A Local’s Guide to Moscow

Be friendly because you never know who you might meet. This January I was on a study abroad tour through four different countries, and it was in Belgium that I met Sasha Regida. She joined some of our sessions and introduced herself. She was Russian, currently lives in Arkansas and wants to write a book. And her English is superb! This piqued my interest, and as we toured cold, rainy Brussels, I formed a friendship with Sasha, which we’ve maintained over Instagram. And we even had a mutual friend. It’s a small world we live in.

I’ve never been to Russia, and I’m fascinated. I asked Sasha to share her best tips on traveling to Moscow, and I’ll let her take it from here:

Dear reader, welcome to the heart of Mother Russia!

I believe that there is no perfect way to travel the world. Everyone has his own experience, and what makes it precious – everybody’s experience is unique. I think the best way to get best experience wherever you go is to get purposely lost in the city. However, it’s nice to know some tips and tricks to make your journey “spicier”! So, it’s an honor for me to tell you about one of the most magnificent cities I’ve ever been – Moscow, the capital of Mother Russia!

I’m from Omsk, Siberia. When people figure out that I’m from Siberia, of course, they react with a bunch of stereotypes, like “Vodka! Balalaika. Do you guys have bears???” (lots of question marks). Or, they just simply say, “Oh, Siberia – cool!” and I reply, “I doubt about cool, but it’s definitely butt-freezing cold.” Now I live in small town Searcy, Arkansas. It seems that I moved from one “the middle of nowhere” to another “the middle of nowhere.”

To be honest – Moscow for me was like NYC for somebody from Arkansas  – something cool, ambiguous, and, perhaps, dreamy. I also was biased about Moscow mentality; I thought that people there try to fool you and only get benefits from you (just like some folks from Arkansas say about New Yorkers). You know, ‘those mean big city dudes’…

OH, HOW I WAS WRONG!

Last summer I was honored to have an internship during the World Cup, so I got to live in Moscow. It was simply amazing, I’ve never been so proud for my country. People are so nice, kind, helpful, loving. I think Russians showed their best in showing their genuine care about tourists. We love tourists. We’re very hospitable. We will make sure your experience in our country will be over the top!

Things you absolutely have to do: depends what you love and how much money you have. You can google tons of restaurants and cafes; Google knows it better. But I’ll share some very special to me places.

1 . Get lost in Moscow metro

Better drop of your bags at Airbnb apartment first! Moscow metro is a masterpiece. It literally has mosaic on the walls of some stations. It’s like a museum that everyone can visit just for 55 cents! Moscow metro is one of the biggest metro systems in the world. There are 224,261 stations. Pretty impressive, huh? But please, dear guest, don’t be scared. Yet it’s one of the easiest metro system to orient.

2. Gorky Park

Located along the embankment of Moskva river, it’s absolutely my favorite place in Moscow. Beautiful space, park with ponds where you can rent little catamarans or a boat and swim; there is an open air movie theatre that operates in the summer, Museon – a cool modern art museum. Trails, little cute shops with crafts, different foods (lots of amazing healthy options!), different events, evening dances, rollercoasters… all you need in one huge, amorous space. But don’t feel like it’s all packed in one box – Gorky Park is enormous, and it would take you several hours to walk across a whole space.

Also, get a boiled corn for 150 rubles (1.80 dollars) – it’s exceptionally good there. If you’re tired of walking – get a cup of best iced coffee I’ve tried in cafe called “Лебедь” (Lebyad’) which means a swan). 

3. Walk when the sunset starts

Start on Kuznetstky Most (metro station) and head to a random direction – wherever you go is absolutely gorgeous. Explore!

4 . Dizengoff 99

Although it has two locations, I love one on Taganskaya (metro station). It’s one of the best places to eat, promise! Get some hummus and signature lemonades. Ah, they also have best schnitzel in the city (watch out, it’s enormous – one is enough for two!). If you love wine, they have lots of wines from Israel, too 🙂

5. Coffee Bean

Their Cortado started my love to coffee. A whole new level! Price is about $4-$7 per cup, depending on what you get.

6. Chistiye Prudy (Clean Ponds)

One of the most beautiful areas in Moscow. Amazing place for an evening walk with a cup of coffee 🙂 Moreover, it’s a historical place where Bulgakov’s Master & Margarita took place.

7 . Patriarch Ponds

(Yes, we love ponds in Moscow) is another my favorite area to go for a walk. It’s one of the best restaurants areas in Moscow – go and explore! My favorite place to eat there is Michel’s Bakery – a piece of France right in the centre of Moscow. 

8 . GUM

A historical space to walk and to shop on a Red Square, originally created as a shopping center with absolutely stunning design that reminds of Western Europe. Get a legendary ice cream cone there! Only $2.

9 . Nikolskaya Street

The most beautifully decorated street in the center of the city. Not far from a Red Square – go and take pictures!

10 . Watch Moscow panorama view

from ЦДМ (Tsentralny Detsky Univermag), which is a historical place, the main shopping center for kids. To enjoy Moscow panorama is free! 

11 . Tsentralny Rynok

A “bazar” place that was rebuilt into a two-story food space with the best foods in Moscow all under one roof. 100/100 recommended! Not far from all other places I’ve already mentioned.

12 . Kolomensky Park

It’s an absolutely (enormous) beautiful park with several very old cathedrals and churches that still work and are open for visitors. Go there in the summer, walk, enjoy the nature if you’re tired of a noisy city.

As you can see, I haven’t mentioned Red Square, Lenin’s mausoleum, Tretyakovskaya Gallery, Russian Museum, Bolshoy Theatre… It’s all cool, amazing, and of course, you should go there, too! But Google knows more about touristic places. I told you about special places, and I hope your Moscow experience will be special! 🙂

Get lost and explore!

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