Russia. Just the mention of the name conjures images of red flags, vast spaces, and deadly distances.
Moscow is the heart of Mother Russia, with an incredibly turbulent history, gorgeous architecture and slightly strange people with a mystic Russian soul. While visiting the city, the brutal history is palpable. But, with so many shops, restaurants and malls, Moscow is rightfully considered a perfect destination for a city break.
But what to do in Moscow in 3 days? Don’t worry; 72 hours is enough to get a glimpse of the vibrant and expressive side of Moscow.
Moscow’s relatively compact city center is teeming with sights: theaters, museums, boulevards and beautiful city squares. But because of that planning a short trip to Moscow can be quite overwhelming. So I’m helping by sharing and pointing out my favorite sights and spots in the city.
My 3-day Moscow itinerary is ideal for first-time visitors and those who want to see as much of the city as possible. So let’s get started!
Things To Do in Moscow in Three Days
Day 1: Iconic Moscow Itinerary
There is no doubt that the Red Square is the heart of Moscow and almost any trip to this city starts from here. The square has an abundance of sights to see and you should probably expect to spend at least 2-3 hours here if you want to explore every nook and cranny.
The massive Lenin mausoleum, the opulent St Basil Cathedral, the GUM department store and the State Historical Museum became integral parts of the architectural ensemble. And depending on where you enter the Red square, those four sights are the first things to see.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Red Square there is a majestic Christ the Saviour Cathedral. Originally built in 1883 it was then demolished in 1931 during the Soviet period and finally rebuilt between 1994-1997. The awe-inspiring cathedral is the tallest Orthodox church in the world. And it has a convenient location for exploring the rest of the city.
End your first day in Moscow by exploring the area near the Old Arbat Street. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Moscow. It dates back to the 15th century and allows you to enjoy the authentic ambiance of the Old City. Located just a few blocks away there is a New Arbat Street. While it is much younger and less fancy than its older counterpart the street is filled with some of the most vibrant restaurants and liveliest nightclubs in Moscow. Both Old and New Arbat streets have a wide range of restaurants with food catering for all budgets.
If you’re looking for top things to do in Moscow in 7 days, I’ve got that covered!
Day 2: Beyond Red Square. Moscow’s Parks.
On your second day in Moscow, I suggest exploring Moscow’s green lung. In fact, there are way too many parks to visit in just one way, thus I will only mention my favourite ones.
Named after Maxim Gorky this is one of the trendiest and hipster-friendly areas in Moscow. Originally opened in 1928 the park underwent a massive transformation that has turned it into a charming recreation ground with an open-air cinema theatre, bicycle- and skate-rental spots, and contemporary public art projects.
If you visit the Russian capital in winter, make sure to pay this park a visit because it offers one of the best ice skating rinks in Moscow.
Conveniently situated in the southeast of Moscow this huge park is both an open-air museum and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
With an impressive number of original buildings, churches, bell towers and pavilions, Kolomenskoye dates back to the 14th century and the Ascension church to the mid-16th century. It may take up to four hours to explore the area near the church so you can easily combine these two parks in one trip.
Day 3: Hidden Gems in Moscow
The Patriarch Ponds
A tranquil and charming neighborhood next to Mayakovaskaya Metro station has long been known as the area popular with expatriates. However, only a handful of tourists make their way here.
I absolutely recommend visiting this tiny park especially if you’re a Bulgakov fan. The residential area near the Patriarch Ponds is where the conversation between Berlioz, Ivan Bezdomny, and Woland has been situated by Mikhail Bulgakov in his popular novel “The Master and Margarita”.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception
Situated not far from Moscow Zoo and the Embassy of Poland, this neo-Gothic Roman Catholic Church is one of the largest and most beautiful Catholic cathedrals in Russia.
Built in the early 20th century, the building has had a fairly complicated history. It was shut down and suffered terrible damage from aerial bombings during the Second World War but was restored in 1990. Now you can attend one of the masses offered in a range of languages and enjoy classical music concerts free of charge in this lesser-known architectural gem.
There you have it – the perfect 3-Day Moscow Itinerary!
How To Get To Moscow’s City Center
With four international airports located not far from the city, there are many convenient ways to reach the city center from any of them. Chances are you will arrive at Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, or Vnukovo airport as only a handful of flights arrive at Zhukovsky airport.
The Aeroexpress train is the fastest (and my favorite) way to reach Moscow city center from the Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo, or Vnukovo airport. Trains run every 30 minutes between around 5 a.m. to 12 a.m. and cost around $8 USD (500 RUB) one way. With frequent heavy traffic in Moscow, this is definitely the best way to get to the city center at a predictable time.
If you travel on a tight budget, there is a chance to save money on transportation. All airports are connected with the nearest subway station by buses. These are not that comfy but really cheap. You could travel for less than $3 USD one way. But keep in mind that you’ll have to use the metro to get from the outskirts of Moscow to the center. Watch for bus 851 if you arrive at Sheremetyevo airport and bus 308 if you arrive at Domodedovo airport.
Getting Around in Moscow
Moscow’s ticketing system for their public transport can be confusing especially if you’ve never visited the city before and don’t speak Russian.
It is always good to remember that most stations and ticketing machines can get ridiculously crowded during peak hours. I can’t recommend purchasing a Troika card enough when it comes to getting around. You can get a Troika card that is valid for 3 days for less than $7 USD, so don’t miss out on the opportunity to save money and avoid wasting time in line.
This reusable card allows you to use the Moscow metro, as well as Moscow’s Central Ring, busses, trams, and trolley busses. There is no limit to the number of rides during the validity of your card.
How to get the Troika card: you can buy this card at any metro kiosk.
While they do have English announcements in the metro on most lines, signs at Metro stations are often written only in Russian. Getting a printed copy of the metro map might come in handy to overcome the language barrier and find your way around.
Where to Stay in Moscow
When you’re planning a 3-day Moscow itinerary, you’ll find out there are literally thousands of places to stay. Accommodation in Moscow ranges from luxury hotels to budget hostels that often have both shared facilities and private rooms.
To save on accommodation I recommend using the Ostrovok hotel booking engine. They often offer better deals on hotels in Moscow than websites like Booking.com.
If you’re looking for budget hotels in Moscow, I recommend 999 Gold Hotel and Orange House Hotel near the Victory Park. AirBnB and Couchsurfing are also popular in Moscow and most of the hosts speak proper English.
I hope you enjoy your trip to Moscow!
A map of the 3-Day Moscow Itinerary
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