Red Square is the heartbeat of Moscow, its buildings telling the story of Russia’s past. The Kremlin stands along one side of the square. Inside, this ancient seat of the Tsars and now, President Medvedev, is studded with treasures. Here you’ll find magnificent frosted churches, wedding-cake style, such as the Assumption Cathedral, Archangel’s and Annunciation Cathedrals. Russia’s might is apparent on Ivan Square, where the Tsar Bell and Tsar Cannon stand and the Arsenal is on Senatskaya Square. The palaces – the Residence of Russian Tsars and Patriarchs and Grand Kremlin Palace – are suitably awe-inspiring.
Probably the most famous site in Red Square is St Basil’s Cathedral with its ornate onion domes and swirling colours, which comprises nine separate chapels.
The GUM, the shopping mall, is where you’ll find expression of the new Russia. There are more than 150 shops and stalls, big Western brands and huge prices. For more affordable souvenirs such as matrioshka dolls, get to the Old Arbat or Ismailovo Market.
Cheap flights to Moscow are plentiful, British Airways alone flies there at least twice a day.
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July and August are the peak tourist season in Moscow. Those intending to visit during the summer months should search for cheap flights to Moscow far in advance.
Late spring and early autumn are good times to visit Moscow. The weather is typically mild, although still unpredictable. Late May and late August tend to be warm and sunny.
Winter has the fewest tourists. The snowscapes are breathtaking – so is the bitter cold.
The cheapest and best way to get around Moscow is by metro. Purchase your ticket at one of the metro stations, which are decorated with artwork and sculptures. You can buy tickets for single or multiple trips. For areas that the metro doesn’t reach, take a tram or bus. Tram and bus tickets are cheapest at metro stations or kiosks, but you can also buy tickets from the driver. Make sure you validate your ticket when you board the bus.
Marshrutky (minibus shuttles that drive along bus routes) and taxis can be flagged down for short trips. It’s easy to get private cars confused with taxis, so make sure you agree on a fare ahead of time. If you’re going to the airport, or taking a long trip, you should call ahead for a taxi.
If you do rent your own car in Moscow, take note of the rules. Honking is only allowed in emergencies and your car must have seat belts, a first aid kit, a fire extinguisher and an emergency triangle or red light. If you can, avoid driving at night. Drunk driving happens often, despite being illegal.