This mammoth 4 days in Moscow itinerary (and city guide in general) must be the first time I’ve ever started writing up a blog post the second I get home. Having spent an incredible 2 weeks in Russia and absolutely LOVING it, I’m now ready to convince everyone I know that they have to go there, especially to Moscow. I’m typing really quickly because I want to get the words out and start sharing my recommendations on what I think must be my new favourite destination. That’s high praise, BTW.
I actually spent a whole week in Moscow but only had a solid 4 days of full-on itinerary blocked in. The rest of the time, we winged it and found extra things as we went. So although you could cram all of this into 4 days and whiz through the absolute best things to do in Moscow using it, you could also spread it out over longer. Moscow is HUGE so involves a lot of walking and you might want a few ‘rest days’. I’m also writing up a whopping guide to travel in Russia generally – it’s going to feature everything from how to get a Russian visa, to general food and drink tips, to safety stuff. So I’ll link that here when it’s done too. Also note that I went to St Petersburg after Moscow, if you want to find out about that.
Anyway, enough waffle from me. I’ve got so many personal recommendations on what to do, see and eat in the incredible Russian capital. Onto the 4 days in Moscow itinerary and city guide…
Please note that this travel guide is from 2018. For obvious reasons, I do not want to promote visiting Russia at the current time.
Moscow itinerary: disclaimer
Before I start my Moscow itinerary properly, I just want to do a bit of a disclaimer.
Moscow is HUGE. It is packed with more things to see and do than about 20 European capital cities put together. You could be there for a month and not cover it all.
Because of all that, this itinerary obviously doesn’t even scratch the surface. It’s also heavy on outdoor things and not going inside too many buildings/museums etc because it was June and 35 degrees and very sunny, so I wanted to make the most of that.
It’s what I did and loved and want to share. Enjoy.
4 days in Moscow itinerary: day 1
Red Square: an obvious starting point for any Moscow itinerary
The most obvious place to kick off your Moscow itinerary is Red Square. This is the heart of Moscow and home to all the iconic Moscow scenes you’ll no doubt have seen in your guidebooks and online. It’s without doubt the best square I’ve ever been to and every angle has a ‘wow’ factor. To get there, take the metro to Kitay Gorod/Ploschad Revolyutsii/Biblioteka Lenina and it’s within an easy waddle.
Red Square separates the Kremlin (the official presidential residence) from Kitay Gorod, the cultural/historical part of the city centre. All of the buildings lining the square are recognisable or significant in some way. You’ve got the mausoleum where Lenin’s embalmed body hangs out ready for visitors to gawp at, the massive entrance to the grounds of the Kremlin and all its domes, the HUGE fancy department store known as GUM (which makes the Trafford Centre look even more laughable), and my personal favourite, Saint Basil’s Cathedral.
But the first thing to do was to go IN the Kremlin complex…
The Kremlin is pretty impressive, although it wasn’t my favourite or most awe-inspiring thing in Moscow, despite being potentially the most well known. It’s a fortified complex of cathedrals, a palace and museums, most of them white and tipped (okay, more than tipped) with gold, as shown above.
There’s also a series of gardens outside the main collection of buildings, including a really lovely rose garden. Side note, this rose garden was where I saw a woman carrying a tote bag that said ‘Cats are good. People love to keep cats as pets’, with a picture of a massive cat on it. This is the kind of thing we can all get behind.
Check the official Kremlin site for opening times because these do change. You can queue and buy tickets on the day, or buy advance online (for more money).
If you want to go to the famous armoury, you’ll have to book tickets because the queues are mental. We didn’t bother because we both have zero interest in things in glass cabinets and I have an unwritten rule about only going inside things if the weather is bad, which it definitely wasn’t.
We did wander briefly into two of the cathedrals inside the Kremlin (no touching anything and no photos in most of ’em), which were full of murals like you’ve never seen – or certainly not in Western Europe anyway. So it’s worth going into the ones that are included in the main ticket (some you have to pay more to enter).
Saint Basil’s Cathedral
After the Kremlin and going back into Red Square, I actually found all the buildings there (especially GUM) more spectacular. I think it’s the layout and the fact you’re surrounded by high doses of ‘wow’. But most of all, Saint Basil’s topped it for me. If you only take one building to heart from my Moscow itinerary, it’s this.
There’s just so much going on in that decoration. It’s like the designers couldn’t decide what paint or pattern to go for so they just said sod it, slap them all on and see how it looks. And somehow it works.
I must’ve taken around 200 photos of this bad boy and it’s still impossible to capture how brilliant it is. The below one is probably my favourite, mainly because I managed to avoid the many annoying cranes that were ruining the shot from every other angle.
GUM department store
I said it was fancy, didn’t I? Considering it is just a shopping centre, I took a load of photos of GUM because it’s incredibly aesthetically pleasing. Even their ‘SALE’ banners are well designed.
I’d say GUM is even prettier than Paris’s famous Gallery Lafayette. The shops, however, are equally as unaffordable to normal humans. This is the problem with any beautiful department store. Can someone please open one somewhere and fill it with Zara and H&M? Anyway, I more than made up for the lack of shopping in GUM later on (more on that soon) and I really just enjoyed wandering around it. Oh and taking advantage of its toilets, of course. Soz. It was 35 degrees and I’d drunk my own body weight in water in an attempt to hydrate.
Lunch at a local market hall
After a jaw-dropping morning taking in the magnitude of the sights, you’ll be needing some lunch. I really recommend Vokrugsvert Market (you can walk from Red Square dead easily, but in case you need to find it from elsewhere, the nearest metro is Ploschad’ Revolyutsii or Lubyanka).
Like all major cities, Moscow hasn’t missed out on the foodie market hall trend. And as I discovered with everything in Moscow, they’ve done it to an exceptional standard of quality. Russia is my new favourite foodie destination. Seriously, forget whatever nonsense you’ve been fed (pun intended) about boring stews and endless borscht. Russia is big on food and big on doing it well.
Anyway, back to this market hall. The main difference between the market halls in every European city and in Moscow is the range of cuisines. Yeah they’ll have the obligatory bao buns and pizza you see anywhere. But you’ve also got Israeli, Cuban and Hawaiian stalls, which I’ve never seen anywhere else before. And that’s on top of things you might be expecting, like the obvious Russian, Georgian and Ukrainian.
Vokrugsvert Market was brilliant. I opted to go Hawaiian and had an amazing poké bowl, while my other half was Israel-bound for a crispy falafel wrap. 10/10. I was also really pleased with the air conditioning inside because I was at melting point and had resorted to (briefly) putting my hair up in public, something so far beyond anything I’d ever do normally that you know this holiday had already become EXTREME.
The most beautiful street decorations – a highlight of this Moscow itinerary
While you’re around the Red Square area, you’ll naturally end up wandering down one of the many beautiful streets full of amazing hanging things.
I don’t know how to describe them but they’re kind of like being in the film Avatar with all the flying little lights and glowing things. Street photography heaven!
My Instagram ended up full of shots of these gorgeous streets and I was not complaining (shameless plug: feel free to follow me).
After lunch, we went to Zaryadye Park, which is a landscaped urban park very close to Red Square. It only opened in 2017 so is proper brand-spanking new still. I’ve never been anywhere like it, so it’s definitely worth popping into.
The park itself is divided into four climatic zones: forest, steppe, tundra and floodplains. Where the park meets the river, there’s a massive floating bridge-thing – a sort of mid-air metal promontory that serves as a handy selfie spot for the thousands of visitors.
There are all sorts of museums and media centres in the park, as well as a massive concert hall, ice cave, greenhouse, and underground museum. I was a bit overwhelmed by how much there was to do. But this was early on in the trip and I’d not quite got used to the magnitude of all things Russian yet. By the end, I’d be surprised if I went into a toilet and didn’t find a palace and an interactive exhibition by the sinks…
Craft beering at Rule Taproom
Feeling slightly sick and dizzy from mild heatstroke, what better thing to do as evening falls than go and drink very strong craft beer?
Russia is such a craft beer destination – both Moscow and St Petersburg are well into it. Hop geeks, take note. I don’t know why this isn’t more well known, but I don’t think it’ll stay a secret for much longer. Sadly my Moscow itinerary is unlikely to be the article to break the news to the world…
First on my beer list was Rule Taproom (metro: Borovitskaya), which is in a v cool and v hidden square full of cool people drinking outside, graffitied walls and hipster eateries.
It’s the taproom of the Zagabar Brewery, which is one of Russia’s top-level craft breweries and home to my personal favourite selection of sours. I really enjoyed sitting outside people-watching Moscow’s hipsters (mainly admiring the girls’ amazing outfits).
First evening meal: LavkaLavka
If you want to kick off your first evening on a serious high, head to LavkaLavka (metro: Trubnaya/Chekhovskaya) for your first proper meal.
This was one of the best meals we had over the full two weeks of travelling in Russia. As regular readers will know, I really like eating, so the first meal of a holiday has to be a good ‘un. That’s why I’m starting my Moscow itinerary with this treat.
LavkaLavka is a farm-to-table restaurant, using local ingredients, and it came recommended by pretty much everyone I spoke to who’d been to Moscow and loads of fellow travel bloggers. It’s primarily modern Russian cuisine, but with other influences too. Highlights included a spelt porridge starter (I hate porridge but this was AMAZING), rye pasta and a traditional mushroom pie. I became mildly/wildly obsessed with Russian pies because they’re brioche-based and that’s so far up my street I could live off it. Buckwheat and caramelised apple tart and a chocolate gooey delightful thing finished it off nicely.
4 days in Moscow itinerary: day 2
Artiness and reclaimed spaces
Having had a cultural overload on day one, I continued in the same vein with an arty morning at Winzavod (nearest metro: Kurskaya). This is an area of former warehouses that’s been reclaimed and renovated into an achingly cool contemporary art space. The galleries are small, but ever-evolving, and some of the art was really memorable. I won’t bother showing photos of the insides, because by the time you visit it’ll have changed anyway.
As well as the art, there are a few shops and cafés to mooch around. I definitely recommend looking in the gift shop on the corner (the place isn’t big, so you’ll spot it). This had a really good collection of metal pin badges, which are a big thing in Russia. There were loads of old Soviet ones, which we got some of for presents. I was semi-tempted by some earrings in the shape of watermelons but for some reason didn’t go for it. Now will have to live with that regret. Life.
You could have lunch here at one of the cafés, but I’d hold off and have it at your next stop on this little Moscow itinerary, if you’re able to wait…
Exploring a fairytale mini kremlin
The thought of visiting another kremlin so soon might make you want to keep scrolling, but wait a sec. This is worth it. And it’s not in most guidebooks so I’m delivering top secrets here.
Kremlin Izmailovo (nearest metro: Partizanskaya) is something else. I have to admit, I enjoyed it more than the actual Kremlin.
Basically, it’s a little fortress of painted wooden buildings straight out of a Russian fairytale. The words ‘chintzy’ and ‘gaudy’ don’t do it justice, but in a really good way. Explore inside and you’ll find Old Russia come to life in a sort of Disney way. There’s an apparently controversial pink statue of Lenin, giant Russian dolls, an inexplicable wedding chapel with a particularly crazed door, a throne, and a wooden replica of a Russian summer palace. Everything is, of course, brightly coloured and bonkers.
There are also some niche Russian museums, covering Russian folk art, bread, fairytales, puppets and vodka (of course).
Locals seemed to be there for the amusing photo opportunities and the few tourists we saw seemed mildly confused. I was loving it and 100% living my best life filling up the memory card on my camera.
Shopping time at the flea market
Vernissage Market is part of the Kremlin Izmailovo complex, so you can walk through the little kremlin and get to it. Check opening times as it’d be a bit pointless to go to the kremlin if the market wasn’t on.
As much as I loved the kremlin, the flea market is the best bit. Somehow, we ended up spending almost four hours at the complex and I reckon most of them were in the flea market.
It’s really big – well, more dense than big maybe. There are SO many stalls selling really good souvenirs, which I found were cheaper than in the central shops in town. If you want a Russian doll (matryoshka), this is where to find one. The traditional ones are good but if it’s not your thing, you can get modern takes on them. Who doesn’t want a Minion-themed Russian doll?!
Hipsterism and haggling
Outside the main rows of wooden market stalls, there are some cafés, vintage shops and bars. There seemed to be a lot of building work going on, and from semi-translated research online, it seems that the whole area is being transformed into some kind of hipster paradise (it does actually sound excellent TBH) featuring a whole street designed for taking photographs against different pieces of art (I know?!).
This area is where we ended up having lunch. I can’t remember what it was called but if you wander round, you’ll find a passageway with a beer shop down it. At the end is a vegan café. That’s the one.
I should also mention that I bought a matryoshka, some retro Soviet propaganda posters, postcards, and a gorgeous Russian scarf. If you want one of the scarves (they’re EVERYWHERE), I’d recommend shopping around different stalls for a long one. Loads of them are just square, so they wear more like a naff shawl than a fashiony scarf. The market stall people knew exactly what I was after and all started unwrapping long options. I was able to haggle a bit and secured a perfect neon coral and white one that goes really well with dresses plus denim jacket (my uniform of summer). Success.
Craft beering again
After practically moving into the flea market and setting up residence there, I dragged myself away and we headed for the inevitable evening craft beers.
I think Dogma Bottle Shop (nearest metro: Borovitskaya) was the coolest and best beery place we went in Moscow. It’s in a little tucked-away square, with drinkers spilling out into the street and the best people-watching opportunities you can imagine.
I had an amazing sour in a medicine bottle, of all things, by a Russian brewery I a) had never heard of and b) can’t remember the name of. If any Russian beer geeks are reading this, please fill me in in the comments at the end of this post. It was proper delicious and every beer I have now is just a disappointment in both flavour and vessel.
Discovering the Russian love for Georgian food – a foodie highlight of this Moscow itinerary
Eating time again, naturally. I’d heard loads about the Russian’s deep-rooted love affair with Georgian cuisine and was overexcited by what I’d stalked about it online. It involves loads of veggie/vegan options, including delicious dips/hummus/yoghurty things and all sorts of creations involving aubergines.
I’d earmarked Megobari, which was walkable from Dogma (or nearest metro was Kitay Gorod).
The food was everything I expected and more. Just look at it! Oh and despite all the beer, there was room for a large glass of Georgian wine. Our mate Tom (who helps with all my Japan travel) once brought us a bottle of Georgian wine back from his holiday there and it was the best wine I’ve ever had. I adored it, which is impressive considering I don’t normally like wine at all. So when I saw they had orange Georgian wine, I was all over that. I’d had orange wine before in Ljubljana, Slovenia, so I knew I was a fan. Deffo get some down you. It’s a treat.
The slight downside to this amazing Georgian food was my overambitious ordering of a khachapuri, which is a large twist of bread filled with melted cheese. It sounds amazing and the first few mouthfuls did, to be fair, taste it. But I rarely venture into the world of dairy these days (mostly eating vegan food) and it absolutely DEFEATED me. I had to give up but then managed to eat my own bodyweight in veggie goodies and the best roast potatoes I’ve ever had, so it was all fine.
4 days in Moscow itinerary: day 3
A palace for the people: the Moscow metro – a highlight of the Moscow itinerary
As you’ll probably know, Moscow’s metro is a big deal. Designed as a ‘palace for the people’ in Soviet times, it really is. Each station is different and all of them have something stunning in terms of art and architecture. The metro system overall is the absolute highlight of the city and you could quite easily spend 4 days in Moscow just on the metro, going around gawping at different stations.
I’d found a free metro tour on TripAdvisor, which we did on day 3. I’m not going to link to it because it was a bit of a waste of 2 hours TBH. We’d already managed lots of metro action just by getting about and it didn’t really add much. If you want to do a tour, go with a paid one that gives you a headset so you can listen to the guide. The free one didn’t have headsets so whenever a train went past, you couldn’t hear a thing. And they go past every 3 minutes. On either side of the platforms. Unsurprisingly, that was a problem.
Having said all that, the metro stations more than make up for the rather flaccid tour. You could totally make up your own tour and just read up about the history of various stations and do it yourself. I’ll try to make a separate blogpost on how I’d do that and will stick a link in here when it’s live.
Until then, my favourites were:
- Komsomolskaya – pictured below in all its glory, this is the big yellow beast that you see in all the guidebooks. It really sums up the ‘palace for the people’ vibe. Kind of like an underground Versailles. Also yellow is the best colour, obviously, so this makes it even better. My favourite.
- Belorusskaya – great for its amazing ceiling art featuring peasants and sheaves of wheat and cows.
- Kievskaya – white and gold!
- Novoslobodskaya – stained glass galore.
- Arbatskaya – incredibly pleasing lights and tiles.
Not that I want to send you away from Pack The Suitcases, but there’s a very good blog post on the metro stations over on Russia Beyond. That was also one of my most-used blogs when I was planning the trip and it gives you lots of photos so you can see how good the stations are. If you are planning a trip though, don’t look at them all too much. The surprise of their splendour in real life is better.
Soviet-themed café and cherry pies
I was starving after a morning of standing around waiting for people to get out of the way of my photographs of metro stations. So we headed for lunch at one of the branches of the little chain Varenichnaya No1 (via Kievskaya metro station).
The branch I chose was inside the massive shopping centre Evropeisky Shopping Centre. You can see what this was inevitably leading up to…
If you want some delicious Russian lunch, I’d definitely find one of these cafés for your Moscow itinerary. The interior is really cute – lots of red gingham and cosy armchairs. I coloured in a colouring-book thing on the tablecloth, which was almost definitely not aimed at adults. Their cherry brioche pie was a solid 10 and just what I needed before a wee shopping spree.
Shopping: Russian high-street style
I’m a massive advocate of NEVER shopping for clothes abroad unless there are affordable high-street shops that you can’t get in the UK, otherwise it’s a total waste of time because it’s just stuff you can get at home.
Russia, however, has its own high-street shops and quite a few are affordable, so it’s definitely worth a look.
It also has shops we don’t have in the UK (or only have in stupid London, which is far too far away to get to for most of us). This particular shopping centre (Evropeisky Shopping Centre) had a Berskha and a Stradivarius – two big chains you don’t get at home and that I’d happily have my wages paid straight into. Russia also has my favourite Polish chain Reserved, which this particular place didn’t have, but that I hunted out later in St Petersburg and ended up buying 7 dresses, 3 tops and 2 skirts in.
After a brief but fruitful shopping sesh, I headed out into the scorching 35-degree sunshine once again to scald myself further in another park, namely Park Pobedy (nearest metro: Park Pobedy, unsurprisingly).
Pobedy can only be described as massive. Like everything in Moscow, the behemoth size of it was beyond me.
It’s slightly elevated too, which is good in such a flat city for getting a sense of the scale of Moscow. For example, below is a photo of an obelisk at the top of the park (which took around 400 years to walk to). Obelisks tend to be pretty big I know, but just look at the size of it compared with those tower blocks next door. O, M, and indeed, G.
Park Pobedy also had this absolutely classic Russian sculpture (also massive, naturally).
This photo just sums up the holiday. Overwhelmed, overheated, and loving life in front of a massive statue of a tribute to the Great Patriotic War (or World War 2 to us Europeans). Inevitably, this will end up as my new Facebook profile pic.
After recovering from our arduous march through the park (which involved me at one point removing my painful shoes and screaming repeatedly), we headed to Artbat Street (nearest metro: Arbatskaya) for a bit of a wander and people watch.
If you’re in the market for slightly tacky souvenirs, bizarre performing artists and outdoor bars, this is your street. It’s touristy as anything but not bad at all to sit with a drink and see what the hell is going on as people stroll past.
One word of warning though – well, not really warning but just an annoyance-avoidance – there are people dressed in odd animal costumes leaping about. They either want to charge you for an awful photo opportunity or lure you into an awful touristy bar. Avoid with your best Russian bargepole.
Craft beering and people watching
The place we chose to sit and people on Arbat watch was, incredibly, not at all tourist tat.
It was a genuinely good craft beer bar called Balalayechnaya.
I had an amazing sour (seriously, Russia was nailing it on the sours!) and although there were other tourists in there, there were also locals and the prices weren’t inflated, which they definitely could have been considering the location.
A platter of Russian treats for tea
I just said tea in the heading there. Apologies to anyone who isn’t northern, but I just cannot bring myself to say ‘dinner’, even though it confuses all my readers apart from the locals. Especially Americans!
Anyway, we nipped back to our hotel post-beer because I was so sweaty (gross TMI there, but more on the anything-but-gross hotel later) and headed for our
tea evening meal at Matryoshka (metro: Kievskaya/Smolenskaya).
Matryoshka means (I think I’ve already said this…) Russian doll, so naturally the restaurant was decorated with plenty of those bad boys. It was also one of my favourite places we ate during the whole Russian trip. It wasn’t as exciting/experimental as some, but it had such a good atmosphere and I loved everything on the menu.
As already established, I had a worrying addition to Russian brioche pies so I was chuffed that it had them. We basically got a selection of Russian tapas, ordering lots of little plates. Salads in Russia tend to be top notch and I also loved pelmeni (dumplings) and vareniki (also dumplings, but more like gyoza-style). Not to mention the marinated herring and ALL the ryebread. I’m going to have to do a post just on Russian cuisine I think…
Also, Matryoshka is located beneath one of Moscow’s ‘Seven Sisters’ (skyscrapers), which is now a Radisson hotel. It’s a very impressive and giant building, which means you get a steady stream of people posing in front of it who you can observe while eating.
4 days in Moscow itinerary: day 4
Discover Russian art
No holiday would be complete without visiting a big old art gallery. If you like modern and contemporary art, I really recommend heading to the New Tretyakov Gallery (metro: Park Kultury).
I don’t love taking photographs inside art galleries as it’s too awkward, so I only took this one. You’re going to have to take my word for it when I tell you it was a brilliant gallery.
Two things struck me about the Russian art.
- I thought I was familiar with most types of modern/contemporary art but I didn’t realise (perhaps stupidly) that of course Russia has loads of famous artists and styles we’ve never heard of in Western Europe. And they’re all slightly different to what we’re used to. Dead interesting. Russian art is a well-kept secret.
- There were women! Being visible! IN ART! So you know like when you go to an art gallery and see bucolic farming scenes or people sat round tables with fruit on? And there are never or rarely any women in them – or if there is, it’s a fit milkmaid or something useless like that? Well in Russian art, there are women just existing and doing stuff, like carrying sheaves of wheat alongside men in farming scenes, or heading into battle, or just standing there representin’ in a mixed group of people. Women featured in so many of the paintings and it wasn’t until I was about 10 minutes into wandering around that I clicked and realised why it felt so different.
You can definitely spend a good couple of hours there. Make sure you check opening times etc, as ever.
The most mind-boggling place in Moscow and the highlight of this whole Moscow itinerary
After your arty morning, it’s time to have your mind blown even more. I’ve saved the best for last. If you only do one thing in your 4 days in Moscow, it should be a visit to VDNKh (nearest metro: VDNKh, unsurprisingly).
Before I try to describe VDNKh, I should mention that I recommend the café Moskovskoye Nebo for lunch inside VDNKh. It’s a sort of mini white palace with a roof terrace blaring out Soviet music. The food was lovely and the interior was gorgeous. If the weather wasn’t good enough to sit out, you’d be sorted. I highly advise going for a wee even if you don’t need to because the bathroom was SO extra. You’ll probably need a good lunch to gear you up for tackling VDNKh, so don’t hold back.
VDNKh (pronounced, sort of, vuh-dun-kuh) stands for Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva (of course!). The name translates as Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy (of course!). It’s a sort of giant park of absolute awe and madness. If you’ve ever been to Japan, you’ll be familiar with the feeling of ‘pleasant bafflement’. You can’t take everything in because there’s so much going on and so much to gawp at and it’s kind of insane, but all very enjoyable. That’s the feeling I got in VDNKh.
What is happening?!
VDNKh was built in 1939 as a showcase of socialism’s success. And it’s beyond massive. You enter through a huge Arc-de-Triomphe-like arch, featuring statues of Soviet workers on the top merrily gallivanting about – and to be honest, that’d be impressive enough on its own. But it’s only the beginning of the behemoth. I can’t comprehend how far I walked from one end of the park to halfway through. I practically crippled myself in sandals (doing 38,700 steps in 35-degree heat, if anyone’s offering up any sympathy for the deets).
The park is full of palatial buildings, each one designed in the style of a Soviet republic’s architecture and showcasing its industry. For example, there’s a Belarus-style building with lots of bread-themed stuff, because the country is famous for wheat. Inside, inexplicably, was a sort of indoor clothes market. Other buildings have museums inside, but the writing was mainly in Russian and it was so sunny that we didn’t really go inside much.
As well as these massive white and gold buildings everywhere, there’s still a lot of parkland too. And fountains. OMG, the fountains.
The first fountain you get to is this massive gold spectacle, the People’s Friendship Fountain. This is one of the most gold-tastic things I’ve ever seen. It’s so incredibly shiny. When you see it, you think it must be the main deal – the pinnacle of the park. But then further on, there’s a completely jaw-dropping rainbow fountain called the Stone Flower Fountain. This is plastered with real semi-precious stones and sort of blows the other fountain out of the water. No pun intended.
I really can’t do VDNKh justice in my explanation here. I mean, I almost just forgot to mention that there’s a real aeroplane and rocket ship plonked by one of the fountains too. This is possibly to do with Sputnik and a space museum being inside one of the buildings. But to be honest, at this point, I had no idea what was going on any more.
If you make it to the far end of VDNKh, you can enter the even-more extensive grounds of the Moscow Botanical Gardens, or head into Ostankino Park and palace. Needless to say, we didn’t get that far, even after over 5 hours there.
Cosy cat time – a cute way to end your Moscow itinerary
You may have no mental or physical energy left after the VDNKh experience, but you need to drag yourself over to Mari Vanna for your evening meal (metro: Tverskaya)
For various reasons, this was the best evening of our trip for me. The food was exquisite, the setting was ADORABLE (quirky, chintzy and sort of Russian shabby-chic) and there was a resident cat. It felt like going to a Russian granny’s house who you’ve never met but is really welcoming and a great cook.
Anyway, the CAT! He was hanging out, being cute, and wanting attention. His name was Benjamin and he spent the first half of our meal fluffily snoozing on a shelf on top of some books. He then woke up and padded around from table to table seeing who would give him a cuddle. What a life.
Sitting in Mari Vanna, eating a Russian pie (obvs) and stroking Benjamin, I wrote a note on my phone saying that I must blog about the place as being perfect for a Last Supper of any Moscow trip. So there you go.
Extra items for your Moscow itinerary if you have more than 4 days in Moscow…
I can’t believe I’ve come to the end already and covered a full 4 days in Moscow without mentioning a few of my favourite things there. So I’m plonking them here at the end as an extra bit. Soz.
- Danilovsky Market (metro: Tul’skaya) – this is a brilliant food hall, full of the BEST places for lunch and loads of local products. It has to be seen to be believed. However, it’s a little bit out of the way so will probably take up a full afternoon, which is why it didn’t fit in the 4-day itinerary.
- Ugol Vegan (metro: Borovitskaya) – an excellent vegan burger place near Rule Taproom. We ate here, but I was a bit drunk and didn’t take any photos, hence not including it! It was delish though.
- Moscow State University (metro: Universitet) – the uni is one of Moscow’s Seven Sisters, so another massive skyscraper. You get to it via cable car up a hill! Any of my readers who know my obsession with Madeira know how I feel about a good cable car! The uni is ridiculously huge and worth seeing close up. There’s also a nice bar/restaurant by the cable car, so you can spend a whole afternoon there.
- Argh, there’s so much more I want to say and this is 6,000 words already. [Edit: hello, there was so much more I wanted to cram in that I have now written a huge list of 45 things to do in Moscow separately].
4 days in Moscow itinerary – useful information for your trip
Where to stay in Moscow
I can’t recommend the hotel I found enough: Azimut Smolenskaya. It was 100% perfect and insanely cheap. Think of a nice Holiday Inn with about 22 floors, but for only £40ish a night. Unreal. The location couldn’t have been better. It’s right by one of the Seven Sisters, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and there’s Smolenskaya metro right round the corner too. Even though hotel bars are normally naff, head up to the one here because the views and cocktails are spot on. It was genuinely one of the best places I’ve ever stayed. And regular readers will know that I don’t rave about hotels lightly (the £40 a night was a big winner for me). Oh and the view from our room was spot on. I loved sitting on the big window seat and having a good nose outside.
How to get around Moscow
Moscow is obviously famous for its incredible metro system. Each journey is around 40 rubles (about 49p at the time of writing)! I recommend getting a Troika card with 20 journeys on it to start you off. The metro really is superb and on a par with Japan’s efficiency. But do bear in mind that Moscow is massive and things can take a long time to get between. You’ll end up doing a lot of walking no matter what, which is great for working off pies but less great for blisters.
When to go to Moscow
We went in June and it was HOT. I mean, seriously hot. Think 30 degrees in the evening. I actually loved the heat, despite being sick from it one of the days. It wasn’t humid and gross and I got to wear dresses with no tights every day. But if you’re not into shaving your legs every day (it did get a bit much TBH) and would prefer to be slightly less sweaty, I imagine the shoulder seasons would be ideal – May or September maybe.
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You might also like my other Russia posts:
- 45 things to do in Moscow, Russia
- 3 days in St Petersburg, Russia: itinerary and city guide
- Things to do in St Petersburg [coming soon]
- Everything you need to know to plan a trip to Russia [coming soon].
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