One of the world's greatest cities, Moscow is the capital of Russia and has played an important role in Russian history and continues to pave the way as Muscovites move into the 21st century. Moscow also recalls Russia's past, with the Kremlin and St Basil's cathedral based here. It's a city best explored, and easy to explore on foot, with lavish palaces and world class museums to enjoy.

Getting there

Sheremetyevo, north of the city centre, is the closest airport to downtown Moscow but the major thouroughfare leading to it, Leningradskoye Shosse, is one of the busiest in the city and is normally a giant traffic jam most of the day.

The surest way to get to Sheremetyevo in time is to take a non-stop Aeroexpress train from Savyolovsky Station (see below). These depart from a dedicated terminal (facing the railway station, turn left and round the corner) on the hour from 7AM - to 11AM and from 2PM - 10PM, with an extra service at 1PM on weekends, and now connect directly to SVO2, with a shuttle bus service to SVO1/C. The journey takes 35 minutes and costs 250 rubles one-way. The service has been extended to Belorussky Station as well.

It is also possible to reach Sheremetyevo from Metro (subway) stations Rechnoi Vokzal or Planernaya, the northwest termini for the green and purple line respectively. This route, though recommended by major English-language guidebooks, however only makes sense if you start your journey somewhere in the north of Moscow or have to be at the airport when the train is not running (see schedules above). There are slower buses (#851 from Rechnoy Vokzal, #817 from Planernaya) and faster shared, fixed-price route taxis (called Marshrutka; a noxious-yellow passenger van seating about a dozen people) from both stations. Buses depart very regularly (about 15-30 minutes). Without traffic jams (a very rare occasion) the trip takes about 30-40 minutes and costs 20-50 RUB, depending on which one you take and the amount of your luggage. If you have plenty of bulky luggage, you should not take Marshrutka; there's precious little space inside even for the passengers' legs. Be careful because either of the bus/Marshrutka routes goes to both terminals, the only difference being which one it visits first; if you take the wrong one, you'll still get where you are going, but your ride will spend an extra 20 minutes navigating the dilapidated pavement around the airport grounds. During the rush hour the Planernaya route can be slightly less prone to traffic jams, as it partially avoids the busy roads.

For leaving a car near the airport for the length of your trip outside Moscow, there are numerous (non)official parking lots between SVO1 and SVO2; rates start from 200 RUB/day and up.


Main sites

  • Red Square - The heart of Moscow and the first destination for most visitors to the city. Surrounded by St. Basil's Cathedral, the State History Museum, Lenin's Mausoleum and one of the Kremlin's long brick walls. The cobbles that make up the square are black and not red; the name comes from another gloss of the Russian word "krasniy", meaning "beautiful".

  • Lenin Mausoleum – Walk past the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin (who actually did not want any monuments to be built for him) and join the debate if it is still him. You must leave all cameras, phones and bags in the luggage office. Free admission. Open 10AM-1PM closed Mondays and Fridays. Enter by Manezh Square near Metro Ploshad Revolutsii.

  • St Basil Cathedral – Built in 1555-61. Inside is a museum, although it looks best from the outside, but if you have the time, take a peek inside.

  • The Kremlin This gigantic site can not be missed. The Diamond collection in the Armoury is worth a visit on its own. There are several stunning churches that warrant a visit. Choose one or two to go inside, then enjoy the rest from the gardens. If you get a chance, the ballet in the Conference Centre has some very cheap matinee performances (and you can change seats in the interval). Tickets are 700RUB to visit the armory and 350RUB to visit everything else. Arrive early as tickets go on sale 30 minutes (10AM tour) or 1 hour (12, 14:30, & 16:30 tours) before scheduled tours. There are also rotating exhibitions which cost 200RUB entry. The ticket office is closed Thursdays. Large bags must be left at a luggage office (60RUB). Amateur photography and videotaping is prohibited. Metro: Ohotnii Ryad, Ploschad Revolutsii.

  • Old Arbat Street – Walk down this kitschy street full of souvenir vendors, tourist cafes, lousy restaurants, artists, etc. The prices of the souvenirs vary from reasonable to ripoff. Many of the vendors offer a very high higher price, but can be talked down if you speak Russian. The stores tend to offer the same merchandise but with fixed high prices. Metro: Smolenskaya, Arbatskaya (Light Blue).

  • Bolshoi Theatre – Sit in front of the famed theater near the fountain, or catch a show inside if you can. The theatre is currently under renovation. Tickets start at around 1000RUB. Metro: Teatralnaya.

  • Tretyakov Gallery – One of the world's greatest museums, this is probably the one to choose if you only want to visit one museum in Moscow. In contrast to the worldwide collection of the Pushkin Museum, the Tretyakov is mostly a collection of Russian art. It has the best collection of Russian icons and many of the most famous pieces of modern Russian artists like Ilya Repin. Metro: Tretyakovskaya. :(NB: There are actually two Tretyakov museums now, the classic one and the 20th Century one. The classic one is where it has always been, the 20th Century one is in the Artist's House Cultural Center across from Gorky Park. They charge separate entry fees.)

  • Pushkin Museum is dedicated to Western art and has one of the world's most significant Impressionist and Post-Impressionist collections, along with some Old Masters. The Impressionists and Post-Impressionists were rather unfortunately relocated to an annex in 2007 across the street from the main building. Metro: Kropotkinskaya.

  • Novodevichy Convent – Both a convent and a fortress, Novodevichy was built in the early 1500s and has remained nearly intact since the 17th century, making it one of the best preserved historical complexes in Moscow. The adjacent Novodevichy Cemetery is one of Russia's most famous cemeteries. Famous people buried there include Anton Chekhov, Nickolai Gogol, Konstantine Stanislavski, Nikita Khrushchev, Raisa Gorbachev (the former President's wife), and Boris Yeltsin. Metro: Sportivnaya.

Other Sites

Less essential sites, but very worthwhile if you have the time, include:

  • New Arbat Street – Located near Old Arbat Street, this street offers a contrast from the touristy pedestrian-only thoroughfare. New Arbat is perhaps where Moscow's rich are the most visible, as some of Moscow's most expensive restaurants and nightclubs are located here. There are some reasonably priced cafes, however. The street is lavishly lit up at night and is always very lively. Also, check out Dom Knigi (House of Books) on New Arbat. It's not as impressive as the St. Petersburg store, but probably the best bet for books in Moscow. Metro: Arbatskaya (Light Blue).

  • Tverskaya Street – This street starts from the Kremlin itself and runs northwest in the direction of Tver (hence the name) and Saint Petersburg. For that reason the road was a very important thoroughfare in Tsarist Russia. It is now Moscow's most fashionable street, with several prestigious boutiques. It is also lined with cafes, restaurants, coffeehouses, a couple of theaters, and several hotels, including two locations of the Marriott. Most of the street's architecture doesn't actually have much history to it, though along the way you will find Russia's first, and the world's busiest, McDonalds. The statue of Pushkin at Pushkinskaya Square is a very popular meeting point. Walk its length. From Red Square to Belorusski Train Station is about one hour and is a great way to see the most famous street in Moscow. Take a peek inside the Yeliseev Grocery Store, Moscow's answer to Harrod's food halls, to see the restored ornate interior. Metro: Tetralnaya, Tverskaya/Pushkinskaya, Mayakovskaya, Belorusskaya (depending on what part you want to exit at).

  • Gorky Park – Easily the most well known of Moscow's many parks, Gorky Park is packed with a number of theme park rides, cafes, places to stroll, and a quaint-looking pond, all straddled alongside the Moskva river. Gorky Park is a very popular place for Muscovites of all ages. In winter it's a popular place to ice skate and it hosts an ice sculpture competition. Metro: Oktyabrskaya, Park Kultury (it's a walk along the Sadovoye Ring Road from either of them - an easier, downhill stroll from the former, or a more scenic route, over the Krymsky Bridge, from the latter).

  • Kolomenskoye – This former imperial estate is now a very popular weekend destination for Muscovites. It is a vast collection of churches and other buildings from the 16 and 17th centuries, including some wooden architecture that was transported here by the Soviet government from Karelia. Kolomenskoye is in the south-east of Moscow near a metro station of the same name. Metro: Kolomenskaya.

  • Victory Park – This massive memorial to WWII was built for the 50-year anniversary of V-E day in 1995. On weekends, it is very popular with newlyweds. The park now has its own metro station of the same name (Park Pobedy, on the dark blue line). There is also a museum to WWII worth visiting if you like military history.

  • Vorobyovy Gory – The best place for a view of Moscow from the ground. Near the main Moscow State University building, there is a popular lookout point where one can see much of the city on clear days. Metro: A walk from either metro Universitet or Vorobyovy Gory.

  • VDNKh, aka VVTs. The Russian acronym "VDNKh" stood for "Exhibit of the People's Economic Achievements". It has been since renamed "All-Russian Exhibition Center" ("Vserossiyskiy Vystavochniy Tsentr"). However, it is popularly known by the Soviet abbreviations. Previously this was a massive exhibit of the advances and progress of the USSR. Now it is largely a marketplace for everything from computers to bicycles. However, many of the monuments and fountains here make the area a nice place to stroll. You can also visit the adjacent Botanical Gardens. Main gates of the VDNKh are a short work down the alley from the Metro station of the same name.

  • Christ the Savior Cathedral – This cathedral, the tallest Orthodox church in the world (the largest being the Temple of St. Savain Belgrade), was blown up on orders from Stalin in 1931, with the view of building the gargantuan Palace of the Soviets, to be crowned by a 100 meter high statue of Lenin. The project ran into engineering and geological difficulties (the area used to be a swamp), then the War intervened, and the place was ceded to a year-round open-air swimming pool. The pool was razed and the cathedral rebuilt only after the fall of the Soviet Union, in the mid-nineties. There is an extensive museum underneath the cathedral documenting its history (the original was started in 1839 and consecrated in 1883). Metro: Kropotkinskaya.

  • Garden of Fallen Monuments – Where many infamous statues in Moscow were placed after the Soviet collapse. See Dzherzinsky, Stalin, Brezhnev, and others. Adjacent to the New Tretyakov Museum, which houses 20th century art. After the Pushkin Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery, this is worth seeing. Metro: Oktyabrskaya.

  • Russian State Library — One of the largest libraries in the world. Anyone (Russian or foreign) over 18 can view electronic media for free, other items may be viewed by purchasing a "Reader's Card" (a photo id to gain access to physical materials). Previously received a copy of every book, musical score, & map published in the USSR, it now only receives a copy of every Russian book. The military reading room receives over 15,000 readers a year.

Things to do

Moscow has many attractions, but most of them are not friendly to a non-Russian-speaker. English-language newspapers like The Moscow Times , Element , Moscow News and others can help to navigate towards English-language friendly attractions and services.

Moscow has two circuses, the Nikulin circus on Tsvetnoi Bulvar (metro Tsvetnoi Bulvar), and the new circus near the University. Tickets can be bought for as little as 200RUB, and even these seats are good. Touts may be selling tickets outside and can save you a lot of queueing, and they'll speak more English than the ticket office. Sometimes they are selling tickets at the cover price, and sometime at double price. Ask and make sure before parting with your cash.

The Obraztsov Puppet Theatre at the very north part of the Garden Ring has performances during the winter in the evening. Everything is in Russian and meant for children, but the stories are simple and quite understandable even if you don't understand Russian. There is a small box in front of the building where a puppet appears every hour and does a performance. At 12 midday all of the puppets appear for a short but entertaining appearance.

The Novaya Opera (new opera) in the Hermitage gardens features operas mainly in Russian most evenings, starting at 7PM. Tickets are normally available from 200RUB. Ticket office is open from 12PM-3PM and then again from 4PM-7PM.

Make sure you visit a Russian bathhouse (banya) while in Moscow, as it's an important Russian tradition and Russians, especially 40+, go at least once a week. Have a hot steam, followed by a good whipping with birch branches. While its not the most pleasant experience, the benefits you'll receive afterward will enable you to understand why Russians are loyal to their banya. Most famous banya is the Sanduny (or Sandunovskaya banya).

Like any city with snowy winters, Moscow is a great place to go ice skating. Gorky Park is most famous but overcrowded and ice is not always in ideal condition; Bosco rink on a Red Square is glamourous and easy, although bit costly and not too favoured by advanced skaters. Luzhniki has arguably the best ice, although service can be tough and open hours are not always convenient. The winter rinks at Chistye Prudy or Izmaylovsky Park can be other alternatives.

  • MiGs over Moscow , +41 44 500 50 10, +41 44 500 50 10, This great adventure started after the end of the USSR, due to the lack of money in the army. In the beginning flights in MiG-21, MiG-23, MiG-25, MiG-29 and Sukhoi Su-27 started from Zhukovsky Airbase. Today this base is closed for passenger flights, but flights in MiG-29 Fulcrum and L-39 Albatros jets are still possible from other airbases near Moscow.

  • Kva-Kva Water Park , + 7 495 788 72 72, 10.00-22.00, Gostinichnaya str., 4/9, Water Park affiliated with Maxima Hotels (discounts for guests). There are 7 high trills (90-120 meters length) and a pleasant surprise for extremers – Tsunami trill – unique in Russia. There are also 4-line trills – Multislide and a special area for kids – a small tropical town with shallow pool. Kva-Kva Lagoone offers hydromassage. There’s also pure Russian bath, Finnish sauna, Turkish bath (hamam) and Kva-Kva SPA-salon. Night discos take place every weekend, with free admission for Maxima Hotel guests.

  • Hot air balloon ride (high) , Suburban Moscow

  • Park Sokoloniiki, Metro Sokolniki , Go on the red line of the metro to sokolniki metro sation. Once you get out find the huge lehgthy red alley follow it down across the street the the gates which are the main entrance., The place to go to experince the russian nature without going far away from the center. THIS is the place to experince Shashlik (russian/geogeian kebab) at a very low price (comapred with other places) they can be found selling under huge tents all over the park. The park has an amusment park for the kids so they don't get bored. Forthe want to be hunter there are two Tirs bibi gun shooting ranges with only $1.40 per five shots. If you have a lot of time explore the orest deeper in the park you will find hard-to-find-in-America Birch trees and many people picking mushrooms (a national hobby) if you want to taste real russian spirt this is the best sample.

You could also pay attention to the Patriarshi ponds area (address="Metro Mayakovskaya " directions="Go on the green line of the metro to Mayakovskaya metro sation. Go aground to the Sadovoye Kol'zo and walk along Teatr Satyri, Teatr Mossovota till the Bronnaya Street. Turn to the left." There is only one pond left, but it is squared with buildings so it is quite peaceful here despite hectic Sadovoye Kol'zo nearby. Here you can take a nice walk and enjoy the mysterious atmosphere, for which the area is famous - due to the novel of Mikhail Bulgakov Master and Margaret (Master i Margarita), which is well-known for its combination of demonology, mysticism, humour, satire, art and love as well as wonderful depictions of Moscow of the thirties. Some moscovites are eager to take a sit on a banch with their back to Malaya Bronnaya street, as it is a reference to the novel.


There are several bars in central Moscow worth visiting.

  • Fabrique This club has nothing to do with the London club, but it is no less happening and lively. Beware of "Face Control" (Russia's way of letting only the chosen into the club). Mid-priced drinks, shots of vodka are ~200RUB and mixed drinks are more expensive. If you're foreign, you're very likely to get in and mingle with the sexy Russian dames that graze in the club. Great club atmosphere with generally fantastic dj's.

  • Gogol' Bar – This bar is on the posh Stoleshnikov pereulok. The street houses deluxe brand shops such as Chanel, Burberry, and Cartier. The entrance to the bar is between Vivienne Westwood and the Lancel boutique. The interior, menu and drinks are quite simple. Musical performances every weekend. During the winter, the small yard is used as a skating rink. There are also Gogol' Bars on Arbat and Maroseika St.

  • Tema Bar – Located near Chistye Prudy Boulevard (Potapovsky pereulok, 5). It boasts quite a long cocktail list, including all-time favorites like Screwdrivers, Cosmopolitans and Manhattans. The bar is packed on Fri and Sat nights.

  • Propaganda A great alternative bar with lots of cheap drinks (vodka is 100RUB and beer is 150RUB). With great music, a hip and funky crowd, as well as a relatively relaxed door control. Propaganda is a great place to dance all night and potentially meet some interesting people.


  • Yan Primus, (495) 336-5755, 10AM-6AM Mon-Sun, Miklukho-Maklaya, 27A, M. Belyaevo, Vityaz cinema, Belgian beer restaurant, a rare women-friendly beer place. Offer table games for large companies. Parking; outdoor terrace (open until 11PM; booking required).

  • Beer Market , noon-midnight Mon-Sun, Butyrskaya 69, M. Dmitrovskaya, Probably the widest choice of beers in the city in the regular menu, plus seasonal extra beer listings, new region every season.


  • Simple Things-Nikitskaya (Простые вещи) , +7 (495) 629 34 94, B. Nikitskaya, 14, Great choice of wines and snacks in a cozy bazement right across Cofemania, with a special person who sit downs to talk (and recommend a drink or two) with you if you're alone.


Moscow has a good selection of tea saloons. Beyond them, high-quality infusion teas like Newby, are widely available in cafes, both packeted and loose.

Asking to add boiling water to the tea you ordered earlier is a practice that some cafes don't welcome, but normally it's acceptable. However, initiative from the waiter is really rare in this respect.


According to Vedomosti (March 2009), best coffee can be found in:

  • Coffeemania chain , The most expensive coffee chain in Moscow. The cafe on Bolsaya Nikitskaya 13 next to the Moscow Conservatory serves great breakfasts and is excellent for people watching in the morning and pre-concert coffee in the evening as well.

  • Coffee Bean, Petrovka 18/3, Petrovka is most coffee-conscious place in the Coffee Bean chain (also Pokrovka, Pyatnitskaya, Leningradsky). Some of the Coffee Bean stores also provide free internet (eg. Pokrovka).

  • Volkonsky, Maroseika 4/2, For a late night nibble or a quick morning pick me up, Volkonsky is one of the better places in Moscow that doubles as a bakery/coffee shop. Great ambiance and a neighborhood feel.

Other places:

  • Starbucks Cafe , Old Arbat Street, 19; Old Arbat 38; Mega-Khimki and Mega-Belaya Dacha; Moscow City; Sheremetyevo-3; Metropolis (M. Voykovskaya); Aeroport Gallery (M. Aeroport), Starbucks has finally broken the wall into hard ground Russia. Promises to open another 10-20 stores by end of 2008.


Credit cards usage is becoming more and more widespread, but many cheaper stores and restaurants won't accept them, so cash is a necessity. Be sure to break your 5000 or 1000 RUB notes where you can, as the smaller merchants, street vendors and even many metro clerks will likely refuse them. While you are able to get some smaller vendors to accept US dollars and Euros, it is always best to change currency, which is not a problem as currency exchange spots are everywhere, displaying the daily rates in large yellow letters. Read the terms carefully; even if the offer seems attractive, there may be a fixed-sum commission on top of it, or the advertised rate might apply only to large transactions (USD1000 and up), while a less favorable one is in effect for smaller ones. Don't forget to check the change returned to you (the commonest scam is to let a banknote "stick" inadvertently to the back of the little turnstile which the clerk is using to pass the money back and forth) and do not simply say yes to what you do not understand. Better yet, use your own bank card from home at an ATM to draw money directly from your checking account, as the machines are almost all compatible with major Western money systems (Cirrus/MasterCard and PLUS/Visa) - not only you'll get a decent fixed bank rate, but also often a screen menu in friendly (albeit somewhat broken) English.

Buying souvenirs can be quite a chore if you do not stay in the centre of Moscow. You can get cheaper souvenirs from Izmaylovskiy Market in Izmalylovo Park although the performing bears at the entrance of the market suggest that it is a tourist trap. Walking out in the middle of a bargaining session will most likely NOT get you the price you want. Instead insults will be hurled towards you.

  • Evropeiskiy – A new shopping mall opened in 2006 next to Kievsky station, right next to the metro. Many international brand-name shops e.g. Marks and Spencer, Next, Levi's, Calvin Klein, and Swatch can be found here. There is also a multi screen cinema, food gallery, supermarket, opticians, and probably everything else if you care to look for it.

  • IKEA – There are three large Ikea stores in Moscow, all just outside the ring road, and located in large shopping malls (MEGA, also operated by IKEA). They all offer free bright yellow buses from the nearest metro stations. Metro: Rechnoi Vokzal (North), Lyublino or Kuzminki (South-East), Tyopliy Stan (South)

  • GUM – Adjacent to Red Square. Once filled with Soviet-era goods of mediocre quality, it is now a mall with international labels and hyper-expensive boutiques. Even if you don't buy anything, it's highly recommended you go inside and look at the architecture. Metro: Ploschad Revolutsii

  • Detskiy Mir – "Children's World." Has lots of toys but other stores selling books, DVDs, and Peruvian souvenirs. Again, even if you do not buy anything, its worth going to explore this building. Metro: Lubyanka. Now this building is subject to be closed for "renovation", which will probably kill the remnants of architectural and historical attraction of this building, equalling it to regular malls like Evropeiskiy or MEGA. Nevertheless, "Detskiy Mir" extended its network to almost Soviet-era scales, having outlets of different size (but vast choice of childrens' goods anyway) in many malls in Moscow and other major cities of Russia. (Temporaly closed for reconstruction)

  • GOROD - "The City". Huge mall in the beginning of Ryazansky Prospekt (Ryazan avenue) opened in late 2006. Situated in the former territories of Karacharovsky Mechanical Plant, offers standard range of "everything-consumer-needs", including Auchan hypermarket, fastfoods, boutiques, outlets, cinemas, ice-skating etc. Operated by Auchan group. Metro: Ryazansky Prospekt or Marksistskaya, then trolleybus №63 (add №16 from Marksistskaya) and marshutkas. Consider significant traffic jams caused by the mall itself and intersection with the Third Ring.

  • Sunrise Pro - Computer, hi-tech and consumer electronics hypermarket, offering advanced automated buying process for the customer who knows what exactly he wants - you have almost no chance to see things before paying for them. Return process/warranty is complicated. Pricewise this is probably the best place in Russia to buy anything working from the electric plug. Credit card payment process is quite complicated, so you need rubles in cash. Metro: Savelovskaya then walk about 15 minutes, or marshrutka from Dmitrovskaya.

Generally, you can find different sized fully featured malls near almost every metro station, especially in residential areas.


Moscow remains the educational center of Russia and the former CIS. There are 222 institutes of higher education, including 60 state universities & 90 colleges. Some of these offer a wide-spectrum of programs, but most are centered around a specific field. This is a hold-over from the days of the USSR, when Sovietwide there were only a handful of wide-spectrum "universities" and a large number of narrow-specialization "institutes" (mostly in Moscow & St.Petersburg). Moscow offers some of the best business/management, science, & arts schools in the world. Moscow is also a popular destination for foreign students to learn Russian.

State Universities

  • Lomonosov Moscow State University , +7 (495) 939 10 00, +7 (495) 939 10 00, The largest school in Moscow (nearly 50 000 students). Mostly liberal arts & the sciences. Courses only in Russian, except:

  • LMSU Center for International Education , Russian courses from 4 wks-3 semesters: Pre-university Russian (to prepare for a Russian-language university education, teaches jargon/vocabulary for 6 fields), preparation to be a teacher of Russian, & 6 levels of Russian for fun.

  • Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology , The most prestigious sciences university in Russia.

  • Moscow State Institute of International Relations(MGIMO) , On of the most prestigious foreign relations universities in the world, this school of 5000 has trained over two thirds of Russian government officials and many others in the CIS. Courses only in Russian.

  • Moscow Aviation Institute (State University of Aerospace Technologies) , Specializes in Aviation-related science & engineering. Courses in Russian, but the school has

  • Bauman Moscow State Technical University , Engineering/Technology. Offers courses only in Russian.

  • Russian State Medical University , Ul. Ostrovityanova, Dom 1, M. Yugo-Zapadnaya or M. Kon'kovo, Otherwise referred to as Pirogov institute, it recently celebrated its 100 year anniversary. It has a huge campus for an exclusively Medical faculty. Presumably Russian-language only.

  • Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy, As the name suggests, this school offers Medical & Pharmacological degrees exclusively. Courses in Russian, but Russian courses for English-speakers offered.

Private Universities

  • People's Friendship University of Russia, Comparable to an American public university, this school offers everything from French to Engineering to Hotel Management. It has European accreditation & specializes in teaching foreign students. Courses in Russian, but offers many Russian-language courses.

  • Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory , World-renowned music conservatory open only to postgraduate study.


You will need a work visa which is not an easy process. The visa needs to be arranged well in advance of travelling. It is possible to work in Moscow, you just need to find a good company to support to you.



In Moscow there are three main GSM operators (MTS, Beeline, Megafon), and they often have offers that give you a SIM card for free or at least very cheap. If you are planning to stay a while and to keep in touch with Russian people, then you should consider buying a local pay-as-you-go SIM card instead of going on roaming. Most any European phone, and those from the US which work on a GSM network (T-Mobile, or AT&T), carry the "tri-band" or "World phone" designation and had been unlocked, should work on the Russian standard (if yours is not one of those, a basic new candybar will still run you considerably less than $50 without a contract). If you buy a SIM card from a shop you'll need your passport for identification. It only takes five minutes to do the paperwork and it will cost less than $10. You will receive a number in the "mobile" area code, starting with 9, which has more expensive rates for calls to and from landlines (and from abroad; in compensation, the tariffs for calls to phones on the same network are usually reduced), and your card will be preloaded with a small initial minute allowance. Incoming calls are free (or at least are supposed to be, by law; some companies are trying to find ways around it). Top off at the stores of your chosen company, at shops selling phones, or at newer automated kiosks which accept utility payments (they look like short, squat ATMs with large touchscreens, and display, among others, logos of the mobile operators); the latter charge a small commission fee and accept cash or (rarely) credit cards. Be careful when entering the number: it is possible to add airtime to any phone, not only your own.

For calls abroad there are different inexpensive pre-paid cards (e.g. Arktel), which you can find at many shops and kiosks throughout the city or in any post office.

Wireless Internet

BeelineWiFi ( former GoldenWiFi, acquired by Beeline ) is the largest network of Wi-Fi access points, available almost everywhere within a Third Ring Road and a Garden Ring, less frequently outside it. Some of them are free (paid by the venue, e.g. a cafe), but others require an account. Rates are 50RUB for an hour, 100RUB for 24 hours, 500RUB for 30 days; if you have a credit card, it's a fairly simple process completed entirely online - you are presented with the payment choice screen as soon as you connect. Airports are flooded with the paid access, so as to drown the (few) free choices. In some places, pre-paid cards can be acquired at the cashier's desk (e.g. Starbucks).

McDonalds has free (as in a 30-minute voucher with every meal) Wi-Fi in nearly every other of their locations in the city (and in most of them within a Garden Ring)--operated also by BeelineWiFi.



  • Portugal, 981-3410; 981-3414, 981-3410; 981-3414, Botanitchesky Per, 1

Since Moscow is the biggest transportation center in Russia and one of main the points of entry for the foreign tourists, it is a convenient starting point for exploring much of the European Russia. Even travelling through Moscow to Ukraine and some Caucasian and Central Asian countries (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan etc.) could be cheaper than direct flights from Europe/North America. Travel deals to Moscow are not rare and ticket prices are often pretty low within former USSR.

  • Saint Petersburg - 13 different overnight trains leave Moscow for the 7-hour (or thereabouts) journey, arriving the next morning. Don't try to save on sleeper accommodations; you won't like the coach car unless you aren't counting on getting any sleep at all (but in this case, you'd be better off taking one of the 4 daytime trains - they are a bit faster, including a bullet train making the run in 4 hours, and the vistas rushing by on the other side of the window are lovely). You might even consider paying the extra money for a first class sleeper cabin which has two comfortable beds. Included in the price is a small snack for supper and breakfast. There is also an attendant for each carriage who is willing to make tea in classic metal and glass tea glasses. Very civilised way to travel.

  • Arkhangelskoye - One of the finest of Moscow Oblast's usadbas (estates) is only a short elektrichka ride away from Moscow and makes a fine day excursion.

  • Golden Ring - Old cities and towns rich in historical buildings, situated in the heartland of Muskovy Russia. There are many tourist companies organizing guided tours, but travellers with rudimentary knowledge of Cyrillic alphabet can do it independently. Many guidebooks are available in English.

  • Kubinka Tank Museum - One of finest armour collections in the world. About one hour west of the city. Access is restricted, visitors must apply for a permit , but it worths the trouble for any self-respecting tank buff.

  • Leninskiye Gorki - An old country estate, expropriated by the Communist authorities after 1917 and used by V. Lenin as his country residence when he became ill. Large museum, although pretty decrepit now.

  • Borodino battlefield - This is the site of the famous Battle of Borodino Battle of Borodino . Museum and national historic site . Commuter trains from Belorussky Station; 2-3 daily, travel time about 2 hours.

  • Melikhovo (Chekhov's country house south of Moscow)

  • Sergiyev Posad - Famous old Orthodox monastery (Troitse-Sergieva Lavra). Commuter trains from Yaroslavsky Station, several daily; travel time about 1 1/2 hours.

  • Kolomna - A nice medieval town (about 2 hrs from Moscow) with a number of very interesting churches and monasteries

  • Yasnaya polyana (Tolstoi's country house close to Tula)

  • New Jerusalem Resurrection Monastery - A monastery-fortress (male, working) with a number of museums inside and next to the walls: Wooden architecture museum, local history museum, Art and History museum etc. The monastery was founded in 1656 by Tzar Alexis II and Patriarch Nikon (his "cell", a three-storey house stands in the park outside the monastery walls) to resemble the original Jerusalem. The place is roughly between Novoierusalimskaya (15 min on foot) and Istra (15 min by bus) elektrichka stations, around 60 km from Moscow.

  • Savvino-Storozhevskiy monastery - A beautiful monastery with interesting history, closely connected to Russian Tzars. Commuter trains from Belorussky station to Zvenigorod, several daily; travel time about an hour, but the terminus of the elektrichka is 2 miles from the town, which boasts a number of historically significant churches itself, and about 3 miles from the monastery, which is on a nearby hill.

  • Dmitrov - A town about 65 km North from Moscow (trains from Savelovsky station, several daily, travel time 1 1/2 hours), on Moscow Channel, with old churches, interesting sculptures in the streets and a number of museums

  • Snegiri - Settlement about 40 km from Moscow (Volokolamskoe hwy) that boasts a monument to the Defense of Moscow during WW2, with a good collection of tanks, and a museum. Trains from Rizhsky Station, several daily, travel time about an hour.

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