Moscow Vacation Ideas

Moscow Vacation Ideas #1: Red Square

If you’re going to visit Moscow as a tourist or on a business trip with extra time for sight-seeing then your first stop should be Red Square. First off you will find it much bigger than you had thought. The views on television or movies just doesn’t capture it’s true size. Just image seeing six football games being played side by side and they would all fit into Red Square. On each of its sides is a famous landmark.

The Kremlin on one side is the seat of the Russian government. On a second side is St. Basil’s Cathedral which is a brilliant combination of Eastern and Western architecture. The third side is completely taken up by the Gum Department Store.

The inside is elegantly decorated including a fountain and a glass ceiling and it offers the latest designer clothes and a large variety of the latest merchandise. On the fourth side is the State Historical Museum. With its beautiful conical towers, its red brick walls and its ornate cornices, the museum completes the scene like the last piece of a jig-saw puzzle. The Red Square is Russia.

Moscow Vacation Ideas #2: Historical Old Arbat Street

As you would expect from the name, Old Arbat Street is old.

In fact it gets its charm from its age. Old Arbat Street was first mentioned in the history books in 1493 and its fame has only grown stronger with time.

Its origins come from the times when Eastern traders came by caravan which resulted in an integration of cultures that hasn't been lost over these many years.

This street is like Main Street USA. It’s where the intelligentsia and the artists congregate and stroll past the mansions on a sunny spring day.

The famous poet Alexander Pushkin lived on Old Arbat Street with his house becoming the first site of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts as covered earlier on this page.

Tolstoy lived on an adjacent lane and it is said that he used Pushkin’s daughter, Marie, as the model for Anna Karenina.

In recent years, traffic changes have resulted in Old Arbat Street becoming vehicle free, which opened the door to a decidedly bohemian ambiance with street artists, soap-box poets and sidewalk cafes. This honored street has now become a bona fide tourist attraction.

Moscow Vacation Ideas #3: The Cosmonaut Museum

The Cosmonaut Museum was built to honor the many achievements of the Russian space program. The museum is part of a display which includes the extraordinary "Conquerors of Space" monument. This monument is a massive silver rocket soaring into outer space on a simulated shimmering cloudy stream.

Once inside you will find a captivating collection of equipment and paraphernalia from the Russian space program. There are model satellites, engines, moon-walkers and the historical space suit that was worn by Cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin. The representations of all the elements of space travel are outstanding and they create a strong feeling of being there. The lighting of the display is particularly impressive.

The present day museum (August 2010) is a major restoration of the original museum so you may want to make a repeat visit to check out the improvements. 

This new Cosmonaut Museum is larger by several thousand square feet and the exhibits are quite a bit more interactive. New items include flight simulators and a life-size replica of the Mir space station.  

Moscow Vacation Ideas #4: Underground Tours

Explore Moscow and its Underground with a tour from Capital Tours. Located just a quick one-minute walk from Red Square, on Ilyinka Street, Capital Tours offers three tours: Kremlin Tour, City Bus Tour, and the Taganka Secret Bunker Tour.

This is an excellent way to take in this magnificent city. The Kremlin Tour covers the Kremlin Grounds, the cathedrals and the Patriarch’s Palace. It takes about 3 hours and runs 6 days a week because the Kremlin is closed on Thursday.

The City Bus Tour starts at the Bolshoy Theater and has 13 stops around the city. Your pass is good for 24 hours and you can get on and off as much as you like. This is a great way to get around the city and take in the sights. The Taganka Secret Bunker Tour is a 2.5 hour walking tour that includes a visit to the Moscow Metro and the Cold War top secret bunker 18 floors beneath the city streets.  

Moscow Vacation Ideas #5: Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts is world famous for its anthology of impressionist paintings. The work of the French impressionists is particularly popular with visitors. The museum also holds the works of several of the old masters such as Botticelli, Rubens and Rembrandt.

There are some brilliant showings of Hellenistic and Egyptian art and the museums primary collection includes the work of Matisse, Cézanne, Monet and Picasso. The Egyptian mummies are really well visited along with the plaster copies of mummies from around the world.

While the Pushkin Museum has a substantial collection of non-Russian art work, you will find a strong emphasis on Russian art at the Tretykov State Gallery. Please note that the Pushkin Museum is not confined to one building. Be sure to check what art is at what building, as it is spread out over six different locations.

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