Itinerary: 24 hours in Moscow
Updated: Nov 6, 2018
24 hours is certainly not enough to explore a city so rich in things to do and historic sights as Moscow. A day however will be sufficient to get a nice taste of what Moscow has to offer. To make the most of it I can suggest the following itinerary:
Note: Travel-friendly version of this itinerary including a place-marked map is available to download here
Start your Moscow adventure by having breakfast at one of my all-time favourites - Grand Café Dr. Zhivago. It is a fantastic venue to try out the classics of a morning meal a la Russe. Pick your favourite:
Eggs cooked different styles
All sorts of hot cereals: porridge, semolina, rice, millet
Bliny (pancakes) with sweet or savoury toppings, with caviar being the top choice.
Cottage cheese: fresh or as a base for small cakes (syrniki) and pudding (zapekanka). Normally served with sour cream and jams.
Breakfast alternatives in the area:
Coffemania – Nikitskaya branch is the oldest and most loved of this high-end coffee/restaurant chain. Award-winning cappuccinos and always delicious food.
Severyane – breakfasts served from 9am at this rustically decorated venue where food is cooked in traditional Russian stoves right in front of you at the open kitchen.
Head out to the heart of the city to take those much-anticipated snaps of the Red Square. It’s a good time to explore some of the touristy spots in the area: Kremlin, GUM, St Basil’s Cathedral, Alexandrovsky Garden, Bolshoi Theatre. At this point your best friend would be prioritizing. Since you only have one day to enjoy the city, it is very unlikely that you can squeeze in there a whole fully featured tour of Kremlin with all the churches, Armoury Chamber, etc.
Pick what you would most like to see within a couple of hours time and leave the rest for next time (Well there must be a next time, right?).
Be sure to make time to at least briefly visit Zaryadye park opened in 2017 on a place where hotel Rossiya used to stand until its demolition a decade earlier. My choice of top activities is:
Stroll along the floating bridge over River Moskva (70 meters of panoramic views of Kremlin and Kitay-Gorod without a single support!).
Experience the atmosphere of 4 different climate zones, recreated in the park, visit the ice cove
Take a flight over Moscow in 4D cinema - highly recommended when visiting Media Centre.
If you have worked out your appetite by now, head to Zaryadye Gastrocenter situated in the park grounds. It is a hybrid between food court and a restaurant that features 8 different zones, each representing regional Russian cuisine. The menus range from seafood (think oysters and sea urchins), to traditional dumplings (vareniki) and soups.
Alternative lunch suggestion for those who prefer a more traditional restaurant setting would be neighbouring Voskhod. It offers the same gorgeous panoramic views of Kremlin along with a generous selection of dishes from former Soviet Republics. If you like the idea of trying authentic plov, borsch, pelmeni and Olivye salad served in Soviet 60s inspired interiors, this is a perfect spot!
I propose taking one of my favourite city centre walks heading towards Cathedral of Christ the Savior along the Kremlin walls via Kremlevskaya and Prechistenskaya embankments. The cathedral itself is definitely worth paying a visit too. Being one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world, the landmark impresses with exterior as well as inside decor. Museum downstairs will bring you up to speed with the 200 years of history surrounding the church. And if you are after bird’s-eye views of the city, head up to the rooftop viewing point.
Just opposite the cathedral is located any fine art lover’s utopia. The Pushkin State Museum contains a truly remarkable collection of works from all over the world. Again, given time constraints, it probably will not be possible to amble around for hours, which are required to properly examine all halls. Quite a few notable pieces of impressionists and post-impressionists (including Monet, Renoir, Gauguin, van Gogh and Picasso) are exhibited next door at 19th and 20th Century European and American Art gallery. Much more compact in size than the main building, this could easily make up your fine arts programme minimum for today.
Use the scenic Patriarshiy footbridge to get from Christ the Savior Cathedral to the former area of confectionery factory Krasniy Octyabr (Красный Октябрь). About 10 years ago this part of Bolotnyy island was one of the first in Moscow to set a trend for converting industrial spaces into art and entertainment clusters.
Lose yourself in labyrinth of unique stores, courtyards, bars, eateries and cultural spots to get the sense of the area.
You must have gotten thirsty after all of the hard work wandering about the city. If that’s the case stop over for a cocktail break at Strelka Bar. Its summer terrace is a perfect spot to take a breath and grab a drink after a day of sightseeing. Having been listed among the best venues with a view for years, Strelka offers unbeatable vistas over the Moscow River and the Cathedral. Up to you if you want to make it your dinner spot (international menu from around here won’t disappoint), or head out to explore the dining options of the island further.
Alternative dinner suggestions:
Syrovarnya – a terrific opportunity to try out soft cheeses that are freshly made locally (mozzarella, burrata, stracciatella and ricotta). The cheese accompanies delicious and simple village style dishes as well as home-made pasta and pizza from wood-burning stove.
Bruce Lee would be an adventurous choice for those willing to have Szechuan inspired dinner and cocktails. I love the cozy atmosphere!
For a taste of Moscow nightlife you don’t even need to leave Krasniy Octyabr as pretty much always there is something going on. Browse clubs events pages for DJ line-ups and programmes to see what would be a good shout for you tonight. You can check out these for inspiration: Bessonniza (Бессонница), Bar Strelka, Icon, Fantomas Chateau & Rooftop, Gipsy.
A more elegant alternative for those not willing to hit town big time, would be making your way back to the Red Square. It is a completely different and especially charming experience at night thanks to illumination lights of GUM department store.
Then head across the street towards O2 Lounge at glitzy Ritz Carlton Hotel for rooftop after-dinner drinks with most gorgeous panoramic views over Red Square an the historic city centre. Drinks are priced on the higher end, so be cautious if you’re on the budget. Yet sipping on your Moscow Sling at the end of this eventful day while gazing at illuminated Kremlin and St Basil’s cathedral from atop, isn't this priceless?
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