As the capital of Russia, Moscow is known for its complex history, rich culture and impressive architecture. However, there’s a more subtle side to this Russian city that only locals know about, and I set out to discover the locals’ favorite areas in their city on my recent trip to Moscow.
Since my Moscow trip was rather spur-of-the-moment, I relied on HotelTonight to help me find a great deal on a last-minute hotel in Moscow. As someone who values flexibility when it comes to traveling, HotelTonight has become one of my very favorite travel resources, especially since it helped me make my trip to Moscow one of my favorite European adventures yet.
If you look at a map of Moscow, you’ll notice that the city is laid out like a wheel, with different districts circling the city. At the heart of this wheel is Boulevard Ring, which encircles the center of the city. This area is home to most of Moscow’s biggest attractions, so if you’re visiting Moscow for the very first time, you’re likely to spend much of your time here. For instance, in the Central district, you will find major historic and iconic attractions like the Red Square, the St. Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin. Since I had already checked many of the main Moscow tourist attractions off my bucket list on a prior trip, I tried to get outside of Boulevard Ring so I could see more of the city. However, I did wander through the Red Square late at night, which I believe to be the best time to see the Central district, as its iconic buildings are beautifully illuminated and you don’t have to fight any crowds.
Next to the Red Square is one of my favorite neighborhoods, Kitai-Gorod. This small business district is full of character, and it is surrounded by old medieval walls that showcases the area’s rich history. Kitai-Gorod is home to a number of old churches, beautiful courtyards and narrow streets. Even though Kitai-Gorod is a very central neighborhood, and thus does attract many tourists, it’s an area that definitely deserves to be explored by visitors. From the stunning architecture to the quaint side streets, Kitai-Gorod gives visitors a glimpse into what life was like in old Russia. Plus, you can’t leave Moscow without walking down Tverskaya Street, a bustling boulevard cluttered with shops, restaurants, hotels, museums and even nightclubs.
Whether you’re looking to pick up a great souvenir from Russia or to simply enjoy an authentic shopping experience at a Russian market, you should take a trip to the Izmailovo Market. In this large flea market, you’ll be able to find traditional Russian gifts, such as Russian nesting dolls, as well as original Russian artwork and local artisanal products. During my time in this famous market, I passed by blacksmiths creating brand new metal works from scratch, antique dealers displaying old Soviet mementos and vintage coins, and family-run businesses offering their unique goods at great prices. Instead of buying your souvenirs in the overpriced, touristy areas in the center of the city, make the trip to Izmailovo for a much more interesting, much more authentic shopping experience.
Located just off the Garden Ring is a place that most tourists don’t know about, but that locals adore–Patriarshy Prudiy, or “Patriarch’s Pond.” This affluent Moscow neighborhood is home to a large pond surrounded by Stalin-era buildings, and today it’s considered one of Moscow’s most fashionable areas. While you can find plenty of history and interesting architecture in Patriarshy Prudiy, you can also find plenty of trendy shops, fancy restaurants and luxury apartments, and I loved seeing how some of Russia’s elite lived. Even though I didn’t want to eat at fancy restaurants or shop at expensive stores, I still enjoyed wandering the streets of this posh neighborhood, and after giving myself a tour of the neighborhood, I sat down on a bench near the pond, relaxed and watched life go by around me.
When I travel, I often gravitate toward a city’s open spaces and public parks, as I know that these areas are where locals come to unwind, relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city life. One of the best places to do just that in Moscow is in Yakimanka, an area located right along the river. This neighborhood is full of greenery, as it is home to three parks: Muzeon, Neskuchny, and Gorky. In addition to these beautiful parks, Yakimanka also offers plenty of great monuments, restaurants and museums to visit, so it should definitely be on your list of neighborhoods to visit during your stay in Moscow.
There are few cities in the world more intriguing and more opulent than Moscow, and it’s hard to describe just how magnificent the Russian capital really is. This Russian city is much more than just a collection of tourist attractions, though–it’s a lively, beautiful city that its locals adore. And I was able to get a glimpse into the locals’ Moscow on my recent trip thanks to HotelTonight, which I always know will help me find a great hotel at a moment’s notice.