Best Free Things to Do in Moscow
Apart from the obvious things Moscow has the offer- Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, The Kremlin, Gorky Park… There are a few surprising and somewhat secret attractions you may want to check out. And most of them are free or low cost!
1. Sparrow Hill
Sparrow Hill is one of the seven hills of Moscow, and one of the highest points of the city. The observation deck is 85m above the river, and affords a generous panorama of the centre of Moscow, with usually great visibility summer or winter. Behind the observation deck is the Moscow State University, the architecture of the building is breathtaking and a typical example of Stalinist Russia- an almost inconceivable mix of neo-gothic and baroque styles. From the observation deck, you can look out over to the 1980 Summer Olympic Park, Luzhniki Stadium, and an enormous ski jump that can be used by the public.
2. The Underground
Moscow’s underground train system is an artistic gem, under the streets of the vast city. Construction began from 1932, and it is nearly 300 kms long with almost 200 stations. It is not necessary to visit all of the station stops get a beauty and architecture ﬁx- many fantastic sights are on the circle line (the brown line), for a aesthetic ﬁx jump off at each stop and feel free to gawk. The amount of people that use the metro is staggering, approximately 9 million each day, so it might be wise to get up early (the metro opens from around 5.30am), and good news - amateur photography is allowed!
3. The All Russia Exhibition Centre
If you’re willing to travel a bit further from the centre of Moscow, VDNKh - the Exhibition of National Economic Achievements, is an impressive sight. Spend the day and pack lunch- it is enormous! It was opened in 1939 to hold exhibitions displaying the achievements of work of the collective Russian people. Many pavilions, halls, statues, fountains and crumbling remains of Soviet era grandeur can be seen, the sheer size- more than two square kilometres- means a lot to see… There is even a dinosaur park! The Cosmonautics Memorial Museum is at the entrance of the site, a comprehensive and awe inspiring collection of space travel information and paraphernalia. Well worth the visit, if only to see taxidermies of the ﬁrst two dogs in space!
4. New Tretyakov Gallery
Situated on the east side of the Moskva River is the New Tretyakov Gallery, housing an incredible collection of contemporary Russian Art from 1900. But the less famous attraction is near by- overshadowed by the eighth tallest sculpture of the world, of Peter the Great. The Fallen Monument Park, once known as The Graveyard of the Fallen Heroes, is a park created in 1992, and on display are more than 700 sculptures, saved and preserved from the Soviet era. Walking through the park is like visiting a cemetery, bronze and stone sculptures loom from every corner. You can ﬁnd different sections, including the Oriental garden, Portrait Row, and a disquieting section of more than 300 sculptures of victims of gulags.
5. Izmaylovo Market
Twenty minutes north of the centre of Moscow is the sprawling, colourful and hectic Izmaylovo Market. The best one stop shopping for tourist trinkets and souvenirs in Moscow, and also a history lesson told in objects. The daily market is ﬁlled with Matryoshka (nesting) dolls, traditional and not so traditional Russian shawls, ‘valenki’ boots, and eye watering displays of Putin-covered mugs and tea towels. For added fun you can try to haggle with these vendors, but the most excitement is on the weekend when the ﬂea market pedlars are out. Find a fantastic array of Soviet era objects- from coins to ﬂags, household nicknacks and posters, and much more. Russian tea and snacks are wheeled around the ﬂea market by friendly tea ladies, making it feel like you really have gone back in time, and allows you to make your visit to the Izmaylovo Market a full day trip adventure!
By Jade Rudnyckyj