Thursday, August 10, 2017

2 Days in Moscow: Itinerary Share

      Technically we only had 36 hours in Moscow, which is far from sufficient. I used to think that one can cover Moscow in one day, but after several trips to the capital, I discovered how wrong I was. Now I encourage anyone interested to visit Moscow to stay at least a week! However, if you are running short on time, then this is the article for you… THE BEST of Moscow, in 36 hours.  

     My love for this capital is deep, hence introducing it to my family is a must. Since they are not Russian students (we have exclusive travel perks, hah!), I figured that getting a Moscow Citypass is the wiser option. We booked the CityPass online prior to our visit and printed out the booking voucher. Additionally, we purchase the Aeroexpress ticket together with the pass. Having the voucher on hand, arriving in Moscow city from any Airport become a breeze. The QR code is printed on your Moscow CityPass voucher, so just use it to pass the turnstile.

      Once we reached Paveletskaya station, we bought a “Troika” card to access the metro. The “Troika” card is a far better option than a single ticket for it saves you 15 Rubles per journey. We shared a single card among 5 of us, topping up the card with the automachine/at the counter as we go.

      The hotel we checked in was Hostel Netizen, which is one of the nicest hostels I've stayed in Moscow. Click HERE to read my full review.
Read more: 6 Best Hostel I Highly Recommend In Moscow

Day 1


Firstly, we stopped by GUM to pick up our Moscow CityPass and start activating it by hopping on the Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off bus. For first time visitors to Moscow, this tour would definitely give you an impressive overview of the city, going past the must-sees. If you do not leave the bus, the tour will end in an hour time. I recommend starting and ending the tour at the Red Square so that it'll be convenient for you to visit St Basil’s Cathedral and the State History Museum right after the tour. Then we headed back to GUM to activate our free mobile data plan included in the Moscow CityPass and grab dinner at Stolovaya 57.


Walking around the heart of Red Square with an ice cream in each of our hands, we took some time to admire the grandeur of the Red Square. In my opinion, the best photos are taken sitting on the pavement or from a lower angle or with a wide/fisheye lens… simple because this place, is HUGE. Experiment with the angles!


Next, we strolled around the beautifully lit Alexander Garden. By the time we were done photographing Alexander Garden, it was 10.30pm but we were not ready yet to call it a day! Anyhow, it is actually the best timing to tour the Moscow Metro! Of course, you won’t be able to visit it all under 3 hours (The metro stops at 1 am, so beware! ). Hence, I recommend visitors to Moscow to split their metro tour into 2 part: Visit the ever-so-crowded Ring line (Brown) late at night to beat the crowd and visit the rest of the stations the next day early in the morning (I started at 5.15am).

***If you are not ready to explore the metro system on your own, your Moscow CityPass includes a good discount to the Moscow Metro Guided Tour.

Day 2


The remaining Metro Stations


When its approaching 9 am, head straight to the Izmailovo state. Why do we need to get there that early? Because only that time will you be able to choose your souvenirs with a peace of mind. Try getting there after 11, this place would be packed! All the stalls offer almost the same things with similar prices (at most 100 Rubles difference), but it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t haggle! This is my strategy: at 1st try, cut the price down to 60/70% of the normal price and then add up from that amount. Have an upper boundary in your mind, once it reached your limits, turn away. I’m sure they will call you back to offer you that price. Also, buy everything (or if not, almost everything) from one vendor, so that they can give you a good discount, or sometimes free gifts (Just me being Malaysian here...)  

If you do not know what to look at, read this guide: 20 Russian souvenirs to bring home

Don’t spend too much time at the lower market because better things are yet to be discovered. Go up the stairs to reach the upper market, where you'll feel like as if you are turning a new page on a storybook. Unlike the lower market where a huge variety of colorful souvenirs are sold, the upper market sells mostly fine art and antiques. If you appreciate fine art, do spend some time here roaming across rows and rows of alley looking at water or oil paintings of Moscow city.
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Soon enough, you’ll reach a gate and a wooden bridge leading to the main square of Izmailovo Kremlin. It was my first-time visit as well, so I was super excited to discover a new photography mecca. With the Moscow Citypass, you will be granted free access to the Memorial Estate, Vodka Museum, Bread Museum, Russian Fold Art Museum and Russian Chocolate History Museum. So if you are curious in the mysterious Russian culture (of course you are! That’s why you are here!), go on and explore all of them! It doesn’t take too long since all these museums aren’t huge, but just enough to give you an overall impression of this country.
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Finally, its time to stop for a lunch break (or should I say Brunch?) Treat yourself to a hearty meal of Russian Street Food called Shashlik. They are actually BBQ meat on sticks. These stalls can be found near the stairs in between the upper and lower markets, at the back of the souvenirs stalls to the right. This meal in the photo below only cost 1100 Rubles (Mushrooms are additional gifts from the vendors.) Vegetables and flat bread are free of charge, and you can get more flat bread if you need. It might not look enough, but trust me, this meal fed 5 hungry souls. It was filling simply because that was a serious lot of meat and flat bread were “refillable”.


After that, go straight to the metro to head to the next destination. The Moscow Kremlin is the top not-to-be-missed destination so for sure I’m gonna check this off our list! Tickets into the Kremlin for students studying in Russia is half priced (sometimes, free of charge), and with the Moscow Citypass, it’s free. However, you need to redeem your ticket at the special counters (10,11 or 12) and once you get the tickets, you can bypass the queue heading straight to the Kutafya Tower (the main entrance). You still need to pass the security checks… do note that you are setting foot into the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation!

Once in the Kremlin, you are free to walk around the designated tourist pathway (stay on the path! remember what I said about it being the official residence) and pray that you bump into Mr. Putin (Although I highly doubt that you will). Stay away from the roads inside the Kremlin ground because there will still be cars driving in… Avoid stepping on the grass as well. The Kremlin is quite big but please do make it a point to visit all the cathedrals (Assumption, Archangel’s, Annunciation and Robe Deposition). Also, there are 2 interesting photo spots in front of the Cathedral Square which is the Pushka (Canon) and the huge broken bell. Also, check out the Patriarch’s Palace.    
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The Kremlin closes at 6 pm so fully utilize your time in it. By the time we exited Kremlin, our Moscow CityPass had expired. Another Russian cafeteria style dinner was what we craved for so and we got it at Moo-moo’s.    

Before I forget, everyone has to go watch the change of guard near the Eternal Flame! Look at how the Russians march… can you raise your legs to 90 degrees and march forward without stumbling over?

If you have 3-4 days in Moscow

      Be sure to check out other famous attractions such as the Tretyakov Gallery, Church of Christ our Savior, Arbat Street, and all the city parks…. Not only that, I recommend you to check out the view from Hotel Ukraine (and you'll get a discount for having the Moscow CityPass!).
      Moscow is not just what I’ve stated in this article, there are A LOT more to explore! Get lost in the streets, go shopping (they have great summer and winter sales!!!), go row a boat, watch Ballet, go to a circus….. Get more recommendations here: Top 10 attractions NOT TO MISS in Moscow.

If you have 5-7 days in Moscow

      Take a day trip to discover the rural Moscow! Moscow is not just all about city life. Rent a car (you’ll get a good discount with Hertz if you buy a Moscow CityPass) and explore the Golden Ring Road. However, if you are not a good driver, I don’t recommend driving because the roads in Moscow are really wide with 5-6 lanes (maybe more) and cars tend to drive fast (and sometimes furious). In that case, I recommend joining a tour. Not sure if you should stay in Moscow for that long? Read my experience exploring the Moscow Golden Ring HERE: SUZDAL, SERGEIV POSAD!

In Conclusion

      I think the Moscow CityPass is a worthy purchase. Some museums I visited are among the cheapest in the city, but I still saved at least 1082 Rubles!!!

      I really regretted for not spending more time in Moscow... I haven't been up to Hotel Ukraine and the Raddison Royal Cruise, which I was looking forward to before the trip. Well, guess I have a reason to come back.

Wait for my return, Mother Russia! 

Total Spending In Moscow (per person)
Moscow CityPass (24 hours) 2868 p
Netizen Hostel (2 nights)       1994 p
Troika Card (4 journeys )       140 p
Get Taxi to Airport (2 Taxis)  220 p
Food (5 meals)                        1580p
TOTAL:                                   6802p                         
Approximately :                      $115.88 (RM 497.76)

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