You’ve arrived in Moscow, settled in to your new place and your first week on the job has gone well. With the weekend fast approaching you haven’t made any plans yet, so the question at the front of your mind is this: ‘What shall I do with my weekends in the Russian capital?’ Here are a few of our tips to immerse yourself in the culture, history and gastronomy of Russia’s beautiful capital city.
1. Take a Tour of the City
Your first activity should be the Moscow Free City Tour. What better way to familiarise yourself with a city and get to grips with its layout than to have a walk around it with a local person who can point out modern and historical places of interest. The tour guides are known to be particularly obliging so feel free to ask for restaurant recommendations, how to pronounce certain Russian words, or even how to use the metro!
Also, for those who are Civil Engineering enthusiasts, there are different ‘Moscow through the Eyes of an Engineer’ tours which can take you through a number of engineering feats. You can sign up for a tour here http://engineer-history.ru/ (Although the tours are available in English you might need a colleague’s help navigating the Russian website).
2. Go for Dinner
Lavkalavka is a ‘farmer’s restaurant’ which means that all of the menu items are fresh and locally sourced. Although the food served is a combination of traditional and modern dishes the atmosphere and decor is 100% contemporary. Lavkalavka’s chefs aren’t afraid to put some unusual items on their menu, such as carrot ice-cream, and overall the menu is dominated by light, fresh, natural flavours.
If you want to dine in a more traditionally Russian environment then Café Pushkin is highly recommended. With its lavish décor and resident harpist (usually only in the evenings) Café Pushkin is the epitome of Russian elegance. If you prefer not to pay a bill which reflects the extravagant furnishings then perhaps pop in for breakfast or take a seat at the bar and sip a drink whilst absorbing the atmosphere.
3. The Bolshoi Theatre
Continuing on the theme of lavishness, before you leave Russia a trip to the Bolshoi Theatre to watch the ballet is a must. Again, this is an expensive pastime but worth it to be able to say you’ve done it. If you don’t like theatrical performances but would still like to visit then there are tours of the theatre. However, you cannot pre-book and they are on a first come first served basis, so a few attempts across a number of days might be necessary.
4. Aquamarine, The Dancing Fountains Circus
Moscow is famous for its circuses and this is one which is popular with the locals as well as tourists. It’s definitely recommended if you have children, but it’s perfectly acceptable to go as an adult. The show features several different performances, from dancing and live music to ice dancing and a spectacular water fountain display.
5. State Historical Museum
Finally, just so you are well versed in Russian history (from prehistoric times until the early 20th century), a trip to the State Historical Museum is advised. It’s a particularly good idea to brush up on the country’s background for those moments when a colleague mentions an event in the Russian calendar which you otherwise would know nothing about.
It is recommended that you arrive at the museum in the morning so that you can grab an English audio guide before they run out.