In bookstores, “Moscow in 1 day” guides should be placed on the same shelf as “Calculus in 24 hours” textbooks. The idea of enjoying and truly experiencing the heritage of almost 900 years of development of the city in 16 waking hours sounds no more reasonable than mastering integration from scratch within a night before a final. However, what we can help you with is to make the most out of your time. That is to advise you on how to check all the necessary traveler’s boxes and get a notch of Moscow in 1 day that will make you come back for an even more profound grasp. And we can guarantee it will. Moscow TripAdvisor can’t manage better.
8 am – 9 am: Breakfast time
For your only breakfast in the city, the destination is predetermined — Grand Café Dr.Zhivago. Compared to other possible variants, prices might seem biting, but the location, as well as the menu, is ideal to start off your Moscow-in-24-hours-experience. Fill yourself up for the long pedestrian day with a bowl of buckwheat followed by traditional Russian blinis (crepes) with caviar or syrniki (cottage cheese fritters) with honey and sour cream.
Don’t forget to take a sip of tea from an infamous Soviet glass fixed in nickel-plated cup-holder as well as to take a look through the window to capture a piece of the Kremlin wall naturally framed by the cafe’s interior. For those who stay in Moscow for longer than 24 hours, find other noteworthy breakfast options in the additional article.
9 am – 10 am : Walking & taking pictures in today’s Moscow
Before diving into Russian history by entering Kremlin territory or running towards Red Square, we strongly encourage you to take a look at today’s Moscow. Exit the restaurant to the left, turn left on the corner, and follow Tverskaya street. One of the most recent city renovations is the tiled pavement under your feet and the trees that now line up in tubs. Having passed the Ritz-Carlton hotel with a nice rooftop bar option and a mint color building of Yermolova Theater, take an underpass that will lead you to the other side of Tverskaya street where Kamergerskiy lane starts. Packed with theaters, this pedestrian lane has numerous cafés with open verandas and represents a touch of Europe.
Keep on going
Keep going straight to the crossroads (you will pass another highly recommended upscale breakfast place Brasserie Most on your right) and on the next one, turn right to Petrovka St. This street is definitely a place you want to be if boutiques are your places of interest. Walk along and do some brand shopping. For cultural luxury, reach Theater Square. With Bolshoy Theater and TSUM department store on your sides, do not think twice which one is worth taking a picture of and take both shots. A fountain is quite a remarkable spot as well. By no means should you mess up your experience being too concentrated on cliches: even though Vrubel’s XIXth century fresco on the façade of Metropol hotel is rarely depicted on postcards, face the traffic, look up and then left, and make sure you take at least a mental picture of this historical art piece.
By the way, when John Steinbeck and Robert Kappa came to Moscow working on their famous A Russian Journal in 1948, Metropol was the hotel they stayed in.
Kappa, arguably the greatest adventure photographer, took pictures of postwar Moscow that illustrated the Soviet travel diary entries of Nobel Prize laureate Steinbeck.
Taking a few steps along Teatralniy Proezd to scrutinize the fresco which otherwise is in quite a distance from your standpoint, take an underpass that leads to Metropol hotel and walk along this side of Teatralniy Proezd. Look around attentively in order not to miss a white historic looking gate. Passing through this gate through the boutiques and under some kind of a contemporary installation, you will end up on one of the most beautiful streets in Moscow — Nikolskaya street. Although you see one of the Kremlin towers on your right immediately, first, take your time to look around and pay respect to this street and its architecture. You have just 1 day in Moscow to dig deeper.
10 am – 11:30 am: Red Square time
No further essential obstacles on your path to the most desirable picture point.
State Historical Museum that you had already seen from Dr. Zhivago’s window will be on your right, Mausoleum, “the central cemetery” where Lenin’s body is still soaking in formaldehyde will face you, whereas St.Basil’s Cathedral will look at you from the distant left. When lost in all these numerous picture opportunities, take a breath and get a reminiscent Soviet ice cream or a coffee-to-go in GUM (State Department Store) situated just behind your back. Ice cream counters are located all around the ground floor. As for the coffee options, we recommend to save time and settle on something on the ground floor: Bosco Café or Cafeteria at the Fountain. Do not exit until you pay a visit to the historical restroom. And make sure you exit onto Red Square again in order to fully satisfy your photographic needs.
11:30 am – 12:00 pm: Getting to the Kremlin territory time
Yes, you have already seen enough of the wall but the visual proximity does not imply easy access. Exiting Red Square through Voskresenskiye Vorota (a gate next to the State Historical Museum) you will pass Km 0 point. This is a point from which all the distances in the city are measured. Face Red Square, make a wish, and throw a coin over your left shoulder. Turn left and walk along Mokhovaya Street passing a shopping mall and Manege exhibition space. When this white and rather long building ends, turn left and enter Alexander Gardens. You won’t regret including taking pictures of the Kremlin towers from the gardens in your Moscow itinerary.
Here you can also buy your entrance tickets to the Kremlin in a glass one-story building unless you have already done it online. We highly recommend you do it online instead of standing in line. Purchasing the tickets 2 days in advance is the only way to guarantee you will make it to the Kremlin territory. Note that timing is essential when planning a visit to Kremlin. Imperfect timing will result in automatical cancellation of your tickets.
In the gardens, beside the Kremlin wall, you will see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the Eternal fire dedicated to the soldiers who died during the WWII.
12:00 pm – 2 pm: Kremlin time
Two gates are open for entrance: Troitskiye Vorota next to Kutafya tower ( the white one you passed on your way to the ticket office) and Borovitskiye Vorota (at the very end of Alexander Gardens). On the actual the Kremlin soil your eyes will choose the destination by themselves. Visit the cathedrals that appeal to you most but you cannot afford to miss Dormition Cathedral, the oldest fully conserved building in Moscow built in 1479.
The Kremlin is rich in historic museums to check out: to this extent, we highlight Armory Chamber and Diamond Fund. Ivan the Great Bell Tower visit requires a reservation and a sufficient time slot. Other highlights you might want to see when in Kremlin are Tsar Bell — 6.6 meters (22ft) in width and 6.14 meters (20.1 ft) in height, which has never been in working order, — and Tsar Cannon – also a symbol, though this one bears a trace of at least one firing.
2:00 pm – 2:30 pm: Time to move to another neighborhood
Moscow places to visit are not limited to a single neighborhood. When you exit the Kremlin, navigate to the Cathedral of Christ the Savior or just believe us and follow down Mokhovaya street, the upper side of which you have taken on the way to the Kremlin. On your right, you will see Russian State Library. Do not be afraid of a quite recent Monument to Prince Vladimir with a huge cross on your left. Mokhovaya street proceeds to Volkhonka street. Here the houses on the sides are quite peculiar but your destination is the cathedral.
2:30 pm – 3:30 pm: Lunchtime
Lunch on the steps of the cathedral in a restaurant called Academia will turn out to be cheaper than you might be expecting from a place with such a view. The restaurant has red armchairs, floor-to-ceiling windows, and two menus, Italian cuisine, and sushi. We recommend you choose a pizza or pasta from the Italian one.
3:30 pm – 5 pm: Museum time
Do not take a lot of pictures of the cathedral, as you will get a better composition later on. Cross the street and rush towards Pushkin museum – the only museum in our list of 1-day-essentials. Visit the main building to see the world’s famous interior with wide marble staircases and columns, a glass ceiling and a full range of Greek and Roman sculptures on the first floor. The second is devoted to paintings. You can consult the website to find out what is on. Keep in mind that Moscow has a wide range of museums and art galleries in case you stay in the city for longer.
5 pm – 5:30 pm: Other river bank time
Cross back to the cathedral’s side, circle it around, and take Patriarchy bridge. While crossing Moskva river, amid exquisite lampposts and panoramic view on Kremlin, do not forget to look back on the cathedral. When you are halfway through the bridge, turn around to capture three epochs on one picture: Moscow Business Center skyline is responsible for contemporary Moscow, Ministry of Foreign affairs, one of Seven Sisters, goes back to Soviet times, and the rebuilt Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is reminiscent of Tsar’s Russia. Look for the setup for this shot to the left of the cathedral.
5:30 pm – 6:15 pm: Cocktail time
You will see Strelka bar from the right side of the bridge. Do not miss the first staircase that will take you down onto the Balchug island. Then a short Strelka’s staircase will lead you to the roof with, again, a good view of the Cathedral as well as on the bridge. Take a cocktail and move to an edge of the bar counter. Might be too early to enjoy the sunset but never too early for Lychee Martini.
6:15 pm – 8 pm Take a breath time
Get back to Patriarchy bridge and this time, walk it all the way through. Then just follow the embankment headed towards Muzeon Park of Arts. If even at this point you feel like exploring, consult our detailed guidance on parks. Otherwise, after such a busy day you deserve a chill stroll with picturesque views all around you, debatable Peter the Great Statue included. After you pass under another bridge, Krymskiy bridge, you have entered Gorky Park. From here navigate to 8oz restaurant located in the center of the park next to the ponds.
8 pm – 9:30 pm Dinner time
Dining at 8oz you can to fully relax. Bearly’s team advice is to ask to sit outdoors and order 0.5l of their cider. The inner terrace overlooks the pond and has some blankets on chairs grouped by two or four around small tables. The outer terrace overlooks the park alley, has cozy lights and long wooden communal tables with benches. In terms of the actual dinner, you can choose from Mediterranean and Thai cuisines with really good grill options. For a desert, take a chocolate flan. Politeness is not a strong side of the staff here. On the bright side, your waiter most likely speaks English and definitely won’t spoil the atmosphere of the place.
9:30 pm: Go home time
Get back to your hotel using YandexTaxi, Gett, or Uber. Otherwise, you can simply walk with a navigator set to Park Kultury metro station. The subway is preferable since on the way you will take Krymskiy bridge. From there you will have a distant but outstanding view on Moscow State University, another one of the Seven Sisters. This panorama will allow you to tangibly widen your Moscow horizons. (Unless you just can’t walk any longer which is likely. But it was your idea to see Moscow in 1 day.)
11:30 pm – 12 am: Go hard time
Gipsy, Icon or Red night club, on the very same partying Balchug island, is always an option after a quick nap. In summer months, it doesn’t even matter what night of the week it is. But once you head out of the hotel room, you will have to admit you have just tricked us. Of course, you are not going to leave Moscow the next day.