Most people visualize splashes of color and unique-shaped domes when thinking of Moscow. Its artistic nature breathes through the city’s architecture; touring Europe, one will not find a capital city quite as historically rich, yet eloquently beautiful.
Moscow has a long-standing history of Christianity, so a traveler interested in beautiful cathedrals will enjoy the views. Moscow is enchanting, housing over 12 million people within its city limits.
A bustling space for international culture and tourism, Moscow also consists of many green spaces, keeping its environment fresh and incredibly attractive. It is too the northernmost, coldest capital, metropolitan city in all of Europe.
Celebrations in Moscow
- Russian Winter Festival (mid-December to mid-January): Some people like a laid back vacation; others enjoy a lively celebration that allows them to feel the culture of a place firsthand. If you are the latter, the Moscow Russian Winter Festival will surely be a ‘time to remember’. With good food and good people, you can dance, ice skate, sing, and play for a day or a month. Russians do know how to have a good time, and this is a unique space to meet lively folks that you might not talk with otherwise. The festival is a way of celebrating the year that is passing and bringing in good vibrations for the New Year.
- New Year (December/January): During the Soviet Era, Christmas was banned, so citizens took to celebrating during the New Year holiday instead. Most celebrations just shifted, which is why the New Year is more recognized than Christmas amongst the Russian communities. This creates a wonderful 6-day long celebration. Along with family feasts and the president’s New Year speech, people can enjoy street fairs, parades, and ceremonies. This might be a nice time to travel, as you can enjoy both the Russian Winter Festivals and the New Year celebrations.
Good to know
Russia has a list of nations who are exempt from acquiring a visa before travel. Each nation has different rules on the time allowed, so be aware of this when looking into planning the duration of your trip.
Culture and Etiquette in Moscow
Officially named in 1340, Moscow has been a source of life for many people. First settling by the river in order to commute and trade, people have continued to settle here for many more reasons. It is an international hub, full of culture and travel. There is a history of deeply-rooted religion, seedy politics, immense wealth, magical mystics, breath-taking art, overwhelmingly gorgeous architecture and at the forefront, mystery.
With a convoluted history of oppression, Russia seems to keep its culture close to the heart, unconcerned with sharing its wonders with others. All the same, a cultured traveler who is up a for a bit of a challenge will enjoy exploring Moscow. In most places, you will not see locals readily wearing a smile, as that is just not a part of the culture. Do not take this as rudeness, rather as a nuance of the culture; just as you might wonder why Russians are not smiling at you, they too wonder why you are smiling at them.
The taxis are not necessarily easy to maneuver, so you will have to negotiate, as the Russian drivers might just be looking for unnecessary amounts of cash. Also, do not be surprised if you are bribed by the cops while in Moscow. I know, they should be keeping you safe, but different cultures wield different woes. Ensure that you have your passport on you at all times, that you in fact are not doing anything wrong, and carry a little extra change in one pocket, just in case.
It is best to ‘play dumb’, ask a lot of questions, do not take it personally, and continue upholding innocence. Unfortunately, you might too need to give them a bit of cash to stop heckling you. Not a great part of Moscow, but inevitable. It is not enough to overshadow a beautiful adventure in a new place though.
As a traveler, make sure you exchange money before even stepping foot out of the train station or airport. Do not expect that establishments will take cards, as the card system is not implemented around the city. Be prepared with rubles, and do not be afraid to bargain; start low first, then increase with subtle increments.
The metro is a perfect way to travel the city. It is an underground of exploration as it basically doubles as an art gallery. The metro in Moscow is by far the most beautified transit tunnel in all of Europe. Take your time, breathe it in, and enjoy.