To escape the crowds and clamor of the city, you don't have to go any farther than the Losiny Ostrov (Elk Island), one of Russia's first national parks created in 1983. Stroll through its network of numerous paved and unpaved pathways surrounded by grasslands, coniferous and broad-leaved trees and observe more than 200 animal species including elks roaming in their natural habitat.
Descend to the Archeological Museum, a seven meter-deep underground pavilion below the central Tverskaya Street that showcases an eclectic collection of artifacts harvested from excavations of Voskresensky Bridge. The exposition spans the Stone and Bronze ages as well as more recent items including pottery and coins from the 1700s. Don't miss the 3D virtual reality binoculars to see how that particular place looked back in history.
Kolomenskoe Museum-Reserve, located a 10-minute metro ride from the city center, will teleport you to medieval Moscow. Explore its scenic 390-hectares seeded with churches dating back to the 16th century, and the spectacular wooden palace of Tsar Alexis I that is straight out of a fairytale. Equally impressive is the Novodevichy Convent - the fortress founded in 1524 that contains four cathedrals, a mesmerizing icon collection and a venerable cemetery.
Put on your fanciest outfit and immerse yourself in the cultural scene of Moscow by booking a ticket to an opera or ballet performance at Russia Bolshoi Theatre. This quintessential institution of the Russian musical tradition not only offers traditional world-class productions, but also strives to defy its classical music heritage by constantly offering new experimental stagings.
Off the Beaten Path
Venture down 65 meters beneath Taganka Square for a guided underground tour of Bunker 42 which offers a fascinating deep-dive into Soviet history. Constructed in 1951 under the command of Joseph Stalin, the bunker was supposed to shelter top Kremlin officials during nuclear attack. It currently houses the Cold War Museum offering invaluable insights into the historical developments of that era.
Most Iconic Place
The candy-colored, swirling-patterned domes of St. Basil's Cathedral are an undeniable icon of Moscow. Commissioned by infamous Ivan the Terrible, the cathedral was built in the 16th century to commemorate the victory over The Khanate of Kazan. The complex consists of ten separate churches festooned with centuries-old historic frescoes, oil paintings and Russian icons.
The spacious cobble-stoned Red Square is the heart of the capital and a symbol of Russia's historically rich and captivating past. Perpetually brimming with people, the place is filled with frantic energy and has plenty to offer. Plan to spend a full day scouting its numerous sights including the extensive grounds of Kremlin, astounding St. Basil's Cathedral, eerie Lenin's Mausoleum and luxurious national department store GUM built in 1893.
Nothing unites Russians like a collective visit to one of the banyas (bath houses). Indulge in this invigorating quintessential Russian experience by visiting the iconic Sandunovskiye Baths, which will impress with its 19th century ornate halls, or the Rzhevskie baths for a down-to-earth therapeutic sequence starting with steaming, then plunging into cold pools, followed by a whipping with birch twigs, finishing with a massage and tea afterwards.
Neighborhood to Explore
To see the hip side of Moscow head to Winzavod, a complex of former wine-bottling companies which were converted into a cluster of cool exhibit and studio spaces used by local artists. It is a great place to peruse contemporary art galleries and creative showrooms, or kick back in one of the trendy cafes and book stores.
Museums Not To Be Missed
Take a walk through Russia's art history at Tretyakov Gallery which displays a collection of 1,300 works spanning early religious relics to modern avant-garde masterpieces. The Garage Centre of Contemporary Art designed by eco-friendly architect Shigeru Ban, or the Multimedia Art Museum, which is devoted entirely to photography, are perfect places to tap into the city's modern art scene. A hangout spot for locals and tourists alike, the massive VDNKh (All-Russian Exhibition Centre) is a fun open-air museum park of Soviet-era architecture paired with an entertainment complex.