The capital of Russia offers so much to explore and discover. If your time is limited, there is still much to be seen and experienced if you follow this two-day Moscow itinerary.
Day 1: Get the culture going
Our Moscow itinerary starts at the State Tretyakov Gallery, the biggest gallery of Russian art in the world. If the architecture of the building alone doesn’t get your groove going, worry not. This gallery is full of amazing gems to discover and admire, and you will enjoy learning about Russian art and see its evolution through the years and historical eras.
Once you are done, walk north to Balchug Island, this man-made island in the middle of the Moskva River. A nice park can be found there, with interesting sculptures and art projects. You can then go west and cross the bridge that will get you off the island and right in front of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
It is the second tallest Orthodox church in the world, and my second favourite after the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. Cameras are not allowed in the cathedral, and proper attire is required – no visible knees and shoulders for men and women, and better with a headscarf for women. Not that the no taking pictures rule will be an issue when you will be to awestruck by how magnificent the cathedral looks inside – even more so than outside.
Once you are done with the cathedral, a five-minute walk will lead you to the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art. Entrance tickets give you access to galleries in two different buildings, so make sure to check them both out for a full experience of this museum.
To finish the first day of our Moscow itinerary, treat yourself to tickets at the Bolshoi Theatre. This theatre used to belong to the Imperial families, and now holds the older and most renowned opera and ballet companies in the world. It would be a shame to pass the opportunity to see them in action!
The theatre’s programme changes with each season, and booking in advance is more than recommended. So make sure to plan your visit to the Bolshoi Theatre in advance of your trip to Moscow.
Day 2: All about the Red Square
Today is a big day, so the main recommendation is to wake up early to avoid the crowds and queues as much as possible. The Kremlin Museums open at 9.30 during the summer season and 10 during the winter season, with its ticket office running half an hour before that. Do no let it trick you though, and buy your tickets in advance so you only have to collect them on the day and be on your way.
Visiting the Kremlin in its entirely will take you at least two full hours, and I recommend you make the best of it. Take your time and make sure you visit everything on the map, as each building and room holds new and different treasures ready to be discovered. Every church if different too, each with their own style and personality, so skipping one isn’t exactly recommended. Take also the time to wander around the square and garden, but be careful not to cross the limits – Russian soldiers will very quickly and aggressively yell at you if you do!
On the western side of the Kremlin, you can find several points of interest about Russia’s involvement in the World wars, as well as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. My personal favourite is the Manage Square overlooking the State Historical Museum, with its glass dome shaped like a world map.
And speaking of State Historical Museum, this tall, red building marks the entrance of our next and most anticipated stop in this Moscow itinerary: the Red Square.
The Red Square is a sight to behold, with some much to do and see. Lenin’s Mausoleum is still open to the public, although only on the mornings of certain days. The queue can be quite long, but you can go down the mausoleum and see Lenin’s preserved body, if you are into that kind of things.
Saint Basil’s Cathedral marks the south of the Red Square and stands proudly in all its ginger-bread-house like beauty. You can visit its interior for a small price if you want, and admires its colourful wall paintings and decorations.
Opposite the Kremlin, you will also find the GUM department store. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, it’s always worth to have a look inside for the structure alone. It feels like a little corner of western Europe in a sea of Russian history, and the decorations are just so pretty. Lots of stalls sell snacks for cheap, which is perfect after all that exploring we did!
Outside GUM also are lots of little souvenir shops, cafés and restaurants to finish your two-day Moscow itinerary on a high note!