Home to amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites, avant-garde contemporary art, and some of the best food you’ll find anywhere, Moscow is a true gem. If this is your first trip to Russia’s capital city, though, how do you know where to start planning your trip? Use this one-day itinerary, local airport guide, and list of the city’s top accommodations to plan an unforgettable dream trip to Moscow.

Your Moscow Itinerary

Want to hit the ground running once you arrive in Moscow? Here’s how to have the best day ever in Russia’s capital city.

Dawn: Start With Coffee, Russian-Style

Coffee is obviously a top priority, especially if you’re trying to get over some brutal jet lag. If you just want a quick cup, Moscow might not be the place for you. But if you don’t mind a leisurely cup of java amidst sumptuous surroundings, you’re in the right city.

Moscow is home to several historical cafés that just ooze glam, along with some more contemporary spots that are seriously fancy. Stop by Bosco Café on the Red Square for a cappuccino and a slice of cake, and be sure to enjoy it outside if the weather is nice. For one of the most upscale cups of coffee you’ll find in the city, head to Vogue Café, which is nestled among high-end shops. For an expertly prepared cup, make your way to Coffee Mania, where award-winning baristas can whip up cappuccinos, lattes, and Americanos that double as works of art.

Kremlin and Red Square
Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow.

Morning: Explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Moscow is home to two important UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and you won’t want to miss either one of them. Get an early start at the Ensemble of the Novodevichy Convent, or the New Maiden Convent, which is on the southwest side of the city. Part church and cemetery, part defense system, this striking convent is an integral part of Moscow’s political and religious landscape.

This fascinating site is a world-class example of the Moscow Baroque style that was popular in the 16th and 17th centuries, and when you visit today, you’ll feel like you’re walking into a fairytale. Walk through the fortress gates and gaze up at the brightly colored structures and gold domes. Step inside and admire the sumptuous interior, and don’t miss a tour of the cemetery, which features the graves of some members of the czar’s family.

Next, head to the center of town, where you’ll find perhaps Moscow’s most famous UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Kremlin and Red Square. You’ll want to stand here and just let it all sink in for a few minutes, as this site is home to over six centuries of history. This area has been important to Russia since the 13th century, and construction on the Kremlin started in the 14th century.

The Kremlin is massive, and to do it justice, you’ll want to plan out what to see ahead of time. If you love shiny, sparkly things, don’t miss the Diamond Fund, which features gems and jewelry that belonged to Peter the Great, including an absolutely gigantic diamond and some gorgeous Fabergé eggs. If you’re curious about Russia’s socialist history, check out Lenin’s Mausoleum, which features the preserved body of the leader himself. And don’t forget to admire St. Basil’s Basilica, an important and totally amazing Russian Orthodox site, not to mention an essential Insta snap.

Noon: Grab a Bite to Eat

After touring some of the city’s top sights, it’s time for a quick break. Be sure to save room for dinner, though, because Moscow knows how to do upscale meals.

For lunch, try the Bar BQ Café, one of the most popular places to nosh in the city and the ideal spot to grab a signature burger. Café Pushkin is another great choice and one that never goes out of style. From borscht to beef stroganoff to the set lunch, this spot offers classic Russian dishes with a contemporary spin in an absolutely beautiful setting.

Gorky Park
Gorky Park in Moscow.

Afternoon: Stroll Through Moscow’s Best Parks

After a bite to eat, head out and explore the great outdoors in Moscow. This may be the Russian Federation’s largest city, but it still boasts some beautiful green spaces, many of them historic.

Gorky Park has long been a highlight in Moscow, and it’s one you still won’t want to miss today. It’s right on the banks of the Moscow River, and there’s tons to do here, from taking aim at the shooting range to taking a leisurely stroll to ice skating in the winter.

Another historic spot, Izmaylovsky Park of Culture and Leisure dates back to 1931, and it’s still a great place to stop and smell the flowers or get lost in an urban forest. You can also take the metro southeast to Lyublino Park, which has a 19th-century manor house, orangery, and a leisure park. At Kolomenskoe Park, you’ll find a beautiful green space and the Museum of Wooden Architecture, along with some great spots for sunbathing in the summer.

If the weather isn’t quite right for long strolls outdoors, spend your afternoon in one of Moscow’s best museums. The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts is a crowd favorite and always has something going on. Browse the storied museum’s legendary collections of 19th- and 20th-century European and American art or check out a temporary show. In fall 2017, don’t miss avant-garde shows by artists known as the Recycle Group or classical shows featuring greats like Titian and Tintoretto.

Evening: Indulge in an Upscale Meal

Ready to dig in to a meal you won’t soon forget? You’ll find tons of delectable options in Moscow, from true fine dining to funky spots that are great for budget travelers.

On the more affordable end, try Bar Strelka, which is located in a former chocolate factory among galleries and cafés. Put on your hippest duds, sip an aperitif, and dig into the light but satisfying dishes, which highlight clean, local ingredients.

If you don’t mind going on a treasure hunt, try Mari Vanna, which you can only enjoy if you manage to find the hidden door. This spot is packed with vintage decor, and the menu offers similarly classic Russian dishes.

If you really want to splash out, make a reservation at Varvary, which is headed by a Michelin-starred chef. You never know just what you’ll find on the menu here, so let the chef surprise you with some high-end Russian-inspired eats.

Late Night: Dance the Night Away

Moscow is known for its nightlife that just doesn’t stop. Whether you’re looking for the perfect dance floor to show off your moves or you just want to sip a few cocktails in an ultra-cool bar, this city has you covered.

Kick things off at a quiet spot like Noor Bar, which has tons of awards for its excellent cocktail selection and top-notch mixologists. Since it’s right in the middle of everything yet it’s pretty chill inside, this is a great place to get the lay of the land.

If you’re after heart-stopping views, head up to the top of the Swissotel with someone special. City Space Bar has massive windows and an amazing view of the city. Watch the lights twinkle and plot the rest of your evening as you rub elbows with some of the fanciest people in town.

If you’re looking for something a little wackier, head to Kitaiski Lyotchik, a bar with tons of retro appeal, music you probably won’t hear anywhere else, and cheap drinks. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a theater performance while you enjoy your cocktail.

If you’re in the mood to put on your dancing shoes, head over to ICON, one of Moscow’s hottest clubs. This glam spot has a full roster of DJs who will keep you on your feet all night long. It’s only open on Fridays and Saturdays, but since the club stays open till 7 a.m., you can rest assured that this is a place where you’ll want to party till the sun comes up.

Pushkin
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow.

Sheremetyevo International Airport Guide

If you’re flying to Moscow from the U.S., you’ll almost definitely be landing at Sheremetyevo International Airport (SVO), Russia’s busiest airport. This bustling airport is a major hub for Aeroflot and also hosts Nordwind Airlines, RoyalFlight, China Southern Airlines, and over a dozen other carriers. SVO serves destinations including New York City, Paris, Amsterdam, Beijing, Seoul, and Bangkok.

How to Get to and From Sheremetyevo International Airport

Getting to and from SVO is a breeze, no matter your budget. If you really want to go big, book the airport’s helicopter shuttle service. Otherwise, the most efficient option is taking a taxi, which you’ll find in the arrivals hall of each terminal.

If you’d rather take public transit, hop on one of the airport’s the shuttle buses, which transport you directly from SVO to Planernaya, Rechnoy vozkal, and Leninskiy Prospekt stations on the Moscow Metro. You can also breeze into town on the Moscow Aeroexpress, which departs for the Belorussky Railway station approximately every 30 minutes.

What to Do at Sheremetyevo International Airport

At SVO, you’ll find a total of three passenger terminals, which you can reach via the airport’s shuttle system. Once you find your gate, make a beeline to the nearest VIP lounge or stake out a spot in the terminal and log in to the free high-speed Wi-Fi.

If you’re feeling peckish, take your pick from dozens of cafés and restaurants. You’ll find quick-service spots like Costa Coffee, Stardogs, and Upper Crust Café, along with sit-down spots like the Guinness Irish Pub, the Pyaty Okean Restaurant, and the Rembrandt Restaurant.

Whether you need to tuck a few more souvenirs in your carry-on or you’re just looking for some reading material for the plane, you can get your shop on throughout SVO. Hit up the duty-free shops, spin by Victoria’s Secret, or stock up on luxury beauty products from Chanel and Christian Dior.

If you’re looking for a little culture, SVO has you covered, too. You’ll find art installations in every terminal, with artwork from Russian museums and galleries as well as local artists.

Alternatives to Sheremetyevo International Airport

SVO might be the largest airport in the Moscow area, but it certainly isn’t the only way to access the capital city. In fact, you can just as easily land at two other Moscow-area airports.

Domodedovo International Airport (DME) is just 25 miles south of central Moscow and serves destinations ranging from London and Brussels to Tokyo and Doha. You can also reach domestic destinations like Sochi and St. Petersburg from here. Dozens of carriers, including S7 Airlines, RusLine, Ural Airlines, and Red Wings Airlines operate out of DME. Thanks to the Aeroport Domodedovo station on the Moscow Aeroexpress, you can even travel from the airport to the center of town by train.

Just 17 miles southwest of central Moscow, Vnukovo International Airport (VKO) hosts airlines like Aeroflot, Pobeda, UTair Aviation, Turkish Airlines, and Gazpromavia. You can reach domestic destinations like Yekaterinburg and Vladivostok from here, along with international destinations like Istanbul, Dubai, Paris, Vienna, and Budapest. VKO has its own station on the Moscow Aeroexpress, so you can travel from Aeroport Vnukovo to central Moscow in about a half-hour.

Downtown Moscow
Downtown Moscow.

Where to Stay in Moscow

Whether you’re in Moscow to splurge or you want to spend your rubles on something other than accommodations, you’ll find an amazing place to stay. Get a glimpse of some of the chicest hotels, friendliest hostels, and cutest private rentals in Moscow.

Top Hotels in Moscow

Moscow knows luxury, so if you’re looking for a gold-plated getaway in Russia’s capital city, you’ll have no problem finding the perfect spot to rest your head. Try the massive Hotel Metropol, located right in the center of the city. With gorgeous classic decor, a sumptuous art nouveau bar, and a restaurant with contemporary Russian cuisine, Hotel Metropol will make you feel right at home.

For five-star luxury that won’t quit, try the Hotel Baltschug Kempinski Moscow or the Ararat Park Hyatt Moscow. The former features an indoor pool, limo service, an on-site spa, and rooms that scream luxury. The latter boasts ultra-contemporary design, unbelievable views of Moscow’s major attractions, and one of the most beautiful restaurants in the city. With an absolutely stunning fitness center, you won’t even mind hitting the gym at the Park Hyatt.

For a boutique spot that offers a stellar experience, try the Golden Apple Boutique Hotel. It features historic architecture with contemporary decor, easy access to major attractions, and a sauna for unwinding at the end of a long day of sightseeing.

Best Hostels in Moscow

Boutique hotels can be super relaxing if you’re looking for an upscale getaway. But what if you want to make a bunch of new friends and save money at the same time? Moscow’s hostels offer a great balance between social opportunities and budget-friendly prices.

As the oldest backpacker spot in the city, Napoleon Hostel has tons of old-world charm along with an awesome location. Chat up fellow travelers in the guest lounge area and head out to explore the Red Square with your new buds. With single and double rooms, this is a great budget-friendly pick.

There’s no need to be scared. Godzillas Hostel is a perfectly friendly spot with a contemporary design, dorm-style shared rooms, and prices your wallet will love. This monstrously nice hostel even provides visa invitations to help you get your paperwork in order, and the staff offer guided photo tours to give your next blog post a local edge.

If you want the wallet-friendly hostel experience without giving up all the fancy hotel perks you love, try the Fasol Hostel. It’s right in the middle of everything so you don’t have to waste time getting around town, and the hostel offers free luggage storage and adjustable checkout times. Talk with the staff about booking tours, get tickets for local transport, and get caffeinated with free hot drinks on site.

If you’re all about style, you’re going to want to set your sights on the Vagabond Hostel. This spot boasts tons of contemporary style, a great guest kitchen and lounge, and gorgeous city views. Snag the double room with French balcony or buddy up in 4, 8, or 12-bed dormitory rooms.

Coolest Private Rentals in Moscow

If you’re traveling with a group of friends or if you just want a little extra space, forget about hotels and hostels and snap up a private rental instead. Search for private rooms in Moscow’s best neighborhoods, and you can even settle in and pretend you live in the Russian capital for a little while.

Though you can rent entire homes in many cities around the globe, you’ll find that virtually every private rental in Moscow is a room in a larger home. That means you can share space with locals for under $20 per night, right in the middle of the city. Get ready for a super fun cultural immersion and a great opportunity to make friends with some Muscovites!

Whether you’re visiting for the history, the culture, or the parks, get ready to fall for Moscow. Make trip planning a breeze, and organize your flights, hotels, tours, and attractions right here on GoDoTrip.