Enigmatic, misunderstood, over the top; these are just a few ways to describe the indescribable city that is Moscow. Long gone are the days of austerity under the Cold War regimes. In their place, an opulence, confidence and self-indulgence that makes up one of the most culturally wealthy cities in the world.
Unequivocal luxury oozes from its streets as the wealthy quaff champagne and dine on caviar while languishing in the finest fashions bought in the city’s terrifyingly expensive boutiques. This is no surprise given the city’s status as the billionaire capital of the world.
Colossal churches like Christ the Saviour and imposing monuments from the Stalin era define Moscow’s skyline, punctured by towering skyscrapers and the gaudy, candy-like cupolas of Red Square, home to St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin, that keep a watchful eye over the city.
Those who have come to feast on Moscow’s culture are in for a banquet of riches from the renowned Bolshoi Theatre and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory to the Pushkin Museum of Fine arts and the Tretyakov Gallery. The blood red Mausoleum of Lenin and the Russian State Library (one of the largest in the world) are also worth a closer look.
The old Moscow spirit is still visible in kitschy Arbat Street, the unusual Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines and in the many old Russian bath houses where locals gather to soak, sip vodka and let the stresses of their day float away in the steam.
To escape the city, head for the nature of Gorky Park, which has an ice rink in the winter months; the Patriarshi Pods or the tranquil Japanese Gardens for a peaceful stroll. Victory Park is Moscow’s giant WWII memorial and another place to flee the crowds. There is plenty for children to enjoy too from the charming Obraztsov Puppet Theatre to the magic of the Moscow State Circus.
By night, Moscow’s lights could give Las Vegas a run for their money. Vodka bars, international restaurants and jazz haunts come alive as the city fills with rowdy chatter and locals dressed to the nines.
The following information is correct as of November 2014 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Moscow is served by three airports. The first is Domodedovo which is located 26 miles from the centre of Moscow can be reached by car in approximately 45 minutes – depending on traffic. The airport is served by many international airlines and carriers. There is a railway station directly outside the airport linking it to the city centre in 45 minutes via the AeroExpress train or slightly longer with the ordinary commuter trains. A cheaper alternative is the 308 shuttle bus which takes around 20 minutes to reach Domodedovskaya Metro Station, and then 10 minutes ono the metro into Moscow city centre.
The second airport is Sheremetyevo which is located 18 miles from Moscow city centre and can be reached by car in approximately 35 minutes. It is served by many international and domestic carriers. The Aeroexpress train from the airport railway station is the fastest way to reach the centre. Bus 851 is an alternative mode of transport to and from the airport, taking approximately 40 minutes.
The third airport is Vnukovo which is also located approximately 18 miles from Moscow city centre. It is served by a handful of airlines including GermanWings and Yakutia. The AeroExpress train also operates from Vnukovo or there is the option of a mini bus to Yugo-Zapadnaya, the nearest metro station, which takes around 30 minutes.
What you need to know
Currency: The Russian Ruble
Visas: To enter Russia UK nationals and nationals of most other countries do require a visa before travel. This should be done well in advance to avoid potential delays. Nationals of other countries should check for specific visa requirements either with a local embassy or on the Foreign Office website.
Laws: Your passport must be carried at all times, a copy is not sufficient. There are no laws in Russia that prohibit minors from drinking alcohol but selling to those under the age of 16 is a legal offence. There is now a smoking ban in place that prevents smoking in public places such as trains, train stations, cafes, restaurants and boats! .
Best Time to Visit
June through to August is the warmest and driest period to visit Russia, particularly if outdoor activities are on the agenda. April to October are the rainiest months, while the winters are renowned for being some of the coldest in the world. Winter extends from November to March but is still a wonderful time to visit Russia, with the appropriate clothing. Other reasons to visit Russia include the Maxidrom Rock, Cuban and Picnic International Music Festivals all held in July; the Moscow
International Film Festival in June, the Golden Mask Theatre Festival in April, the Russian Orthodox Christmas and the Maslenitsa Festival in February which celebrates the end of winter.
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