When you walk around Moscow you can get a sense of the immense power this city holds, the deep rooted history that it's seen and how metropolitan it all is.
Arrival in Moscow was always going to that extra bit special for me. It would the beginning of my Trans-Siberian adventure that would take me across the vast lands of Russia and beyond.
I've compiled my suggestions of the must see things to see and do whilst in this city.
I visited during the winter months, and although it's quite literally freezing during winter, it added to the whole "Russian" experience for me and I wouldn't have changed it for the world.
If you do your research right, Moscow can be a cheap city and travelling on the underground metro will be sure to save you a few Roubles. I'd recommend at least 3-4 days here.
1. Red Square
I have to say that visiting this place was the highlight of my Moscow trip. Walking underneath the red brick arches to see the open expanse that is the square is truly wonderful. It's somewhere you could spend an entire day in. Within the square compounds you will find the State History Museum, Lenin's Mausoleum, The Kremlin and at the foot of the Square the iconic St. Basil's Cathedral.
Walking up to St. Basil's Cathedral feels like you are in a living postcard. You can marvel at the onion domes varying colours and shapes. Make your way around the entirety of St. Basil's, it's good to do this for different photo perspectives. What struck me the most was the cost of entrance into the Cathedral. I was a student at the time and if you show your student ID card, entrance into one of the world's biggest icons costs... £1.50. If you're a fully fledged adult, then prepare yourself to part with a whole £5.00.
Inside the cathedral you can really see the intricate designs and if you're lucky enough there may be a singing choir within the heart of the cathedral.
Whilst you are in the proximity of the Square, head round to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and see the eternal burning flame. The area around the Kremlin, is surrounded by the well kept Alexandrovsky Garden's. (A good place for a pit stop bench to people watch)
Make the effort to come back to the Red Square at night, the entire square is lit up and St. Basil's glows in the distance. Trust me, it's worth staying out late for.
Looking up inside the Onion domes of St. Basil's cathedral.
The view overlooking the Red Square
2. Cosmonaut Museum
The museum is filled with information and relics all about the Soviet space race and their accomplishments. Before you head inside, you will see the large scale titanium monument dedicated to the conquerors of space. Even if you aren't into space exploration or aviation, there is fascinating Soviet paraphernalia and propaganda posters which are of interest.
Once you have finished with the history lesson, the museum is surrounded by parkland and is very close to VDNKH subway station.
Entrance into the museum: 25 Russian Rubles. (£3.52) Also note that the museum is closed on Mondays.
The Monument dedicated to the Conquerors of Space, underneath the titanium there is a stone carving showcasing the history of Space Exploration.
One of the many Space rockets on display.
3. Moscow Metro
Whilst you are in the city, you NEED to travel on the most beautiful underground transit system. Over 40 of the metro stations are listed as heritage sites. Some of the stations are very opulent and lavish. If you are looking to get artsy shots of the metro, avoid rush hours and take your time wandering through.
Trains usually arrive every three minutes or so to all over the city.
Don't be intimated, the trains announce each stop and some maps have English names too.
Ticket machines can be translated into English, and a single journey costs 32 Rubles. (45 pence)
One of the grandest stations I stopped at was the Komsomolskaya station. It had chandeliers, what could be more luxurious!
I loved hearing classical music being played by buskers along the subway too, the depth of the metro can be seen when travelling down into the core of the earth on the escalators. Also look out for the detailed art work on the walls too, try and stop at Novolobodskaya station for that.
Note the Communist decals on the side of the wall
Photo credit: @thesnedd
4. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour
Located just next to the Moskva River, and a short walk from the Red Square the cathedral stands strong and bold. The golden domes are impressive can be seen glistening from a distance. Entrance to the Cathedral is free and one tip would be to read up on the history of the church, Christ the Saviour has seen many changes and turbulence throughout history and you really get a sense of the city when you've done your homework.
On another note: behind the Cathedral there is a small gift shop which sells reasonably priced postcards and handmade items.
Golden domes of Christ the Saviour.
6. Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines
You may have noticed a common historical era running through these places, however, it has to be said that this place was another one of my favourites in Moscow. The retro vibes just ooze coolness, and is something to do in an evening. (Open till 9pm)
The arcade games are fully functional and your entrance fee allows you 15 Soviet era coins to use on the games. The museum supply you with a colourful map of all the games and tells you a brief description of the game before you play. Once you've geeked out over the games, there is a small cafe downstairs and a fully working 1980's soda machine.
I am not a gamer, my concentration isn't exactly top notch. However, there is something about this place that I really enjoyed. Choosing which game to use your precious coins on was fascinating to me. I liked seeing the coins date from 1991 (year of my birth)
Entrance into the museum was 450 Rubles (6.50)
For further details check out their website: http://www.15kop.ru/en/
7. Izmailovo Kremlin
I'm not exactly sure how to describe this site, it's a hybrid of a mock up Russian Kremlin and a Russian fairy tale. I came across this place searching online for the cheapest place to buy souvenirs. First and foremost there is a flea market within the complex and yes, it is the cheapest place I've found to buy Russian dolls and other trinkets. Be prepared to haggle!
The "Kremlin" hosts a variety of buildings which are colourful and unique. There is a traditional Russian wooden church, a history of vodka museum, the museum of bread and a few eateries. This place is unusual and when we went in mid winter, it was pretty deserted. However, come to this place for purchasing Russian fur hats, Russian dolls and any Soviet paraphernalia at bargain prices.
So, there you go my top picks from Moscow. I would recommend at least three full days here to explore the city. In terms of cost, it can be done on a budget and I stayed in the Godzilla's hostel which was close to the city centre.