It's fast, frequent, well-run, and cheap (about 20 pence for any journey when we were there in August 2005). However, I'd advise travellers to learn the Russian alphabet (at least) as it can be difficult to find your way around the system otherwise. You can't always see the station name from inside the train, and the (Russian) announcements are sometimes not audible. So it's useful to be able to follow the map. You can buy postcards that show the map - handy to carry around if you don't want to bring your guide book. There's a wealth of info on the internet - just type "Moscow Metro" into Google.
Travel around town on the underground. It's cheap, the stations are dotted all over the place and, most importantly, many of the stations are spectacular monuments to the slave labour that built them. Marvel at the chandeliers, the enormous statues, the weird Stalinist architecture and the murals of happy workers.
Traditional Russian baths from the 18th century. Wrap yourself in nothing but a sheet, sit in the hot, purging steam and then jump into a freezing cold-water pool. A perfect hangover cure that, worryingly, leaves you wanting a cold beer (also on offer). Expect to pay around £20 a head for the whole experience.
14 Neglinniy Pereulok; tel: 095 925 4631
The only place where you can get a true impression of the scope of Moscow. If you've read Tolstoy's War and Peace (well done), this is where the scenes are set as the Russian army retreats from Napoleon's doomed advance.
Now it's a setting for the Moscow State University and has splendid views on a fine day. You really can see it all from here - especially the married couples having their photo taken with the panorama behind.
Sparrow Hills is known as Vorabyovi Gori in Russian. Nearest metros: Universitet or Vorabyovi Gori
Sushi is all the rage, but you should try this. Grilled meat, fresh vegetables and hachipuri, bread stuffed with melted cheese - easily the most addictive substance in the former Soviet Union.
Genatsvali restaurant on Ostozhenka, 12/1 (nearest metro: Park Kultury) is not the cheapest, but perhaps the best.
Try to fly into the renovated Domodedovo airport if you decide to come to Moscow. It isn't necessarily any faster-moving than Sheremetevo, but it is a precinct of the new Russia rather than the old: it's modern, relatively user-friendly and - most importantly - it allows you to escape extortionate taxis for the ride into town. There is an air train available there just outside the main terminal that costs just 200 rubles (as of May, anyway) and whisks you to Paveletskii station in about 45 minutes. There you can connect to the metro and anywhere else you want to go.
A sprawling maze of wooden turrets and walkways housing the largest souvenir market in Moscow. If you make it through the obligatory matrioshka and amber stalls, crowded with American tourists, you are rewarded with a bewildering array of miscellany from antique busts of Lenin and Stalin to old toys and household junk. It's as popular with Russians as it is for tourists so the prices are reasonable, although if you have a foreign accent you'll have to work hard to haggle them down. The entrance fee is a mere 10 roubles.
Nearest metro: Izmailovo
There are so many places to visit and enjoy but make no mistake, no experience in Moscow is complete without meeting the locals.
Russians are famous for their hospitality and you will not be disappointed, especially if you can learn one or two sentences in Russian and make a speech before a glass of vodka.
A tourist hang-out, but also the preferred eaterie of the well-heeled. High-end Russian cuisine where smoked meat meets pickled fish. Expect to pay at least £50 a head.
26a Tverskoi Bulvar; tel: 095 229 5590; nearest metro: Tverskaya
What do you mean you don't need a new hoover/microwave/home theatre? Okay, but luck will have it that your mobile's battery expires or your MP3 player packs up. Or you will need one of 30,000 titles in music or film or software. All of them can be found here.
Two-thirds are still fakes or pirated copies no matter what fancy banners may say. Still, the place offers the most complete selection of Russian music and films, latest Hollywood releases, should you miss home or peculiar tunes.
Bagrationovskaya metro, then walk. Check out the large food market on the way
An enormous exhibition park, built to demonstrate the riches of the Soviet state. Filled with lots of huge Stalinist buildings, gigantic statues and grandiose water fountains. Within the park there are still sound speakers along the footpaths - probably used for pumping propaganda during communist times. Creepily, they now pump classical music.
The park is situated opposite the impressive Hotel Cosmos, built for the 1980 Olympics.
Must be seen if you want to get a feel of Stalinist Moscow.
Nearest metro: VDNKh metro station, one of the exits leads into the park
Try some wonderful Georgian food such as hachipuri, a scrumptious cheese bread; stuffed grape leaves (a Georgian version of the Greek dolmades); roasted rolled up aubergine stuffed with a gloriously garlicky dip; plus the ubiquitous shasleek - marinated grilled kebabs.
It is on Gruzinski Val, right next to Beloruskaya Metro. Walk down from the station about 250 metres, it's on the right-hand side of the street, a small wooden cabin, just after a small but friendlY fruit and veg market
Every Saturday and Sunday old people gather in Izmaylovsky Park to socialise and to sing traditional Russian songs - chastushki. It is actually like a freestyle hip-hop gathering: there's usually a man playing the accordion and women (MCs) stand in a circle and come out in turn. One woman sings a verse, which can often be quite offensive but is always funny, before another replies with her own verse.
A little bit further in there's an old-school disco with 70s and 80s music playing from tape recorders and old people having fun dancing.
Those not in the mood for dancing can walk a little bit further to the chess players' hut, where serious men ponder their next move while discussing the latest political developments over their beer.
It's all actually really nice to see and they don't mind you joining in at all, even if you're not their age.
The action usually starts around 4pm on weekends. It is more common in the warmer months from May to September.
Nearest metro: Izmailovskaya (east Moscow), exit the station and walk into the forest - you should hear the singing and music
Don't bother with inflated prices and dressing up for a restaurant. Get yourself a kartoshka (baked potato) with a variety of fillings, a blini with smoked salmon and smetana (Russian sour cream), some tost (toasted sarnie) or a hot dog from any of the numerous and popular street stands.
You can just point and say “Da” if you don't speak the lingo, as the ladies in the stand will treat you like an idiot even if your Russian is perfect. Wash it down with a Baltika, Nevskoye or Zolotnaya Bochka beer. Beer is considered a non-alcoholic drink, although drinking vodka on the street may get you in trouble.
Find yourself a bench on ul Tverskaya, Alexandrovsky Sad, one of the beautiful bulvars, or Red Square itself (when the young guards let you). Sit on top of the bench rather than the seat, and watch the pink-clad Russian ladies and wannabe gangsters/movie stars/oligarchs wander past. Drinks and a meal, Moscow style.
Anywhere in this beautiful city. Most street stands are either in or near a metro station
Azerbaijani food (a little like Georgian, but with more herbs and less melted cheese). Kebabs, pickled vegetable stuffed in previously unimaginable ways. Try the kutab with pumpkin (kutab s tykvy). Drink Georgian Saperavi wine. A drunken feast for about £30 a head.
52 Povarskaya Ulitsa; Tel: 291 6376; nearest metro: Barrikadnaya
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