10 Moscow Must Dos on a Budget

Heading to Moscow soon and want to know what kind of stuff you can do on a budget? See my list of 10 Moscow “must dos” below. Most of these are free and all of them are great fun!

1. Red Square

Red Square may be an obvious choice, but that’s exactly why it’s at the top of this list. To visit Moscow and not see Red Square would be like visiting Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower! Red Square is an exciting as it is grand – full of amazing (and some weird) sights, like The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed (St Basil’s Cathedral), the Kremlin, Gum Department Store and Lenin’s Mausoleum, where Lenin’s embalmed body is on display to the public. Basically Red Square is the most iconic photo spot in all of Russia and, for this reason, you will probably come here multiple times. Bonus points for if you also spot all of the ‘celebrity’ impersonators… Putin, Lenin, Stalin, Catherine the Great. Oh and of course look out for some pretty awesome Putin souvenirs, like the t-shirts pictured below.

Fun fact (sourced from Wikipedia of course): Most of Moscow’s major streets, which in turn connect to Russia’s major highways, originate from Red Square.

Price: Free

The State Historical Museum in Red Square at dusk

The State Historical Museum in Red Square at dusk

The fancy schmancy GUM Shopping Mall at night

The fancy schmancy GUM Shopping Mall at night

Some amazing Putin-themed t-shirts, purchasable from a store at GUM. My personal favourite is the Christmas tee, which sadly didn't come in my size.

Some amazing Putin-themed t-shirts, purchasable from a store at GUM. My personal favourite is the Christmas tee, which sadly didn’t come in my size.

2. Explore the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed (St Basil’s Cathedral)

Perhaps the most famous image associated with Russia is that of the crazy, colourful, onion-shaped Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, which looks like it comes straight from a fairy tale. Of all the countries I’ve been to this is easily the coolest cathedral I have seen, though this could be because it’s Russian Orthodox architecture makes it look like it’s made of candy. On the inside, instead of having a single grand chamber this cathedral is comprised of many diverse rooms that come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes. Exploring each and every one of them is half the fun!

Price: 250 rubles (Approx. USD$3.20)

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The stunning Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed looks like something out of a fairytale

Inside St Basil's Cathedral

Inside the cathedral

Walking the halls of the cathedral. Every room and hallway is different!

Walking the halls of the cathedral. Every room and hallway is different!

One of the cathedral's many impressive ceilings

One of the cathedral’s many impressive ceilings

3. Say “hi” to President Putin (or not) at the Kremlin

Sadly, I did not get to visit the Kremlin during my time in Moscow because, stupidly, we left this until our last day there, when it turned out to be closed (Thursdays btw). Had we made it, we would have gotten to explore the grounds of the citadel where President Putin has his not so secret lair. The Kremlin, which means “Fortress inside a city”, is home to five palaces, four cathedrals, the Kremlin Wall, and a bunch of towers. Although visitors cannot explore the whole complex, it is possible to see the Ivan the Great Bell Tower (250 rubles), the architectural complex of Cathedral Square and the exhibition on at the time (500 rubles), and the Armoury Chamber (700 rubles), which is where all the cool Russian treasures are kept.

Price: 250 – 700 rubles (Approx. USD$3.20 – $8.90)

Armed guards outside the Kremlin

Armed guards outside the Kremlin

4. Spend an afternoon riding through Moscow’s amazing metro stations

Although catching public transport in Moscow may not seem like your idea of fun, I 100 per cent guarantee you will change your mind after seeing some of the stations. Not only is the metro a cheap, efficient way of exploring the city, but the stations are also truly a sight to behold. Most of the stations were built during the Soviet-era and also doubled as nuclear fallout shelters, which explains why they are so far below ground that it takes about 5 minutes to get the escalator in and out of each station. Each station also has its own character and some of them, like Komsomolskaya, are downright stunning. For more information keep an eye out for my next blog post, which will have more details on which stations to visit.

Price: 50 rubles (Approx. USD$0.63) for a single metro ticket, which can be used to explore every station if you don’t leave the subway system

The grand Komsomolskaya Metro Station looks more like a ballroom than a subway station!

The grand Komsomolskaya Metro Station looks more like a ballroom than a subway station!

Every metro station in Moscow is different. I like this one, Taganskaya, for it's quirkiness.

Every metro station in Moscow is different. I like this one, Taganskaya, for it’s quirkiness.

5. Release your inner child at the Central Children’s Store

The Central Children’s Store in Moscow is basically what dreams are made of. It is a department store devoted entirely to childhood, with epic toy stores, LEGO sculptures, delicious food, and even a Soviet Toy Museum. It is an incredibly fun place where kids (and big kids) can spend the day goofing around without a care in the world.

It was originally built in 1957 and was known as Detsky Mir (Children’s World), the largest toy store in the Soviet Union. At the time, kids from all over Russia (and presumably their parents) would come to Moscow to shop here, because this is where the most advanced toys created in the USSR could be found. In 2008, Detsky Mir closed for renovations, but in March 2015 it reopened under the name ‘Central Children’s Store on Lubyanka’. Even if you’re not into toys then the building itself is still worth a visit for both its interesting history and the great view of Moscow city you can get from the rooftop.

Price: Free

The Children's Department store from the inside is grand, just like everything else in Moscow

The Children’s Department store from the inside is grand, just like everything else in Moscow

Moscow made from LEGO! So cool! Pictured is the Kremlin and the famous Bolshoi Theatre.

Moscow made from LEGO! So cool! Pictured is the Kremlin, Our Church of Christ the Saviour, and the famous Bolshoi Theatre.

I so wanted to ride one of these myself...

I so wanted to ride one of these myself…

The view of Moscow from the rooftop of the Children's Store

The view of Moscow from the rooftop of the Children’s Store

6. Space out at the Museum of Cosmonautics

Of all the museums I have been to in all of the countries I have visited so far, the Museum of Cosmonautics is definitely one of my favourites. This place is seriously cool! Here you can learn all about the Soviet and Russian space programs, see retro space paraphernalia like the first Sputnik satellite, the first spacesuit ever used in space, and get your picture taken with the taxidermied Soviet space dogs Belka and Strelka. The building itself is also an impressive 100 metre monument designed to look like a spaceship taking off.

Price: 250 rubles (Approx. USD$3.20)

The ginormous 100 metre tall space monument at the Museum of Cosmonautics, topped off with a wee little rocket ship. Love this monument!

The ginormous 100 metre tall space monument at the Museum of Cosmonautics, topped off with a wee little rocket ship. Love this monument!

The door to the little space-girls room

The door to the little spacegirls’ room

Me with the original spacesuit. Very retro!

Me with the original spacesuit. Very retro!

The two space dogs Belka and Strelka. These were two of the first dogs to ever go into space!

The famous space dogs Belka and Strelka. These were two of the first dogs to ever go into space!

Toms sitting on top of the world! Literally... See what I did there?

Tom is sitting on top of the world! Literally… See what I did there?

7. Take thee to church at Our Church of Christ the Saviour

Our Church of Christ the Saviour is another cathedral that has earned its place on this list. This cathedral is quite different in style to Saint Vasily’s – it’s very large and grand and its interiors are spectacular. Unfortunately you cannot take photos inside, but stand on the bridge behind it for an iconic photo of the exterior.

Price: Free

The front view of Our Church of Christ the Saviour. Also get a photo of the cathedral from the back for a cool perspective from the bridge.

The front view of Our Church of Christ the Saviour. Also get a photo of the cathedral from the back for a cool perspective from the bridge.

Some of the intricate detailing on the exterior of the cathedral

Some of the intricate detailing on the exterior of the cathedral

8. Go to the park

Moscow has some really impressive parks. The most famous of these is Gorky Park, which especially comes to life with events etc. in summer. My personal favourite, however, is the Art Park, which is right next door to Gorky. Interesting sculptures are scattered throughout this park, making it easy to spend hours here just having a look around. On the river next to the park is also a very cool ship that has been transformed into a small market selling all sorts of hipster wares. It also has a cute wee coffee shop.

Price: Free

The lake in the middle of Gorky Park

The lake in the middle of Gorky Park

Playing not-so-celebrity squares all by lonesome. Guess what? I won!

Playing not-so-celebrity squares all by lonesome at Gorky Park. Guess what? I won!

My new Muscovite squirrel friend!

My new Muscovite squirrel friend!

Quirky art at the Art Park

Quirky art at the Art Park

The art boat market next to the art park

The art boat market next to the art park

Funky cafe inside the art boat market

Funky cafe inside the art boat market

9. Wander the grounds of Moscow State University

The sight of Moscow State University is really something to behold. This massive building sits on a hill above the city and really demands presence. Walk around the building and its grounds, which are not only beautifully landscaped, but also feature some cool sculptures of famous scientists. At a viewing point located nearby the first entrance of the University you can also get a great view over the city.

Price: Free

The massive Moscow State University

The massive Moscow State University

Walking the grounds of Moscow State University in autumn

Walking the grounds of Moscow State University in autumn

The weather wasnt great when I visited Moscow State University, but I have been assured that the view over the city from near the campus is beautiful!

The weather wasn’t great when I visited Moscow State University, but I have been assured that the view over the city from near the campus is beautiful!

10. Walk the streets

Although Moscow is a great place to go for a stroll anyway, there are a couple of pedestrianised streets that are particularly fun to walk down. Old Arbat Street is one of these and, chances are, your hotel or hostel will be located near here anyway. This street is thriving with cool shops and points of interest – Pushkin lived at number 53 and Tolstoy lived on the adjoining Kaloshin Lane. It also has plenty of souvenir stores for those in need of another matryoshka doll or postcard to send home. This street also has a fascinating story… When Stalin was in power he decided that the street was too narrow, so he ordered all the buildings to be moved back 1 metre! Holy cow!

Another interesting street is Nikolskaya, which leads straight to Red Square and also has some great buildings. The Kitay-Gorod area is also fun to explore.

Price: Free

Old Arbat Street is full of character and history

Old Arbat Street is full of character and history

Have you been to Moscow before or are you thinking about heading there soon? Tell me about it in the comments below. 🙂

Also, if you like this article and want to see more like this then follow me @intrepidista on: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 🙂

 

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24 Comments

  • Reply
    Lucia
    January 25, 2016 at 8:02 am

    Nice walk-through on the streets of Moscow! 🙂

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      January 27, 2016 at 12:19 pm

      Thanks Lucia! There’s so much to do there I’m sure this list could have been 10 times longer.

  • Reply
    Sophie
    January 25, 2016 at 2:50 pm

    Number six! Definitely on my list of places to see. Thanks for posting this and welcome to #FTB!

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      January 27, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      Thanks Sophie! I love meeting other female travellers interested in some of the same nerdy stuff as me. I think you’ll appreciate that it’s also on my travel bucket list to travel to the moon! It WILL happen. 🚀🌝

  • Reply
    Lauren
    January 27, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    Great post! Love finding free things to do. And these look amazing! 🙂

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      January 28, 2016 at 12:45 am

      Thanks Lauren! If there’s one thing I’m good at doing its sniffing out the free stuff. 😝

  • Reply
    Jenni
    January 28, 2016 at 12:56 am

    I’m currently working out a Russian itinerary so thanks for the tips

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      January 28, 2016 at 9:06 am

      Thanks Jenni! Will you be doing the Trans-Siberian? because if you are I also have a post on that. Within the next week I also hope to get a couple more posts up about Russia so keep a look out. 😊

  • Reply
    Jessica Beare
    January 28, 2016 at 1:38 am

    Duddde, this looks amazing! Russia is high on my list of places to visit, I can’t wait to get back to Europe after I finish flitting around Asia. This is such an awesome post, you really got my excited for going, I cannot BELIEVE the architecture of the subway stations! I love seeing architecture that really reflects a culture and I think Russia is a prime example.

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      January 28, 2016 at 9:09 am

      Thanks Jessica! It really is an amazing place. A lot will only ever visit St Petersburg, which I think is a real shame because Moscow has so much culture and style.

  • Reply
    Mel | illumelation
    January 28, 2016 at 3:04 am

    I have to say, I know literally next to nothing about Russia and Moscow. But now I feel like I gotta visit! How awesome is the Museum of Cosmonautics exterior?! (Loving the “little spacegirl’s room” logo, too.) Thanks for shedding light on Moscow must-dos, and especially for sharing free ones! 🙂

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      January 28, 2016 at 9:17 am

      Thanks Mel! The museum was definitely one of my highlights. The stuff they have there is anazing and the building is so cool. Apparently there is also a ‘robot park’ near there as well but I couldn’t find it. Maybe you’ll have more luck one day. 😊

  • Reply
    Melissa L
    January 28, 2016 at 3:20 am

    Looks awesome! At some point, I’d love to go Russia. That cathedral definitely looks like candy

  • Reply
    Sierra
    January 28, 2016 at 6:46 am

    Thanks for listing the prices of things so clearly – very helpful. Also, your pictures are great!

  • Reply
    Karyn Jane
    January 28, 2016 at 9:29 am

    This was a really interesting post! Russia is on my list but to be honest it’s so far away from where I am now and there are so many other places I want to go first that I hadn’t ever even begun to think about what there could be to do in Moscow. I had no idea a lot of these places existed. I think Russia just got bumped up a few places on my list…! 😀

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      January 28, 2016 at 9:51 am

      Karyn I’m so glad to hear! I think it’s one of those travel destinations we don’t really hear about that often, but it has so much to offer.

  • Reply
    Stephanie
    January 28, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    I never knew Moscow was so cheap! It looks absolutely beautiful and fascinating. I really want a Putin tshirt 🙂

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      January 28, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      It’s especially cheap at the moment after the ruble crashed. I know, I was so crushed not to be able to get the Putin Christmas t-shirt!

  • Reply
    Olga Maria Czarkowski - Dreams in Heels
    January 28, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    Great Tips! I really want to go to Moscow. I will bookmark this article. I really like your blog’s look. 🙂

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      January 28, 2016 at 11:13 pm

      Thanks Olga! If you do decide to go then let me know if you have any questions at all. I would love to help you out! 🙂

  • Reply
    Svenja
    January 31, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Whoah, great photos! Have to confess that Russia hasn’t really been on my list so far. Looks like it’s absolutely worth a trip though!

    • Reply
      The Intrepidista
      February 19, 2016 at 7:34 am

      It’s one of my favourite places so far! I like anywhere a bit different and Russia was just such a nice surprise.

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