Whether you’re aware of Russia’s deep and dark history or are just visiting to experience a different culture, there are tons of places in Moscow worth knowing that most foreigners are unaware of. After the mandatory walk around the Kremlin, there are many other things for you to see. Don’t be a boring tourist and check out these unique food stops, shops, and places to get a better feel for Moscow’s culture.
Moscow is Russia's exuberant capital, which is reflected in its prices. Except for at the grocery store, expect to pay a premium on everything. Portions at most places are small, which can be quite shocking if you're coming from the U.S... The places listed below, however, are cheap, filling, and give you a sense of what traditional Russian food tastes like, giving you no reason to go into a McDonald's.
Sovetskiye Vremena (2 locations)
(1) Pokrovka St, 50, Moscow, Russia, 105062
(2) Varsonof'yevskiy Pereulok, 6, Moscow, Russia, 107031
Partially based on the casual eating joints of the Soviet Union and also based on the modern stereotypes about the Soviet Union, this place of casual dining is adorned with all types of Soviet memorabilia down to the workers behind the counter who gets mean when you take too long to order. The walls are covered in propaganda posters and small knick-knacks from the era.
You should get:
-The beef cheburekis (what they’re best known for)
-Fried cheese sticks (they’re very oily so get an extra napkin)
Trapeznaya at the Petrovskiy Monastery
Petrovka Ulitsa, 28/2, Moscow, Russia, 127051
Trapeznayas (A.K.A. church eateries) are where you can get the cheapest meal in all of Moscow. The food is made at the church itself and filled to the brim with love and care. You don’t have to believe in God to eat here and they’ll be super kind to you when ordering. This specific trapeznaya is uniquely beautiful: the ceiling and walls are ornately decorated with images of saints and there are golden candle chandeliers illuminating the space. The food is set-up as a buffet so you can easily point to whatever you’re craving.
You should get: (varies since they make different food every day)
-Grechka (A.K.A. buckwheat)
-Soup of the Day (the pumpkin is BOMB)
Blow A Bag💰
Due to the insane markups on most branded items, the best affordable places to go shopping in Moscow are vintage and thrift stores. Seeing as Russia went through an intense transformation in the last few decades, the selections are often eclectic yet telling of the country's past.
Ulitsa Kostyakova, 9, Moscow, Russia, 127422
Ulitsa Lenina is perfect for anyone interested in vintage clothing (the downstairs has an entire room of clothes from the 20th century) as well as anything from the Soviet Union. There is a broad selection of books, dishes, and retro electronics, which makes you feel like you're walking around a museum. The shop owners are knowledgeable and love discussing anything having to do with history. If you’ve found something that sparked your interest, the price will be a lot more manageable than a heavily curated vintage store.
Taking A Walk?🌲
Moscow’s street layout is confusing even to its residents so the best way to explore is to accept defeat and wander around the streets aimlessly. One of the best neighborhoods to do this in is Kitay gorod. Once you leave the comfort of the crowded Solyanka Street, you can veer into random side streets and driveways to find beautifully old, unrestored buildings. A good route is to head from the metro station Kitay-gorod to Chistye prudy (get ready to HIKE up those hills).
Moscow allows bikers to ride on sidewalks making it far less stressful than biking in a city like New York. You can rent a VeloBike (a bike-sharing service) for 105 rubles a day (roughly $1.50) or 420 rubles for a month (roughly $6). Keep in mind: You can only sign up by providing a Russian phone number.
Best places to bike: around Gorky park and the Muzeon
While you technically don’t get to stretch your legs on a tramway (unless you give up your seat to the elderly, which you should DEFINITELY do), it’s one of the most interesting modes of transportation in Moscow. Almost every travel guide will tell you to check out the Metro but never mention this cool yet outdated way of getting around. While there are only a few tramway routes left in the city, each and every one of them are scenic as hell and worth the 55 rubles it costs to buy a ticket.
Best route: from Sadovnicheskiy Proezd (Metro station Novokuznetskaya) to Chistye Prudy Boulevard (Metro station Chistye Prudy) Route A
Visiting any of these spots will provide you with a better understanding of what life is like in one of the most culturally rich cities in the world.