Moscow has had an incredibly interesting and colorful past which is reflected in its unique culture and architecture. While being a global center for politics, economics and business, Moscow is also a popular tourist destination for visitors from around the world.
Moscow is a large city with a population of over 13 million, which accounts for about a tenth of the entire population of Russia. Moscow is in GMT+4 time zone.
Moscow is located in the center of European Russia, 4 hours by plane from London, and 8 hours by car or train from St. Petersburg. The city is located on the Moskva River and many of the main Moscow tourism sites are situated along the banks of the river.
Climate in Moscow:
Moscow is located in the middle of the continent, so the temperature is contintal, which means hot weather in Summer and cold weather in Winter.
The hottest months are July and August, when the temperatures can reach +30-35 Celsius. They are followed by mild September, which turns into Indian Summer - the last warm days of the year usually in the end of the month. The first snow usually appears in the middle of November, but the most snowy months are January and February. February is also the coldest month, when the temperatures often go down to minus 15 Celsius. March is when the Spring comes, and the temperatures rise back to zero and it becomes quite warm by the end of April only (10-15 Celsius). The snow leaves some time in the end of March. And in the beginning of May it can already be +20. May is actually the most comfortable month, as there are not many rains and the temperature stays around +20.
The currency in Moscow is Russian Ruble. You can only change money into Ruble once you arrive in Moscow – the currency is not allowed to leave the country. Be aware that you cannot take any leftover currency with you at the end of the trip.
One ruble is 100 kopeks, and denominations are as follows: Notes - 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 rubles; Coins - 1, 5, 10 and 50 kopeks, 1, 2 and 5 rubles. Why one kopek coins exist is something of a mystery, but they're quite fun to keep.
It is illegal to charge for goods or services in any currency other than rubles, and no longer will taxi drivers happily take your dollars off you. Nonetheless, salaries and rents are more often than not quoted 'unofficially' in dollars. You will also find some stores, bars and restaurants quoting prices in 'y.e.', which means 'standard units', convertible to rubles at a rate set by the establishment and normally somewhere between the dollar and the euro. Make sure you know what the rate is in each place.
Changing money is easy - Moscow probably has more exchange centers per square mile than any other city in the world, many of them operation 24-hour. This also means that rates are normally competitive, and it's worth shopping around if you want to change a lot. Commission is normally negligible. This only applies to dollars and euros, though, and other currencies are normally only changeable at larger banks or central exchange offices.
There are four airports that service Moscow: Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO), Domodedovo International Airport (DME), Bykovo Airport (BKA), Ostafyevo International Airport,Vnukovo International Airport (VKOMany international airlines run direct flights from major cities into Russia. The official airline of Russia is Aeroflot, which also runs regular flights to international destinations.
You can also catch the train into Moscow. Moscow employs 9 train stations to serve the city. The Trans-Siberian Railway is hailed as one of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world and you can reach Moscow by train from almost anywhere in Europe and Central Asia. There are also numerous long-distance and local train services that depart from Moscow to get you almost anywhere across Europe or Asia.
The good thing about the city's transport is the famous Moscow metro, which is very efficient, fast, and is so beautiful it could well be a museum. On the Moscow metro map all the lines have its own color. The open hours are from 5.20 a.m. to 1.00 a.m. The metro has no special zones - all the metro is one zone, and there's no time limit for using your ticket. You can buy a ticket for 40R for one trip and spend as much time inside as you like. You can also save money and buy tickets for 5, 10 or 20 trips – they are less expensive. If you don't pay, then you'll have to pay around $50 fine.
Moscow metro is sometimes beautifully decorated, in fact, it looks like an underground museum. One of the reasons is that when it was built it was supposed to be an underground shelter in case of war, so it was built to be pleasing to the eyes and to 'promote' communist way of life. Hence many mosaics and sculptures dedicated to the life of Soviet people.
Bus - av`tobus. Trolleybus- tro`leibus . Tram - tram`vai.
Most of them don't go on the schedule, and the average waiting time can be from 5 minutes to 40 minutes in the evenings. The public transport works are from 5:30 until 1:00. The bus stops are yellow plates marked with "A" signs, trolleys' - white plates with "T" and trams' with "Tp". There are no night buses or trolleys or trams.
Almost any car in Moscow can be a taxi if the price is right, so get on the street and stick your arm out. Many private cars cruise around as unofficial taxis, known as 'gypsy cabs', and other drivers will often take you if they're going in the same direction.
Official taxis - recognisable by their chequerboard logo on the side and/or a small green light in the windscreen - charge about the same. No driver uses a meter (even if the cab has one), and few will admit to having change.
Don't hesitate to wave on a car if you don't like the look of its occupants. As a general rule, it's best to avoid riding in cars with more than one person. Be particularly careful taking a taxi that is waiting outside a nightclub or bar.
If you book a taxi over the phone (hotel staff will do this for you if you don't speak Russian), the dispatcher will normally ring back within a few minutes to provide a description and license number of the car. It's best to provide at least an hour's notice before you need the taxi.
Moscow historically enjoyed a low crime rate. However, Moscow is a booming metropolis, so common sense should be used. Avoid dark alleys - like you would anywhere else. Check the advice from your Foreign Office for entry requirements, health, safety, local laws and customs.
Do keep in mind, that while traveling in Moscow, as in the rest of Russia, you must always have your passport with you.
Also note that in winter months, streets in Moscow can get very slippery. Take a pair of grippy shoes or, even better, boots (to prevent twisted ankles) and a waterproof raincoat. Take care as ice patches are often hard to spot, even when they appear to have been cleared or melted. Wearing non-grippy shoes could result in injury.
Downtown Moscow is very brightly lit, and a lot of the wide roads have underground pedestrian walkways. Those are well lit too - so you shouldn't worry about going down inside them. But of course, like anywhere else, do use common sense, and keep an eye out for pickpockets. Use the pedestrian crossings to cross the street, as traffic can get pretty crazy sometimes.
Sights & Attractions:
A lot of the most popular Moscow tourism sites are remnants of Russia’s infamous communist past. Red Square is a good starting point for your time in Moscow as it marks the centre of the city and many of the city’s most outstanding sites surround the Red Square.
The Kremlin is by far the most recognizable Moscow tourism site and it comprises of four cathedrals and four palaces. This beautiful Moscow tourism destination is open approximately 350 days of the year for visits from Friday to Wednesday between 10am and 5pm.
Tverskaya street, which is the main avenue of the city, starts from the Kremlin and heads north to become Leningradskoye Shosse, which leads directly to St. Petersburg (750km).
You may already be aware of some of the most popular Moscow tourism sites such as the Holiday Rentals England and St. Basil’s Cathedral. Moscow is home to some of the most recognizable monuments and buildings in the world.
Other popular Moscow tourism sites include: the Seven Sisters, Belyi Dom (White House of Russia), the Ostankino Television Tower, Old and New Arbat Street, Bolshoi Theatre, Tretyakov Gallery, Pushkin Museum, Novodevichy Convent, Church of the Ascension, Gorky Park.
Although archaeological evidence indicates that the site has been occupied since Neolithic times, the village of Moscow was first mentioned in the Russian chronicles in 1147. Moscow became (c.1271) the seat of the grand dukes of Vladimir-Suzdal, who later assumed the title of grand dukes of Moscow. During the rule of Dmitri Donskoi the first stone walls of the Kremlin were built (1367). Moscow, achieved dominance through its location at the crossroads of trade routes, its leadership in the struggle against and defeat of the Tatars, and its gathering of neighboring principalities under Muscovite suzerainty.
By the 15th cent. Moscow had become the capital of the Russian national state, and in 1547 Grand Duke Ivan IV became the first to assume the title of czar. Moscow was also the seat of the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church from the early 14th cent. It has been an important commercial center since the Middle Ages and the center of many crafts. Burned by the Tatars in 1381 and again in 1572, the city was taken by the Poles during the Time of Troubles. In 1611 the Muscovites, under the leadership of Kuzma Minin (a butcher) and Prince Dmitri Pozharski, attacked the Polish garrison and forced the remaining Polish troops to surrender in 1612. The large-scale growth of manufacturing in 17th-century Moscow, which necessitated an outlet to the sea, was instrumental in Peter I's decision to build St. Petersburg on the Baltic. The capital was transferred to St. Petersburg in 1712, but Moscow's cultural and social life continued uninterrupted, and the city remained Russia's religious center.
Built largely of wood until the 19th cent., Moscow suffered from numerous fires, the most notable of which occurred in the wake of Napoleon I's occupation in 1812. Count Rostopchin denied accusations that he had ordered the blaze ignited to drive out the French. The fire was most likely accidentally begun by French looters and was fanned by fanatic patriots among the few Russians who had remained behind when Napoleon entered the city. Whatever the cause, the fire sparked an anti-French uprising among the peasants, whose raids, along with the cruel winter, helped force Napoleon's retreat.
Rebuilt, Moscow developed from the 1830s as a major textile and metallurgical center. During the 19th and early 20th cent. it was the focus of the zemstvo cooperative and Slavophile movements and became a principal center of the labor movement and of social democracy. In 1918 the Soviet government transferred the capital back to Moscow and fostered spectacular economic growth in the city, whose population doubled between 1926 and 1939 and again between 1939 and 1992. During World War II Moscow was the goal of a two-pronged German offensive. Although the spearheads of the German columns were stopped only 20 to 25 mi (32–40 km) from the city's center, Moscow suffered virtually no war damage. The city hosted the Olympic Games in 1980.
Due to inadequate public funds, Moscow's infrastructure suffered after the 1991 demise of the Soviet Union. Also, an increase in automobile ownership brought traffic congestion and worsened air pollution. The city, however, began to attract foreign investment and became increasingly westernized. In the 1990s its energetic mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, launched many ambitious reconstruction projects and by the end of the decade Moscow was experiencing a real-estate boom.
Moscow has changed almost beyond recognition since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The city now boasts hundreds of hundreds of restaurants, bars, cafes and fast-food outlets, from cheap basement venues to top-class dining establishments with some of the best chefs in the world. Our easy-to-use guide will help you to find the best Moscow restaurants at a price you can afford.
A huge and quickly growing range of restaurants, with a matching range of prices, has developed in Moscow. The average cost per person for a middle to top class restaurant will be $30 to $200 (more if one goes for vintage wines). A quick 'canteen' style meal in a 'Stolovaya' can cost about $3 and is generally underground, near famous monuments and subway stations. These large food courts sometimes also contain a small mall. They will usually include toilets but be prepared to pay around $1 to use them.
There are a number of American franchise restaurants, such as McDonald's and TGI Friday's.
Many small restaurants within the Sadovoye ring are now offering Prix-fixe "business lunches" at around RUB200-250, for the teeming hordes of white-collars populating the neighbourhood during the day. These deals are valid in the middle of the day (12:00-15:00) and include a cup of soup or an appetizer, the main dish of the day (a smaller portion than if you order a la carte; sometimes there's even a limited choice), bread (no Russian eats anything without a slice) and a beverage (soda or coffee/tea; beer costs extra); it is a reasonably priced, freshly cooked quick meal in the middle of your wanderings which will tide you through to the evening.
Quickest way to become a millionaire? Start as a billionaire then spend a couple weeks in Moscow.
That's a joke that floats around the Russian capital, which does in fact consistently scrape the ceiling on international lists of priciest cities. For nearly a decade its hotels have been the most expensive in the world, according to HRG Worldwide.
But the joke is more indicative of the ever-trending "Soviet era is dead" mindset that prevails among Moscow's brand-crazy denizens.
Moscow’s equivalent to Rodeo Drive, Petrovka Boulevard glitters with every nonessential item at which a New Russian could throw a platinum card: diamond bangles, beads and breastpins, full-length sable coats, gold leaf antiques.
GUM (rhymes with "gloom") stands for Glavnyi Universalnyi Magazin and means Main Universal Store. Its three parallel arcades attract fat walleted shoppers who are attracted by Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Ermanno Scervino, Etro and Articoli.
In 1928, Stalin appropriated the elaborate 19th-century shopping complex for office space and even briefly displayed the body of his wife, Nadezhda, here after her 1932 suicide. Today, the only bodies in this glittery wonderland wear Chanel sunglasses, whether they need them or not.
Russian writer Vladimir Gilarovsky described this area as “Moscow’s belly.” It's often referred to as Manezh, rather than its proper name, Okhotny Ryad.
Before being reconstructed in the mid 1930s, the area’s Hotel Loskutnaya was a popular gathering spot for such Russian scribes as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
Today, this slightly more affordable mall with more than 100 shops has an errant fountain that splashes shoppers (protect those shopping bags) as they enter and exit from Alexandrovsky Garden. This is where you'll find international brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Motivi and Zara and a 24-hour Internet café.
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. Walking out in the middle of a bargaining session will most likely NOT get you the price you want. For example: Evropeiskiy, Atrium, GOROD, Izmaylovo Market.
Generally, you can find different sized fully featured malls near almost every metro station, especially in residential areas.