Winter in Moscow: 5 must-do things you wouldn’t expect
I came to Moscow for the first time in late winter, when the average temperature was -12° with snow and wind. It would have been the perfect weather to visit museums and to walk around their warm halls. Unfortunately, I am not really a fan: I prefer architecture, parks, churches, markets… all those kind of things you are supposed to see in summer! Since the Lonely Planet guide seemed focusing only on what to do with warm weather, I had to plan my own itinerary of places I could see without freezing.
If you are looking for something to do in winter that doesn’t include visiting museums here are 5 tips to enjoy Moscow in the most magical time of the year.
1- Gorky Park (Парк Горького)
This big park in the city centre doesn’t seem a place to see in winter, especially if you have already been there in summer, when people lie on the grass and eat ice-cream. On the contrary, in winter the park turns into a huge ice-skating park. The paths where once Russians used to walk in the sun become frozen, creating an intricate labyrinth: it’s the rink of any skater’s dreams. Anyone can rent the equipment, even to simply try a new winter sport. But if you are not into this kind of experience, you can still enjoy the scenery from elevated wooden walkways and stop for a hot кофе or чай at the stands built along the frozen routes.
2- Metro tour
Moscow’s subway is famous worldwide for its beauty, so why not spending a few hours looking closely at the stations where millions of people rush everyday? Built in 1931, the subway represents one of the most extravagant architectural projects of the Soviet Period. Walking across the halls, you will have the impression of being in a palace, with chandeliers, marble walls and mosaic. And the visit will only cost you 55 rubles, the price of a ticket. Even though it would take days to see all the stations, here is an itinerary to follow to see the most astonishing ones. Starting from the most central stop Mayakovskaya, on the green line, you can easily change on the brown line and see Novoslobodskaya, Prospekt Mira and Komsomolskaya. Then, after changing on the blue line, start from Elektrozavodskaya and follow the metro until Park Pobedy, stopping to see Ploshchad Revolyutsii and Kiyevskaya in the meanwhile. My favourite station? Novoslobodskaya with its colourful glass windows.
3- Markets: Даниловский рынок and Измайлово:
Danilovsky indoor market is the best place to live the experience of walking around a food рынок without freezing in the cold. There, is it possible to buy food and fresh products from all over the world and try different cuisines at a cheap price. You can also ask the sellers to taste their dried fruit, nuts, hummus and cheese and they won’t say no. Russian desserts are a must-try too, so leave space for a piece of Napoleon cake!
On the other hand, if you are more interested in buying cheap souvenirs or objects from the Soviet period, Izmaylovo is the place to go. It is an open-air market, but well protected from wind. Moreover, walking in the snow to reach the entrance and seeing the colorful palace near the market in winter will make you feel like in a fairytale. The best time to go there is on Wednesdays, when sellers make special discounts.
4- ММДЦ: Moscow International Business Centre
Being very close to the metro station and to a mall, taking a quick look of the new business centre is not a bad idea, even if it is snowing. It is possible to walk on a covered bridge to reach the opposite side of the river to have the best view of the glass skyscrapers. The landscape their different shapes and sizes create is stunning, and the winter grey sky is perfect to take your best picture of these masterpieces of contemporary architecture.
5- Red Square and ГУМ
Maybe, discouraged by the stormy weather, you might think the Red Square is only worth a quick visit. On the contrary, after taking a unique picture to St. Basil’s Cathedral covered with snow, take a rest from cold in ГУМ, the luxury shopping centre. If you have the chance to be there at the end of winter, in early March for example, you will already be able to feel spring in the air. In the mall, flowers, bicycles and stands selling ice-cream create an atmosphere that will make you forget about the cold. Take some time to go around boutiques and eventually visit the Historical Toilet Room on the ground floor.
Russian cities fill themselves with magic in winter, so don’t be scared of the cold and enjoy Moscow with the snow!