6 Photo-Worthy Ways To Adore Moscow's Beauty From Above And Below

things to do in moscow

Whether you are an avid Instagrammer or up-and-coming photographer, I know you are still scrutinizing about where to start at the largest metropolis in Europe and the most populous city in Russia. But for those with a keen eye for detail, you will appreciate why Moscow is also known as ‘Whitestone’ and the 'Forty Forties.’ Moscow is not only East Europe’s major economic hub, enriched with imperial history and Slavic culture, but it is also filled with glorious, monumental and historic landmarks. Here are six exciting activities to capture the sheer beauty of Russia’s capital city.

1. Join Moscow Free Tour to learn the capital's history

Best photo op for: Moscow’s historic landmarks on the Red Square.

What better way to see Moscow’s historic sites up close and appreciate its history, than to be guided by a local for free? Moscow Free Tour offers both compelling and fun facts, that not all Russians would even know about Moscow. The guide has a wonderful sense of humor and a great knack of storytelling about each landmark you stop at. The tour begins with the story behind the creation of the Cyrillic alphabet and though the duration is 2.5 hours, each anecdote is distinctive and memorable, such as the myth revolving around the circular design of Moscow’s metro network, to the placement of the ruby star on the Kremlin. On certain occasions, you are able to buy ice-cream and sit leisurely at the legendary shopping centre, GUM. Throughout the tour, you will see all the historic landmarks on the Red Square like the Lenin’s Mausoleum and St. Basil’s Cathedral. If you are really impressed with the tour guide, you are welcome to make a small donation at the end of the tour. The Moscow Free Tour is suitable for all ages and groups, but please wear comfortable walking shoes.

Moscow Free Tour

When: 10:45am, daily

Duration: 2.5 hours

Access: The nearest metro station is Kitay Gorod (Purple and Orange Lines). When you come out of the station via the escalator, search for the monument to Cyril and Methodius (two men with a cross) at the centre of Slavyanskaya Square. The tour guide will meet you here.

Contact: +7 4952223466

Website: Moscow Free Tour

2. Journey on a boat or cruise through the Moscow River

Best photo op for: Moscow’s monumental buildings, places and the statue of Peter the Great.

A visit around Russia’s modern metropolis is not complete without a boat or cruise trip on the Moscow River. Regardless of whether you are on a long or short trip, this activity is especially worth considering for all you photography-fanatics. Kill multiple birds with one stone by seeing all the famous landmarks in one trip: Moscow State University, Moscow International Business Centre, Gorky Park, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour and the ginormous monument of Peter the Great. This activity is also a great way to bond with your family or friends while soaking in the sights. There are two different routes to choose from. The first is very affordable and an official boat service that you take from the moor at Berezhkovskaya Embankment near Kievskaya metro station. It is called the Capital Shipping Company and costs 700 RUB (12.50 USD) for one-way or 1000 RUB (18 USD) for an unlimited day pass. The other option is to book through Radisson Royal Moscow cruises, but this is slightly more expensive. This cruise is more ideal for private events and celebrations, but families can enjoy a fine dining experience at its built-in restaurant.

Cruise options

Website: Capital Shipping Company

Website:Raddison Royal Moscow

3. Soak in a panoramic view of Moscow from Ostankino Tower

Ostankino Tower
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Armineaghayan used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Best photo op for: Moscow’s City layout.

As of today, Ostankino Tower, designed by Nikolai Nikitin, is the tallest structure in Europe and the 11th in the world. It was established to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917. Viewers from the observation deck can discern why Moscow is also known as ‘Whitestone’ because most of the city is distinguishably white. The Russian Television and Radio Broadcasting Network is currently headquartered here and the tower is also open to visitors. When you buy an entrance ticket at the kiosk, please remember to bring and show your ID, such as your passport. The ticket is customised as your name card, which you can keep for your memorabilia. Before you go into the elevators and up to the observation deck, you will see other famous and international tallest buildings in miniature form in the waiting area. While you enjoy the sights and pinpoint notable buildings of Moscow, unleash your creativity and take photos with you or your friend standing (or sitting) on the glass floors looking directly onto the city.

Ostankino Tower

Address: pr-d Dubovoy Roshchi, 15, Moskva, Russia

Opening Hours: 10am-10pm

Access: Go to metro Vdnkh. From here, take the mini bus m9 towards Vladykino station. Stop at Akademika Koroleva street. Go to the entrance gate of tower via Novomoskovskaya Street.

Website: Ostankino Tower

4. Hike leisurely up to Sparrow Hills

Best view for: Moscow’s skyline, Moscow International Business Center and Luzhniki Olympic Complex.

The name of Sparrow Hills, or better known as Vorobyovyi Gory in Russian originates from the royal family, the Vorobyovs, who inherit the land until 1453. Some Russian writers and poets have incorporated Sparrow Hills in their works, which romanticise the hills as a sense of timelessness and eternal love. Visitors can also enjoy a moderate, nature walk around the park. Moscow State University is a walking distance from the top of the hills and worth a visit to see upclose and personal. Start walking from the base via Vorobyovyi Gory metro station and hike up the hills to immerse in this stunning view.

5. Have a cocktail at Time Out Bar, Peking Hotel

Time Out Bar on the 11th floor
Source: Booking.com

Best photo op for: Moscow’s hotel skyscrapers of Stalinist architecture, known as the Seven Sisters.

Fancy a delicious, fruity cocktail with breathtaking aerial views of Moscow? Time Out Bar is situated at the 13th floor of the 4-star Peking Hotel, one of Moscow’s Seven Sisters, which has preserved the former Soviet, architectural features in both its exterior and interiors. While the rooftop terrace is only open during the summers, the bar has its own indoor setting, where you can enjoy the spectacle of mixologists whipping up the perfect cocktail.

Time Out Bar, Peking Hotel

Address: Bolshaya Sadovaya ul., 5, Moskva, Russia

Website: Time Out Bar

6. Unwind at the O2 Lounge & Bar, The Ritz-Carlton

Best photo op for: Moscow’s historic landmarks on the Red Square from above.

Situated on the 12th floor of the renowned hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, the O2 Lounge & Bar boasts the most exceptional views of Moscow’s most famous places like Kremlin, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the State Historical Museum and the Red Square. This restaurant and bar also offers a diverse selection of Russian, Japanese and their specialty, Peruvian cuisines, as well as some sweet cocktails mixed with the finest liquors.

O2 Lounge & Bar

Address: The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow, Tverskaya str., 3 Moscow, Russia

Opening Hours: 12pm - 2am, Mondays to Sundays

Contact: +7 4952258888

Website: O2 Lounge & Bar

Get your cameras out and capture the stunning Moscow

Not all cities are made to be picture-perfect. But central Moscow is nearly flawless through all of its historic landmarks. Whether you are on a tour or an observation deck, you will surely appreciate what Moscow has in store for all photographers.

Editor's note: In light of the 2022 political and military situation in Russia, Trip101 urges you to be apprised of the latest news if you have any urgent plans to travel to Russia. Do note that some bookings and services have been suspended or may not be available at this moment.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

A travel and life enthusiast, Vivian has lived in China, New Zealand, United Kingdom and Russia. You may wonder how a lady of Generation Y deals with culture shocks, packing and moving beyond her...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Moscow
Good things are meant to be shared!