St. Petersburg may be known as Russia's cultural capital, but Moscow easily rivals its northern neighbor. Ballet at the Bolshoi, concerts at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and theaters packed for Chekhov plays are among the highlights of the intense arts scene in this city with dozens of theaters and concert halls and many prestigious acting schools. From raucous, boho joints like Kitaisky Lyotchik to sophisticated "minigarch" (wannabe oligarch) hangouts, Moscow's nightlife scene has a little bit of something for everyone. Almost all the major hotels have upscale bars: those at the Baltschug Kempinski, Ararat Park Hyatt, and Golden Ring are elegant and have majestic views of the city. But you'll likely have more fun if you head out on the town and taste a little Russian hedonism, be it sipping a cocktail on the rooftop at Rolling Stone or jumping about to a guitar band at Krizis Zhanra. For those after something calmer, there are several English-style pubs like Sixteen Tons that are great for a quiet pint and a bite to eat.

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  • 1. Bar Strelka


    The superbly positioned summer terrace overlooking the Moscow River and the Cathedral of Christ Our Savior is the main attraction of this upscale bar, which is part of the innovative Institute of Architecture and Design. The open-air theatre out the back hosts film screenings and lectures.

    14 nab. Bersenevskaya, Moscow, Moscow, 119072, Russia
  • 2. Rolling Stone


    What's considered by many to be Moscow's best night out presents an eclectic mix of all the best bits of the city's unique nightlife: bar-top dancing, creative cocktails, a huge roof terrace, and, of course, rigid face control. Some 3,000 clubbers are said to pass through this joint on an average weekend, so expect to have to wait to get in.

    3 nab. Bolotnaya, Moscow, Moscow, 119072, Russia
  • 3. Ryumochnaya

    Ulitsa Bolshaya Nikitskaya | Bars/Pubs

    Ryumochnaya. For a true Russian vodka-drinking experience, head to this 125-year-old tavern whose name literally translates as "shot bar." Drinks are amazingly affordable and there's a large variety of zakuski, tasty bites that help the booze go down, like salmon sandwiches, boiled prawns, and fried potatoes. 22/2 ul. Bolshaya Nikitskaya, bldg. 1, Bolshaya Nikitskaya, Moscow, Moscow, 125009. 495/691–5474. Metro: Okhotny Ryad.

    22/2 ul. Bolshaya Nikitskaya, bldg. 1, Moscow, Moscow, 125009, Russia
  • 4. Solyanka

    Kitai Gorod

    Several rooms in this high-ceilinged converted mansion double up as a great café and restaurant during the day and a dance club after hours. Thursday through Saturday are laid-back techno and funk club nights, a top choice among Moscow's hipster youth, with free entry on Thursdays.

    11/6 ul. Solyanka, Moscow, Moscow, 109028, Russia
  • 5. 12 Volt

    Ulitsa Tverskaya

    This gay club for both men and women is tricky to find, but has a welcoming atmosphere. It has DJs, film screenings, karaoke, and cheap drink deals.

    12 ul. Tverskaya, Moscow, Moscow, 125009, Russia
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  • 6. 7freedays

    Kitai Gorod

    With its homely atmosphere, film nights, and tasty food, this club has become the top refuge of Moscow's gay and lesbian community and offers dancing and a good range of cultural events. Visitors should exercise caution when entering and leaving, though, as the bar has been subject to homophobic attacks in recent years.

    6 per. Milyutinsky, Moscow, Moscow, 101000, Russia
  • 7. Arma 17

    Eastern Outskirts

    A vast warehouse to the east of the center makes a refreshing change from the city's glitzy clubbing scene. The club regularly hosts big international techno DJs and its raucous parties have been known to carry on long into the afternoon.

    5 per. Nizhny Susalny, Moscow, Moscow, 105064, Russia
  • 8. B-2

    Ulitsa Tverskaya

    One of the best places in Moscow for live rock performances, this enormous five-story club includes a restaurant, a pool hall, a dance club, and several bars.

    8 ul. Bolshaya Sadovaya, Moscow, Moscow, 123379, Russia
  • 9. Balchug 5


    This place is not cheap, and the face control gets strict from time to time, but if you're looking for an elite bar scene, it's hard to beat. This is where Moscow's upper crust—everyone from upwardly mobile execs to almost-oligarchs—comes to grab its after-work drink, or a bite in one of the three lavishly appointed dining halls.

    5 ul. Baltchug, Moscow, Moscow, 115035, Russia
  • 10. BB King Blues Club

    Northern Outskirts

    The man himself came for the opening, and visiting Western stars have continued to make appearances here, often for post-concert jams. Call ahead to book a table for concerts as the small hall fills up fast.

    4 ul. Sadovaya-Samotyochnaya, Moscow, Moscow, 127473, Russia
  • 11. Bud Arena

    Northern Outskirts

    With the biggest club stage in Moscow and a dance floor capacity of 3,500 people, this live music venue is a prime spot to see big and up-and-coming Russian groups, as well as foreign acts and DJs.

    31 Leningradsky pr., Moscow, Moscow, 125284, Russia
  • 12. Central Station

    Northern Outskirts

    This popular spot with students is one of the most well established gay clubs in town, with a regular rotation of good DJs. Mostly men come here, but women are welcome.

    4 pro. Yuzhny, Moscow, Moscow, 127106, Russia
  • 13. Chinese Pilot Jao Da

    Kitai Gorod

    Live music and tasty, affordable food draw a bohemian crowd to this cellar, whose name translates as "Chinese Pilot."

    25 pr. Lubyanskiy, Moscow, Moscow, 101000, Russia
  • 14. City Space Bar

    Southern Outskirts

    Perched 140 meters above the city and with stunning panoramic views, this upscale cocktail bar is the perfect spot to watch the sun set over Moscow.

    52 nab. Kosmodamianskaya, Moscow, Moscow, 115054, Russia
  • 15. Club Che

    Kitai Gorod

    A Latin American–theme involves occasional live Latino music, though music is usually provided by DJs playing Eurodance. Drink service can be slow at night, when the staff often dances with the crowd. Show up early or you'll never get in.

    10/2 ul. Nikolskaya, Moscow, Moscow, 109012, Russia
  • 16. Crocus City Hall

    Western Outskirts

    Sting and Elton John have played at this huge complex on the Moscow ring road with a 6,200-seat auditorium. Check ahead and you might catch your favorite group from home.

    65–66 km Moscow Ring Road (MKhAD), Moscow, Moscow, 143400, Russia
  • 17. Cult

    Kitai Gorod

    A cavernous venue with free entry and cheap drinks, which caters to lovers of reggae, funk, and soul.

    5 ul. Yauzskaya, Moscow, Moscow, 109028, Russia
  • 18. Denis Simachev Bar

    Ulitsa Tverskaya | Live Music

    Denis Simachev Bar. A club opened by the renowned Russian designer of the same name combines kitsch, elegance, and a hot crowd for a unique experience that can be a treat for those keen on people-watching. Here's where Moscow's "Zolotaya Molodyozh," or "Gilded Youth," go for their pre-party drinks. 12 per. Stoleshnikov, bldg. 2, Ulitsa Tverskaya, Moscow, Moscow, 103031. 495/629–8085. Metro: Teatralnaya.

    12 per. Stoleshnikov, bldg. 2, Moscow, Moscow, 103031, Russia
  • 19. Gipsy


    Music at this stylishly decorated and very popular venue in the city's trendy Krasnaya Oktyabr complex varies from pop to techno. Some 400 disco balls hang over the club's large and lively dance floor. The club is well worth a visit for its roof terrace with stunning views over the Moskva River.

    3/4 nab. Bolotnaya, Moscow, Moscow, 119072, Russia
  • 20. Glavpivtorg

    Kitai Gorod

    Live musicians perform songs from the Soviet era at this enormous retro eatery with a big choice of beers, including its own brand. The traditional Russian dishes are expensive but served up with style. Book ahead, as it gets busy even on weeknights.

    5 ul. Bolshaya Lubyanka, Moscow, Moscow, 125040, Russia

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