Feeling Thrifty? Try Moscow… No Really!

Today’s post was written by Amy Baker. Bio: Amy lives in London and works as a freelance writer & editor for a variety of magazines and online media.

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When thinking of Moscow, you’ll be forgiven for being under the impression that it is an expensive place to be. In fact, Moscow is constantly listed as one of the most pricey cities to visit in the entire world. It’s got to be said, those Russians like a spot of decadence don’t they? All grand, over-the-top palaces, chandeliers and of course, mega-rich football club owners like, Roman Abramovich, who I’m pretty sure has a fair few chandeliers of his own.

Why then would someone with very little money decide to make my destination, Moscow? Answer? I like a challenge. Here’s a list of some of the free and truly awe-inspiring sites that I visited.

On my first day of sightseeing, I decided to take the hit and splash out on a travel card so that I would be able to use the subway. I know that it is lazy and that walking would indeed be cheaper but the subways are so impressive that it is a necessary evil and the way I see it, you are saving money because you are seeing numerous attractions AND getting around the city. Back in the days of Stalin, instead of spending money on important things such as housing, he decided to splash his cash creating ‘palaces of the people’. This basically involved spending fortunes to make public areas as grand as humanely possible. The subway in Moscow is truly a wonderful site; each station is adorned with majestic crystal chandeliers, imposing statues and artworks, mosaics and grand archways. It’s breathtaking. Although all of the stations are impressive, my top recommendations would be Kroptkinskaya, Kosomolskaya and Mayakorskaya.

A wander around Red Square costs not a penny and I happily whiled away the hours watching the cities residents rush about heads down with their signature grumpy faces. Red Square is found in the shadow of The Kremlin and is from where all of the roads in the capital originate, making it a bustling place. Although a great spot in the day, the impressive buildings come alive when lit up at night and if you are happy to brave the cold, it’s a great spot to take a stroll after dinner (or a pot-noodle if you are really pinching the pennies).

St Basil’s Cathedral in Red Square is a photo opportunity if ever I have seen one. This colourful and unusual cathedral with its bulb shaped turrets is quite spectacular to look at and wander around.

If you are happy to queue and the idea of seeing a dead body doesn’t freak you out then I recommend that you join the queue of tourists waiting in line to see the embalmed body of beloved leader, Lenin. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a bit weird and all you do is walk around him (there is no touching involved) but it is a truly fascinating (and totally free) experience. Warning: don’t strike up conversation with anyone in the line, the machinegun wielding guards don’t like it one bit.

Two more great spots that are totally free and worth a browse are the GUM and TSUM shopping centres located just off Red Square. Here I was thinking that the new Westfield Shopping Centre in London is fancy but when compared to these it looks like little more than a shed. The designer shops play second-fiddle to the extravagant décor and need to be seen to be believed.

A wander down Old Arbat Street is a must-do for Moscow. Soak up the bohemian atmosphere of one of the most famous streets in the capital which was once home to ‘Father of Russian Literature’ Alexander Pushkin. A stroll up and down this street will be like a journey back in time and is a great way to spend an afternoon soaking up the atmosphere of such an interesting and diverse city.

Although you will not be able to get away with spending nothing, there are a multitude of things that you can do that will give you a taster of the cities fascinating history and the sheer indulgence of the capitals buildings. Moscow is a wonderful place and if you are happy to just get lost and soak up the vibe, you’ll have a fantastic time.

One Response to “Feeling Thrifty? Try Moscow… No Really!”

  1. Kristian says:

    Nice article there, very useful for planning ahead to my time in Moscow in July 🙂 How much did you spend on food/drink each day by the way?

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