Turn up the Tchaikovsky and pack some blini — the Russian capital of Moscow is a city that longs to be explored. From medieval fortresses and underground museums, to river cruises and intriguing multicolored domes, Savoir Flair selects 12 of its most interesting attractions.
Hotel Baltschug Kempinski
Old-world elegance meets modern luxury
As the first international five-star hotel in post-Soviet Russia, the grandiose yet contemporary Hotel Baltschug Kempinski hits all the right notes when it comes to luxury travel, making it one of the top choices for accommodations in the city. The hotel is set within a historical building whose elegant façade dates back to 1898, giving it a rare Old-World splendor. The exquisite interior echoes the theme with its gleaming marble columns, intricate ironwork, and custom Murano-glass chandeliers.
Due to its unique riverside location, the Kempinski’s beautifully-styled rooms offer spectacular views of the Red Square, the Kremlin, and St. Basil’s Cathedral. The property is also a mere 10-minute stroll to major points of interest such as the historic district, Zaryadye Park, as well as the Tretyakov Gallery.
Furthermore, the service is warm, efficient, and extremely personalized, which is a remarkable feat for a hotel of this size and scale. It’s this special touch that makes Hotel Baltschug Kempinski such a memorable place to stay.
Four Seasons Hotel
An enviable, one-of-a-kind location
Very few hotels in the world are a destination unto themselves, but such is the case with Four Seasons Hotel. As a modern replica of the legendary Soviet-era Hotel Moskva, its distinctive façade (classical columns flanked by two “mismatched” wings) has become an iconic fixture on the Moscow skyline.
This upscale property offers all the amenities and perks expected of a five-star hotel — large luxurious rooms, top-notch amenities, an award-winning spa, a plethora of dining options, and excellent service — but its enviable address is what sets it apart.
Nestled between the historic center and the State Duma, its perfect location makes it the ideal starting point in exploring the major tourist attractions of the city. The Red Square, Kremlin, State Historical Museum, Bolshoi Theater, and Okhotny Ryad metro station are all right on its doorstep. A variety of restaurants, cafés, as well as GUM and TSUM shopping malls, are also less than five minutes away on foot.
The heart and soul of Moscow
There is no better place to relive the whispered tales of Moscow’s rich history than in the Red Square. It is home to the magnificent St. Basil’s Cathedral, one of the oldest churches ever built in Russia. According to legend, Ivan the Terrible purposefully blinded the cathedral’s unnamed architect, so that its beauty could never be replicated.
The Red Square also houses the Kremlin, State Historical Museum, Lenin’s Mausoleum, and GUM. This 460-year-old plaza, with its cobbled streets and massive walls, has lived through Tsarism, Stalinism, and the modern day.
Get to the pointe
Russians take their ballet repertoire very seriously, and nowhere is more serious than the Bolshoi Theatre. Home to the best-known and most prestigious dance company in the world, the 160-year-old cultural institution is also a symbol of artistic excellence, making it the best place to catch a performance of beloved classics like Sleeping Beauty or Swan Lake.
Shop and dine in style
Occupying a long stretch of the Red Square’s east side, GUM (pronounced as goom) is both a historic landmark and a luxury shopping mall. What used to be a bleak, state-run trading center has somehow evolved into an upscale shopping and dining destination, packed with the likes of Burberry, Hermès, Dior, Beluga Caviar Bar, and Bosco Café, with no shortage of customers. So if you’re looking to admire breathtaking Neoclassical architecture, shop for some non-kitschy souvenirs, or enjoy a delicious meal with views of the Kremlin, this place is an absolute must-visit.
Kaleidoscopic views and bargain finds
This flea market is the go-to place for anyone looking for great souvenirs at reasonable prices. Here, you’ll find endless rows of matryoshka dolls, fabergé eggs, quirky Soviet paraphernalia, and a little bit of everything else. That said, this huge and chaotic place is also a treasure trove of some genuinely rare items such as vintage cameras, gramophones in working condition, and authentic (fingers crossed!) Tsarist-era artifacts.
Flotilla River Cruise
Ready, set, sail
A first-time visit to Moscow calls for a boat trip along the river the city was named after. In under three hours, you are able to sail along all the interesting sights like Novodevichy Monastery, Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Gorky Park, Luzhniki Stadium, the Kremlin, and so on. While there are plenty of cruise providers to choose from, Flotilla Radisson owns one of the largest and most modern fleet, complete with a cozy restaurant and attentive crew at your service. These stylish vessels feature floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing you to enjoy the spectacular scenery from a new perspective. The best part? These cruises are offered all year round, because the boats are equipped with ice-breaking technology during winters, when the river is frozen.
Escape the chaos
The grass is greener on the other side of the Red Square. Enjoy a relief from the dizzying excitement of the city center in Alexander Garden, a local favorite for long leisurely strolls and rest stops. This tranquil park’s verdant lawns are dotted with colorful flower beds, commemorative sculptures, and serene water fountains. The garden is open 24/7, and has WiFi within the premises. It’s a pleasure to linger.
As a living testament of Soviet power and engineering, the Moscow Metro is much more than a system of mass transportation. Poignantly dubbed as the “Palaces for the People”, the Metro was built with fierce love and pride, and the result is as breathtaking as you would expect. Spanning across 232 stops and 12 lines, many of the stations also function as museums showcasing the nation’s greatest contributions to the world. Start your self-guided tour from the Red Square (Ploschad Revolyutsii), and make your way to the brown and green lines that connect to it. The key stops within the city center to look out for are Teatralnaya, Mayakovskaya, Belorusskaya, Novoslobodskaya, Komsomolskaya, and Arbatskaya.
Spectacular views and creative cuisine
Ranking 13th among the World’s 50 Best Restaurants, White Rabbit owes its success to culinary genius Vladimir Mukhin of Chef’s Table fame. This award-winning restaurant serves up quintessential Russian food with innovative twists: think veal tongue pastrami, wild boar cutlets, swan liver pâté, Black Sea oysters, and so on. And as the name suggests, this place has a whimsical Alice in Wonderland setting — a glass-dome ceiling, 360-degree city views, and ornate rococo furniture. Truly a feast for all the senses, a night here might just be the most important dinner reservation you’ll ever make in Moscow. Don’t be late.
Dinner with a side of history
If you’re seeking to enjoy a truly exquisite fine-dining experience, Café Pushkin is the place to be. Housed within a renovated Baroque mansion, the dimly-lit three-story restaurant has an equally opulent menu to match, offering a tasteful blend of Russian and French cuisines. You’ll want to get the classic borscht soup, blini with black caviar, and Olivier salad, before moving on to the house’s specialty Beef Stroganoff and, of course, one of their many (very) tempting desserts.
Georgia on my mind
Unbelievably good and authentic Georgian food 24/7? You’re in the right place. A visit to Natakhtari is like stepping into an offbeat, shabby-chic dining room — from the interior filled with vintage delights and colorful tapestry, down to the abundance of indoor plants. Serving hungry Muscovites and tourists alike round-the-clock, this homey café specializes in traditional Georgian comfort food. Get yourself some of their signature khachapuri, stews, pies, and khinkali; and wash them down with a refreshing fruit smoothie. This hidden gem is worth a repeat visit (or five).