9 Best Photo Spots and Things to Do in Moscow  - A Backpacking Guide to the Capital City of Russia

9 Best Photo Spots and Things to Do in Moscow

A Backpacking Guide to the Capital City of Russia

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Moscow is a big capital city with many awesome things to do and see. It can be quite overwhelming to plan where you want to begin your journey so I decided to compile a list of incredible things to do and the best photo spots I found in this post. This should give you a good starting point for your trip and should help you explore this stunning city in the best way possible.

Moscow Things to Do Itinerary Map

Moscow Best Photo Spots

Russia Travel Video

Russia from Pete R. on Vimeo

When To Visit Moscow

June to August is by far the best time to visit Moscow as it is the summer time with a comfortable temperature of 23 - 30 °C. I was there in November and it was rainy the entire time I was there. I gotta see the northern lights in the arctic circle though, which is nice.

How To Get Around Moscow

Moscow is very accessible via Metros. The metros are pretty easy to navigate too as all the airports are connected via the brown line where you can switch to any colored lines from there. It is extremely cheap too with one ticket costing around 50 RUB for a single trip.

Before arriving I would suggest you download an offline map from here: Download Moscow Metro maps.

Where to Stay in Moscow

Budget - Boxtel Hostel - 11 USD/Night (Dorm) - Very well located near the Red Square, and you get the capsule to yourself!

Mid-Range - PEOPLE Business Novinsky Hotel - 37 USD/Night (Twin Room)

Daily Budget

1 daily budget 1 daily budget 0.5 daily budget -1 daily budget -1 daily budget

This place is moderately priced with transportation, food and accommodation average around 35 - 55 USD per day per person. Not that cheap but not too expensive.

Keep in mind that this is just a suggested daily budget based on my style of traveling, which is leaning more toward the budget side of things. If you want to stick to this budget, expect to sleep in dorms, eat out only a few times, and be comfortable using the cheapest and most convenient way of transportation, which often times involves walking.

How to Get to Moscow

You can fly into Moscow via Aeroflot but if you are looking for the cheapest possible option, be sure to browse through Skyscanner or Momondo before to compare prices just in case.

Travel Insurance

If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip to Russia, I would recommend WorldNomads.com, which is what I use to look for a travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure. They have a simple and flexible search system that allowed me to find the right insurance for the right amount of time at an affordable price in seconds. If you need travel insurance, give WorldNomads.com a try.

Get a Quote from World Nomads

9 Incredible Things to Do and See in Moscow (3 - 4 nights)

1. Red Square

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Red Square is one of the highlight of Moscow and for great reason. Many of Moscow's unique architectural wonders like St Basil's Cathedrals and the State Historical Museum are all located here. If you booked the hostel I recommended above, you will be minutes away from the Square and you can visit this place at your own leisure.

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Photo Tips: Getting a stunning photo of the Red Square is real tricky as it is one of the most popular attraction in Moscow but it's not impossible. Try to point the camera up to exclude the crowds or visit the Red Square at night where there are less people and with better lighting.

2. The Kremlin

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Next to the Red Square is the Kremlin. Going inside the Kremlin is highly recommended. It is concentrated with stunning buildings with historical importance such as Ivan the Great Bell Tower, the Grand Palace and the Cathedral of the Archangel.

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Photo Tips: Walk across the bridge to the other side of the river and capture the Kremlin from there with all the lights. It is quite a nice easy walk that should not take you more than an hour tops.

3. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

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A gigantic cathedral near the Red Square with an iconic golden roof. You may have seen this from afar while walking around the Red Square so don't forget to incorporate this into one of the stops in your walks. You can even go up the cathedral to the lookout point to see Moscow from above.

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Photo Tips: Right before the bridge end connecting it to the cathedral platform facing the cathedral on your left, you can get a nice perspective of Moscow. With a mix of old Russian architectural style and the modern style of the main building of the Moscow State University, in creates a beautiful contrast between the 2 styles especially during sunset.

4. Moscow's Underground

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Moscow's metro system is one of the oldest metro system in the world and one of the most extravagant as well. Decorations in stations like Komsomolskaya and Mayakovskaya are left intact and still worth a visit. It is like walking into a palace full of people. Although, not all of them are worth seeing so pick the stations carefully.

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Photo Tips: Going against all travel photography teachings, the stations are best visited during a prime time when there are most busy. Long exposure shots are perfect for a poorly lid crowded station like Komsomolskaya.

5. The Museum of Cosmonautics

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If you are a space nerd like me, you probably know who Yuri Gagarin is (the first man in space) and since you are traveling in his country, what is a better way to pay respect to him than to visit the museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow. The musuem is interesting in itself with large collection of amazing space instruments and satellites used during the Space Race, a little nod to Buran the Russian Space Shuttle and a history of the first man, woman and dogs that went to space. You can spent half a day here learning all about the USSR legacy during the Space Race.

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Tips: If you don't mind waiting in long queues, every third Sunday of the month, the museum is free to enter.

6. Moscow Business District

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Moscow has many cool skyscrapers but the best place to see all of this concentrated in one area is at the observational deck along the river near the Bagration Bridge. You can take a metro to Kievskaya and walked north west across the streets toward the river and there you can capture a nice perspective of the new modern Moscow.

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Photo Tips: the location of this observational deck is not very well documented so you should not have a problem with the crowds. Try to walk along the entire stretch of the river and you should see a dock that goes down close to the river. With a beautiful calm day or night, you might be able to get a beautiful photo of these skyscrapers.

7. Arbat Walking Street

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The Arbat walking street is the perfect place to go see Russian street performers performing to interesting crowds after work hours. Even in the cold wintry Russia, there are many street performers along the streets, under the connecting bridges and around the entrance of the Arbat metro station.

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Photo Tips: After work hours are the best time to see the people interacting with the street performers, perfect for street photography.

8. Church of Nikolaya Chudotvortsa Tverskoy Old Believers' Community

This is a small, relatively unknown cathedral but what makes this place special for me was its location. The small cathedral is located in between business centers and skyscrapers which creates the perfect contrast between the old and the new.

Photo Tips: Walk up the street in between Torro Grill and Bianca restaurants in front of the church for a bit and turn back. You will be able to get the perfect shot of this old church squeezed in between 2 modern skyscrapers.

9. Moscow State University

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Photos by Dmitry A. Mottl

Moscow State university is not just one of the highest ranking university in the world but one of the most iconic architecture in the city. The main building with its Neo-Palladian style resemble the State Empire Building in New York but larger and more captivating.

Photo Tips: The building is perfectly symmetrical so if you walk through the botanical garden and turn back, you will be able to see a beautiful symmetrical view of the university.

Further Reading for Russia

I hope you found this Russia travel guide useful. If you want to read more about Russia, I have a ton more articles you might like:

The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links.

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