Only have 24 hours to explore this Russian metropolis? Here’s a Moscow one-day itinerary – to get the most out of your trip.
Moscow is a huge, intimidating city packed with centuries of culture – and dozens of must-see attractions.
But if you only have 24 hours in the Russian capital, here’s a Moscow one-day itinerary that will give you a real taste of the city – without overwhelm.
Moscow one-day itinerary:
Stop 1: the metro stations
Enter one of Moscow’s 196 metro stations and find a mosaic of Vladimir Lenin, considered a hero despite his iron rule.
Other stations are underground palaces with chandeliers, marble walls and stained glass. Despite the grim-faced commuters, you feel more like waltzing than waiting for a train.
The city’s metro line is an incredible place to start experiencing Moscow’s great history.
And since you’ll be moving around the city anyways, a station or two is easy to work into your Moscow one-day itinerary.
Stop 2: the Red Square
In Moscow the postcard views appear even grander in real life.
And the iconic Red Square is the city’s most incredible site.
Take a few hours to explore the vast Red Square with its show-stopping Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the candy-colored domes reminiscent of fairy tales.
Built on the orders of Ivan the Terrible starting in 1555, the cathedral is now a museum that isn’t worth visiting if you’re short on time. Instead, take a slow walk around the cathedral to take in the details that make up such a stupendous whole.
Asymmetrical in design, the cathedral consists of eight side churches around its core. It’s like no other Russian building, and is called “strange” and “astonishing.”
The massive GUM department store, right at the center of the Red Square, is incredible for shopping.
GUM reopened as a department store in 1953 as a rare shop in the Soviet Union that didn’t experience shortages. Today it’s full of high-end shops that stretch out underneath a glass ceiling.
Stop 3: the Kremlin
This grand, fortified complex includes five palaces and four cathedrals, enclosed by a wall with towers.
The official residence of the country’s president, the Kremlin has served throughout its history as the seat of grand dukes, tsars and Soviet leaders who replaced the towers’ golden eagles with red stars. Today it’s home to the Armoury Chamber, a vast collection of Russian state regalia worn during coronations and 8,000 items in the arms and armor collection.
Start with a tour of the cathedrals. They’re stunning as the sun radiates off their golden domes.
The Cathedral of the Dormition is almost minimalist in its simplicity. But Russian monarchs were crowned here. And the tiny cathedral is regarded as the mother church of Muscovite Russia.
Inside the walls are rich with fresco paintings in reds, blues and golds on every available surface.
Stop 4: the Bolshoi Ballet
End your day at the nearby Bolshoi Theatre, another Russian legend and venue for one of the world’s most famous ballet companies.
Bolshoi dancers are famous for their acrobatic bravura. The company was founded in 1776 and is one of the world’s oldest. It rose to international renown under Yuri Grigorovich, who staged ballets like Swan Lake changed to include a happy ending.
The Bolshoi has for centuries served as a meeting point for thousands of Russians. It’s been a backdrop for countless stories, legends and intrigues.
Once a symbol of imperial royalty or ground for Soviet modernism, the theatre is like many buildings in Moscow.
It carries the city’s long history underneath its layers.