Because of my carefully-planned itinerary, and with the help of my Russian friend, Anastasia, I was able to experience quite a bit of Moscow when I travelled there for work. When you have a friend who happens to be, not just a local, but also a professional translator and tourist guide in a new city, there really is no limit to what you can see, eat and do.
Check out the first two posts in my Moscow Travel Series here and here. – Link to previous posts
Moscow – Day Three
I opted to take a Hop-On-Hop-Off 1 Day Tour after an early morning learning session on day three. This is a nice way to get a general view of the city you are visiting. What I like to do is book a tour like this within the first few days of my trip, then re-visit the places I particularly liked in following days for a more in-depth experience.
On this packaged tour, we first went around the Red Square, which is the central square of Moscow located next to the Kremlin. It is surrounded by magnificent buildings, giving tourists a fantastic view of some amazing Russian architecture. Each magnificent building has its own story to tell.
We then got to see the Kremlin, a truly historical place that serves as the Russian President’s residence and a museum. Here, you get to learn more about the state of Russia, and the history of this largest country in the world.
Here’s a bit of trivia for you – The Kremlin is the largest fortress in Europe that is open to tourists. That alone should be enough reason for you to come and see it. The entrance fee is only $10, and you need to pay a little extra to gain access to the two museums within the complex. Just a tip, purchase your tickets online before you visit to avoid long, stressful queues and wasted time. Also, this destination is best visited in the morning, and is closed on Thursdays.
Before heading home, be sure to shop for souvenirs. For this, check out Arbat Street or the shops around the Red Square. Another nice place for shopping is the Russian souvenir shop found at 37/43 Bolshaya Pirogovskaya Street.
There aren’t any markets or bargain stalls in the city, but you can also check out these top malls for alternative shopping options:
- Okhotny Ryad Shopping Center
- Afimall City
For a truly hassle-free visit to Russia, I highly recommend that you get in touch with my friend, tourist guide Anastasia Romanyuk. She would be glad to show you around Moscow, whether on foot, by public transport or by car. To learn more about her, visit http://www.artranslation.net.
Beyond Moscow, if you have the extra time, consider going on day-trips to neighboring small towns like Vladimir, Sergiev Posad, Tver (my friend Anastasia’s hometown), Pereslavl-Zalesskiy, Kostroma, Suzdal, Yaroslavl, and others. Travel time is about 1-3 hours one way via commuter train, so it’s not difficult to make a quick escape from the big city for one of these destinations. These are old heritage towns, some with architectural monuments dating back to the 12th century. They are serene, beautiful, and full of interesting places to see. If you are interested, you can check out the free walking tours happening daily in some of these locations. You will find more information at http://moscowfreetour.com.
Travel can prove to be a great stress-reliever if planned properly, and Russia is definitely a great bucket-list option for solo travelers, couples and families. If you’ve fallen in love with Russia through my story, and are ready to experience the amazing city of Moscow yourself, there are a few more travel tips I would like to share with you.
- English is not widely spoken in Moscow, but young people you encounter can typically help you with directions when you ask. I recommend having a translator or an English-speaking guide with you to bridge this language gap.
- Moscow is a relatively safe place to travel to, so feel free to enjoy walks through the city while you are there.
- The local currency is the Ruble. Exchange rates constantly change because of fluctuations in oil prices and political instability.
- Credit cards are accepted in most places, but I would recommend that you have some cash on hand just in case. 2000 – 5000 Rubles should be sufficient. You can easily find ATMs in shopping mall-based banks.
- The vehicles in Russia are left-hand drive, just like in the Philippines.
- The best time to visit is from April to October, when the weather is cool but not extremely uncomfortable. November to March is very cold, with temperatures ranging from 0 to -25 degrees C.
- Smoking is not allowed in public places, and alcohol can be bought in supermarkets only until 23:00.
Up next on my travel bucket list is St. Petersburg. Here’s hoping that I get to cross that one off my list of destinations real soon.