How to do Moscow on a budget

Russia’s capital has a well-deserved reputation for being an expensive place to live, or to travel to, and certainly if you go to the glamorous clubs or exclusive restaurants favoured by the city’s rich and beautiful, you’ll find yourself paying heavily for the privilege. But Moscow doesn’t have to be expensive. From free, or very cheap, tourist attractions to eating, drinking and partying on a budget, there are plenty of ways of experiencing the capital without a heavy cost.

Take the Moscow metro

It may sound like an odd tourist activity but Moscow’s metro is the most beautiful in the world, with mosaics, statues, chandeliers and marble a standard feature of the central stations. For impressive mosaics try Komosomolsyaka station, whilst Novosloboskaya has beautiful stained glass windows, and Park Kultury boasts an impressive range of sporting statues in niches. Simply buy a one-ride ticket, and visit these beautiful underground art works.

Take in Moscow by foot

Contrary to what many imagine, Moscow is an incredibly beautiful city, and most of the tourist attractions and interesting areas are within walking distance of each other. Take the metro to Red Square and see St Basil’s, The Kremlin, GUM and the State History Museum, and then head along to the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, rebuilt after Stalin detonated it to put a swimming pool in its place, or take a stroll along old Arbat Street with its mix of old Muscovite buildings, tourist shops and restaurants. The Pushkin Museum of Art, with its impressive collection of European art, and the reasonably priced Palace of the Romanov Boyars are both within ten minutes walk of Red Square.

Visit Moscow’s Novodevichy Cemetery

The cemetery attached to Novodevichy Cemetry is like a line-up of Russia’s famous. Like London’s Highgate cemetery, only much more impressive, the graveyard boasts a range of well-known figures, from writers such as Chekov and Gogol, composers Scriabin and Shostakovich, and many many politicians, to other notable figures such as Sergei Eisenstein. Particularly notable are the controversial monument to Krushchev, and the eerie grave of Stalin’s second wife. Entrance to cemetery is free.

Hit the Moscow clubs!

Whilst Moscow is notorious for its decadent expensive clubs, there are plenty of brilliant places that offer a cheap night out with a great atmosphere. Bilingua, a fun, relaxed club, also boasts a bookshop, as does Proekt Ogi, a friendly, alternative basement club. Gogol is another cheap , cool bar/club with a friendly atmosphere. Mixed drinks are in general quite expensive because Russians don’t tend to drink them, but shots (about twice the size of a UK measure) are usually just over £1, and beer is also very cheap.

Visit the Tretyakov- Moscow’s finest art gallery

The Tretyakov museum is a staggering tribute to mainly nineteenth- and twentieth-century Russian art, from icons to the Peredvizhniki to works by Malevich and Kandinsky. Whilst entrance to the museum is reasonable by any standards at about £5, on Sundays the gallery is free to those with a valid student card, and is an unforgettable visit.

Eat on the cheap in Moscow

Whilst Moscow has plenty of expensive restaurants, there are also many places that offer good value food in a great atmosphere. Vokzal, near Novoslobodskaya metro, offers a buffet of delicious Russian food in a novel train themed setting (‘Vokzal’ is the Russian for station). For something a little more touristy, the chain Moo Moo also serves a Russian food buffet in fun, cow themed restaurants, right down to cow patterned plates! Or for a tasty £1 meal why not pick up a shwirma from one of the many kiosks around Moscow. Cheap, delicious and available all night, these kebabs are extremely popular with the city’s students and young people.

Find a cheap Moscow hostel

There are plenty of centrally located hostels which are good value for money-hotels in Moscow are genrally a rip off. Try the Napoleon Hostel, which is located in Kitai Gorod, the main nightlife area of Moscow, and within walking distance of Red Square. A La Russe hostel is another centrally located hostel form which you can walk to most attractions, and is located in an eighteenth-century building, giving it a bit of a special feel.  For more accommodation information click here.

This article was written by GYE writer Jessica Lee

4 Comments

  • Robert

    April 16, 2013

    Great Article! I loved Moscow but it sure was expensive. Thanks for the advice on saving money.

  • Gap Year Escape

    April 17, 2013

    Glad you found this useful!

  • Nigel Clifford

    May 3, 2013

    I’ve been told that staying in Russia for an extended trip can be a challenge Visa wise, is this true or have I been listening to the wrong people?

  • roslina

    May 23, 2013

    thanks for the info.very informative and i shall use ur advise on my trip there.

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