1. GORKY PARK
The happy, vibrant and relaxed atmosphere in Gorky Park is really what I loved so much about this place. It’s a popular gathering spot for both adults and children, with a variety of activities for all to enjoy. Leave the kids at the children’s activity club and enjoy a dance or yoga class. Or if you’re in the mood to chill and enjoy the kid-free peace and quiet, relax on a sun-lounger or grab a mattress and take in the rays. For those of you who can’t resist checking your work emails, there is a business zone with free wifi available and café’s a plenty. For family fun, hit the volleyball courts or rent skates/bikes to ride and take it all in!
2. ROYAL RADISSON BOAT CRUISE
Before the river freezes over, everyone needs to enjoy this awesome river cruise! A relaxing day trip or something fun for the evening, the Royal Radisson Boat Cruise is an amazing way to see Moscow from the river. I opted for the evening cruise and had the most enjoyable evening with friends. Travelling at a leisurely speed, you have many opportunities to take some snaps of the passing landmarks and attractions. We enjoyed a tasty meal in the restaurant, then moved on to the dance floor and bar, which sells a good variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, all whilst taking in the sights through the domed windows all around the boat. Overall, a really entertaining evening for a very reasonable price!
3. BITTSEVSKY PARK
Commonly referred to as Bitsa Park, Bittsevsky Park is one of the largest natural parks in Moscow. If you are quite the botanist, there are 500 different types of plants to discover amongst the beautiful forestry spreading over 7km, north to south. The area is complete with playgrounds and cute picnic areas as well as paths for cycling and rollerblading and football pitches; all very popular during the summer. Again, definitely something to do before the weather turns but even then, there is cross-country skiing to be enjoyed, whether you want to get in on the action or simply sit and watch! Do not be deterred by the grisly murder tales (you’re going to Google now, aren’t you?) – come and appreciate this space for the strikingly beautiful land that it is.
4. HERMITAGE GARDEN
One of my favourite spots in the city, Hermitage Garden is a cosy little gem situated in Moscow’s centre. Sporting three theatres and a concert hall, the atmosphere is buzzy and the history is rich and always busy with locals as well as tourists. The park contains beautiful pavilions and playgrounds and other amusements for children, plays host to the International Jazz Festival every year and showcases a variety of shows and plays in its three theatres. Cute little restaurant serving snacks and hot and cold drinks, and tours of the gardens also available. I avoided the busy tours however, and wandered around aimlessly on my own for hours, bliss!
5. SOKOLNIKI PARK
Something I always love to do in the summer, wherever I am, is open air cinema! Here at Sokolniki Park, major box office films are shown on four, 6m wide screens, from midday till 8pm daily. Great spot to kick back with friends, catch the latest flicks and brush up on your Russian! Movies aside, the park holds two museums, an amusement park complete with vintage ferris wheel and hosts a variety of festivals throughout the summer, including the Festival of Pregnant Women which I happened to stumble across on my last visit!!
6. FLACON DESIGN CENTRE
A converted perfume factory now housing offices, quirky shops and cafes, lecture halls, exhibition spaces and studios, restaurants and a cinema…this is one very trendy spot suitable for any mood that you might be in! Catch an indie, art-house film with Russian subtitles, mingle with uber cool, arty types or enjoy an open-air concert. Flacon is a bustling hub of true modern Russian culture with lots to experience and enjoy.
7. BOLSHOI THEATRE
Dating back to 1776, the Bolshoi Theatre is Russia’s oldest and most famous treasure, and it really is spectacular! The theatre’s resident opera and ballet troupes are without doubt, the best in the world and its interior is truly magnificent. If you’re not so much of a ballet/opera fan and aren’t willing to spend the money on a show (but you really should!), definitely take a tour of the building to take in the sheer elegance and grandeur of it, Russian opulence at its best. No trip to Russia is complete without a visit to the Bolshoi.
8. KUSKOVO PARK AND MUSEUM
If architecture is your thing, the Kuskovo Estate is a definite must see. Stunning, 18th century complex located in West Moscow, comprises a palace with grand ballroom, a park complete with beautiful gardens, lakes and sculptures; simply breath-taking. Not the easiest place to get to, I would recommend a taxi rather than public transport, but a really great spot to enjoy on a sunny day with family and friends, away from the bustle of the city.
9. MOSCOW HOUSE OF BUTTERFLIES
A pretty, colourful exhibition of delicate butterflies from South-East Asia, Africa and South America. Over 50 species fly free in a greenhouse pavilion containing fountains and tropical flowers…and they are not afraid to land on you so don’t be alarmed when they do! You can also see different species of spiders, cockroaches, stick insects and poisonous scorpions on display…but don’t worry; these are not allowed to roam free! Lots of fun, especially for the kids!
10. SPARROW HILLS
Another great park, can you tell I like parks?? For spectacular, panoramic views of the city, River Moskva and Moscow State University, as the highest point in Moscow, Sparrow Hills is the perfect spot. Spend your day strolling or cycling and snapping away, bring a picnic, feed the birds and ride the ski-lift to the top of the hill, taking in the scenery as you go. Beautiful views on a bright sunny day, but take an evening stroll too if you can, the city lights are pretty magical.
So there you have it, my Moscow to-do list this summer. What are you waiting for? Book your trip now! Before the big freeze hits us!!