10 reasons you need to visit Moscow this winter

Winter in Moscow is a Russian fairy-tale come true: Beautiful parks, squares and churches covered in sugar powder snow and lights shimmering on your way. Don’t overestimate the temperature’s influence on your travel experience – if you remember to pack a warm coat, cozy underwear and waterproof shoes, you are ready to go.

Here come our top 10 spots to visit in this super romantic season in Moscow – winter atmosphere guaranteed.

1. Sparrow Hills

The State University on Sparrow Hills, a must-visit place in Moscow

One of the best city views opens from Sparrow Hills, protruding over Moscow and featuring the prominent main building of Moscow State University.

The University is one of Stalin’s Seven Sisters, a line of first Soviet skyscrapers to peak the Moscow skyline. Sparrow Hills makes an excellent viewpoint of a snowy Moscow, but also serves as a beloved park and favorite hangout of the student population. During winter Sparrow Hills’ ski-trails are open all day long.

Where: Sparrow Hills
Nearest station: Vorobievy Gory

2. Red Square

Ice skating on the Red Square, a great spot to spend a day during Christmas in Moscow.

No matter how cold it is, a visit to Moscow is not complete without a visit to the Red Square. The most beautiful and yet forbidding square in Moscow is a huge pedestrian space paved in stone right next to the Kremlin. The term ‘red’ doesn’t refer to the color, as you perhaps would first guess – it refers to its beauty. ‘Red’ used to mean ‘beautiful’.

Over its long and troublesome history this place has been a market square and a place for coronations and decapitations. It has hosted a wide range of events – from military parades to rock concerts. A rink goes up every winter on the square where people can show off their skating skills.

Where: Red Square
Nearest station: Okhotny Ryad

3. Saint Basil’s Cathedral

Is it a wedding cake? No, it's Saint Basil’s Cathedral, a must-see for Moscow sightseeing.

Saint Basil’s Cathedral on the Red Square looks like an enormous wedding cake. No wonder Le Corbusier called it ‘delirium of a drunken confectioner’. It was built in the middle of the 16th century, and legend tells that Ivan the Terrible ordered its two architects blinded – to make sure they could never duplicate the masterpiece.

This fairy-tale Cathedral consists of nine side churches arranged around the tenth church of Intercession. Take refuge from the chilly weather outside with a visit inside the cathedral and wander around its surprisingly narrow galleries and see its murals, icons and frescoes. In the Soviet era the Cathedral miraculously avoided being demolished, and therefore it is much appreciated by its many visitors today.

Where: Red Square
Tel: +7 495 698 33 04
Nearest station: Okhotny Ryad

4. Krasny Oktyabr

Krasny Oktyabr - as hot as it gets in chilly Moscow in winter.

Krasny Oktyabr means ‘Red October’ and it used to be a big Soviet chocolate factory famous for its chocolate bar ‘Alyonka’. Now it is the hottest hub in Moscow and a place that will keep you warm even on the coldest days with its thousands of hip and trendy youngsters working, eating and having a good time. In the near future it is intended that the twenty-three red brick buildings of the factory will be transformed into extremely expensive housing with views of the Kremlin.

Meanwhile, all the best design firms, galleries, bars, boxing clubs, yoga studios and nightclubs have plenty on offer for adventurers and creative souls.

Where: Bersenevskaya naberezhnaya, 6
Nearest station: Kropotkinskaya

5. Novodevichy Convent

Novodevichiy Convent looks like something from Russian fairytale.

This convent is so beautiful it leaves you speechless. Founded in 1524 it has remained intact and was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. For many centuries the red brick and white stone Convent with lacelike towers and golden domes was home – or more specifically, prison – to many ladies from the Russian royal families. The moment they fell from favor, became tedious or disobedient, they were sent to live there. Nevertheless the convent doesn’t look scary, but very cheerful, especially in winter. When surrounded by snow, it resembles a fairy-tale castle of a beautiful princess.

Bring a sled or some cardboard to sled down the hills surrounding the Convent.

Where: Novodevichy proezd, 1
Tel: +7 499 246 85 26
Nearest station: Sportivnaya

6. Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

Gold 'n' snow. The Cathedral of Christ the Savior - a must-see Moscow tourist attraction.

This glossy white Cathedral of Christ the Saviour with its giant golden dome does have resemblances with an ice castle – especially during winter when it’s wrapped up in snow. Things have never been easy around the Cathedral. It took forty-four years to build it with the purpose of thanking Divine Providence for saving Russia from Napoleon. In 1931 it was demolished to free space for the Palace of the Soviets – that was never built. The Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, decided to open the world’s largest open-air swimming pool instead, using the flooded foundation cavity.

But consistency isn’t a strong Russian trait. In 1990 it was decided to rebuild the Cathedral using modern technology. This time it only took three years, and today you can observe the result.

Where: Volkhonka, 15
Tel: +7 495 637 12 76
Nearest station: Kropotkinskaya

7. Gorky Park

Nightskating on the biggest rink in Europe.

Some years ago this large Soviet park had become a mess of kiosks with bad kufta, roller coasters with dubious safety standards and with thousands of people trying to have fun. Thanks to recent changes in the Moscow government the park has changed for the better. The kiosks and roller coasters have been taken down, the Soviet architecture has been cleaned and nice cafés and restaurants have been opened. The park also hosts dance lessons, Ping-Pong, chess, running clubs and the largest European winter ice-rink during the winter.

Where: Krymsky Val, 9
Tel: +7 495 995 00 20
Nearest station: Park Kultury

8. Garage Museum

Get enlightened at New Garage Museum, a great thing to do in Moscow.

If the ice-skating in Gorky Park can’t keep you warm then head inside the Garage Museum. This museum is located inside the park in the former restaurant Seasons, which was posh and famous in the 1960s. Rem Koolhaas made an ambitious architectural project: to maintain the look of a 1960s building, but still become the most technologically advanced museum in the city.

The wall panels move freely and a large separate space is made especially for the installations and performances. Add to this five new exhibition halls, a media space and an entire educational center, and you have yourself a cultural adventure not to miss.

Where: Krymskiy val, 9, bld. 32
Tel: +7 495 645 05 20
Nearest station: Park Kultury

9. Hermitage Garden

An intimate rink in the intimate Hermitage Garden, a charming Moscow tourist attraction.

If you only manage to see one thing in central Moscow, this should definitely be it. Though the park is small, it is home to quite a few great sights and it is cozy – especially during the snowy season. You will find a few cafés, three theaters, a stage for concerts and a great playground for children. The best food, music and children’s festivals are held here regularly – and during the winter locals have a lot of fun using the skating rink. But somehow, no matter how many children and music lovers flock to this place, it still never feels crowded, and the atmosphere is intimate.

Where: Karetny Ryad, 3
Tel: +7 495 699 04 32
Nearest station: Pushkinskaya

10. Sanduny Banya

Heat up at Sanduny Banya.

There’s no better way to finish a day of sightseeing in a wintery Moscow than to go to a banya. A Russian banya is a hot steam that serves several purposes. People go to the banya to cure colds, remove toxins from the body, strengthen the immune system and gossip or talk business. The setting is grandiose and palatial with mosaics, marble columns and the Poseidon statue.

Locals come to Sanduny, the largest and most popular banya in Moscow, for a relaxing detox. They also go to do some nude celebrity spotting. Many Russian actors, singers and politicians come to this 200-year old institution regularly. Don’t leave without a bath besom session and a shot of vodka at the adjacent restaurant. This is a mandatory part of the banya program, if you want to go local.

Where: Neglinnaya, 14, bld. 3-7
Tel: +7 495 625 46 31
Nearest station: Kuznetsky Most


Looking for more Moscow inspiration? Visit the momondo blog and download our FREE city guide, momondo places, featuring the very best places to see, eat and experience in Moscow, as selected by locals.
Tips Tricks See all
How the Least CO₂ sorter works
4 mins read

How the Least CO₂ sorter works