Since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the vast influx of western influences that followed, Moscow has exploded into an edgy, vibrant and creative city. Former factories have now been transformed into nightclubs, art galleries and other centres of artistic freedom and expression, while existing museums and theatres are expanding with new influences at a rapid rate. One of the largest cities in Europe, Moscow is home to the most billionaires of any city on the continent and is also the most expensive, but as you would expect from such a sprawling metropolis, there is something to suit every pocket.
Where to stay
Moscow is a big city, so if you find yourself staying in the wrong location it can be a challenge to get around to all the various sites. The best area to stay is as close to the Kremlin as possible so you have good transport links directly to all the major attractions. For a real luxury option, check out the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow, with views of the Kremlin and Red Square.
What to see
For daytime sightseeing, the Kremlin and Red Square are a must. The red-brick towers of the former represent the founding site of Moscow, with the rest of the city growing outwards from this point. The current residency of the President of the Russian Federation, the imposing walls of the Kremlin house four palaces and four cathedrals. To the east is Red Square, connecting the Kremlin to the merchant quarter of Kitai-gorod, a vast open air space which has served as the focal point for Russian identity for centuries – before, during and after the Soviet era.
To the east of Red Square is the outlandish GUM shopping centre, which along with the nearby TSUM shopping centre is definitely worth a look for the extravagant architecture. Prices are comically high though, so you may want to do your actual shopping elsewhere!
Art lovers should not miss the Pushkin State Museum, which although already home to the biggest collection of European art in Russia is rapidly expanding with more western influences, while the Tretyakov Gallery is considered the finest repository of Russian art in the city.
Other historic sites, from monuments to fallen soldiers to remnants of the Soviet era are scattered all over the city, and the best way to find them is on the metro system, which is itself a sight – probably the most elegant underground rail network anywhere in the world.