Things To Do In Moscow This Winter
If you suddenly find yourself in Moscow this winter, don't panic! Despite the freezing temperatures, you might be surprised to discover that there are a lot of exciting ways to enjoy this time.
We recommend starting with traditional winter sport activities and enjoying some long, leisurely walks in one of the many Moscow parks, admiring the scenery of broad expanses with snow covered trees. Afterwards, try one of the many social and cultural activities, for example, get familiar with the wide range of the city's museums and galleries, visit a theater and, of course, choose from some of the long established (or fashionable and extravagant) restaurants to enjoy a well deserved dinner.
Below you can find some tips and ideas about how to have the best time in Moscow during your stay:
(Winter) Sport Activities
The most popular place to walk amongst local citizens this winter will be Gorky Park (Park Kultury) and Muzeon. These two walking areas are located very close to the city center and are connected to each other. Recently renewed and fully reconstructed, both parks are now among the best attractions in Moscow. Beautifully illuminated and carefully designed public spaces with comfortable cozy benches, tea/coffee/mulled wine trucks, nice unobtrusive music and a lot of interesting free activities for all ages, they are definitely worth seeing. During the winter a big part of the park’s space will be covered with ice so don't miss your chance to rent a pair of skates and have a look at the park while skating (or even playing hockey). From the previous years' experience we can assume that snowboarding ramps also will be erected.
Skiing, Snowboarding and Ice skating
Another interesting location for iceskating/skiing is Vorobyevy Gory – a great view of Moscow from the observation point and a fully equipped sport complex with an elevator, rental shop and several tracks located on the Moscow river side.
There will be plenty of skating rinks in Moscow this winter, so don't miss out to check Patriarshie Prudy (Patriarch Ponds) and Chistye Prudy (Chisty Pond) – both located right in the historical centre of Moscow, so it's a great chance to combine ice skating with a city observation walk/tour. Bear in mind that you might need to bring your own skates.
The best choice if you enjoy skiing is Sokolniki Park - a huge park with 45 kilometers of ski tracks, 3 rental shops and very well organized space where you can enjoy both a calm and peaceful landscape and all modern facilities, such as free Wi-Fi, coffee and food points, safety services etc.
LingoTaxi can get you to all locations within Moscow sound and safe with its easy to book city ride service - always including English-speaking driver! Make sure to reserve your cab several hours or a day in advance.
The Moscow theatre scene is quite varied, but, unfortunately, most of the plays are in Russian. However, there are still a few places which you can visit.
Moscow English Theatre
We strongly recommend visiting the Moscow English Theatre (MET) which was co-founded by English actor Jonathan Bex and university language professor Karina Sagoyan in 2013. According to their website, their “aim is to bring professional English speaking theatre of excellent standard and high production values to the Russian capital. This covers drama from the UK, the US and all English speaking countries and although predominantly contemporary works will be staged we will on occasion include some classics and adaptations.” This theatre company performs at the prestigious Mayakovsky Theatre in the centre of the city and is currently in the intimate 100-seater Small Stage space.
TheatreHD, Bolshoi Theatre
Alternatively, you can check out the timetable for Moscow TheatreHD plays shown in many Moscow cinemas. And don't forget to have a look at the Bolshoi Theatre which is phenomenally beautiful and one of the best embodiments of rich Russian culture. The theatre provides English guided tours (these have to be booked in advance) and offers its visitors high level cuisine in the restaurant of the same name. The Bolshoi theatre building has been regarded as one of Moscow’s main sights for many years now.
Modern Art and Cultural Life
After a refreshing winter walk, it’s time to get some inspiration. Cultural life in Moscow is very intense and all-encompassing, from classic art at the Pushkin Museum to contemporary art in Garage.
The main area and starting point for your route will be around Kropotkinskaya metro station. For many years, this district has been the centre of Moscow art scene, giving home to architects, painters, sculptors, art clubs, exhibitions and museums. While walking from one gallery to another you will be surrounded by exclusively designed former mansions and the private houses of merchants, aristocrats and artists.
Pushkin State Museum
Pushkin State Museum is the biggest Russian museum with a huge collection of originals and reproductions of many different art movements. It has 3 different buildings and represents the main stages in the history of art from ancient times until the post-Renaissance era, 19th - 20th Century European and American Art and private collections. Also you might be lucky to see some of the museum's temporary exhibitions which are usually dedicated to some of the most famous artists in the world.
Garage is the first philanthropic organization in Russia to create a comprehensive public mandate for contemporary art and culture. In June 2015, Garage moved to its first permanent home - a groundbreaking preservation project by Rem Koolhaas - that transforms the famous 1968 Vremena Goda (Seasons of the Year) Soviet Modernist restaurant at Gorky Park into a contemporary museum.
During the winter, Garage Museum is presenting the first comprehensive survey of Louise Bourgeois’ work in Moscow as part of the special program of the 6th Moscow Biennale. Structures of Existence: The Cells focuses on the extraordinary series of sculptural environments Bourgeois created in the last two decades of her life.
Multimedia Art Museum
The Multimedia Art Museum always plays host to a great selection of photographic and contemporary art exhibitions. The museum shows a wide range of themes and media, from old Soviet photography and personal exhibitions of famous internationally known artists to the newest game industry interactive displays. Usually, you can have a look at 4-5 exhibitions running at the same time, so you’ll probably need 2 or 3 hours to fully explore this museum.
Moscow Museum of Modern Art
The Moscow Museum of Modern Art is the first state museum in Russia that concentrates its activities exclusively on the art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Private collection of more than 2.000 works by important 20th century masters was the core of the Museum's permanent display. Today the Museum has five venues in the historic centre of Moscow. The main building is situated in Petrovka Street, in the former 18th-century mansion house of merchant Gubin, designed by the renowned neoclassical architect Matvey Kazakov. Apart from that, the Museum has three splendid exhibition venues: a vast five-storey building in Ermolaevsky Lane, a spacious gallery in Tverskoy Boulevard, the beautiful building of the State Museum of Modern Art of the Russian Academy of Arts, and Zurab Tsereteli Studio Museum.
Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre
The Jewish Museum and Tolerance Centre is a cultural and educational complex with a permanent exposition. The permanent exposition presents the history of Russia starting from the period of Catherine II the Great down to modern times through examples of the culture and everyday life of the Jewish people. Unlike many traditional historical museums the Jewish Museum and Tolerance centre is interactive. Twelve themed halls designed by the leading company in the sphere of exhibition design — Ralph Appelbaum Associates — are equipped with panoramic cinemas, interactive screens, audiovisual installations created with the use of unique photo- and video-archives, documents and interviews. Major exhibitions introducing the main movements and names in fine arts are also held in the Museum.
Lumiere Brothers centre for Photography
The Lumiere Brothers Centre for Photography opened in 2010 within the walls of a former confectionery factory, has 3 exhibition halls, a photo gallery, a bookshop with a very unique assortment, a library and a café. All the displays are dedicated to Soviet, Russian and foreign photography of the 20th century.
Moscow night life has flourished in the last 10 years, and is very well known for its magnificence, glamour and wild and crazy concepts brought into life. Moscovites know where and how to have fun, and if you join them you will be surprised how significantly this city changes its appearance in the night time. Not to mention it's alternative component – a thriving electronic music scene, represented by tiny clubs filled with people from the creative industries.
The Jagger Bar is a loud, cheerful and scandalous club in the centre of Moscow with prices a little bit higher than average. From Thursday to Saturday this club organizes parties, offering live DJs playing mash-ups, special cocktail menu and impressive shows. On the second floor you can find another part of the club - Jagger Hall - a banqueting area which often works as a venue for concerts and music gigs. The interior of vintage brick walls, massive wooden beams, light flooring & large windows is ideal for celebrations and banquets.
The Konstructor: A modern, minimalistic club, aiming to become the new main hipster club in Moscow, Konstruktor follows the concept of "a club as a house," with its suite of small rooms, stretching around the dance floor. "It feels like there is someone living there”, says the art director of the project, DJ Maxim Zorkin. The audience of this club are the new intellectuals, people from the creative industries aged between 20 and 30 – the so called "yakki", young urban creatives. Music include indie-pop, both Russian and foreign, rock music, tech-house. There is a lot of themed parties as well - for fashionistas, freaks and people from the fashion industry, as an example.
Going to Propaganda is like going back to that great college bar and dance club: you are afraid it will have changed, or you will have changed, but somehow it is as great as ever. Open since 1997 and one of the oldest Moscow clubs, Propaganda is a fine place to call in at during the day for a bite to eat, and a terrific place to hit after the sun goes down. Friendly, democratic, affordable, with a changing schedule of music and visiting DJs, it is a place that prides itself on welcoming everyone.
Peking hotel now possesses a new outstanding bar, the Timeout Bar, located in the tower part of this historically important building-monument, on the 12th and 13th floor. The bar has an unusual interior specially developed by a Dutch designer, as well as a breathtaking view at the city, music by famous DJs and a wide choice of cocktails. Private parties, special events and presentations are carried out in the Timeout rooftop bar every week.
The interior design of the Powerhouse has been developed with help of Kirill Borisov, who came up with a simple and stark image of the club: grey unevenly painted walls and oak floors. In terms of furniture, the owners focused on reasonably priced vintage furniture for the middle class, found carpets at flea markets and from friends. The walls are decorated with individually printed silkscreen posters. Parties in Dewar's Powerhouse are held on Fridays and Saturdays, and on Thursdays there are live music concerts. Entrance to most events is free; the main focus for promoters are young indie musicians. From the very beginning, the team behind this venue decided that loud music will only be in the room with a DJ console, while the rest of the rooms will have a relaxed atmosphere, allowing guests to talk to each other.
Walks in the nature outside Moscow
If you are particularly interested in peaceful and quiet walks in wide open spaces, we strongly recommend renting a car with a driver to go visiting some of the fascinating estates around Moscow with their spectacular architectural masterpieces. For inspiration, see some examples below:
The Arkhangelskoye Palace estate (approximately 20 km outside Moscow) is built in a neoclassical style, with the prominent palace facing the Moscow river and a terraced park decorated with many antique statues. It is the Moscow public's favourite place for summer open air jazz concerts and musical evenings. The estate has the museum title due to its incontestable historical and architectural value.
The slightly run down manor Bykovo gives you an impression of the beauty of the rich and pompous Russian architecture of the 18th and 19th centuries. This is a great place to escape the city buzz and meet untouched nature. Unfortunately, you might not be allowed to see the church from the inside due to the reconstruction work in progress, but if you value peace and quiet more than impressive architecture, you should like this place.
Kuskovo estate, built in the mid-18th century, was originally situated several miles to the east of Moscow but now is part of the Eastern District of the city. It was one of the first great summer country estates of the Russian nobility, and one of the few near Moscow still preserved. Today the estate is the home of the Russian State Museum of Ceramics, and the park is a favourite place of recreation for Moscovites with its ponds and well-tended parks.
Kolomenskoye is a former royal estate situated several kilometers to the southeast of the city centre of Moscow. It has recently been given the title of State Historical, Architectural and Natural Landscape Museum. The Church of the Ascension in Kolomenskoye and Our Lady of Kazan's Cathedral, two of the greatest Russian church cathedrals, are located inside, so you might occasionally meet parishioners coming to worship.
Tsaritsyno Park is another huge recently restored estate in Moscow.
The 18th-century architecture ensemble was built (though not finished) following the order of Catherine II in the Neo-Gothic style, like the projects of Bazhenov and Kazakov, and it is the only 18th-century architectural ensemble of such dimensions in Russia.
Around the palace, in the park, there are a number of pavilions, pergolas, arbours, artificial grottos, decorative bridges (early 19th century), and the Russian Orthodox temple called “Source of Life”, as well as a modern recreation centre with fountains, flower beds and an upscale restaurant. The atrium of the “Bread House” is used for concerts by Moscow musicians.
The most extreme and inspiring option is to dedicate the whole day (or even 2) to exploring the landscape park near the village Nikola-Lenivets, which is 200 km away from Moscow (approx. 4 hours ride). Nikola-Lenivets has been a place of inspiration for the last 25 years. First - as a settlement of free artists who left noisy cities for the opportunity to create in the heart of nature; later - as a testing ground for architectural experiments, developing into the "Archstoyanie" festival, and finally as a cultural centre and the largest landscape park in Europe. This is a must if you are involved in the creative industries or just enjoy wild nature. There is a very cozy and comfortable hostel in the village where you can book a room, use the free Wi-Fi or have lunch in the café nearby. Don't forget a pair of wellies!
LingoTaxi can offer you safe and reliable transportation to Nikola Lenivets or any other location. Chat with our customer service to receive a quote for a transfer to any location, or contact us by phone or email.
Restaurants in Moscow
After satisfying your thirst for culture it's just the right time to have some rest and get familiar with local restaurants. Try some exotic and nourishing Russian cuisine, which might be the best choice for cold and windy weather, or enjoy some of favorite Muscovite food which is, ironically, mostly international – Asian, French and Italian.
More than 50 years ago, the legendary French chansonnier Gilbert Bécaud performed in Moscow. When he returned to Paris he wrote the song “Natalie” and dedicated it to his Russian guide, where he mentions the non-existent ‘Pushkin Cafe’. But it was this song that inspired the creation of Café Pushkin. In 1999, Café Pushkin opened in a baroque mansion on Tverskoy Boulevard. At the grand opening, Gilbert Bécaud performed his world-famous song “Natalie.” If you wish to try traditional Russian cuisine: Borsch, Pelmeni, Blini, Schi, Caviar, Pickles, Pies, Kvass and Nastoikas, then this high-end and a slightly old-fashioned restaurant is exactly the right choice. Not only the well cooked delicious food, but also the interior, looking like a nineteenth-century mansion, the service and overall impression will bring you back to the times of the Russian aristocracy.
Strana Kotoroy Net
Run by Moscow's most famous restaurateur Arkady Novikov, Strana Kotoroy Net is located right in the centre of Moscow, on the ground floor of the Moskva hotel, next to the Kremlin. This restaurant is a popular place for dinner for government officials and wealthy guests of the capital. It combines Russian, Georgian, Uzbek, and, oddly enough, Pan-Asian cuisine under one roof, but each of these menus has its own chef.
This cozy restaurant is run by chef Uilliam Lamberti, a man with Michelin training, who is also a Ginza Project brand-chef. Quite small and narrow, with an open kitchen occupying the main part of the small hall, and imperceptibly blending into the pavement, this place offers a very domestic atmosphere. A single sheet of paper holds the entire menu, and the food is simple, but extremely exciting and of very good quality, and the selection of wine won't disappoint. It is strongly recommended to reserve a table a few days in advance.
Located under a glass dome on a 16th floor of Smolenskiy Passage, White Rabbit is the first joint project of restaurateur Boris Zarkov and chef Vladimir Mukhin.
Beautiful, modern and daring in its own way. Here for the first time Russian cuisine is in unison with the latest culinary trends and Russian products rise to new heights. Try borsch with fried crucians, baked beans and turnip crisps. Do you know how delicious veal tongue can be? Taste it cooked in the shape of famous Russian “Lakomka” ice cream, cooked into a bird cherry dough with morel sauce. Every dish from the White Rabbit menu is a result of a long work, gastronomic expeditions and a special respect for traditions.
The main idea of the democratic and friendly Delicatessen cafe is a personal attitude to each guest, like you’ve been invited to your friends' place. You might be met by one of the owners working as a waiter tonight, another will mix a cocktail for you - don't miss their excellent cocktails and homemade liqueurs. In addition to the city's best burgers we recommend trying tartare and fried brains with pike caviar and a sauce made from egg yolks. Make sure you follow the directions to get there, because this place is located in a yard and is quite hard to find. No wonder there is a sign “Thank you for finding us” at the entrance.
Lavka Lavka was launched in 2009, but today it is a farming cooperative, a delivery service, and also a small farmer’s café with takeaway food and a restaurant of new Russian cuisine. They unite more than 100 farmers who sell their fresh local products in Lavka Lavka stores and use only seasonal ingredients from the same farmers in their restaurant. The menu represents traditional cuisine, developed to fit the principle of using only seasonal ingredients to surprise the sophisticated Moscow audience, who appreciate the quality and taste characteristics of this food.
After a long refreshing walk in the frozen air, nothing could be better than a real traditional Russian sauna (banya) with steam made from different herbal mixes, professional banya service and a cold pool. This procedure helps to relieve the tension in muscles, makes you forget about your stress and gets rid of toxins. Your visit to a banya can be a fascinating experience, because some of them take place in former mansions with truly outstanding interiors.
Sanduny Bath House
The Sanduny Bath House is the oldest public bathhouse in Russia, founded in 1808. The Sanduny Bath House is actually a complex made of several hothouses. Both authentic Russian Bath House traditions and the interior decorations of these bathhouses have been kept identical to the historical ones that date back to 1896 and were designed by B. Freidenberg, an architect from Vienna. Nowadays, The Sanduny Bath House is an unique recreational centre that can satisfy all the demands of any customer. Three bath departments for gentlemen and two for ladies, with spacious lounge zones, swimming pools and classical Russian steam rooms, as well as private rooms with 8 separate bath house areas and a Jacuzzi; they are distinguished by authentic Russian style decorations including a traditional Russian stove; there are also beauty salons, a spa-centre “The Sanduny Orient”, a restaurant with Russian, Uzbek and Chinese cuisines and a laundry service.
The Varshavskie baths is one of Moscow's oldest bath complexes, built in 1938 and recently fundamentally reconstructed. The best architect and designers were recruited to bring a modern infrastructure but keep the original spirit of the traditional Russian banya. Eco-friendly materials have been used in the reconstruction, such as wood, stone, ceramics. Visitors here are offered the widest range of health and spa procedures – from aromatherapy and steam therapy to the most exotic body wraps and face masks. Different kinds of banya brooms are offered: oak, birch, juniper, eucalyptus. Moreover, there is a professional assistant at your service, if you feel like you need help.
The Krasnopresnenskie Banya is the main competitor of Sanduny Baths. The audience and price level are approximately the same, but you can find a lot of additional service and procedures – even an Ayurveda herbal bag massage. The restaurant's menu includes, apart from the traditional choices, a wide selection of Japanese food.