Visiting Russia for the First Time: Moscow Sightseeing

 The capital of the Russian Federation, Moscow is the largest city in the European continent, having a population of 17.8 million within the urban area. If you plan on visiting Russia, Moscow should be on your list. It is one of the fastest growing tourist destination in the world.

What to visit in Moscow?

The city has a lot to offer if you are still wondering what to visit in Moscow. This major political, economic, cultural and scientific centre of Russia is one of the largest cities in the world.

It has also been ranked as the 9th most expensive city in the world by Mercer, but budget travelling in Moscow is achievable if you plan for it.

Moscow’s distinctive architecture attracts millions of tourists each year, despite its cold climate. This is a list of what to visit in Moscow, the medieval city, home of Russian tsars, the capital of Russian Empire and the Soviet Union.

Red  Square

This place is in every Russian travel guide.

Although the buildings surrounding the square are all red, the name comes from the Russian word красная (krasnaya), which was used to label the area between St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Spassky Tower of the Kremlin and the herald’s platform called Lobnoe Mesto. Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich was the one to extend the name fo the entire square.

Red Square Moscow

The square was meant for public ceremonies, occasionally for the Russia’s Tsar coronation and was also serving as Moscow’s main marketplace. All official Russian government’s ceremonies take place here.

The square itself is around 330 meters (1,080 feet) long and 70 meters (230 feet) wide.

All the buildings surrounding the square should be on your list of things to do in Moscow, so it’s a great place to start learning about the Russian history:

  • Lenin’s Mausoleum
  • Saint Basil’s Cathedral
  • GUM department store
  • State Historical Museum
  • The Moscow Kremlin
  • The Kazan Cathedral
  • The Iberian Gate and Chapel

Saint Basil’s Cathedral

This is the church from the Red Square, which is a world famous landmark for Moscow and Russia. The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed is now a museum and was built between 1555 and 1561,  on the order of Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the capture of Kazan and Astrakhan regions.

Saint Basil's Cathedral

The Trinity Cathedral (as was it called before) consists of 8 side churches arranged around the central church of Intercession. The 10th was build in 1588 over the grave of Saint Basil (Vasily).


The Moscow Kremlin

Also located in the Red Square, the Kremlin (“fortress inside a city”) is for Russia like the White House is for the USA.

Moscow's Kremlin

This fortified complex overlooks the Moskva River, includes five palaces, four cathedrals and the Grand Kremlin Palace, which is the official residence of the president. Everything is inside the Kremlin walls and towers.

Please visit the Armoury and the Diamond room! This is a top Moscow tourist attraction and it’s worth it! I have no idea if there is anything like that anywhere else in the world, exposed. Of course, no photos allowed. But the internet knows already.

GUM Shopping  Mall

The most amazing, elegant and opulent shopping mall I’ve ever seen. The name GUM comes from the Russian abbreviation for Main Universal Store. It’s located in the Red Square, and it has a glass-roofed design, which made it unique at the time of construction (1893).

GUM shopping mall Moscow


It was used by Stalin as an office space for about 25 years, and after his death, it was reopened as a department store in 1953.  In the Soviet Union, it was one of the few stores that did not have shortages of consumer goods. The queues of shoppers were long, extending across Red Square.

Today, world known brands are found inside.

The Metro Stations

One of the world’s deepest underground railway system (the deepest station at 84 meters below ground level – Park Pobedy station) is also a spread network, ranking as the fifth longest in the world. 206 stations, a total of 339.1 km (210.7 mi).

Metro Moscow Russia

But what makes it really remarkable is the design of the stations. Not all of them, but especially the first ones build have each a special theme and the design is detail oriented. It’s like visiting a museum.

Because it’s so big, I didn’t visit all of them, but there were more than 2 hours of metro stations visiting.


Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is the largest museum of European art in Moscow. The museum has gone through many name changes and was finally renamed to honour the memory of the famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin in 1937, the 100th anniversary of his death.

Pushkin Museum Moscow

The museum stands as indispensable for the education of art students and the first exhibits were copies of ancient statuary. The only genuinely ancient items were Moscow Mathematical Papyrus and Story of Wenamun.

The State Museum of New Western Art added important Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artwork to the Pushkin Museum. This included works by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, Dufrénoy, Derain and Matisse.  Van Gogh’s “La Vigne Rouge” – the only painting sold during his lifetime is also at Pushkin Museum.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

The communists were atheists and therefore religion was considered something taboo.

This original church was demolished by the Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin to make room for the Palace of Soviets. The Palace was never built and after the fall of the Soviet Union, the current church was built, which resembles the original one.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is the tallest Orthodox Christian church in the world, having an overall height of 103 metres (338 ft).


Moscow International Business Center

MIBC includes 6 skyscrapers with a height of 300 meters or more.

The Federation Tower is Europe’s tallest building, is in the Moscow IBC. The complex also includes the second-tallest, third-tallest, fifth-tallest, sixth-tallest, and seventh-tallest buildings in Europe.

Moscow International Business Center

I was really impressed by the entire site! Most people don’t put it on the city attraction’s list, but I totally recommend it!

Do I recommend it?

Definitely, one of the best cities I’ve visited so far! A must on every travel addict list! Some say it’s expensive. It doesn’t have to be, and it’s so worth it. Spend at least 1 week and get to know the culture and the people.

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog,

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