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To Do in Moscow To Do in Saint-Petersburg Top

Top 10: Activities for Children in Russia

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!

Picture: Chair Swing Ride in Moscow
Let’s enjoy attractions for children in Moscow, have a chair swing ride for example!
  • 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!

Picture: The Moskvarium ‒ the largest and the best oceanarium in Moscow
The Moskvarium ‒ the largest and the best oceanarium in Moscow
  • 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 also skate at the 354 (divine) but it’s a bit less children-friendly.

Picture: Ice-Skating in Moscow: on the largest ice-rink in Russia & Europe at VDNKh
Ice-Skating in Moscow: on the largest ice-rink in Russia & Europe at VDNKh
  • 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!

Picture: Izmaylovo Kremlin ‒ The Best Craft & Souvenir Market in Moscow
Izmaylovo Kremlin ‒ The Best Craft & Souvenir Market in Moscow

NB: don’t hesitate to negotiate prices, this is part of the game and an interesting experience for your children!

If you feel like this is not enough to keep your kids busy, think about visiting majestic Moscow’s metro stations on your way to Izmaylovo Kremlin.

  • The Backstages of the Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow)

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.

Picture: The Bolshoi Theater Backstages in Moscow
The Bolshoi Theater Backstages in Moscow
  • 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 Moscow are famous for the Moskva River from where you can admire the most beautiful places in the city!

Picture: The Radisson Cruise on the Moskva River ‒ a unique experience in Moscow
The Radisson Cruise on the Moskva River ‒ a unique experience in Moscow
  • 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 Moscow and 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!

Picture: Inside the Submarine Museum in Moscow
Inside the Submarine Museum in Moscow
  • 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.  

Picture: Nikulin Circus ‒ one of the oldest circuses in Moscow & Russia
Nikulin Circus ‒ one of the oldest circuses in Moscow & Russia
  • 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!

Picture: Inside the Bunker 42 on Taganka in Moscow, aka the Cold War Museum
Inside the Bunker 42 on Taganka in Moscow, aka the Cold War Museum
  • 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.

Picture: Babayevsky Chocolate Factory in Moscow ‒ the secrets of the konfetki production
Babayevsky Chocolate Factory in Moscow ‒ the secrets of the konfetki production
  • 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!

Picture: Ice-Sculpting in Sokolniki Park in Moscow
Ice-Sculpting in Sokolniki Park in Moscow

Want to discover more parks where to bring your kids in Moscow & Saint-Petersburg? Check out our Top 10: Natural Capitals!

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To Do in Moscow To Do in Saint-Petersburg Top

Top 10: What to Do in Winter in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg?

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!

Picture: Russian Winter in Snow-Covered Saint-Petersburg
Russian Winter in Snow-Covered Saint-Petersburg
  • 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!

Picture: The VDNKh Ice-Rink in Moscow ‒ The Largest Ice-Rink in Europe
The VDNKh Ice-Rink in Moscow ‒ The Largest Ice-Rink in Europe

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:

  1. First (and for me the most important reason) you’ll visit this pearl away from the crowd, allowing you to take time and pleasure.
  2. 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!
Picture: The State Hermitage Museum in Saint-Petersburg ‒ Home to the Largest Collection of Paintings in the World
The Hermitage in Saint-Petersburg ‒ Home to the Largest Collection of Paintings in the World

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)

Picture: The Huskies ‒ Lovers & Explorers of Russian North
The Huskies ‒ Lovers & Explorers of the Russian North

Wait a second, did I tell you that if you’re in Saint-Petersburg it’s better to enjoy the Husky experience with shashliks? While in Moscow, huskies prefer oladushki!

  • 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?

Picture: Singer House in Saint-Petersburg ‒ home both to the House of Books and Café Singer
Singer House in Saint-Petersburg ‒ home both to the House of Books and Café Singer

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).

Picture: Monument to the merchant Pavel Tretyakov in front of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow
Monument to the merchant Pavel Tretyakov in front of the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow

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!

Picture: Inside the banya: fresh veniks, a felt hat, and a wooden bucket to add water on the wood stove and have a real steam bath!
Inside the banya: fresh veniks, a felt hat, and a wooden bucket to add water on the wood stove and have a real steam bath!

If you don’t know how to enjoy a proper banya, Tsar Visit masters this for you, have a look, here we propose a 2-in-1 experience with Russian banya and the visit of the Trinity Lavra of Saint Sergius in Sergiyev Posad.

  • Izmaylovo Kremlin (Moscow)

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…)

Picture: The Izmaylovo Market in Moscow ‒ a cultural and entertainment complex in a reconstructed Russian-style wooden Kremlin
The Izmaylovo Market in Moscow ‒ a cultural and entertainment complex in a reconstructed Russian-style wooden Kremlin

If you’ve got some spare time, I would highly recommend you to visit the palatial Moscow metro stations before heading to Izmaylovo Market.

  • 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…)

Picture: View on Andreyevsky Bridge in Moscow, relying Gorky Park to Luzhniki, across the frozen Moskva River
View on Andreyevsky Bridge in Moscow, relying Gorky Park to Luzhniki, across the frozen Moskva River

And to enjoy fully your walk and learn some cultural facts, I think it’s worth visiting Gorky Park with Leo, a French expat in Moscow!

  • 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!

Picture: The Radisson Cruise on the Moskva River
The Radisson Cruise on the Moskva River

And there’s so much to see from the Radisson Royal Flotilla Yacht, it may be a good idea to have a guide to accompany you on your cruise on the Moskva River.

  • 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!

Picture: People diving in a ice hole for Kreshenye, also known as the rite of the Great Blessing of the Waters
People diving in a ice hole for Kreshenye, also known as the rite of the Great Blessing of the Waters

Have you missed the Epiphany this year? No worries, you still can wash away your sins and have the experience of a spiritual rebirth by diving in a hole in the ice, and get warm in the banya again!

Want to know more about Russia? Read more on our Tsar Visit Travel Blog!

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To Do in Moscow Traveling in Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral ‒ All You Need to Know

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, is for sure one of the most symbolic buildings of Moscow and even Russia. This Orthodox church, nowadays a museum, is also the symbol of the traditional Russian architectural style, which explains why it has been a model for the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood built three centuries later in Saint Petersburg. Saint Basil’s has indeed been erected in 1561 under Ivan the Terrible’s command after he vanquished the Tatars of Kazan for good in 1552. For the first time in Muscovy, a church was dedicated to a military victory, with the completion of 8 chapels surrounding the main church, one for each battle won by Ivan IV against the Tatars, and each one crowned by a unique and magnificent cupola.

Picture: View on Saint Basil's Cathedral and Spasskaya Tower, known as 'Saviour Tower', from the Red Square along the eastern wall of the Moscow Kremlin.
View on Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Spasskaya Tower, known as ‘Saviour Tower’, from the Red Square along the eastern wall of the Moscow Kremlin.

Often compared to a giant cake because of its colors and peculiar domes and cupolas, Saint Basil’s Cathedral remains Moscow’s symbol and one of its most beautiful building. Everytime I stay in Moscow, I need to see it again, and from time to time I treat myself with a visit of this masterpiece. This majesty led to widespread legend telling that the Tsars bursted the architect’s eyes to prevent him from creating more beautiful buildings in the future!

Picture: Religious paintings, known as icons, inside Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow
Religious paintings, known as icons, inside Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

If it kept safe the Tsar’s treasures some centuries ago, it is now Moscow’s treasure itself. After having been damaged by several fires and by lack of restoration during the first decades of the Soviet Union, Saint Basil’s currently is a bright and colorful spot on the Red Square. 

Picture: The Monument to Minin and Pozharsky located on the Red Square in front of Saint Basil's Cathedral in Moscow
The Monument to Minin and Pozharsky located on the Red Square in front of Saint Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow

Because of these colors, this peculiar architecture, its symbolism, its secrets and its history, Saint Basil’s Cathedral always caught me out of breath when seeing it by entering the Red Square from the north. I’m always amazed by its beauty and always feel overwhelmed by the rich history of Russia when admiring it! What about you? How do you feel when you look at Saint Basil’s? Maybe it’s time to discover it when having a walk Moscow’s city center.

Picture: Winter view on Saint Basil's Cathedral and 'Saviour Tower', from Zaradye Park in Moscow.
Winter view on Saint Basil’s Cathedral and ‘Saviour Tower’, from Zaradye Park in Moscow.

Want to know more about Russia? Read more on our Travel Blog!