Top Experiences in Moscow

Ride the Moscow metro

The efficiency of Stalin's metro system contradicts the standstill of Russian bureaucracy. The vast system transports about 9 million passengers a day, and the frequency and regularity of the trains put New York's and London's underground systems to shame. You could spend hours just riding the rails as a sight-seeing visitor, stopping to gaze up at the mosaic ceilings at Komsomolskaya or to ogle Ploshchad Revolyutsii's bronzed statues of beefy Soviet workers, farmers, and soldiers.

See and be seen at a Moscow café

European-style coffee joints and, yes, Starbucks have taken over downtown Moscow. It seems endless spouts of caffeine are energizing the whole city. Cafés now provide space for high-powered business meetings as well as hangout spots for the younger blogging set. Coffee Mania on Bolshoi Nikitskaya was one of the first European-style cafés to burst onto the scene and remains one of the favorites of Moscow's trendsetters and arty elite.

Take a walk

Muscovites know how to take advantage of the city's green spaces and parks in a city rushed with ambition and development. Russians old or young see a good, long stroll with friends as the best way to dive into the day's gossip or spend time with aging grandparents. Slowly cruise down the Boulevard Ring's renovated green walkways and you'll pass young lovers kissing on benches and pairs of babushkas discussing the latest price increases at neighborhood shops.

Shop ‘til you drop

A touristy market that's often full of Muscovites as well, Ismailovsky is a one-stop spot for souvenirs, antiques, and Russian kitsch. Wander through the aisles of wooden stalls to find everything from old Soviet posters, samovars, and fur hats to Central Asian carpets.

Celebrate winter

Muscovites love the cold and thrive in it. One of the best ways to celebrate a crisp winter day or evening is to get on the ice and show off your inner Irina Slutskaya (the Olympic medalist hails from Moscow, by the way). Several city parks have rinks where you can rent a pair of skates for a few dollars. Gorky Park and Patriarch's Ponds (Patriashy Prudi) are some of the best in the center. Grab your partner's hand and skate around the rink, or try and join in on a pickup game of ice hockey.

Party all night long

If partying is your pastime, Moscow is sure to satisfy. This is an all-night party town with enough energy to keep the beat going for as long as your dancing shoes can hold up. Party with the elite and wannabe elite at one of the city's thumping nightclubs, many of which boast brand-name DJs and serious face control. Or relax with friends in a small, smoky student café with blaring Russified reggae. But don't be surprised if you end up out on the town until the sun comes up.

Get out of town

Russians who live outside Moscow love to criticize the capital for being out of touch with the real Russia. Test out their theory by taking a breather ifn one of the picturesque cities along the Volga River. Even if your Russian language skills are limited to spacibo (thank you), you'll find the culture and people of the Golden Ring cities to be notably more open and friendly and the delicately painted golden domes and colorful wooden houses are worth a look.

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