When some people hear about visiting Moscow on a budget, they might just give you a snort of disbelief.
Really, they city so big and sprawling and known as one of the most expensive capitals on our planet is probably hard to visit on low budget. But do not get too skeptical! Here I am to tell you about hidden places and spots that will help you to get to know Moscow better and not to go broke.
Moscow is the city of contrast: the reflection of $200,000 cars in the dirty windows of grey blocks stuffed with small apartments; beautiful ladies in the haute couture dresses walking by the place where babushkas (old women) sell sunflower seeds and cigarettes by the piece; tired and sometimes even colorless faces on metro escalator that goes down to some of the most magnificent stations in the world. What do most people know about this metropolis? Red Square and Kremlin, sable furry and bloody red patches of history! But there is definitely so much more in Moscow you will never be able to know unless you visit this city and try to let its vibe go through you. Now, some local tips.
Tip #1: How to Move Around and Where to Go.
If you are not that familiar with traffic jams, then you will surely get to know them better in the Russian capital. However, you can get along without that knowledge. Get yourself a map of the city metro lines (you can simply download one from the Internet and print it) and walk more. There are so many amazing and special things to see simply walking around and reading the history of the country reflected in the architecture and the mood of the nation echoed in people’ style. You can start from the Red Square where you will see Kremlin in all its glory, St. Basil’s Cathedral with its picturesque domes and Lenin’s Mausoleum, then you can walk down the Moscow river, go to Gorky Park, Lubyanka Square (where the headquarters of all Russian spies are), Manezhnaya Sqare, Arbat and numerous Moscow theaters. Fantastically beautiful VDNH, numerous churches, and parks also should not be overlooked.
Tip #2: Where to Eat in Moscow.
If you are looking for some good place to eat out in Moscow, I recommend that you go to one of those places where they serve Russian cuisine. Is not food one of the best ways of understanding a new culture? What you should definitely try is Russian blini (pancakes, the best are with red caviar, for sure!), pelmeni (dumplings with meat), cold borshch (beet-root soup), smoked fish and delicious jams made from local berries. Great street/casual/cheap food at Teremok and Kroshka Kartoshka stalls you can find in many places all around the city. Besides, to eat well and really cheap (like $3 for a meal), you can go to some university canteen near GITIS theater school (metro Arbat), MArkhl architecture school (metro Kuznetsky Most), or near Moscow State University (metro Universitet). Here are some more places: Tretyakovka Café, Coffee Bean and Max Internet Café (rather good coffee, which is so hard to find fairly priced), and Yadrena Matrena. Just pretend that you are a student and walk in.
Tip #3: Where to Drink in Moscow.
I think that the name of this tip is just right because there could be no doubts about what to drink: vodka, of course! Drinking vodka in Russia is all about traditions. If you want to drink like locals do, never take a sip before raising your glass in a toast. There is such a Russian saying: if you drink without any reason, you are an alcoholic. Typical Russian Nazdorovie! will do and will definitely break the ice, if there is some. The third toast is always for love. Most people are drunk in one shot of vodka; so if you want to survive the night out, do not forget to eat before, preferably something fat. You should try different flavored vodka shots and do not forget about vodka with black pepper. Usually, vodka and other drinks are very overpriced in bars and clubs, so be ready to spend not less then $20. Visit such places as Sorry Babushka, Vision Cocktail Hall, Kitaisky Liotchik (Chinese Pilot), Propoganda, Boscow Bar and Vodka Bar (the name speaks for itself!).
Tip #4: Where to Party in Moscow.
Well, it is pretty difficult to give advice where to club in Moscow to someone who is traveling on a budget. I guess, rule number one here will be: try to avoid paying entrance fee. Usually, there is an entrance fee like $15-30 but in some clubs you can get in for free if you come early enough, before the party starts. You simply need to check out beforehand the rules on the website of the club you want to go to. Do not forget, that the more expensive is the place, the more crazy is the face control and dress code. Here are some nice places you will definitely have fun at: Solyanka, B2, Gaudi Arena, Fabrique Club, or Karma Club.
Tip #5: Where to Stay in Moscow.
After having a good drink and a lot of fun, you should have a place to go back to and have a good sleep. There are not so many cheap hostels in Moscow, but you can choose one of these Napoleon Hostel, Home Hostel, Trans Siberian Hostel, Yellow Blue Bus Hostel or Home from Home Hostel (average cheapest room $25). If this price does not work for you, you might want to try one of those hospitality social networks like HospitalityClub or CouchSurfing. These networks fuse a number of fantastic opportunities altogether: free stay, new friends and better understanding of a new culture. Russian hosts are very hospitable, they are likely to take you around the city and show some of their favorite places, teach you some funny Russian words and might even show you how Russians really drink.
Have fun in Moscow! This city is arrogant and haughty, but somehow it manages to get you interested and even attached. Moscow has its own rules and even if you do not fall in love with it at the first sight, it will definitely leave a lasting and strong impression.
Budget Accommodation in Moscow, Russia
- Hostel Camelot – Budget hotel in the center of Moscow.
- Kremlin Hostel – Budget hotel in Moscow city center.
- Suharevka Hotel – Bed & Breakfast in Chisty Prudi district, Moscow.
- Oasis – Budget accommodation in downtown Moscow.
- Napoleon Hostel – Budget hotel in Moscow’s trendy Kitai Gorod district.
Photo of Matryoshka dolls in Moscow , Russia, by Neiljs