Long are gone the years of grey concrete buildings and muted cultural life. Today’s Moscow exudes XXI century glamour, green promenades, modern shopping centres and a pompous past and there is something to do no matter what time of the year you visit.
Population is finally increasing after years of decline due to low life expectancy and birth rate and the city seems to have found its own re-birth.
1. Greenery in the heart of the urban centre
25% of Moscow is made of parks and gardens and it shows. As you land, wander its streets or take a river cruise, you will notice trees everywhere. Gorky Park, in the middle of the city, offers a breath of fresh air. You can stroll along the river banks, hire a bicycle or watch the day go by on one of its benches. Few other cities offer the feeling of being in an urban forest like Moscow does.
2. A dose of history
Russia’s history goes back hundreds of years and although Moscow was not always the capital of the Empire, most of the recent history including the time of the Tsars and the First and Second World War and the years of Communism can be relived through the guided tours of its Museums and famous landmarks.
The Kremlin, the Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral are only some of its best known destinations that won’t disappoint. Russia’s historical past from the times of Genghis Khan offers an insight into the history of many Asian and European countries.
The incalculable value of the treasure kept in the Armoury of the Kremlin is testament to the wealth the Tsars accumulated. For a modern way to experience its history hop on Moscow’s metro system. Each station is themed with a scene of Russia’s history, perfectly decorated with beautiful statues, paintings and ceilings.
3. White nights and days
In late June and July, Moscow’s sun barely sets. Days are long and nights extremely short providing a long twilight period. For a true white winter nothing better than visiting the city during the snow months when most of the famous sights are covered in a romantic white layer. Put on a furry hat and enjoy the magic of its classic monuments and buildings while the snowflakes dance in the wind
4. Ostentatious glamour
Moscow is today synonymous with ostentation. From the museums displaying the great treasures to the wide avenues filled with imposing tinted cars the city has long overcome its grey communist past.
Instead, its recent history has been embraced and improved. Mammoth buildings which frequently hosted government entities have been renovated and transformed into classic European-inspired opulent shopping malls or ultra-luxury hotels offering guests a world of extreme wealth and golden decoration.
Crystal chandeliers, polished marble floors and walls, high ceilings, perfectly uniformed staff, expensive restaurants and Renaissance themed rooms all set the scene for a peek into the life of the ultra-rich Muscovites.
Historical hotels such as the Ukraina Hotel (today’s Radisson Royal), The Metropol or The Hotel Moscow slated to re-open this year under the management of the Four Seasons, offers guests a taste for how the rich aristocracy lived with price tags to match. But it is not only hotels or shopping malls who are unearthing Moscow’s rich past, restaurateurs are also following suit.
Places like Turandot have reconstructed the décor of the 18th century in such detail that it is hard to decide whether it is a new construction or a renovation of an old building. Golden reliefs of angels and saints under a dome with sparkling chandeliers and Roman-like acoustics are the backdrop for a Chinese inspired menu.
Pair with crystal glasses, heavy silver cutlery and theatre balconies for that special dinner and you have the perfect atmosphere for a proposal or a wedding celebration. The famous Pushkin Caféprovides the real deal. The ambience has been kept and its dark interiors with dark wooden surfaces and dimed lights invite to deep political discussions to accompany the Bosh and Beef Strogonov.
5. A romantic getaway
Usually overlooked as a romantic destination Moscow is the perfect setting for that special getaway. Pick one of the classic hotels for a fairy-tale sleep. Visit the Armoury for a chock-full exhibition of jewellery, carriages encrusted with thousands of precious stones and royal gowns.
Enjoy lunch on one of the luxury river cruises offering proper dining while the boat takes you on a 2.5h hour tour of Moscow’s main sites seen from a different perspective. Stroll along the river in Gorky Park grounds or take a picnic to the Moscow River banks filled with Muscovites taking in the summer sun on the grass covered shore. Take a walk along New and Old Arbat Streets today lined up with shops, artists, book stalls and European inspired cafes.
Admire the Golden Triangle of the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral at sunset when the sunlight reflects on the colourful and golden domes. Wine and dine when you visit Moscow and its several excellent restaurants and finish off the evening with an opera at the Bolshoi Theatre. Perfect way to spend a weekend in Moscow.
Tours of Moscow
Just like a tour of any country, it’s best to go with a local guide. We recommend the following private guided tours so that you can really understand the history and culture of the area:
• 4 hour Diamond Fund and Museum Armoury Walking Tour that explores the Kremlin.
• Splash out on a 3 hour limo tour of the capital.