expect to arrive to an ever-expanding sprawling beast whose pulse continuously feeds off of new surges of activity and creativity. The metropolis is filled with a non-stop buzz and vibrancy while allowing just enough space for serene spaces to catch your breath after an action-packed day in the Russian capital.
When to Go
Visit December or January to soak up the festive atmosphere of the New Year's and Orthodox Christmas celebrations and experience the magic of wintery Russia. If you find braving the frigid temperatures a bit too daunting, book a ticket for late spring and early autumn to see the country cloaked in the hues of verdant green or luminous russet.
Attend the Victory Day in May, the most impressive military event celebrating the end of World War II. A theatrical parade and aerial demonstrations of military equipment and aircrafts culminate with spectacular fireworks atop Moscow's Red Square. Gourmands will appreciate food festival Taste of Moscow held in July when the city's top restaurants hold masterclasses and tasting sessions, while visiting musicophiles should not miss Afisha Picnic in August, one of the oldest and best-known music festivals in Russia.
What to Eat
The question is not what to eat in Moscow, but how much to eat. Sample staples like borsch (red beetroot soup), pelmeni (dumplings), and golubtsy (the local take on pigs in a blanket), or take a deeper dive into traditional Russian cuisine with dishes like moose lips. The 19th century Eliseevsky food emporium offers mind-blowing slew of delicacies, on top of its splendid interior, while Georgian restaurants are an absolute must to savor such stars of the legendary Caucasian menu as the cheese-filled pie khachapuri and meat dumplings khinkali.
Souvenir to Take Home
Perhaps the most iconic souvenir to take home is matryoshka, or Russian nesting dolls that come in a variety of elaborate designs and motifs. For something more meaningful, pick a hand-painted Palekh and Fedoskino lacquer box or a hand-knitted Orenburg shawl that is as thin as a cobweb, yet incredibly warm. The best spot to buy these and many other items is the city's largest flea market Vernisaj in Izmailovo, a cultural complex modeled after Old Russia.
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Sustainable Travel Tip
Escape Moscow's infamous traffic jams by taking advantage of its sophisticated metro system. Besides being an environmentally (and pocket) friendly transit option, metros in Moscow feature extravagant interiors adorned with sculptures, mosaics, and chandeliers fit for palaces. You can even take a guided tour to learn about the unique themes and stories behind each station.
Visit Sparrow Hills, one of the highest points in Moscow, just before sunset to enjoy a panoramic view of the city's remarkable and diverse architectural marvels—keep an eye out for the Seven Sisters, seven Stalinist-era skyscrapers—engulfed in a golden glow. The bird's eye view of the city will make you truly appreciate the grandness of Russia's capital and leave a lasting impression.