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Moscow Do's and Dont's

Moscow is a remarkable destination that might appear a real highlight of your Russian vacation. Take a look at some essential tips for your first-time visit to the city.

Don't rely on Moscow traffic

Moscow is one of the world's capitals of traffic jams so we'd advise you to be careful when planning some tours or activities. Avoid driving around the city during the rush hour traffic. We'd recommend you not to plan day trips out of Moscow on Saturday or Sunday in summer. These days locals go to their dachas so you might face a horrendous traffic jam on the way out of Moscow or back.

Do use the metro

Driving around central Moscow is best at a weekend or afternoon hours during the week. It is best to plan your day trip out of Moscow on any day except the weekend. Why not get used to the Moscow metro? Moscow metro is a convenient and beautiful transport system. After the World Cup 2018, it has become much friendlier to western visitors. Today you'll find many signs in English that will help you get around. It will be a good idea to take a metro map with you just in case. You could circle the point of your destination and ask people around if you faced any difficulty.
Take Moscow metro
Take Moscow metro

Don't try to predict Moscow weather

Are you hoping to discover a white snow Christmas in Moscow? These days the weather is very unpredictable and might easily ruin your plans. Some winters in central Russia are very mild, and the first snow may come only late-January. Be careful if you schedule some winter fun activities such as troika rides or dog sledding.

Do plan your weather-dependent activities wisely

Think of back up plans if the weather is not appropriate and make a list of indoor attractions or activities. In Moscow or St Petersburg, you may visit museums, restaurants, join masterclasses, or meet the locals. In wintertime, you can always skate as many of the skating rinks use artificial ice. To get a truly authentic experience, you may also visit the traditional Russian saunas.

Don't purchase Bolshoi tickets the last moment

Bolshoi Theatre is so famous that tickets get sold rapidly. On short notice, you may only buy the tickets from ticket touts, but most probably it'll be a rip-off.

Do book your visit to the Bolshoi as early as possible

The tickets are usually available for sale 3 months in advance. You'll need to purchase the tickets online from the official Bolshoi website. As an alternative, you may attend a ballet performance in a different theatre. Muscovites usually watch ballet and opera in other theatres such as Stanislavsky theatre or Novaya opera. These theatres are less known abroad, but the quality of the production is also very high.
Bolshoi theatre
Bolshoi theatre

Do not forget of a dress code in a church

It is polite for women to put on a scarf when entering a church. It is not compulsory but more respectful for a tourist woman. However, all men must always take off their hats.

Do think of what to wear in a church

Women entering a church should wear a knee-level skirt and have covered shoulders. In most cases, you can borrow a shawl at the church entrance. The situation might appear more difficult for a man wearing shorts as the church doesn't have anything to borrow.
 These rules apply only for certain churches with strict rules such as Christ the Savior Cathedral. When you enter a museum church such as St Basils’ cathedral there's nothing to worry about.
In a Russian church
In a Russian church

Don't expect to see May 9 parade on Red Square

Are you willing to watch the parade on May 9? In fact, the only chance to see it is on TV unless you booked a table in one of the rooftop bars near Red Square. On May 9, they do not allow anyone to approach Red Square. Besides, most of the central streets are blocked as well, so it will be tough walking or driving around central Moscow.

Do watch the rehearsals a few days earlier 

If you are interested in the military parade, you'd better come to Moscow a few days earlier and watch the rehearsals. The access to Red Square is not available, but you may view the military vehicles moving along one of the central Moscow streets. 

Watch the rehearsals before May 9
Watch the rehearsals before May 9

Don't drink tap water 

Tap water in Moscow and many other big cities is safe for drinking; however, most locals never do it. It's safe for teeth brushing or washing fruits or vegetables. 

Be ready to pay for water at the restaurant

Most hotels have water coolers as well. In general, bottled water is very cheap in shops, but it might appear rather costly in a restaurant. Water is never free in restaurants. When ordering water, it's safe to check the price, and it's much cheaper to order Russian brands of water. Otherwise, the waiter will most likely bring you the most expensive water they have, and it might cost almost as much as the cost of your entire meal.


Don't carry wallets or other valuable in back pockets

Pickpocketing is not that common in Moscow, but it happens sometimes.
Be careful when you are in a crowded public place. 

Do beware of pickpockets

Think of where to put your camera, phone, and other valuable things. It's safer to keep your passport in a hotel and carry only a copy. In general, Moscow visitors are cautious when entering the metro, but they often forget about the thieves when they attend a tourist attraction. Thus, the thieves may operate in most popular and busy tourist sites such as Kremlin cathedrals, St Basil's cathedral, or souvenir markets. 

beware of pickpockets
beware of pickpockets

Don't expect to see Moscow in one day

Moscow has a lot to offer to people of the most diverse interests. Don't spend all your time on Red Square and the Kremlin and come to discover other less crowded areas. Moscow is surprisingly colorful. You'll be amazed by the bright colors of St Basils, the red of Kremlin walls, golden and bluish shades of the domes and the green of Moscow parks

Do plan a more extended vacation

We think that three days in Moscow is enough to see the most famous sights of the city and even take a one-day trip to the countryside. If time permits, do plan a more extended holiday to be able to see the capital in all its diversity and beauty.

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