The mega-metropolis of Moscow is also becoming increasingly popular with tourists – according to official figures from the city administration, the number of foreign visitors to the Russian capital rose to 17.4 million last year. Visitors of the city have access to over 200 large hotels, each with over 50 rooms, one more times as many hostels, and over 400 smaller hotels and other accommodations such as AirBnB apartments. Especially for newcomers to Moscow, the question arises: what is the right accommodation and where should you stay?
Which area of the capital is worthwhile for whom?
Basically, accommodation in the central areas of Moscow is desirable because there is a lot to see and there are numerous activities available in the evenings. But Moscow has an excellently developed metro network and a little further away from the Kremlin there are now numerous quarters that offer themselves to Moscow visitors. We have put together the most interesting parts of the city for you.
The Kitay-Gorod district is directly east of Red Square and the Kremlin. Translated literally, the name means Chinatown in modern Russian, but this historic district was never known as Chinese – the exact origin of the name is still debated today. What is undoubtedly certain, however, is that Moscow, which is more central than Kitay-Gorod, can hardly be found. Within the metro ring line, right on the Kremlin and the main sights, Kitay-Gorod is a perfect choice for first-time visitors to Moscow.
The district also offers numerous restaurants and pubs and proposes some excellent shopping opportunities with the Nikolskaya Ulitsa shopping street and the GUM department store. Theater Square with the world-famous Bolshoy Theater and Lubyanka Square, where the KGB once resided, are now exactly the boundary from Kitay-Good to the Tverskoy district.
In Kitay-Gorod there are both wide pedestrian boulevards, such as Nikolskaya Street, and small streets around the Kitay-Gorod metro station. Parts of Kitay-Gorod are also very alternative – with hip bars, graffiti and art lofts. In general, for Kitay-Gorod, as for other districts bordering the Kremlin, accommodation here is a little more expensive than outside due to its central location.
Tverskoy district, just east of Kitay-Gorod and north of the Kremlin, is certainly the best address for Moscow tourists. With the Ritz-Carlton, the Hyatt, the St. Regis and the Metropol, several of the city’s best hotels are located in the Tverskoy district, each within view of the Kremlin. Here are some of the most famous sights, such as the Bolshoy Theater, the State Duma, the Alexander Garden or Moscow’s second most famous shopping mall from TsUM – the Luxury Department Store (Tsentralniy Universalniy Magazin).
In the smaller side streets of the very wide Tverskaya Street, which gives the district its name, you will also find countless smaller shops, bars and restaurants. The pedestrian zone Kusnetsky Most, right at the metro station of the same name, offers countless cafés and shops that invite you to linger. But as in Kitay-Gorod: accommodations here are not necessarily cheap, but you are right in the heart of Moscow.
The Arbat district of the Russian capital closes just west of the Kremlin. Named for the well-known Arbat Street, which runs about one kilometer from the Arbatskaya metro station to the Smolenskaya station through the western center. The street now reserved for pedestrians is one of the oldest in the capital, but today it is particularly popular with tourists. Countless souvenir shops with the ubiquitous matryoshkas and other souvenirs line the wide street. Many restaurant chains have their branches here, for example you can find the Moscow Hard Rock Cafe on the Arbat.
However, there are also numerous sights here, such as the State Pushkin Museum. The location is also very central, even if you will eventually find more tourists than locals.
The ultra-modern skyscraper district has only been built a few kilometers west of the center of Moscow in the last ten years. Europe’s tallest building stands here with the 375 meter high Federation Tower. Moscow City was actually built as a business district, but there are now a whole range of hotels and hostels in the architecturally impressive district.
Because the advantages are obvious: the metro takes you to the Kremlin in just 15 minutes through the Vystavochnaya and Delovoy Tsentr stations, and Moscow City offers a huge shopping center, numerous bars, such as the spectacular Bar Sixty, which like the name reveals, is on the 60th floor of the Federation Tower. You won’t find any traces of old Moscow here, but if you’d like to get to know the glittering business side of the Russian capital, you’ve come to the right place.
You get a completely different impression of the Russian capital if you go south of the Moskva River in the district of Zamoskvorechye. There are numerous cheap accommodations here and for tourists there is a fascinating mix of old and new Moscow to see. Partly dilapidated buildings next to great, centuries-old houses with hip cafes and bars. Moscow is reinventing itself in many places and the area around the Novokuznetskaya metro station is one of the hotspots. You may be a little further away from the Kremlin and Red Square, but the wonderful Gorky Park is just around the corner.
Another interesting district can be found northwest of the center, adjacent to the Tverskoy district. Unofficially named after a larger pond (Patriarshie prudy), the area around the patriarch ponds has always been the quarter of the artists. Numerous museums and cafés still shape the image of the streets around the pond today. It is a great opportunity for Moscow visitors to get close to the center, but to escape a bit from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. Because the district has a quiet atmosphere and still offers enough sights and beautiful architecture to spend time here.