Morning: My favourite thing to do when I arrive in a new city is get my bearings by exploring and it’s even better when you can do this with a local guide for free! Sam booked us on to the Moscow Free Tour first thing in the morning and by 10.45am we were on the walking tour.
We met at Slavyanskaya Square, beside the Old City Walls and from there we walked along Varvanka Street towards Red Square. Throughout the walk we were able to learn about the history, architecture, people and food of Moscow. Our tour guide, Marina instantly seemed friendly, fun and knowledgeable. Being from Moscow meant that she had lovely little stories to tell and definitely put a personal stamp on the tour.
One of my favourite parts was the plombir ice cream!
Afternoon: The walking tour finishes not far from Gum department store, where you can find traditional Russian food. Stovolaya 57 is situated in Gum and is a great place for a traditional, cheap lunch. Instantly, you will be hit with the décor of the soviet era as you step in to the large cafeteria. The food will also take you back in time with plenty of meat cutlets, mushroom julienne, dumplings and pickled herring.
Once you have finished your lunch, make your way to St Basil’s Cathedral, where as well as being dazzled by the beautiful exterior, you can also be wowed by venturing inside. This Cathedral is definitely one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve seen and with its bright colours and many different churches; it’s easy to see why. The inside is also stunning and intricate, which makes it a lovely place to spend an afternoon.
Not far from St Basil’s is the Central Children’s Store. If you are visiting with kids then you might want to explore this toy paradise, but you can enjoy this building just as much if you don’t have children. Head to the roof where you can take in views from all over Moscow. Architect enthusiasts will love spotting Stalin’s 7 Sisters, as well as other famous landmarks.
Evening: Continue with the traditional Russian food theme and secure yourself a table at Mari Vanna. The restaurant has the look and feel of someone’s apartment, both on the outside and inside. Once settled in to the adorable surroundings, you will have the struggle of choosing your meal for the evening.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of our starters, mains and desserts, so I’m not sure you can go wrong with your order. We spent all evening here; soaking up the atmosphere, eating delicious food and drinking vodka! Make sure to spot the friendly feline animal that makes Mari Vanna feel even more like home.
Morning: Make your way back to Red Square on your second morning, to indulge in more of Moscow and Russia’s history. The Kremlin is a government building and is the official residence of the Russian president. Literally translated, Kremlin means ‘fortress inside a city’ and being a fortified complex means that there is plenty to see here.
Be sure to book your ticket for the Kremlin in advance because I highly recommend adding on the Armoury ticket, which you will receive a time slot for. The grounds of the complex are beautiful and great to spend time in, but the Armoury was my highlight. Inside the Armoury you will find a collection of treasures that the state preserves, this includes gold and silverware, clothes and crafts from the 4th to early 20th century. The museum provides an audio guide, which you can listen to at your own pace, as you make your way through the various rooms.
Afternoon: Once you have experienced all the nooks and crannies of the Kremlin, it’s time to decide what to have for lunch. You can wander back to Gum for another traditional meal at Bosco Café or venture to Bar BQ, which is an American/Asian fusion restaurant. At Bosco I suggest sampling the delights of borscht, which is a beetroot soup that’s popular in Eastern European countries. The soup is a mixture of meat and vegetables, but it has a distinctive red colour because of the beetroot. It’s served with a dollop of sour cream and is perfect for a rainy afternoon.
Bar BQ is ideal if you’re looking for something other than traditional food. Located a short walk from Red Square, you can take a seat outside, where you’ll have a view of St Basil’s Cathedral. The menu here is varied, so there’s a lot to choose from, including burgers and sushi.
If the sun is shining, Gorky Park is the perfect place to while away the afternoon in beautiful surroundings. The park is located beside the Moskva River, which means that you can enjoy a walk along the riverbank before entering Gorky.
Inside the park you can enjoy a game of table tennis, stop into the Museum of Contemporary Art or even lie on the beach! However, taking part in an activity isn’t mandatory, you can just enjoy the gardens and sip lemonade by the water fountain.
Evening: Sharing a border with Georgia means that there are a lot of places to find good Georgian food in Moscow. We spent our last night in Khachapuri where we were able to sample many different Georgian dishes, including Lobiani Rachuli a traditional bean filled bread. There is plenty of meat on the menu, but I recommend the garlic chicken and the lamb kebab. Khachapuri offers a variety of smaller items, which are perfect for sharing and right up my street.
When you can’t eat anymore, take a wander to the nearby Myasnitskaya Street, which holds a selection of bars. Finish your short, but sweet time in Moscow with a delicious cocktail or some more vodka!