Moscow may not be the first place that pops into your mind when you think of going on winter vacation, but the city has plenty to offer tourists. From delicious cuisine to stunning architecture, here are five reasons to visit the Russian capital.
1. Lenin's Mausoleum
You probably learned about Vladimir Lenin in history class, but visiting Moscow gives you the chance to see him in the flesh - even though he died in 1924. The communist leader's embalmed body is on display in Red Square, and it's free to view. While it's certainly a morbid and odd sight to behold, it's also a must-see attraction when visiting Moscow. Don't expect to take photos - there's a strict rule against photography inside the mausoleum.
2. A church that's almost too beautiful to be real
If you played the popular game Candy Land as a child, you'll likely see a resemblance between the fictional buildings on the board and Saint Basil's Cathedral. Ornate doesn't even begin to describe this stunning church, which boasts colorful domes, patterns, and shapes that shine even on the dreariest of winter days. The cathedral's gorgeous interior serves as a museum which is definitely worth a visit.
3. Vodka, vodka, vodka
Vodka is typically one of the first things that comes to mind when people think of Russia, and for good reason. Moscow has no shortage of bars offering the well-loved liquor, from vintage bottles to flavored pours. For a particularly Russian experience, make sure your vodka is accompanied by caviar or herring. If your interest in vodka goes beyond merely drinking it, be sure to visit the Vodka Museum, which tells the story of famous Russian brands.
4. Delicious food
Russian food isn't the most popular cuisine worldwide, but that doesn't mean it's not delicious. It's a good idea to sample everything you can while you're in Moscow, but a special effort should be made for popular favorites including blinis (thin pancakes filled with savory or sweet ingredients) and pelmeni dumplings. Borsch, otherwise known as beet soup, is a Russian staple and a great way to warm up on a cold day. If you find yourself craving dessert, treat yourself to something from Moscow's Red October Chocolate Factory.
5. A fascinating fusion of old & new
Moscow is a very different city to what it was before the fall of the Soviet Union, but architecture built during that period can still be seen today. However, the Russian capital is also full of modern buildings and luxury stores, creating a unique fusion of old and new. It's perfectly normal for a communist-era apartment building to sit beside a state-of-the-art office complex. The city is like a patchwork quilt in this way, which makes it an interesting place for anyone who enjoys history and architecture.
The Russian capital is a great vacation destination and offers a number of interesting attractions for tourists. If you decide to visit, be aware that Russia requires visitors from many Western countries to obtain a visa before traveling.