Lindsey Puls is the owner of the travel blog, Have Clothes, Will Travel. She is from a small-town in Wisconsin, USA and has had the pleasure of living in Russia, Japan, Argentina and Australia. Through Have Clothes, Will Travel she shares travel and packing tips from her adventures, with a local’s perspective. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
From the colorful onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral to the golden ceilings of its Metro – Moscow’s beauty is undeniable. Moscow is also a city rich in history and filled with art, ballet, delicious food and drinks.
If you have 3 days to spend in Moscow – you can easily experience its highlights. This article will explain some of the best things to do in Moscow for your first visit here.
9 a.m. – Visit the Kremlin
The Kremlin is a fortified complex in the heart of Moscow. Inside there are 5 palaces, 4 cathedrals, and an enclosing wall. The Grand Kremlin Palace is also located inside, which is the official residence of Russia’s president.
The real gem, though, is the Kremlin Armory. The name suggests it would be filled with weapons and such. While that does make up some of the displays, the rest consists of incredible jewels and ornate gifts.
Purchasing your tickets in advance is recommended, as is paying for skip-the-line tickets. The lines for tickets to the Kremlin can get very long, and you don’t want to waste precious time waiting in line!
1 p.m. – Lunch and explore Red Square
Grab a quick lunch at Varenichnaya №1, near Red Square. This is a popular restaurant chain in Russia that serves a variety of tasty Russian food for very reasonable prices.
Red Square is the most famous city square in Moscow. Here you’ll find St. Basil’s Cathedral, the GUM Mall and many museums; plus, Lenin’s Mausoleum. Taking a guided walking tour is a great way to see Red Square.
5 p.m. – Dinner at Beluga
Beluga is a fine dining restaurant located directly across from the Kremlin and Red Square. It’s worth splurging on a caviar-tasting while here.
*Note – there is a “Beluga Caviar Bar” located in the GUM mall. Be careful not to get the two restaurants confused!
7 p.m. – See a Show at the Bolshoi
One of the most memorable things to do in Moscow is attend a ballet performance at the Bolshoi Theatre on the historic stage. Be sure to book your tickets in advance, as they do sell out quickly.
If you are unable to see a show at the Bolshoi, taking a backstage tour of it is another great option to experience the magic of the ballet.
9 a.m. – Tour the metro
Moscow’s metro is so beautiful it absolutely deserves its own tour. There are over 200 subway stations in Moscow, so it is certainly worth taking a guided tour when you go.
12 p.m. – Visit Izmailovsky Market – Grab lunch and shop
Izmailovksy Market is the best spot in the city to buy Russian souvenirs. Even if you’re not interested in purchasing souvenirs, it’s still worth a few hours of your time to simply wander through. There is even a Museum of Vodka inside.
You can come hungry to Izmailovsky Market as there are food stands selling kebabs, hot dogs and various goodies. You can also buy drinks and even alcohol here.
To maximize your time here and learn the history of the market and its kremlin, you may want to book this tour.
4 p.m. – Experience a Banya
A Russian banya is like a sauna. The biggest difference, though, is that a “banya” has high levels of humidity in it, while a sauna will have dry air. They are a unique cultural experience to have while in Moscow.
Sanduny Banya is the oldest and most luxurious banya in Moscow. It’s conveniently located in central Moscow. You can also book a tour of Sanduny Banya, so you can have an especially relaxing afternoon here.
7 p.m. – Dinner at Sanduny or LavkaLavka
10 a.m. – Tour the Tretyakov Gallery
The Tretyakov Gallery has one of the largest collections of icons and Russian art from the 12th to the 20th centuries. Having a tour guide is highly recommended, so you do not miss any of the highlights.
12 p.m. – Lunch at Strelka Bar
Strelka Bar is a great place to stop for a casual dining experience. It has outstanding views of the Christ the Saviour Cathedral.
2 p.m. – Tour the Pushkin Museum
This is the largest museum of European art in Moscow. It is also home to a unique Impressionist and Post-Impressionist gallery. To make the most of your time, book a private tour of Pushkin Museum.
5 p.m. – Visit Bunker-42
Bunker-42 was once a top-secret, Soviet military complex. It is 65 meters underground and is meant to withstand a nuclear attack.
It became operational in 1954. Fortunately, it was never needed for its true purpose and was instead used as the command center of strategic bombers for nearly 30 years in Moscow. Now, it is a museum dedicated to the Cold War. You can tour Bunker-42 (a guide is required) or you can try the Bunker-42 restaurant.
8 p.m. – Dinner at Café Pushkin
If you opt to not dine at Bunker-42’s restaurant, try Café Pushkin on your last night in Moscow. Café Pushkin is a famous Russian-French restaurant in Moscow, that is named after Russian poet Aleksandr Pushkin. Don’t let the “café” in its name fool you, though. This is a 5-star restaurant.
Alternative Day 3
Star City is where the cosmonauts train. Here you can see their training facilities, the simulators and the world’s largest centrifuge. Until the 90s, this was a top-secret location, but now, you can tour it with a guide.
You do have to apply to visit, though, at least 45 business days in advance. This is also an all-day tour.