Founded in the 12th century, Moscow rose to the rank of political centre during the 15th century, uniting various principalities across an immense territory. From the 18th century, Saint Petersburg took over from the crowning of Peter the Great to the revolution of 1917 when Lenin restored Moscow as the country’s capital. From here, you can reach the four corners of Russia. The famous Trans-Siberian railroad starts in Moscow, as do many trains with Saint Petersburg as their final destination.
Crossing the cobblestones of Red Square is like taking a step back into history. And thanks to your guide, you won’t miss a single chapter. Saint Basil’s Cathedral and its technicolour domes sit at the end of Red Square, acting as both a symbol of Moscow and the whole country, that is why all Moscow tours start from the Red Square. Even if history tends to favour Soviet leaders and military parades, Red Square has actually nothing to do with Bolshevism. In ancient Russian, “red” simply means beautiful.
In Russia, all the roads lead to Moscow, and in the capital, all the roads lead to the Kremlin. If you travel to Moscow you should definitely visit it. This urban fortress is the oldest part of the city and the most reclusive. Once the official residence of tsars and USSR leaders, the Kremlin is now the political heart of Russia and the workplace of the President of the Federation.
In order to avoid tourist traps during your trip and get closer to locals, we offer the services of an English-speaking guide. Their mission is both to lead you through the many wives of Ivan the Terrible and the metro station where Stalin made his famous 1941 speech. Having a guide is essential if you want to get to know local life, see all the sightseeing spots, cultural codes and understand how people live in our capital.
In Moscow, the city that never sleeps, restaurants and monasteries stand side-by-side and intact since the era of Boris Godunov – as is the case with the Novodevichy Convent. This religious ensemble has survived practically unchanged since the 17th century. The surrounding area with its pond constitute a quiet and relaxing place in this bustling metropolis which makes Novodevichy Convent one of the main points of interest in Moscow.
Moscow, like Saint Petersburg, is one of the world’s main places for opera and ballet. “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky has been played here for nearly 140 years. If you want to see a ballet during your Moscow holidays, you need to reserve your tickets a few months ahead. If you’re interested in opera, there is less waiting time and “Boris Godunov” by Mussorgsky is still in the repertoire. Remember that these shows are presented on the new stage, and not the historical stage in the main building. During the week, you can visit the historical stage and catch a rehearsal.
The Tchaikovsky Conservatory of Moscow is a cult location for amateurs of classical music. Famous composers like Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Dmitri Shostakovich have taught here and some of the greatest musicians of all time, like Sergey Rachmaninov and Sergey Prokofiev have played on the main stage. Russians have known the main room of the conservatory since childhood, when grandmothers would bring them to concerts. The best seats to experience a pianist perform are located in the sixth row, from seats 18 to 34. Members of our staff are particularly fond of classical music and will be able to recommend the best concerts to see.
Sputnik, Vostok, Belka and Strelka are household names around the world for their involvement in one of humanity’s most exciting episodes: the Space Race between the Soviet Union and the United States. In the Northeast, one district has been entirely dedicated to this epic race. In particular, the Space Museum is home to the Yuri Gagarin’s space suit that he wore during the world’s first ever journey into outer space.
Moscow’s metro system is a museum and an emblem of Soviet architecture. Forget straight and narrow corridors. the capital’s metro is a veritable underground palace. Frescoes and mosaics remind commuters of Soviet leaders and the heroic fight of the proletariat for freedom. Your guide will talk you through the symbolism of Soviet architecture, review historical events, decipher propaganda messages and recount urban legends during your guided trip.
In 2000, an underground bunker dating back to the Cold War was declassified in the capital. Sixty metres deep behind a 1-m thick reinforced door, you will discover the tunnels and command rooms in a construction equipped with its own air purification system and two natural water wells. This sprawling museum complex is spread over 7000 km2 and was originally equipped with infrastructure allowing the army to function in case of nuclear attack.
July–August: The Best Time To Visit Moscow
During the summer, Moscow’s business people leave the city and the capital’s streets shrink back down to near-human proportions; there are no traffic jams, no pushing in the metro and the hotels are cheaper. The city benefits from a continental climate with hot, even torrid, summers.
January–March: Moscow’s White Mantle
Snow usually starts to fall at the end of December, when people are celebrating the New Year. Moscow is snowed in until March, but the best way to enjoy this white blanket is to plan a trip out of the capital to the cities of the Golden Ring.
Friday–Monday: Half-Price Hotels
Most hotels in Moscow offer discounts – up to 50% – for three nights from Friday to Monday. Getting to Moscow on Friday for three days will be plenty of time for a first encounter with the capital. During the May holidays in Russia, usually from the 1st to the 10th of May, many hotels have good rates on offer.
Day Trips Out Of Moscow
The cities of the Golden Ring from Sergiyev Posad, the heart of the Russian Orthodox religion, to Suzdal and Vladimir are great options for a day trip out of Moscow. For those who are passionate about literature and Russian music, we can organise a tour of the house-museum of composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky or Leo Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana.
The Other Capital
The most popular itinerary in Russia is the classic Moscow–St Petersburg route to the Capital of the North. It’s best to reserve 3 days, arriving in Moscow from Friday and catch the night train on Monday evening to spend 4 days in Saint Petersburg. Traditionally and in chronological order, you should start your trip in Moscow and then travel on to Saint Petersburg.
To The Russian Region And The Cities Of The Golden Ring
A trip to Russia would not be complete without visiting Russian regions. From Moscow, you can take a fast train to Vladimir and Rostov, beginning your travels in the cities of the Golden Ring.
On Board the Mythical Trans-Siberian
The famous railroad that crosses Russia connects Moscow to Vladivostok over 9,200 km. Because there are many interesting places to visit along the way, the Trans-Siberian will take at least a week and end in Baikal, Vladivostok or Beijing.
The “Great North”: To The Heart of Karelia’s Forests, Arkhangelsk and Vologda
Nature-lovers in the Northwest of Russia will enjoy the idyllic backdrop of these regions. Just a night train away from Moscow is the forested regions of Karelia, Vologda and Arkhangelsk. A 2.5 hour flight will bring you to the Arctic Circle, landing in Naryan-Mar. From February to March in the river valley of Pechora, you can meet the Nenets, reindeer herders that are indigenous to the Great Russian North. With a little luck, you will even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.