With the Winter Olympic Games in just three month’s time, the world has its eyes on Russia. Thousands will be flocking the Black Sea region in search of world champions and snow but the capital should not be overlooked, even for those on a budget. Here’s our guide to experiencing Moscow for free.
Moscow is a rich and expensive city any time of the year and it can be a bit daunting for the budget traveller. Most attractions cost money, and usually more than we expect them to but there are plenty of sights to visit for free in and around the Russian capital.
Museums, galleries and cultural life in Moscow
Winters are notoriously brutal in the capital. The wind cuts through you like sharp icicles. You curse the moment you step out of the underground metro station. Frost keeps the pavement nice and slippery, a hazard for the ill-prepared. When planning a holiday in Moscow in winter, it’s best to plan your day right so that you can duck in and out of museums and galleries without spending too much time outdoors.
There are 300+ exhibition halls in Moscow and most of them are run by non-profit organisations or umbrella art centres. These are usually always free. There are very few museums that are always free but here are a few to get you started:
- Bulgakov House Museum (open till 11pm on weekdays, 1am on Friday and Saturday!)
- Metro Museum (inside Sportivnaya Metro Station)
- Water Museum
- Museum of Horse Breeding
Good to know: all museums in Moscow are free on the third Sunday of the month.
There is something very creepy but very interesting about seeing Lenin’s mummy displayed in a glass case in his Mausoleum. It’s open to the public Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday from 10am-1pm. Entry is free but bags, cameras and mobile phones must be checked for a fee upon entry. If you want to save on roubles, go with a friend who can hold your things while you go inside and then swap.
Picnics in the parks and squares
Come spring, Moscow is a dream to visit. Summer usually brings with it humid days and smoggy air. On a clear day there is nothing better than wandering the city’s parks and squares: Red Square, Patriarch Ponds, Izmaylovsky Park, Aquarium Garden…
In parks like Tsaritsyno Park, Sparrow Hills, Kuskovo Park and Altufyevo Preserve you’ll find barbecue areas where you can bring your own picnic fare and grill it while you’re there. It’s the perfect atmosphere on a warm summer’s day.
Like to travel for free? We’ve created dozens of free city guides on the Traveller’s Blog from Venice to Vancouver, Paris to Hong Kong.