Moscow is an excellent destination for a city break. Regardless of the weather there is always plenty of interesting things to do in and outside. Today we gathered our favourite ideas to make your city break in Moscow as Russian and authentic as possible!
Try Russian Banya
Banya is an experience you will never forget as it is quite different from the idea of the conventional sauna. How? Mainly because of the way people do it. One of the most enjoyable and at the same time unusual experiences is a massage people give to each other with a bunch of brunches with oak or birch leaves, before they pour a bucket of ice-cold water on themselves. This may sound frightening but when in Russia…do as the Russians! One more interesting feature is that in most banyas you would be expected to wear your birthday suit! Ironically enough you will attract more glances if you wear a swimming suit rather than nothing at all!
Tip: do not forget to soak your bunch of leaves in the warm water to make it softer before you start massaging your friends not to turn it into proper hitting. (Surprisingly, the whole thing is very stress relieving!)
Where to try it?
We recommend heading to Sanduny. One of the oldest banyas in Moscow which not only managed to save the best traditions of a Russian banya but which will also pleasantly surprise you with its beautiful architecture. It has even been visited by celebrities such as Naomi Campbell due to its fame as a beauty and relaxation retreat!
Keep in mind that male and female departments are separated from each other, so it’s more fun to visit with the friends of your gender rather than with a friend of an opposite sex.
Explore Food Markets
As with most of us, trying traditional food is a must when travelling! Although some people may argue that Russian food is bland, we heartily disagree. You just need to know where to go! Here are a few ideas which will spoil you for choice:
One of the oldest food markets in Moscow (since 1963!), Danilovsky market is affectionately called a ‘turtle’ by the locals owing to the turtle-shell shaped roof of the building it is located in. It is one of the favourite places not only for general public but also for chefs of the best Moscow restaurants, who often come here for cooking ingredients. Danilovsky market is a great place not only to buy food to go but also to stay inside and relax, as the market is full of cafes located all over the market. One of our recommendations is to try freshly made pelmeni at Lepim-Varim. You can pick and mix different fillings and will definitely not leave disappointed. Their menu is usually available in English too!
Getting there: Mytnaya Ulitsa, 74.The market is located 5 minutes away from Tulskaya Metro station, grey line
Central Food Market
Another great place to explore local food as well as treats from all over the world is the Central Food Market. Located in the city centre, as promised in the name, it offers not only nice food but also a lovely area around. As with Danilovsky market, here you can not only buy food to take home but also stay in a nice café and try everything you like there and then.
Getting there: The market right outside Trubnaya metro station, light green line
Website in English: http://moscowcentralmarket.ru/en/
DEPO (ДЕПО) is one of the new places for foodies in Moscow and is also known as a food mall due to its variety of choice. Here you can try food not just from Russia but from other places too. However, if you are after authentic Russian experience, you can find excellent pancakes (called bilni) at the Teremok stall or try fresh Russian fish dishes.
DEPO can get quite crowded and loud in the evening as they often invite music bands and all sorts of live entertainment, so if you prefer quiet, the best time to come here would be in the morning of a weekday to avoid the queues and loud music.
Getting there: Lesnaya Ulitsa, 20/3. The closest metro stations are Belorusskaya, green/brown line, or Mendeleevskaya, grey line. DEPO is a 5-10-minute walk from there down Lesnaya street
Shop at the Flea Market
Many people know that buying souvenirs in the city centre may not be the best idea for your budget. Where to go then if you want to get some beautiful matreshka dolls, amber jewelry and other traditionally Russian souvenirs? The answer is Izmailovsky flea market! It is the largest in Moscow and, in fact, many gift shops in the city centre buy their goods there themselves to resell. Even more exciting, at this market you can meet people who produce what they sell themselves! Tip: do not forget to haggle! Most of the sellers will easily give you a discount if you ask for it.
Getting there: The closest metro station is Partizanskaya. Go through the large hotel complex and you will see the beautiful Izmailovsky Kremlin. This is where the market is. Pass the first few stalls with second hand toys and go down the stairs – this is where the real treasures are.
Travelling with kids? Visit Detsky Mir (CDM)
If you are a parent, we have something to surprise your children too! Detsky Mir, translated as Children's World, definitely lives up to its name. The shop itself has a history dating back to 1953 and boasts seven levels of toys, sweet treats, children’s clothes and entertainment. It has an interesting design too: the ceiling is decorated with images of Russian fairy-tale characters and there is a massive clock "Raketa" weighing more than 5 tons (!) on one of the walls. They also say that the shop offers one of the most delicious ice creams in the city!
Website in English: http://en.cdm-moscow.ru/
Getting there: the shop is located at Lybyanka metro station, red line, and can be entered from the underground.
Enjoy a Play in Bolshoi Theatre and Visit the Backstage
What pops into your head when you think of Moscow, opera and ballet more than Bolshoi theatre? If it is your first time in Moscow, visiting this masterpiece of architecture and art should definitely be on your to-do list. Reopened after the reconstruction in 2015, the historical stage looks better than ever, however, if you travel on a budget you can always book a New Stage for a cheaper price. Want to make your visit even more special? Book a backstage tour to see the building of the oldest theatre in Moscow in every detail. Such visits are recommended to be booked in advance and happen in small groups but if you love theatre, you will not leave disappointed.
https://www.into-russia.co.uk/russia/moscow-city-break - guided Moscow city break in a group
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