Dog-trekking becomes more popular every year amongst nature and animal lovers especially, who want to combine their passions for fresh air, natural landscapes and interaction with animals together. So, basically dog-trekking is an activity when a dog is strapped to one’s back with a rope and together with a dog you go for a walk in the nature – to the forest or alongside the river bank. The dogs are taking people for a walk actually as they are the ones guiding trough the nature. Hereunder you may find 3 good reasons why to do dog-trekking in Russia this summer or every other summer possible:
To enjoy natural landscapes
For more than anything else, dog-trekking is famous for the opportunity it gives to enjoy the nature. Dog-trekking is usually done in the most beautiful and picturesque places of an area. In Moscow, for instance, where we do our Tsar Visit dog-trekking + kayaking tour, people walk alongside the Moscow River and they can see the unique rope bridge and enjoy cool summer winds from the river. Also, people go through the forest with different fresh water streams and flower fields.
To meet husky dogs of 4 northern breeds
Dog-trekking is an activity that is focused on dogs – main protagonists. In Russia the dogs’ breed is naturally husky – Siberian huskies, Alaskan huskies, Laikas and Malamuts. These dogs have an absolute love for humans and they are happy to play and hug with you. Tsar Visit dog-trekking tour usually begins with meeting all the dogs and playing with them. After this unforgettable moment with all the huskies, you will be able to choose one dog with who you would like to go trekking in the forest!
To do sports while trekking with husky dogs
What you should know about dog-trekking is that it is more than just a walk – it is a sports activity. Although it requires no special preparation and no special abilities, you still have to be prepared for doing sports. 5-km route that we propose on Tsar Visit in Moscow and in St. Petersburg contains various parts that require some speed and balance. Moreover, huskies are a strong and extremely active breed, so you must be very focused during the trip. Also, in Moscow you may add kayaking to your tour and your route will be 6-km of dog-trekking and 6-km back on kayaks with professional instructors. In Saint Petersburg after the dog-trekking tour you will be able to do some rowboat riding on a wonderful lake!
To sum up, dog-trekking is a very new, but already extremely popular activity in Russia. Both in Moscow and in St. Petersburg it is famous for being a great opportunity to spend time on fresh air observing beautiful natural landscapes, reuniting with animals, studying about husky breed and doing sports at the same time!
We definitely recommend you to go for it and if you do, you will cherish those memories forever!
If you wonder what parks to visit in Moscow in 2020 and spend an amazing time outside, hereunder you find the best answer.
Parks of culture and leisure became a real thing in 2010s when Moscow government decided to invest money in landscape gardening of the city and its image of a “green capital”. Right now, in Moscow parks are the most popular places to hang out for the full day with lots of activities: walking, cycling, playing basketball and volleyball, laying on the grass and having a picnic etc. If you don’t know where to go on weekend in Moscow – parks are best options to spend time.
Hereunder you will find the 3 best parks to visit in Moscow:
Gorky Park of Culture and Leisure
Gorky Park is the most famous park in Moscow, about which you could have heard in the song “Wind of Change” by Scorpions. Back in the days it was an amusement park with biggest rollercoasters in Eastern Europe. Nowadays this park is loved by hipsters, youngsters and families for its number of activities. In Gorky Park you can practice sports like basketball and volleyball on pitches made by biggest sports brands Nike and Adidas. You can do yoga classes, dancing classes and many more. What to eat while in Gorky Park? In food-courts, of course! There are a lot of different restaurants with numerous cuisines – Greek, Chinese, Thai, Italian and Russian. We recommend you to sit on the terrace near the Moscow River bench and enjoy the moment. Also, in Gorky Park you may go to a concert or a show, which are held almost every day!
If you want to know what is Gorky Park and how it changed the image of Moscow, follow Leo, young French journalist and guide living in Moscow for his Gorky Park private tour, during which you discover the history of this place, walk around best sights and get to know how to spend great time on fresh air in in Moscow.
address: Krymsky Val, 9
open 24 hours a day
The most recently opened park now in Moscow is Zaryadye Park right in the heart of the capital near Red Square and Kremlin.
Park Zaryadye in Moscow has numerous installations, created by very famous Russian artists, and many things to visit – the Ice Cave made of 70 tons of frozen water, Florarium with more than 200 plant species, Media Center with interactive walls and floor to watch stunning 360-degrees videos, etc.
But the most symbolic and impressive sight in Zaryadye is definitely the River Overlook Footbridge from which you can amazing views on Kitay-Gorod, Kremlin, St.Basil’s Cathedral and Stalin Towers.
VDNKh Park (or VDNH, which stands for Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy) in Ostankino District of Moscow is at the moment the biggest and the most developed park in Russia.
If you want to receive all at once – VDNKh park is the best choice. It contains a lot of worldwide famous symbols of Russia and USSR – pavilions of former USSR republics, the People’s Friendship Fountain, Ostankino TV tower, Moscow Monorail and Museum of Cosmonautics.
VDNKh Park was recently renewed and now it has one of the biggest Aquariums in Europe with more than 12000 water animals. In VDNKh you can play any sports, rent a bike or a scooter, walk the eco-trail, go climbing or do yoga.
All in all, in Moscow more than anywhere else in the world, parks are sights definitely worth visiting. They contain a lot of worldwide famous attractions and they keep developing every day. If you want to know Moscow better and to spend amazing time in Russia – visit the famous capital parks.
If you wonder where to eat in Moscow, here is the best answer: in food markets!
Food markets are food-courts with a large number of different restaurants representing various cuisines of the world and of Russia. They provide both high-quality street food and more unique options. Usually you choose a restaurant you like by walking around and exploring various options to eat. Then you order food and sit in the middle of a court to have lunch or dinner.
Hereunder you will find the 5 best food markets in Moscow, so you can choose the one you would like to discover:
Central Market (Tsentralniy Rynok)
Back in 1840s, Central Market became the largest craft-market of Moscow. In 2017 it was fully reconstructed and opened to public as the food market that we now know. On the lower floor you can buy fresh food, while on the ground floor you may find more than 40 different street food restaurants with various cuisines – Korean, Lebanese, Italian, Georgian and a lot more. Of course, traditional Russian cuisine is also present in Central Market.
If you want to know what is traditional Russian food and how to cook Russian food, take part in a food tour of Tsar Visit, during which you discover best places to try Russian cuisine and get to know food traditions.
address: Rozdestvensky Bulvar, 1
open daily: 08:00 – 00:00
The main conception of Danilovsky Market is that fresh natural products and street food restaurants are combined. If you are a group of friends or a family and you want to have a big choice of food – this is the right place. Danilovsky Market presents more than 35 cuisines from different countries – French, Vietnamese, Korean, Dagestani, Uzbek and many more. If you are living in Moscow and want to buy fresh products of great quality, local producers of meat, vegetables, cheese or fishes are present in Danilovsky. Prices can be pretty high, but the quality is probably the best in Moscow. For tourists looking forward to buying caviar in Russia, you’ll find a wide variety in Danilovsky market.
If you want to discover this market in a unique way, follow Leo, young French journalist and guide living in Moscow. During his food tour, Leo shows you what is famous Russian food, Georgian cuisine and he also explains why Danilovsky district is so famous.
address: Mytnaya Ulitsa, 74
open daily: 08:00 – 21:00
Around the World (Vokrug Sveta)
If you are visiting Moscow as a tourist, you will definitely pass by Red Square – main sight of Moscow, and probably visit the Kremlin and St.Basil’s Cathedral. And, of course, after long walks you’ll get hungry. The food market Vokrug Sveta (in English “Around the World”) is located just 400 meters from the Red Square, on Nikolskaya Street – the most popular street in Russia during FIFA World Cup 2018. Vokrug Sveta is the place where Asian, American and local cuisines are mixed. You will have more than 20 restaurants to choose from and a great court to sit and enjoy your lunch. On top of that, Vokrug Sveta was created by the best restaurateur in Russia, the worldwide known Arkadiy Novikov.
address: Nikolskaya Street, 10
open daily 11:00 – 23:00
Depo Food Market is the most recent add-on to Moscow food map and it is the biggest food court in Europe. Depo has more than 75 restaurants inside and cuisines are very different – Azerbaijani and Greek, Chinese and Russian, Vietnamese and Armenian etc. Also, Depo is very popular for having different concerts and shows every day. It’s a very popular place among Moscow’s population, it can get very crowded on weekends.
address: Lesnaya ulitsa, 20 building 3
open daily: 10:00 – 23:00
Food Market 21
Food Market 21 is located on the famous New Arbat Street and it is one of the most popular food markets among young people as it is located near the best Stand-Up Comedy club. On the New Arbat Street, there are a lot of bars and clubs to continue the evening. Also, apart from numerous restaurants inside, Food Market 21 has a big terrace where you can enjoy fresh air and music or smoke shisha. Like in all the other markets, you’ll find a very diverse gastronomic offer.
address: New Arbat, 21
open daily: 12:00 – 00:00
Like the city of Moscow in general, the gastronomic scene is growing and developing very fast. New food courts and markets are opening constantly, and you’ll always find great places to eat while travelling to the Russian capital.
If you want to know what is Russian cuisine and how to cook Russian food, hereunder you can find the list of unique gastronomic tours proposed by Tsar Visit:
It is probable that at least once in your lifetime you have heard about Russian Sauna, or so called “banya” and its traditions. It was created long time ago and converted into a real cultural phenomenon with its own rules. Let us give 5 good reasons to try genuine Russian Banya in 2020:
1. Try an activity that has 2500 y.o. How was the banya created?
The origins of the banya date back to the 5th century BC. We trace its birth in Ukraine, where the banya was made of pieces of wood used as a structure to hold a felt cloth. At the middle of this space was a kettle filled with water where heated rocks were plunged. Slowly, this sauna culture became a part of the Slavic life. It was celebrating religious events and family traditional holidays such as birthdays and weddings.
Banya was accessible for the richest and the poorest. The richest had their own banya area allowing them to have more comfort and privacy. The poorest who did not own a banya, heated their ovens and wet the walls of their houses to create a slight sensation of humidity.
The access to the banya became widely democratized thereafter. Common and public spaces were created to bring the entire population together in one place. Luxury banyas were opened for the richest, such as Sanduny Baths in Moscow, for example. These spaces offered to their customers exceptional furniture and more comfort as well as better customer services.
2. Learn how to do the Russian Sauna and teach your friends!
As Russian Sauna is a real tradition, it has to be done the good way. Today the banya is composed of a wooden space with a wood-burning stove. It is important to prepare the banya in advance so that it can be very hot. When the temperature reaches between 80-100 C degrees, you can begin the activity.
Put on your bathing suit and sit on one of the benches along the wall of the banya. Watch out! The higher you sit, the hotter you’ll get! So, if you’re not sure you can stand the heat, start by sitting on the lower bench. Once on your bench, you can sprinkle water with essential oils on the hot stones placed above the stove to warm and humidify the room.
Shake your towel over your head if you want the heat to circulate in the banya.
A session lasts between 5 and 15 minutes, depending on your resistance to heat. As the banya is much hotter, the sessions are shorter than those in a classic sauna.
The goal at the end of the session is to cause a thermal shock to your body. You can jump in the cold pool, or spill the bucket with cold water on your head or, if you are in winter, roll in the snow or jump into a frozen lake.
3. The benefits of Russian Sauna
The advantages of the banya are worldwide known and confirmed by specialists:
From inside: it cleans the body by eliminating toxins
From outside: it removes dead skin and cleans pores
Russian Sauna is the best cure to insomnia and daily anxiety
Banya helps human lungs to recharge and work better
The extreme change in temperature also allows the body to gain strength and develops the immune system. There’s no doubt that after a banya session you’ll sleep like a baby!
4. The reason why Russian Banya should be done in groups of friends or with family
Visiting Russian Sauna is highly recommended to do with closest friends or family. Banya is, all in all, a limited space where you are almost naked.
Between each session, it is common to get together to drink tea and eat some fruits or to drink cold beer with snacks while playing cards or just chatting.
According to lots of stories, in business, many contracts are discussed and signed in banya and the agreement is usually concluded by drinking one shot of vodka! In Russia businessmen and political figures are usually going to the Russian Sauna together, in order to discuss important matters in complete privacy.
If you travel to Russia, it’s a legendary activity to organize with your family or friends! Don’t hesitate to check our traditional banya tour !
5. Russian Sauna = connection with Nature. Why is Russian banya so priceless?
Banya is practiced naked and people are surrounded by the simplest elements of nature: wood, heat, water, snow, stones… Banya is considered to be a way to enjoy the wonders that nature offers to recharge one’s batteries.
Russians also have a tradition of whipping themselves with bouquets made of birch or oak branches. This bouquet is called “Venik”. It is plunged in a bucket of cold water and then used to whip itself. This process has many benefits:
Reactivates blood circulation: because of the heat, the vessels are “asleep”. Whipping them with the Venik – reactivates.
Accelerates sweating: the contact of the Venik on the skin activates perspiration.
Removes dead skin: the contact of the leaves and branches will allow the dead skin to peel off.
Venik process is not painful. Vice versa, it feels amazing – especially after!
You want to try banya when travelling to Russia? Book your tour with us on www.tsarvisit.com !
The belief that Siberian Huskies are a breed of wolves is widely spread. But is this theory a myth that has passed down through the centuries or is it a reality?
Where are Siberian Huskies coming from ?
To find the origins of Siberian Huskies, we have to travel back in time in a legendary Russian region: Siberia.
We found the track of the first huskies thanks to the Chukchi, inhabitants of the extreme Russian East, who used huskies for many purposes:
To haul the heavy sleds of the inhabitants: strapped together, huskies are physically strong and able to carry heavy loads such as blocks of ice or people on sleds
Alert the inhabitants: in case of danger or intrusion in the village, the huskies had a role of warning the population
Look after children: as they are a loving animal, huskies had to watch over children while they were playing and sleep with them to warm them up during cold winters
For the Chukchi people, the true origin of huskies is related to an ancestral legend. Siberian Huskies would be the result of the union between a wolf and the moon. To them, it explains the close appearance between huskies and wolves and their tail with a moon crescent shape.
Siberian huskies became famous thanks to the mythical All Alaska Sweepstake, a sledding competition that was taking place from 1908 to 1917. In 1910, a Siberian Husky crew reached the third place for the first time, competing with crews traditionally composed of Alaskan Malamute only. After that, sled leaders begun to compose their sleds only with Siberian huskies… and their efficiency didn’t have to be proven anymore as they were always winning the competition.
What makes Siberian huskies unique ?
The appearance of Siberian Huskies may be often misleading. Indeed, many breeds look similar and we can confuse them with Alaskan Huskies. The Siberian Husky is also considered as a “dog-wolf” as he shares many features with his cousin, but it is easy to recognise a true Siberian Husky thanks to some details.
Firstly, the Siberian Husky has a large fur, which can go from black to white or brown. As the dog sheds his fur twice a year, it is possible to follow him thanks to his lost hair!
Secondly, Siberian huskies are recognisable thanks to some distinctive features:
Eyes: they are almond shaped, they can be blue, brown or both colors !
Body: the body is slim, well proportioned and has a sporty look
Face: He has a round face that gets sharpened to the level of the nose.
Where to meet Siberian Huskies in Russia ?
Nowadays, it’s very easy to meet Siberian Huskies! We mostly find them in specialized farms (kennels) where they are correctly fed and trained. In these farms, they receive all the care they need, and many visitors are coming to meet them. Such farms are located all around Russia, near main cities, like Moscow or St. Petersburg.
This dog needs to move and to live in large spaces in which he can let off steam. He is not a dog that tolerates confinement and requires at least two hours of activity per day! Sporty by nature, he likes to hike in summer in the wild plains, mountains or forest.
Because of this, dog-trekking is gaining popularity in Russia. The concept: a dog is strapped to you through a special belt, and you go hiking together. The dog is the guide and leads the way! This is a fantastic experience for dog and nature lovers. If you spend summer in Russia and want to try it, do not hesitate to check our dog-trekking tours in Moscow or St. Petersburg.
Siberian Huskies are mostly famous for surviving to very diverse temperatures. With their thick fur, they are used to run in the snow by very low temperatures (sometimes below – 40° C!), and feel better in winter than during hot summers. Their fur protects them from the cold, which is needed for dog-sledding runs. Although they are very resistant to the snow, mushers are more and more equipping them with booties to protect their paws. In Russia, you may find a lot of farms to practice dogsledding, a must-do when traveling in Russia in winter! You can check our dog-sledding tours in Moscow or St. Petersburg here.
So, are Siberian huskies closer to the dog or the wolf ?
Siberian Huskies are definitely not wolves! They are a unique dog breed which shares a true love for human. They have a huge loyalty towards their master. They are very sensitive and perceive their owner feelings. They are very attached to their team and their strength make them the perfect fellow traveller.
If you want to meet Siberian Huskies while traveling in Russia : do not hesitate to contact us!
Touristic routes in Moscow lead you to the classic places like the Kremlin, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square and Tretyakov gallery. Of course, those spots are must see and there’s no way you should avoid them. No doubt that nowadays tourists are also interested in the modern art: contemporary exhibitions, electronic music, graffiti, light performances. Luckily, Moscow has much to show. In recent years, plenty of contemporary art museums and clusters appeared in the capital. Let’s have a walk around them!
There are several spots in Moscow, which are oversaturated by modern art, but as the city is really big, they are unfortunately not accessible by feet, so feel free to use metro each time you wanna move from one spot to another.
1) Area of Gorky Park and Muzeon Park
Gorky and Muzeon Parks are the center of youth culture and leisure in Moscow (mostly in summer). Here, two huge modern art museums are situated. First is a new Tretyakov Gallery (more 20th century art) and the GARAGE museum in Gorky Park. Muzeon also has a permanent sculpture exposition which, of course, you can fully enjoy in the summer time. From time to time Gorky Park also hosts different cultural events. Guess when? … Exactly, in summer!
Access: metro Oktyabrskaya (orange line and circle line) or Park Kultury (red line and circle line)
2) Kropotkinskaya district
The metro station of Kropotkinskaya is surrounded by plenty of museums. This is the so-called “Art district” of Moscow. There, you find the Pushkin Art museum, Glazunov gallery, Percov house, and many more. You may not only find classical museums over there, in fact this area also hosts 3 important museums for Russian modern art.
The first one is the Multimedia Art Museum (MAMM). A key museum in the field of modern art. It is not only an exhibition building, but also a study and research platform.
Address: 16 Ostozhenka street, Moscow
The second is the center of photography of Lumiere Brothers. This modern art museum is located in the party center of Moscow – Krasny Oktyabr. It takes some time to get there, but on your way, you will pass by very picturesque sights as Saint Savior Cathedral and Patriarchy bridge. The hall always hosts very interesting exhibitions, that are worth to go.
Address: 3 Bolotnaya embankment, Moscow
And last but not the least the main building of Modern Art Museum of Moscow (MMOMA). The buildings of this museum are also near the Patriarchy Ponds and Tverskoy Boulevard, but the main one is here on Gogolevsky Boulevard. The exposition of this museum is very often becoming a scandal. But scandals are the most attractive, aren’t them?
Address: 10 Gogolevsky boulevard, Moscow
3) Kurskaya district
In the 90s, Kurskaya was an ugly area with railway station, homeless people and factories. But since the late 2000s the situation has absolutely changed. Moscow government gave this area for the artists and designers, so now old factories turned to art clusters and homeless people were replaced by hipsters. So, several places you must visit:
Artplay – art and design cluster situated 7 minutes walking from Kurskaya metro station. There you may find: design boutiques, cool cafes of vegan food or burgers, British Higher school of Art and Design, which organizes plenty of exhibitions of its students, art galleries.
Vinzavod – old wine factory which now hosts the show rooms, design boutiques and plenty of exhibitions.
Pluton – new place on the map of modern art lovers. The place isn’t fully renovated yet, but there is one of the best techno clubs in Moscow.
ARMA – this place is situated on the opposite side of the places mentioned above, from Kurskaya station. The area of old manufactures now looks like an urban heaven. A lot of showrooms, clubs, galleries and modern theaters are taking place there. So, don’t miss a chance to visit it to enjoy Moscow with its casual lifestyle.
Here are our tips for you! Enjoy Moscow!
Want to know more about Russia? Read more on our Travel Blog!
Want to book a guided-tour? Check out Tsar Visit!
Tourists, tourists and again tourists… tourists are everywhere! Taking pictures of the same buildings and bringing home the same “so original” souvenirs. But you’re not like them. No, you’re a true explorer. Someone that wants to do what locals do, and bring home truly unusual objects and memories. You’re not a redneck and neither are we, so follow this top and experience another Russia!
Take Height at 354 ‒ Restaurants & Observation Deck
You were considering in taking a “Russian tea” at Caffé Pouchkine ? Seriously ? Well, first, Russian tea doesn’t exist. Second, Caffé Pouchkine is amazing but kind of Moscow’s must-do. Instead go take a cocktail at Ruski at the 85th floor of OKO Tower. More than diving into contemporary Russia by exploring Moskva-City, you’ll jump into the highest restaurant in Europe and in the very heart of Moscow’s “hypeness”. Take height and enjoy some fresh air, by letting your kids in the children’s room and entering the highest ice bar in the world! With its set of restaurants and bars, the terrace in summer and the highest skating rink of Europe in winter, the 354 will offer you an unusual and magnificent view!
But maybe, you’ll prefer to stay down-to-earth and visit Moscow by night in a soviet military van (called UAZ) or even enroll for a pub-crawl!
Mystic Moscow & Russian Superstitions
You may know that if you whistle inside a house in Russia, it’ll bring misfortune to that household… As every city, and because it’s the former Soviet Capital, Moscow has many legends, stories, tales and dark secrets to deliver. Diving into these will require bravery, strength and abnegation (act of renouncing) in order to explore the dark secrets and stories of Moscow and its famous people. It probably also requires a good guide whether by enjoying a walk, or using transport. But be careful, in the end you’ll never know which are tales and which are true stories…
The Dark Secrets of Lubyanka
Remember when your parents threatened to put you in the cellar without light if you didn’t calm down? (or is it just mine?) Well, explore Lubyanka around former KGB headquarters and you’ll regret your cellar. For those who don’t know, Lubyanka has been the black heart of the Soviet secret intelligence, enforcing “security” inside and outside USSR. For this one, bring your own kinds. Stories of torture, prison and disappearance will give you a real and efficient leverage on these monsters. And well, except you already know all these dark secrets, you’ll need a guide!
Want to know more about Russia? Read more on our Travel Blog!
If you’re living in Moscow or even if you’re only passing by, you can’t miss this enormous cathedral in the very heart of the city! The Cathedral of the Christ the Savior is shining from afar thanks to its white walls and golden cupolas. The Christ the Savior overlooks the Russian federal capital from its 103m high, that makes it the 2nd highest Orthodox church in the world. Seat of the Russian orthodox patriarchate, Christ the Savior is currently the center of Moscow’s religious life. But it has not always been as it!
Indeed the biggest cathedral of the Russian Federation has been built in 1839, then destroyed but rebuilt in 1995. The first cathedral has been built from 1839 to celebrate the end of the Napoleonic wars and remember the numerous Russian deads. However, the Soviet leadership decided to destroy the cathedral in 1931, replacing it by a public swimming pool: the world biggest open-air swimming pool! Despite the popular desire of keeping the swimming pool, the Christ the Savior Cathedral has been rebuilt between 1995 and 2000, and given back to the Russian orthodox patriarchate.
Nowadays, the Christ the Savior remains a stunning cathedral on the inside as on the outside. However, if major orthodox events are celebrated in it, Christ the Savior knows less enthusiasm from the everyday believers than other Muscovite churches.
Want to know more about Russia? Read more on our Travel Blog!
Children are nice and cute when they’re not yours (some people say), but they can be real monsters (when not a mortal plague to be honest). As we don’t want to ostracize parents, and help you in raising smart kids, here is a top of things to do in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. Go for these and you’ll enjoy good quality time with your children away from the cold and the overcrowded antic museums!
Moskvarium ‒ The Largest Oceanarium in Moscow
This one will entertain you and your kids at least for a day, away from the cold, and keep them smart. The Moskvarium aims at presenting Russian aquatic inhabitants but also species from all over the world. This oceanarium, located in VDNKh in Moscow, is a living encyclopedia of the underwater world which was thought both for children and grown-ups with shows of killer whales, dolphins belugas and walruses. Perfect to entertain your children and let them know more about marine animals… and don’t tell them but you can also swim with dolphins!
Ice-Skating at VDNKh (Moscow)
One of the top Russian activities, ice-skating is a traditional, children-friendly and fairly cheap outdoor activity. You’ll surely be ashamed when you’ll realise that even a 4yo kiddo is ice-skating better than you, but don’t let it stop you from expressing your very personal style. In winter there are many ice-skating rinks inside Moscow but the best (and biggest) one is definitely the ice-skating rink of VDNKh! You can alsoskate at the 354 (divine) but it’s a bit less children-friendly.
Izmaylovo Kremlin & Market (Moscow)
Izmaylovo Kremlin is something between Wonderland and a Russian Disneyland. This colorful wooden kremlin is a good way to spend a half-day with your children, you may also want to have a walk in the Izmaylovo forest just nearby. In Izmaylovo Market, you’ll be protected from the wind while discovering the Russian craft & antiques (and also many mainstream souvenirs). Kids are always hungry, and always when it’s not time to eat, but this is not a problem as you’ll find delicious shashliks (meat skewers) and many different Russian meals. Though Izmaylovo Market entrance is free, you’ll face much temptation to treat yourself and your family!
NB: don’t hesitate to negotiate prices, this is part of the game and an interesting experience for your children!
Tickets for the Bolshoi are expensive and kids can’t cope with opera, ballet or theater for more than 5 minutes (if so, how the hell did you manage to do that?). If you still want to enter this world-known cultural house but can’t handle the embarrassment that would cause your own blood, you have another option! Indeed, it’s possible to visit the Bolshoi backstages and historic scene with a guide. Lucky you! Cherry on the cake you may have the chance to watch some rehearsals.
Cruises in the Venice of the North and on the Moskva River (Saint-Petersburg & Moscow)
Children have small legs, energy when they should be sleeping, and interest for things they can’t have. Based on that, visiting the city center of a Russian city can become “Mission: Impossible”. Hopefully, there is another way. A way that would blow your kids’ mind and offer you some peace and time to discover Russia. This secret transmitted generations after generations is called cruises. While cruises in Saint-Petersburg’s are very famous for the canals and the Neva River (that’s one of the reasons why it’s also called the Venice of the North), cruises in Moscoware famous for the Moskva River from where you can admire the most beautiful places in the city!
Submarine Museum (Moscow & Saint-Petersburg)
In the same way, children can’t cope with museums. Seriously, why? We all try to improve their knowledge and prepare them for the future, but no, they simply don’t care. Anyway, be ready to appear as a super-parent. Bring them to the Submarine Museum in Moscowand they will be amazed, feeling like a real sailor under the USSR. On the plus side they, and you, will learn a lot on the Russian Navy, submarines and Soviet times! Are you in Saint-Petersburg? Then, the C-189 Submarine Floating Museum is made for you!
Nikulin Circus (Moscow)
Another Russian tradition, often forgotten, is the circus. Animals, clowns (not the scary American ones), magicians and acrobats are all part of the Russian circus. Of course, children are more than welcomed and everyone will be amazed. But to be sure to enjoy the show, you have to pick the good one, which means Nikulin’s Circus.
The Bunker 42 of Taganka (Moscow)
As for the Submarine Museum, and even if it’s is a real labyrinth, the Bunker 42 of Taganka is a great museum, aka the Cold War Museum. As you’ll stroll down the steps and floors into the depth of the earth, you’ll dive into the Soviet era and learn how the USSR was preparing itself for a nuclear conflict. It’s an exceptional opportunity to observe old objects, movies, documentaries, weapons, bots… that all come from Stalin’s ruling of the Union, and which will please everyone!
Babayevsky Chocolate Factory (Moscow)
No matter if your child is an Augustus, Violet, Veruca, Mike or a Charlie, you can go and discover the Babayevsky Chocolate Factory, it’s gonna be safer than in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the most important: tastier. Clearly, kids will be amazed by all the tasty konfety or konfetki produced over there, everyone will love these lil chocolate candies, and also learn about the chocolate-making process. And best of all, you can try Babayevsky konfety at any time during your visit which means your kids will stay calm and you probably won’t have to struggle finding a meal to please them for dinner.
Sokolniki Park: Sledding Race and Ice-Sculpting (Moscow)
Once a year, always on the Defender of the Fatherland Day, i.e. 23rd February, Moscow organizes a sledding race in Sokolniki Park. But this isn’t just a race. Indeed, what matters the most is the originality of the sledge and the final fall! Each year a new theme is settled for the greatest pleasure of all. Lucky you, it’s often held at the same time than the ice-sculpting competition. Don’t miss these two events, your kids will love them!
It’s no secret, Russia, even in its Western part, can be coldish in winter. Well sometimes so cold that you can’t stay outside for more than 1 hour… which is kinda annoying when your goals are to visit big and stunning cities such as Moscow and Saint-Petersburg. But, hopefully for you, life isn’t stopping in Russia with the cold. Although, more than giving you the impression of walking in a snowy-end-of-the-world American movie, Moscow and Saint-Petersburg can offer you many opportunities to discover, experience and above all enjoy the Russian winter!
Ice-Skating in VDNKh(Moscow)
One of the best Russian way to deal with the cold is to fight it with sport. Wondering how? Well running in streets or parks on 10cm of ice is something that Russians keep the secret of. But you surely can give it a try, fall (maybe) but still enjoy it. Ice-skating is fun, it warms you up and you’ll be with Russians while discovering another side of the city. Why in VDNKh you say? Simply because VDNKh’s ice skating rink is the biggest and most popular of Russia (which is not a small deal). So everything is well organised and above all you have as much place as you want to do your acrobatic and artistic figures on ice!
Also, if you want to make the most of VDNKh Park, you may want to visit the Museum of Cosmonautics, located just next the VDNKh metro station, and that would be another great way to get warmer and to discover the great history of Russian space conquest!
The Hermitage Museum (Saint-Petersburg)
The State Hermitage Museum is the most important museum in the world, presenting treasures in around 1000 rooms. But the Hermitage, also known as the Winter Palace, was the Tsars’ main residence and represents a crucial aspect of the Russian history. Going there in winter is the best option for two reasons:
First (and for me the most important reason) you’ll visit this pearl away from the crowd, allowing you to take time and pleasure.
Second because, as a sumptuous palace of the Neva, you’ll discover stunning views of wintery Petersburg from every room, giving you the opportunity of visiting the city while staying warm!
You could literally spend days in the numerous rooms of this wonderful palace, I remember that my first time in there, I stayed until the closing time to gaze at every single piece of art, rushing through all the rooms to have a glimpse of them… Maybe I would have enjoyed it better if I had taken guided tour of the Hermitage Museum earlier that day to admire the most important masterpieces and learn interesting facts about them, and then continue the visit by myself.
Dog-Sledding in the Countryside (Moscow & Saint-Petersburg)
Another great and sporty activity to do in winter is to enjoy a day outside the city center, doing dog-sledding surrounded by the magic Russian nature. Who doesn’t love dogs? You may be more of a cat-person, but I’m sure you have a thing for huskies, we all do, don’t we? Personally, I also have a thing for Russian food, sometimes I wonder if I should treat myself a little less, but you know what? I may not stay here forever, so I want to enjoy every delight I can find in Russia. Take the shashlik or the oladushki for example, the first ones are delicious skewered, marinated and grilled cubes of meat, while the second ones are some mouthwatering small thick pancakes. These are a great treat after a good ride in the snow with the huskies and a good way to get warmer, not only because you’ll be inside or near a fireplace, but because this is one way to discover the Russian soul, the warmer soul you’ll find on Earth in my mind!
(then go for it, treat yourself, you deserve it too)
Having a Goûter or Teatime at Café Singer(Saint-Petersburg)
Close your eyes and imagine: you’ve been walking in Petersburg for two hours, you’re freaking cold and wet (because, well, it’s Petersburg) and the only thing that could cheer you up is a good cake and a hot chocolate (let your inner child live). Open your eyes: here it is. In Saint-Petersburg’s heart, in front of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan, stands with its magnificent glass roof the Café Singer. More than a café, this is a true institution that will warm you up thanks to delicious hot drinks and tasty cakes served while admiring the Kazan Cathedral. And once you got warmer, and maybe by the time it got a little bit sunny, you may be up for a guided tour by walk from cathedral to cathedral?
I think another good way to enjoy Saint-Petersburg on a rainy day, or on any cold day, is to visit its main sights in a private vehicle and listen to the incomparable history of Saint-Petersburg. By the way, do you know the history of Singer House? It was initially designed as a skyscraper for the Singer Sewing Machine Company, yet the building code in Saint Petersburg didn’t allow buildings taller than the Winter Palace, so the architect got round this law to build an elegant six-floor Art Nouveau structure crowned with a glass tower, overtopped by a glass globe sculpture.
The Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow)
If we apply the famous “In Rome do as Romans do”, then being in Russia in winter, you’d better go to the museum. Museums are always a good place to be during a fierce winter: it’s warm, big and full of masterpieces. What are you waiting for? In Moscow, you must visit the Tretyakov Gallery, this is surely the best museum in town. In an afternoon, you cross the centuries of Russian and European arts, looking at masterpieces, from icons to sculptures and paintings. It’s definitely a must do that doesn’t require further explanations. (Seriously, you have to go).
Also, if you want to discover more about Moscow without getting cold or soaked to the skin, a good idea is to visit Moscow in a private vehicle, stopping here and there to admire its majestic monuments. On a sunny day you may prefer to have a walk in the city center, though by car you can see more of the city and go further than the city core.
Enjoy a Traditional Banya ‒ The Russian Sauna (anywhere in Russia)
Of course Russians aren’t spending their winters only in museums, they’re also, and maybe even more, going to banyas. Midway between the Scandinavian sauna and the Arabic hammam, the Slavic banya is perfect to find warmer temperatures, recover from stressing daily life (or stressing tourists’ imperatives) and stay in good health. Start with one of Moscow or Saint-Petersburg’s baths and dive into a new Russian traditional art and experience!
You’re probably wondering why I advise you to visit Izmaylovo Kremlin in the heart of winter? Indeed, why going to a place where there is wind, snow and where you can’t walk fast to warm you up? Because the Izmaylovo Kremlin, aka “Moscow’s Disneyland”, is a great place to buy furs, Russian winter clothes, souvenirs and to eat shashliks! (No, I’m not obsessed with food…)
Have a Walk and a Hot Chocolate in Gorky Park (Moscow)
In winter, Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure may be a bit empty (except around the ice skating rink and when there is a public holiday) but this uphold all its beauty. The snow gives Gorky Park a new face, and add some mystery to the green heart of Moscow. Plus, while walking in Gorky Park you’ll enjoy stunning views on the frozen Moskva River, always impressive and beautifully dangerous. Happily, Gorky Park hosts the Garage Museum of Contemporary Arts, and several delicious restaurants and cafés. My advice would definitely be to sit in one of these and drink a hot chocolate! (Ok, maybe slightly obsessed with food…)
Embark on the Radisson Yacht for a Cruise on the Moskva River (Moscow)
Going on a cruise in winter is quite surprising. Especially when we know that the Moskva River turns into a big ice skating rink. But thankfully, the Radisson cruises are running all year round by using ice-breaker-cruise-boats (what great century to live in) keeping you warm behind super-clean glasses. You’ll be able to discover Moscow under the snow by boat, while drinking a glass of wine and being seated in comfortable sofas!
Take a Dip in Icy Water for Kreshenye (anywhere in Russia)
This one is for the tough ones. For women, men, children that have the inner strength of dealing with fears and primitive instincts. Happening the night between the 18th and the 19th of January, Kreshenye is a traditional celebration during which people immerse themselves 3 times under water to honor the Holy Trinity. This Orthodox tradition, known as the Great Blessing of the Waters, celebrates Epiphany and marks the baptism of Jesus. Securised and well-organised, you’ll gather with Russians from all ages and backgrounds to dive, one by one, in the iced water. Having celebrated it, I can tell you that this is wonderful. Not only because you’re being part of the Russian society, but also because you find that fear is the only obstacle to achieve this. Trust me, take a dive and you’ll be another person, what’s more you won’t be ill for the whole winter!