What was once one of the most elusive cities in the world is now very reachable except for the fact that its status has changed to the world’s most expensive city. Elusive or expensive, Moscow’s exclusive sights, history and attractions make it a lovely place to visit. So how do we save money while holidaying in the world’s most expensive city? Here are a few pointers.
Where to stay?
Moscow has plenty of places to accommodate travelers on both extremes of the budget; hostels as well as luxury palace hotels are happy to offer enough value for the rubbles they get. It’s only the mid-budget traveler who suffers for options in this pricey city. Even hotels with just basic amenities charge exorbitant rates for standard rooms.
However, remember, the rates quoted by hotels are usually negotiable, sometimes up to even 50%. Hotels outside the Garden Ring are also a lot cheaper than those within. Just book a place that’s close to a metro station and you can get to the city in minutes. Try the Izmailovo Hotel Complex, the Globus Hotel or the Sputnik Hotel for affordable options. Before you book your hotel make sure you can get a visit invitation from the hotel for your visa.
Move on the Metro
Most addresses in Moscow are complete only when they give the location of the closest Metro station. A lifeline for the locals here, the Metro is not just reliable; it's also a Moscow attraction on its own. Visit a beautifully designed central station to understand. Just figure out which train to take from which station and you'll find that you're armed with a cheap, yet delightfully simple mode of transport. Walking is another cheap, yet wonderful way to explore Moscow.
Places to visit
Start your tour from the Red Square where you can see the Lenin Mausoleum (free entry) and St Basil Cathedral; from there, proceed to see the Kremlin. If you just want to see the famed grounds of Kremlin, you can opt to get tickets for the cheapest exhibitions which are held at the Patriarch's Palace and Ivan the Great Bell Tower. If you want to see the armory, be prepared to spend more.
Visit the Gorky Park which is free to visitors and have fun strolling through the vast green space with its amusement rides, game booths and ponds. From here, proceed to the Tretyakow Gallery which proudly displays some of the best specimens of Russian art from the 11th to 17th centuries. Spend on tickets to this gallery as they are well worth the experience.
Moscow has plenty of old houses, churches, cathedrals, palaces, museums and galleries to visit. However, foreign tourists have to pay a much higher entrance fee to most of these attractions; sometimes more than double the local fee. If you have a local friend who can get you tickets, you can save on these costs; the only other alternative would be to learn enough Russian to buy tickets on your own.
The Old Arbat Street is a lot of fun with its unique Moscow feel; but make sure you just look around here. Don't be lured into buying anything here; you'll be paying much more than the actual cost of the souvenir or art piece.
Where to eat?
For breakfast, the chain of cafés Schokoladnitsa offers inexpensive pancakes with cherry jam, Russian porridge and juice. Elki Palki and Moo Moo are chain restaurants that offer inexpensive food with beer. The quantity and taste are good; try the Russian dumpling and Kvas. Moscow also has its own unique street food culture; try Kroshka Kartoshka, a baked potato dish, blinis and Morozhenoe, Russian ice cream and you'll wish you could bring all this back home.