If you’re looking for a short break filled with culture and history, Moscow is the city that keeps on giving. Whether you’re looking back on the Napoleonic Wars & the Russian Revolution, or looking forward to the Bolshoi Ballet, the one thing Moscow can guarantee is that you’ll never run out of things to do. If you find yourself on a short trip to Russia’s capital city, here are a few tips to make the most of it.
Located on Red Square, Moscow’s famous Bosco Café describes itself as “a traditional Italian confectionery & pasticceria”. The café is noted for its opulence and exquisite interior design, with all the china & cutlery in the establishment having been custom made to match the frescoes on the ceilings. The café is just a stone’s throw away from many of the most famous sights in Moscow, including the Kremlin, Red Square, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Lenin’s Mausoleum, and the GUM market, making it the perfect spot to take a break as you explore the city. Despite the café’s extravagant persona, the menu has a wide range of options for every price range, meaning you can pop in for a quick bite to eat in the afternoon, or try to snag yourself one of Moscow’s most in-demand dinner reservations.
Widely regarded as one of the top ballets in the world, the Bolshoi Ballet is an incredible way to spend an evening. Founded in 1776, it is one of the oldest ballets in the world, and has given us some of the most famous performances in the world, including Don Quixote & Swan Lake. But if you think spending an evening watching ballet isn’t your thing, don’t worry. The Bolshoi Theatre has distinguished itself from its main rival, Saint Petersburg’s Mariinsky Ballet, by choreographing scenes that are more colorful, daring, athletic, dramatic, and intense than you would find in a more classical ballet like the Mariinsky, so the dance alone will be enough to hold your attention. In fact, attending the ballet was one of Stalin’s favorite pastimes. The theatre has two performances a day with tickets available from just a few dollars, to a few thousand dollars.
If you take the Metro, which itself is considered one of Moscow’s best features, you can visit Gorky Park, “the park of culture and leisure”. There will always be something going on in Gorky Park. In winter, you can slide down the snowy hills on inflatables, cross-country ski, or skate in a rink that trails along like a river rather than leading you around in endless circles. In summer, you will find fairgrounds, fishing, kayaking, concerts, theatre, and just about everything else you would expect in Moscow’s favorite outdoor area.
Gorky Park sits on the banks of the Moskva River, where you can also see Peter the Great. Although it is the 8th tallest statue in the world, the statue is riddled with controversy. The locals hate it, it has been repeatedly voted the ugliest statue in the world, the government wants to ship it off to Saint Petersburg and make it their problem, and there are rumors that it was originally a statue of Christopher Columbus that was reworked after being rejected by the Americans, a theory that almost everyone believes once they see it.
Despite the name, Café Pushkin is one of Moscow’s most famous restaurants, renowned for its perfect combination of Russian & French cuisine. In addition to the food, one of the restaurants biggest attractions is its design. The building in which it is located was originally built as an Italian-style mansion for a Russian nobleman in the 1780s, before being converted into a pharmacy. When the building was repurposed in the 1990s, this history was incorporated into the new design, giving each of the restaurant’s three floors a unique look. The Pharmacy is decorated with an array of old equipment and stunning woodwork; the Library has floor-to-ceiling bookshelves teeming with classic literature; and the Fireplace Hall offers a private dining experience reminiscent of the palace of Versailles. Café Pushkin is a little more on the expensive side, but since it is open 24 hours a day, you should be able to find the time to pop in for something small and experience its beauty for yourself.
Moscow is a city with a lot more to offer than what we have discussed here, but if you are planning a trip, these are your top priorities. You wouldn’t visit New York without seeing the Statue of Liberty, or skip the Eiffel Tower on your trip to Paris. If you really want to experience Moscow, these are the places to start. If you’ve been to Moscow and can think of some amazing, lesser-known attractions, be sure to let us know in the comments!