It might be icy - and still hide plenty of the remnants of the icy former regime, too - but Moscow is rammed full of stunning tourist draws. From mammoth squares to picture-postcard spires, you’ll be clicking your camera and gaping around many a slippery Moscow corner.
The history behind the red walls of the Kremlin dates back centuries, you can still see the pockmarks of enemy shells against the outer wall. In times of peace, though, it has turned into a museum, and is the perfect spot to start your Russian education. From the huge 16th century canon and emperor bell standing in the courtyard to the magnificent building itself or the cathedrals, by the time you leave you’ll know more than enough about Russia’s tumultuous history to get to grips with the rest of the city.
Next up has to be the colossal Red Square, where you’ll quickly start to feel like a tiny cog in one massively oversized machine. It dates back to the 15th century, and amongst it you’ll find ancient points of execution, the pointy cathedral and the Mausoleum that still hides Lenin’s poorly preserved but highly revered body, definitely not a sight for the faint hearted, though there's something a little compulsive about the need to glance in at the long dead leader.
Next up are the fairytale towers of St. Basil Cathedral, an astonishing building with its origins way back in the 16th century. Each brightly colored tower symbolizes a historical event or geographical location, while the whole looks like something fresh from a colorful interpretation of Disneyland, without the tackiness.
In fact, there’s so much to uncover here that the main sites are merely scratching the surface. The Poklonnaja Mountain monument, or the gorgeous, 400-year-old Novodevichy Convent and extensive Kuskovo Estate – former home to the Russian Royals – are all very worthy ways to spend your time, too, despite being a long way from the typical tourist itinerary. Even spending some time on Moscow's subway to see the magnificient stations!
Of course, it wouldn’t be Russia without a few shots of vodka in the evening, ideally with a side of caviar and plenty of Russian-style savory pancakes. Don’t forget to layer up (it’s bitingly cold at times) and to bring plenty of film (parts of Moscow are just astonishing), and dive into a city steeped in a different kind of history, and all the more interesting for it.