Moscow, Russia | Getting lost in the metro

Moscow was the first stop on our journey across western Russia and the Baltic States. Dennis and I visited in November, autumn was coming to an end and the weather was getting a little crisp, perfect touring weather.

Moscow is the heart and soul of Russia. It’s the country’s largest city and its political, economic, cultural and academic capital, making it the centre of all life in Russia. With a population of over 11 million people and the highest concentration of billionaires on earth, Moscow is fast becoming a modern mega city for the super-rich. All that said, there is another side of the city that tourists come to see – the grand buildings, historic sites and massive monuments to the mighty Soviet Empire.

Me in cold Moscow

Red Square as winter approached

Guard at Red SquareRed Square
Located in the heart of Moscow, Red Square is on the UNESCO World Heritage list (along with the Kremlin and St Basil’s Cathedral) and once you walk on it you will know why. It is surrounded by the Kremlin, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the grand Gum Department Store and is the originating point for all major highways in Russia. It’s also been the scene of many military parades that were the norm during the Cold War where the Soviets wanted to show off their military might. It’s a very impressive setting and worth visiting both during the day and at night as the buildings and monuments take on a completely different feel when illuminated.

Red Square at night

One of the nights during our visit in Moscow we visited the square and Dennis went a little crazy with his camera, to the point that the local police came and questioned us on why we had set up a tripod in Red Square. Take it from me, Dennis will go to extreme lengths to take a good photo.

The KremlinThe Kremlin
The Kremlin is an enormous fortified complex located in the city centre, bordered by the Moskva River on one side and Red Square on the other. It’s the official residence of the president of Russia, similar to the White House in Washington D.C. The imposing complex is surrounded by a fortified wall with protective towers guarding the inner area which comprises of 4 palaces, 4 churches, an armoury and a few museums.


St Basil's Cathedral at nightSaint Basil’s Cathedral
Once the tallest building in Moscow, Saint Basil’s Cathedral still is an inspiring site to be seen sitting at the end of Red Square. Built in 1550 by Ivan the Terrible, Saint Basil’s Cathedral is an iconic globally recognised building due to its unique architectural style of cylindrical shape domes and rich bright colourful outer. The Cathedral is still used by the Russian Orthodox Church and is best seen at night when it is light up like a Christmas tree.

Dennis & I outside St Basil's Cathedral

Georgian RestaurantEating out
When in Moscow go out and experience the many restaurants offering local and eastern foods from the former Soviet Union states. We enjoyed a fantastic feast in an authentic Georgian restaurant as well as a traditional Russian dinner in small restaurant near Red Square; both of which were real highlights of our time in Moscow.

Welcome Dinner Restaurant Red Sq (1)On every menu in each restaurant we ate at, there was always a potato dish, always with interesting name, like “country potatoes, peasant potatoes, Ukrainian potatoes or Russian potatoes’, they all ended up being the same, just hot potato chips just with a fancy name.

Garlic, soup, garlic soup, potatoes, garlic and did I say garlic, all make up the backbone of Russian cuisine as well as healthy doses of meat and bread. When it comes to drinking, the drink of choice in Russia is vodka.

Welcome Dinner Rest Red Sq (3)

Gum Department Store Fountain

Gum Department Store
The famous Gum Department Store on Red Square was owned by the state during the Cold War and was one of the only places in Moscow where there was no shortage of consumer goods, thus became equally famous for its long lines of shoppers extending deep into Red Square waiting to get in and buy something, anything. The building was built on a grand scale and is very impressive, with a huge glass roof bringing in natural light with over 20,000 panes of glass. The department store has long gone and has been replaced by high end fashion boutiques for the new breed of super-rich Russians. The lines of people waiting to buy consumer goods have also gone as the prices are a little high for the average Muscovite. When you visit Red Square, pop in for a look, as it is well worth the effort, even if it’s just for a bit of window shopping.

Dennis with Santa Claus

In the metroThe Metro
No trip to Moscow would be complete without a visit underground to ride the metro. The metro system is over 300 kilometres long and a tourist attraction in its own right. Some of the older metro stations in the city centre were built in a grand style, a real mix of art deco and socialist themes all rolled in to one, with a good helping of marble, tile mosaics and massive murals depicting soviet life  and of course, chandeliers to light it all up. Dennis and I went underground to explore the metro ourselves, only to get a little lost due to the long Russian names for almost all places on the metro map. If it was not for the help of a New Zealander who happened to walk past and hear us speak English, I would assume we would still be somewhere deep under Moscow riding the train system.

For more information, explore our Europe small group tours or watch our YouTube tour videos.

Taking a break from being lost in the metro

4 thoughts on “Moscow, Russia | Getting lost in the metro”

  1. Chele Matthews says:

    I notice your Moscow to Praque tour was advertised in the Travel Section of the Melbourne Age today Saturday 30 July. It advertised 25 days from $9445 pp. I am considering doing this tour on tour date 22 September 2017 and would be doing it with a friend so there would be two of us. However when I looked up your website I note this tour is advertised for 23 days from $8875 and this is for 2016 tours however your website does not state anything (that I could find) about the 2017 tour, the dates and costs. Also I note there is a 2017 early bird saving of $250 pp but when does the deposit confirming the booking need to take place in order to get this discount. I would also consider possibly upgrading our air fares to either Premium or Business Class – would you kindly tell me (if it is possible please) what the extra costs would be to upgrade our air fares. I have some friends in Melbourne who highly recommended your travel service so I was thrilled to see this advertisement in the Age today. Looking forward to hearing from you. Kind regards Chele Matthews (Melbourne).

    1. Bunnik Tours says:

      Hi Chele,
      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.

      You can find information regarding Moscow to Prague for 2017 here:

      We have created a new page for it on the website given there have been a couple of changes to the itinerary from the 2016 tour.

      Earlybird bookings need to be made and deposited by 22 December 2016.

      We can definitely organise airline upgrades for you too, you’ll just need to speak to one of our consultants on 1800 286 645 or to your local travel agent. 🙂

    2. Kate Boyle says:

      Hi saw your post about the Russian tour. We are booked for next month & whilst I am really looking forward to it, Russian laws recently changed regarding drugs brought into the country are putting a damper on travel plans. Changes will impact where if you have a medical condition, use drugs generally we have our doctor’s letter outlining what is wrong & the list of drugs we take. Now that letter must be more comprehensive , translated into Russian & notarised! I live in WA & it is still a struggle finding how to achieve this, finding an authorised translation service & as I am in WA must have documents presented to the Passport service for authentication. & so far I estimate the cost will be over $200. Access Smartraveller website for Russia.. Please check this out.

      1. Bunnik Tours says:

        Hi Kate,

        We can see that you have booked through your travel agent. Our advice would be to call them first to discuss the matter and see what they can do.
        Failing that, please give us a call and one of our consultants will be able to find out further information for you.

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