Moscow Guide

October 2020 | Travel | Russia | Saint-Petersburg
Unz Review tags: Moscow, Travel, The AK

I repatriated to my home city of Moscow in late 2016, and will likely stay here for the rest of my life. It is my favorite city in the world by a large margin. Basically, it has First World amenities and living standards, and some of the most interesting communities gathered up from across the entirety of the Eurasian world-civilization, but without the problems of demographic and cultural Third Worldization that afflict the major Western metropolises such as London, Paris, and New York. And, thanks to much cheaper living costs, your money as an expat goes about twice farther.

Now I may be biased as a Muscovite, and your mileage may vary, but I think that the capital is highly competitive relative to other Russian cities. As a medieval city, Moscow has developed more naturally than Saint-Petersburg, which was built as an imperial power center from the very beginning, making it “denser” and more walkable. There are a range of architectural styles, ranging the gamut through Muscovite Baroque, neoclassicism, experimental constructivism, Stalinist monumentalism, “commieblocks”, and post-2000 steel and glass that reaches its apogee amongst the cyberpunk skyscrapers of the “Moscow-City” Business District. Although this makes it rather chaotic from an architectural standpoint, I actually find this heterogeneous medley aesthetically superior to the relative neoclassical monotony that characterizes Central Saint-Petersburg. And while the continental climate may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is still arguably far better than the cold, swampy, maritime climate of the “Venice of the North.”

Furthermore, Moscow’s sheer size – it contains around 10% of the Russian population, or ten times as many people as the largest city after Saint-Petersburg – means that it offers unmatched opportunities and economies of scale, whether you interests are in finance, technology, politics, science, or culture. Although Russia’s hyper-centralization may not be optimal for the country as a whole, it does mean that a disproportionate amount of the most interesting people and institutions are concentrated in Moscow. In short, “things are happening” (жизнь кипит).

In the 2010s under Mayor Sergey Sobyanin, large areas of the city have become gentrified, with an emergent SWPL culture characterized by things such as gyms and yoga classes, gourmet coffeehouses and time sharing “anticafes”, spruced up streets with beautiful decor and renovated modernistic parks, affordable eateries for the lazy NEET, and a wide variety of establishments from the hipsterish ones serving food on wooden boards and craft beer in random jars to high end gastronomy in the numerous restaurants and food markets. The new “bobo” created by this system has completely displaced the gopnik, who has well nigh gone extinct. Crime has also plummeted, with Moscow being rated as the world’s safest megacity for women. Whereas I managed to get my cell phone stolen in London during a lifetime total of three months there, I have not been the victim of any crime in Moscow to date.

However, this “gentrification” has not (yet?) been accompanied by the all-encompassing political correctness and “wokeness” that dominates Western discourse. At least outside a narrow clique of West-worshippers in the liberal media – who are trying very hard to make Russians care about #MeToo and #BLM, thankfully with scant success to date – life in Moscow so far as social issues are concerned is comparable to what I imagine any large American coastal metropolis would have been in, say, the 1980s. One observation to illustrate this: While there are many girls with colored hair, this is not a reliable indicator of “problematic” issues as in the West. It is refreshing to live in a place where American “witch hunts” over something someone said a couple of decades ago seems like some kind of tribal taboo ritual. There is unironically far more de facto freedom of speech in Russia than in the US.

The transport system is cheap and highly efficient. The metro system, which carries more people everyday than London and New York combined, is deservedly considered to be one of the modern wonders of the modern world. Comprehensive medical checkups and stem cell therapy are to be had at costs an order of magnitude lower than in the West. There is a sizable expat community, and English language knowledge is near universal amongst young people. Almost all the accoutrements of Western digital life (Google, Wikipedia, online deliveries, any of the major social media and messaging apps, Tinder, etc.) work without problems in Russia, and those few that are not are easily circumnavigable through VPN. You won’t get in trouble for piracy either.

Moscow is also arguably more of a “technopolis” than many large Western cities. The Metro has had free WiFi for many years now, and Russia was in the mobile banking age while I was still depositing physical checks for my rent an hour’s drive away from Silicon Valley. The “My Documents” multifunctional centers and the “Gosuslugi” state services website make most bureaucratic operations a breeze these days. Legitimate political protests that follow basic rules (i.e. as is standard in the West) are not “repressed” by the evil Putler and his minions, and Moscow residents have the opportunity to influence policy and vote on architectural and infrastructure proposals via the city government’s “Active Citizen” app.

In summary, Moscow all the advantages of life in Russia vs. the USA, but much less of the disadvantages of provincial Russia, such as lower real incomes and more bureaucracy. Its GDP (PPP) per capita is comparable to Canada, so from a material and technological perspective, the Russian capital compares perfectly well with any large American or West European big city. At the same time, unlike the stag party capitals of East-Central Europe, such as Prague, Kraków, and Budapest, Moscow remains largely undiscovered by foreign revellers (though, unfortunately, not Chinese budget tourists). But these are all just cherries on top of the cake. At the end of the day, what we have in Moscow is a Russian city (~85-90% Slavic) in a way that London or Paris (~50% native) are not so much “English” or “French” cities as open air anthropological exhibits1. There is thus an authenticity to Moscow and other Russian cities that have long been swept away by demographic and cultural globalism in that very ideology’s metropolitan heartlands.

 


Moscow Map

This section contains a list of some of the best and/or most interesting museums, restaurants, and attractions in Moscow2. Places that I consider to be “must-see” during a 1-2 week stay in Moscow are highlighted. I have a strict policy of only giving a ★ rating to places that I have visited personally. What I consider to be my personal favorites – ranging from “world wonders” such as the Kremlin to more obscure curiosities such as the Kocherga rationalist anticafe – are denoted by ⭐ gold stars.

 


Things to See

INSTITUTIONS
  • Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation ★★★★ / institution-gov’t 🏢 / 2019
  • Confucius Institute RGGU / institution-academia 🎓
  • Echo of Moscow / institution 🏢
  • General Staff / institution 🏢
  • Higher School of Economics ★★★★★ / institution 🎓
  • Lubyanka / institution-gov’t 🏢
  • Ministry of Defence / institution-gov’t 🏢
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs / institution-gov’t 🏢
  • Moscow International Business Center / institution-commerce 🏢
  • Moscow Mayoralty / institution-gov’t 🏢
  • Moscow Print Yard / institution 🏢 – site of Russia’s first printing press founded by Ivan Fyodorov in the 1560s (which unhappily was forced to close thanks to a powerful guild of scribers). Now hosts the Russian state archives.
  • Moscow State University / institution 🎓
  • Rossiya Segodnya MIA ★★★★ / institution 🏢
  • Russian State Library / institution-library 🏢📜
  • Tsargrad Media / institution 🏢
  • White House / institution-gov’t 🏢
  • Zavtra (newspaper) / institution 🏢
Moscow State Institute of International Relations ★★★★★ / institution 🎓
Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology ★★★★★ / institution 🎓
One of Russia’s most elite STEM institutions, located in Dolgoprudny, a small town just north of Moscow. There is a very nice intelligence-themed IQ Cafe there.
RT ★★★★★ / institution 🏢
The HQ of the infamous Russian TV station that is the bugbear of Western information warriors. The internal design is quite nice. There’s a good Irish “Arti-Pub” down the street.
Russian Academy of Sciences ★★★★★ / institution 🎓
Presidium of the Russian Academy of Science HQ (left) looks like a cult HQ. Powerful aesthetics. Needs to officially merge with Russian Orthodox Church (right) to create Adeptus Mechanicus, melding religious zeal and scientific rationalism into single unity.
Institute of Africa RAS ★★★★★ / institution 🎓
Institute of Psychology RAS ★★★★★ / institution 🎓
Relatively pleasant Stalin-era construction, though it could do with a renovation.
Russian State Library / institution-library 🏢📜

 

MONUMENTS & VIEWS
  • Abay Kunanbaev @Chistye Prudy ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Alexander Pushkin @Tverskaya ★★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Alexander Solzhenitsyn @Taganskaya ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Cobblestone: Weapon of the Working Class! @Ulitsa 1905 goda ★★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Conquerors of Space @VDNKh ★★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Girl with an Oar @Avtozavodskaya ★★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Heroes of the 1905 Revolution @Ulitsa 1905 goda ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Heroes of the First World War @Park Pobedy ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • House of Arseny Morozov @Arbatskaya ★★★★ landmark 🏛️ –
  • House on the Embankment / landmark🏛️☭ – massive 1920s residential building for housing the Soviet elites – of whom a large percentage karmically perished during the Great Purge. Includes museum.
  • Kremlinist Apartments (according to Navalny) / landmark 🏛️ – supposedly, where Sechin & Co. live; at any rate, it’s indiscrete and gated (Shvedskiy Tupik, 3).
  • Mikhail Kalashnikov @Mayakovskaya ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Minin and Pozharsky @Red Square ★★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • ⭐ Ostankino Tower @VDNKh ★★★★★ view 🗼 –
  • Peter the Great @Bolotnaya Island ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Prince Vladimir @Biblioteka im. Lenina ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Shukhov Tower ★★★★ monument-artifact 🗼 –
  • Sparrow Hills @Vorobyovy Gory ★★★★★ view 🗼 –
  • Tsar Bell @Kremlin ★★★★ artifact 🛸 –
  • Tsar Cannon @Kremlin ★★★★★ artifact 🛸 –
  • Victims of Political Repression @Krasnye Vorota ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Yury Dolgoruky @Tverskaya ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • Yury Gagarin @Leninsky Prospekt ★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
  • ⭐ Worker and Kolkhoz Woman @VDNKh ★★★★★ monument 🏛️ –
Bolotnaya Square / park 🏞️
Chistye Prudy / park 🏞️
Scenic park and lake that doubles as an ice rink during winter.
GORKY PARK / park 🏞️
⭐ MOSCOW METRO ★★★★★ / infrastructure 🚇

Patriarch Ponds / park 🏞️
Poklonnaya Gora @Park Pobedy / parkmonument 🏞️🏛️
Pushkin Square ★★★★★ / landmark 🏞️
Red Square ★★★★★ square 🟥
Yama / arena-amphitheater 🏞️
Zaryadye Park ★★★ / park 🏞️

 

Things to Do

MOSCOW
⭐ Big Moscow State Circus / circus 🤡
⭐ BOLSHOI THEATER ★★★★★ / theater 🎭
Visiting Moscow and not going to see ballet or the opera at the Bolshoi is like visiting New York and not going to a Broadway production.
Demand is high, so make sure to book weeks in advance. [bolshoi.ru/]
Bulgakov Museum / museum-literature🏛️📜
Bunker-42 ★★★★ / museum-history🏛️💣
65 meter deep bunker constructed in 1950s to protect elements of the Soviet military leadership in the event of nuclear war. Used to have an entrance from nearby Taganskaya Station, but it has since been blocked off. One can only visit as part of a pre-booked tour. Though the tour is quite long, about half of it is taken up by the viewing of a documentary about the Cold War that will not be of interest to history buffs. There is a bunch of rather cheap gimmick towards the end, although I suppose it may be fun for children. People familiar with the Metro 2033 universe will smile at a couple of Easter Eggs. There is also a restaurant decorated in a style redolent of the Fallout vaults, though the food is otherwise unremarkable.
Butovo Firing Range / museum-history 🏛️
Cathedral of Christ the Savior ★★★★ / church ☦️
Central Museum of the FSB Border Guards / museum-military🏛️💣
Central Museum of Medieval Russian Culture im. Andrey Rublev / museum-history🏛️⚔️
There is a monastery (St. Andronicus) and a monument to medieval icon painter Andrey Rublev in the adjoining park.
Central Museum of the MVD / museum-military🏛️💣
Central Museum of the Russian Armed Forces ★★★★ / museum-military🏛️💣
Chess Museum / museum-intellectual🏛️♟️
Donskoy Monastery / church ☦️
Gorky’s House / museum-literature🏛️📜
⭐ House of the Russian Diaspora of Alexander Solzhenitsyn / museum-history🏛️🇷🇺
International Fund of Slavic Literacy and Culture ★★★★ / museum-history🏛️🇷🇺
Izmailovo Kremlin ★★ / attraction-history 🤡
Ersatz “Kremlin” built under Luzhkov with some mid-range hotels, an overpriced shooting range (“Patriot“), and historically inauthentic museums (e.g. the Vodka Museum).
The Jewish Museum & Center of Tolerance ★★★★★ / Jewish museum-history 🏛️️✡️  REVIEW 2019 
⭐ KREMLIN ★★★★★ / museum ️🏰
Kuskovo Summer Palace ★★★★ / park palace-museum ️🏞️🏛️
Mausoleum of Lenin ★ / museum-church 🏛️
I will raise this to 5 stars when we kick out the bald syphilitic and replace it with an underground Museum of the Russian Genocide.
Mayakovsky Theatre ★★★★★ / theater 🎭
⭐ Moscow Museum ★★★★★ / museum-history🏛️⚔️
Moscow Academic Art Lyceum of the Russian Academy of Arts ★★★★ / art gallery ️🖼️
Moscow Botanical Garden of Academy of Sciences / park 🏞️
Moscow Cathedral Mosque ★★★★ / mosque ☪️
Museum of the History of the Gulag ★★★★★ / museum-history🏛️
Moscow Museum of Modern Art ★★★ / museum-art ️️🖼️
Moscow Planetarium / attraction-technology 🏛️🌌
Museum of the History of Moscow State University / museum-science ️🏛️📜
Moscow Zoo / attraction-zoo 🐻
Museum of Archeology of Moscow / museum-technology ️🏛️⚙️
Museum of Cosmonautics ★★★★ / museum-technology ️🏛️🌌
Includes Monument to the Conquerors of Space.
⭐ Museum of the History of the Russian Navy ★★★★ / museum-military🏛️💣
The centerpiece of the exhibition is a B-396 diesel-electric submarine; inducted into the Soviet Navy in the 1970s, that makes it one of the newest military submarines on display anywhere in the world. It is recommended to book the tour in advance, since space is limited. There is also an ekranoplan and some smaller combat boats on display.
Museum of Illusions / museum🏛️
Museum of Military History RVIO / museum-military🏛️💣
⭐ Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines ★★★★★ / museum-technology🏛️⚙️  REVIEW 2018 
This quaint little museum hosts a few dozen Soviet arcade machines, on which you can play 15 rounds for 450 rubles in the Moscow branch of the museum (there’s also one in Saint-Petersburg). There is also a cafe attached.
The website has virtual versions of most of these games. [15kop.ru]
Museum of Strategic Rocket Forces / museum-military🏛️💣
Museum of Sweets / museum🏛️
⭐ Museum-Library of N. Fyodorov ★★★★★ / library, museum-science ️🏛️📜
New Tretyakov Gallery ★★★★ / museum-art ️️🖼️
Novodevichy Convent & Cemetery / church & park-cemetery ☦️🪦
 Ostankino Tower ★★★★★ / view 🗼
Polytechnic Museum / museum-technology🏛️⚙️
Public Museum of the Moscow Metro ★★★★ / museum-technology🏛️⚙️
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts ★★★★★ / museum-art ️️🖼️
Roerich Museum / museum-art ️🖼️
SAINT BASIL’S CATHEDRAL ★★★★★ / museum-church 🏛️☦️
⭐ State Historical Museum ★★★★★ / museum-history  ️🏛️⚔️
State Museum of Contemporary Russian History ★★★ / museum🏛️
The best exhibit are the two pieces of military tech from World War I at the front of the building. Although some of the exhibits were nice and informative, the post-1991 sections were a shameless paeon to Yeltsin (one otherwise empty room full of his photographs) and to successes under Putin (e.g. which are shamelessly exaggerated, with one graph illustrating the rise in wages failing to adjust for inflation).
State Museum of Oriental Art / museum-art ️️🖼️
TRETYAKOV GALLERY ★★★★★ / museum-art ️️🖼️
Tapan / Armenian museum-history ️🏛️🇦🇲
Armenian Cathedral / ★★★★ / church ☦️
⭐ Tchaikovsky Concert Hall / theater-music 🎼
Technology Museum of Vadim Zadorozhny / museum-technology🏛️⚙️
⭐ Tsaritsyno Palace ★★★★★ / park museum-palace ️🏞️🏛️
VDNKh ★★★★ / attraction ️🏞️☭
Includes a bunch of museums, including Russia – Our History, the Museum of Cosmonautics, the Roerichs Museum, and the Monument to the Worker and Kolkhoz Woman.
Vernadsky State Geological Museum of Russian Academy of Sciences / museum-science🏛️⚙️
Victory Park / park ️🏞️
Park-memorial complex with museums honoring the soldiers who participated in Russia’s wars, including the Patriotic War, the Great War, and the Great Patriotic War.
Contains the Poklonnaya Gora (also the scene of pro-Kremlin manifestations in 2012) and the Monument to the Heroes of the First World War.
Victory Museum / museum-military🏛️💣
Zoological Museum of Moscow State University / museum-science🏛️⚙️
Zurab Tsereteli Museum / museum-art ️🖼️
ISTRA
New Jerusalem Monastery ★★★ / church ☦️
KUBINKA
⭐ Kubinka Tank Museum ★★★★★ / museum-military🏛️💣
Russia’s premier tank museum, located in Kubinka just west of Moscow. Also hosts Patriot Park.
Main Cathedral of the Russian Armed Forces / church ☦️
Patriot Park ★★★★★ / museum-military 🏛️💣
MONINO
Central Museum of the Russian Air Force / museum-military🏛️💣

 

Entertainment

HOTELS
Hotel Ukraina / hotel 🏨
Metropol / hotel 🏨
SHOPPING
Central Children’s Store @Lubyanka ★★★★★ / shop-mall ⚖️🍨
This legendary Soviet children’s shopping arcade is now a multifunctional mall with dozens of shops, eateries, and entertainment venues, including a Formula Kino cinema (my default stop for watching movies in theater), an Osteria Mario restaurant, Krispy Kreme donuts, and My Gelato ice cream.
Gorbushka @Fili ★★★★ / shop-electronics ⚖️🤖
Infamous cyberpunk flea-market selling all kinds of pirated programs and pilfered databases during the 1990s, it is now quite a beige, bourgeois place where everything is dull and legal.
⭐ GUM @Red Square ★★★★ / shop-luxury ⚖️🍨
Manege @Alexander Park ★★★★ / shop-luxury ⚖️🍨
Mekha & Kozha ★★★★ / shop-luxury ⚖️👚
Buying fur items on the cheap.
Tsvetnoy Univermag @Novoslobodskaya ★★★★ / market ⚖️🍨
Large shopping center and food market that contains a Lao Lee (Vietnamese), Dagestanskaya Lavka (Caucasian), and Ostorozhno, Slon! (Indian) amongst others.
FOOD COURTS
Central Market on Maroseyka @Kitay Gorod ★★★★ / market ⚖️🍲
The most notable feature is free tea from a giant samovar that they keep outside… very nice during winter.
Central Park Food Lounge @Kuznetsky Most ★★★★ / market ⚖️🍲
This place in Central Moscow is open 24/7, although not all the individual eateries are – perfect for going here after watching a movie at the Formula Kino cinema a block away.
Danilovsky Market @Tulskaya ★★★★★ / market ⚖️🍲
This place hosts a remarkable variety of Russian cheeses that matches almost anything that Europe has to offer, and has stalls catering to a variety of world cuisines, e.g. Bo (Vietnamese).
DEPO @Mendeleevskaya / market ⚖️🍲
Ekomarket @Konkovo ★★★★ / market ⚖️🍲
Food market containing a Kitaiskie Novosti restaurant and a wonderful French bakery.
Eliseyevskiy @Pushkinskaya  / market ⚖️🍲
⭐ Vokrug Sveta @Lubyanka ★★★★★ / market ⚖️🍲
Features wide variety of world cuisines, including top budget Indian eatery Kurkuma.
ETHNIC FOOD
Chinese Market (Китайский Рынок) ★★★★ / ethnic food market ⚖️🇨🇳
Chinese food and spice shop by Jimmy Lee’s restaurant.
Delhi Bazaar ★★★★★ / Indian food & culture festival ⚖️🇮🇳
Monthly/bimonthly festival of Indian culture taking place in varying warehouses. Sales from a variety of vendors, including furniture, scented sticks, Ayurvedic medicines, a wide variety of Indian food products, species, and teas, watch Bollywood films, learn Indian cuisine and dances, food stalls from featured Moscow Indian restaurants. [Delhi базар]
Indian Spices (Индийские Специи) ★★★★ / ethnic food market-chain ⚖️🇮🇳
The go to place for fans of Indian cuisine in Moscow: Excellent assortment of spices, ghee, rice. [Indian Spices].
BOOKSHOPS
⭐ Falanster ★★★★★ / shop-books ⚖️📜
Kirillitsa ★★★★ / shop-books ⚖️📜
Bookshop associated with the International Fund of Slavic Literacy and Culture. They sold a wide variety of books themed around the history and culture of Russian nationalism, including obscure esoterika like the Black Hundreds and the Lokot Autonomy.
⭐ Listva ★★★★★ / shop-books ⚖️📜  REVIEW 2020 
Former site of Chitalkafe.
Molodaya Gvardiya ★★★★ / shop-books ⚖️📜
Moscow ★★★ / shop-books ⚖️📜
⭐ Tsiolkovsky ★★★★★ / shop-books ⚖️📜
ENTERTAINMENT
⭐ GEEK Picnic ★★★★★ / technology & transhumanism festival 🤖  REVIEW 2019 
Annual technology, futurism, and transhumanism festival with star speakers (e.g. Aubrey de Grey and Stelarc were featured in 2019), expert lectures, robotics demonstrations, interactive areas for children (so family-friendy), sci-fi cosplay, corporate stalls, “future food”, virtual reality experiences, trance music, and technology-artistic displays. Also happens in Saint-Petersburg. [website]
Times & Epochs ★★★★★ / history-reconstruction festival ⚔️
Annual Moscow history/reconstruction festival during the summer, in which the Garden Ring becomes home to pavisions featuring historical cosplays, traditional food and meads, and thematic entertainment. [website]
SPORT
Chaika / outdoor swimming pool 🏊
Labirint / shooting club 🏹
Pistol shooting, archery, and ax/knife throwing.
VR-Club ANVIO @Krasnopresnenskaya / entertainment-VR 🤖
Coop shoot up games… in virtual reality. [website]
NIGHT LIFE
Chinese Pilot Jao Da ★★★★ / $ / Chinese eatery-nithtclub 🌌🇨🇳
Crazy Daisy ★★ / $$$ / nightclub 🌌
The pole dancers were a 6 at best (i.e. below average) and didn’t even take off their clothes. The hookah cost something like $40. And it was far, far too loud.
GIPSY / nightclub 🌌
Happy End / nightclub 🌌
Acquaintance BM says this place at Patriarch Ponds is hot right now.
MASON ST.ONE ★★★★ / $$$ / British nightclub-bar 🌌🇬🇧
This luxuriously decorated bar in the English style belongs to Igor Dmitriev, a political emigrant from the Ukraine who has participated in the wars in Donbass and Syria. It’s expensive, but you’ll be patronizing the right people.
Propaganda / nightclub 🌌
Acquaintance BM says this techno club is packed 7 night a week: 5/5.

 

Restaurants

15 Kitchen + Bar ★★★★★ / $$$ / European restaurant 🇪🇺 – gluten free 🌾
Anderson ★★★★ / $$ / cafe chain – gluten free 🌾
This is a great place for parents with children.
Aromass ★★ / $$ / Indian restaurant 🇮🇳
I publicly rated this as the worst Indian restaurant in early 2019. And – guess what – it closed down a couple of months later, so perhaps I knew what I was talking about.)))
Aviator ★★★★★ / $$$ / European restaurant 🇪🇺
The food is very good, but you aren’t going for that so much as the stunning, 270 degree view from this stunning restaurant perched on the 52nd floor of the Federation Tower.
Bayar / $$ / Mongolian restaurant-chain 🇲🇳 – keto recommended 🥩
Belorusskaya Hata / $ / Russian (Belorussian) restaurant 🇷🇺
Beluga / $$$ / Russian restaurant-fish 🇷🇺
Bely Zhuravl (White Crane) / $$ / Korean restaurant 🇰🇷
Bo $ / Vietnamese eatery-pho 🇻🇳
Bobby Dazzler ★★★★ / $$ / British restaurant-bar 🇬🇧
Typical British sports bar close to Turgenevskaya. As I recall, its British owner also makes some rather good hot sauces that he sells on the side.
Bonjour Provence! ★★★★ $$ / French restaurant-bar 🇫🇷
Boston Seafood & Bar / $$ / American restaurant-fish 🇺🇸
This place is supposed to have New England Clam Chowder, should you get the craving for it.
Brauhaus G&M ★★★★★ $$ / German restaurant-bar 🇩🇪
Solid German bar by near Mendeleevskaya.
Brezelino ★★★★ $ / German eatery-bakery 🇩🇪 / 2020
This German eatery opened recently and has become popular with the German expat set. The menu was set by an Austrian chef and heavily features Bavarian cuisine. You can also order classic German cakes. That said, I think Spaten-Haus is the better German restaurant, there is better goulash at Kozlovna, and our Black Forest Cake was perhaps a tad too dry. Come here primarily for the Pretzel sandwiches.

Brisket BBQ ★★★★★ / $$ / American restaurant-steakhouse 🇺🇸 – keto recommended 🥩
Bruce Lee ★★★★ / $$ / Chinese restaurant 🇨🇳
Brugge ★★★★★ $$ / Belgian restaurant-bar 🇧🇪
An excellent Belgian bar near Baumanskaya.
Bryanskiy Byk / $$ / Russian restaurant-steakhouse 🇷🇺
Burger Heroes ★★★★ / $ / Russian restaurant-burgers-chain 🇷🇺
Cafe Natakhtari ★★★ / $$ / Georgian restaurant 🇬🇪
I am of the opinion that Georgian food is generally overrated, and this establishment is no exception; overpriced for what it offers.
Cafe Se Xiang Wei / $$ / Chinese restaurant 🇨🇳
Casa Agave ★★★★ / $$ / Mexican restaurant-bar 🇲🇽
Casa Agave ★★★★ / $$ / Italian gelateria 🇮🇹
Central House of RAN Scientists / institution-cafetia 🇷🇺
Chaikhona №1 ★★★★ / $$ / Central Asian restaurant-chain 🇺🇿
Chaikhona Bukhara ★★★★★ / $ / Central Asian eatery 🇺🇿 – keto recommended 🥩
High quality Central Asian food at much lower prices than from the two standard chains specializing in this (Chaikhona №1 and Uryuk).
Cheburechnaya USSR ★★★ / $ / Russian/Soviet eatery 🇷🇺
This basement dump sells greasy chebureki and cheap beer, living up to its name. Visit for a ☭ Soviet experience in central Moscow!
Chemodan / $$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺
Chicago Grill & Bar ★★★★★ / $$ / American restaurant-bar 🇺🇸
Chiho Noodle Shop ★★★★ / $ / Chinese eatery 🇨🇳
China Garden Restaurant / $$ / Chinese restaurant 🇨🇳
Conservatory Lounge&Bar / $$$ / European restaurant 🇪🇺
Has a good view.
Cook’kareku / $ / world eatery 🌍
Cross Keys Pub $$ / British restaurant-bar 🇬🇧
Curry & Bar ★★★ / $$ / Indian restaurant 🇮🇳
One of the newer Indian restaurants in Moscow, run by a Sikh.
Dagestanskaya Lavka ★★★ / $$ / Russian (Dagestani) eatery-chain 🇷🇺
Darbars ★★★★ / $$ / Indian restaurant chain (2) 🇮🇳
Dark Patrick’s Pub $$ / Irish restaurant-bar 🇮🇪
An Irish friend in Moscow says it’s “horrendous”, recommends Paddy’s and its sister Katie’s instead.
Deti Raika ★★★★★ / $$ / Russian restaurant-bar 🇷🇺
This was one of my favorite watering holes in Central Moscow in the months after I returned to Russia, with cheap, quality beer, nice music, and spacious surroundings. Too sad it closed.
Devi / $$ / Indian restaurant 🇮🇳
Dictatura Aestetica Wine and Kitchen ★★★★ / $$$ / European restaurant-wine 🇪🇺
Dom Kuksu ★★★★ / $$ / Korean restaurant 🇰🇷
Druzhba ★★★★★ / $$ / Chinese restaurant 🇨🇳
Duckstar’s ★★★★ / $$ / American restaurant-bar 🇺🇸
Dzhumbus / $ / Serbian restaurant 🇷🇸 – keto recommended 🥩 – gluten free 🌾
Ekspeditsiya / $$ / Russian (Siberian) restaurant 🇷🇺 – keto recommended 🥩
ERWIN RekaMoreOkean / $$$ / European restaurant-fish 🇪🇺
Expromt / $$ / Russian restaurant chain 🇷🇺
Genatsvale / $$ / Georgian restaurant 🇬🇪
Grabli / $ / Russian stolovaya chain 🇷🇺 – gluten free 🌾
Grand Cafe Dr. Zhivago $$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺
Grechka Lab / $ / Russian eatery 🇷🇺gluten free 🌾
Harbin ★★★ / $$ / Chinese restaurant 🇨🇳
Chinese restaurant specializing in northern Chinese cuisine. Wasn’t impressed by price/quality ratio.
Hite / $$ / Korean restaurant 🇰🇷
Acquaintance BM says this place in Ulitsa 1905 goda is the best Korean in Moscow, and he claims to have been in all of them.
⭐ House of the White Crane (Дом Белого Журавля) ★★★★★ / $$ / teahouse 🍵
Excellent assortment of Chinese teas within a beautiful constructive building populated by hipsters and SWPL people.
Huang He ★★★ / $ / Chinese restaurant 🇨🇳
Hudson Bar ★★★★ / $ / American restaurant-bar 🇺🇸
In the Dark?! (В Темноте?!) $$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺
This is a normal Russian restaurant dedicated to Russian cuisine… except that you eat in the dark, with your friends. Sounds like an interesting concept.
⭐ IQ Cafe ★★★★★ / $ / cafe
Amusing intelligence-themed cafe in academic town of Dolgoprudny.
Italoniya / $$ / Italian restaurant 🇮🇹
Jagannath / $ / Indian eatery 🇮🇳 – vegetarian🥕 – gluten free 🌾
Jai Hind ★★★★★ / $$ / Indian restaurant 🇮🇳
One of the two best Indian restaurants in Moscow (the other is Khajuraho) according to acquaintance CH.
⭐ Jean-Jacques Cafe ★★★★★ $$ / French restaurant-cafe-chain 🇫🇷
Jimmy Lee / $$ / Chinese restaurant 🇨🇳
The owner is apparently Taiwanese mainlander who came by way of Singapore. Reviews are good, though Chinese acquaintance said the hong shao rou was oversalty.
Jintang / $$ / Chinese restaurant 🇨🇳
This restaurant at the Cosmos Hotel in VDNKh has been recommended to me.
J’Pan / $$ / Japanese restaurant 🇯🇵
Junk Food & Bar / $$ / Chinese restaurant 🇨🇳
Katie O’Shea’s / $$ / Irish restaurant-bar 🇮🇪
Kazbek / $$ / Georgian restaurant 🇬🇪
Khajuraho ★★★★★ / $$ / Indian restaurant 🇮🇳 – gluten free 🌾
This is my favorite Indian restaurant in Moscow bar none. There is a wide variety of dishes and a very competitive business lunch option. The establishment is run by a friendly Indian called Anil.
My acquaintance CH, who knows India well having spent two years there, agrees with my assessment – though he places Jai Hind joint first.
Kimchi ★★★ / $$ / Korean restaurant 🇰🇷
Kitayskaya Gramota ★★★ / $$ / Chinese restaurant-chain 🇨🇳
Kitaiskie Novosti ★★★★★ / $$ / Chinese restaurant-chain 🇨🇳
KM20 / $ / cafe-restaurant – keto recommended 🥩 – gluten free 🌾
Sells Bulletproof Coffee.
Kocherga ★★★★★ $$ / anticafe
You don’t go here for the coffee, but for the company – this place is a central node within the Russian digital nomad, crypto, rationalist, transhumanist community.
Be sure to check out their list of events and workshops beforehand, and register for them online. [kocherga-club.ru]
Koryo ★★★★ / $$ / Korean restaurant 🇰🇵
One of a kind North Korean restaurant, with kitschy 1970s Sovietpunk decor, excellent food (kimchi is authentic), and adequate if slightly weird service (one of its employees surreptitiously photographed visitors).
Koster ★★★★★ / $ / Russian grill-eatery 🇷🇺 – keto recommended 🥩
Russian eatery close to where I live in south-east Moscow that makes highly price-competitive grilled meat. Extremely convenient for getting your protein fix on the cheap.
Kozlovna ★★★★ $$ / Czech restaurant-bar chain 🇨🇿
This Czech chain, which has two locations – one right next to the Higher School of Economics – serves great goulash and has its own brewery.
Krasnodar Bistro ★★★★ / $$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺
First restaurant I went to on repatriating to Russia – wanted to try out the nutria burger on a recommendation from what I consider my ultimate authority on Russia, The Guardian (/s). It was good but not particularly memorable.
Kristiss ★★★★ / $ / cafe
Very cheap and conveniently located cafe at the center of Moscow.
Kroshka Kartoshka ★★★ / $ / Russian eatery chain 🇷🇺
Ku / $$ / Japanese restaurant 🇯🇵
Kurkuma ★★★★ / $ / Indian eatery 🇮🇳
Cheap Indian eatery within the Vokrug Sveta food mall with small but well made selection of Indian curries at comparable quality but cheaper prices than normal Indian restaurants. However, quality seems to have declined as of the past year.
Kvartira 44 ★★★★ / $$ / European restaurant chain 🇪🇺
Lao Lee ★★★★ $ / Vietnamese eatery-pho chain 🇻🇳
Very cheap and reasonably high quality Vietnamese pho eatery, although I prefer the Viet Cafe.
Lepim i Varim ★★★★★ / $ / Russian eatery 🇷🇺
For a period during 2017-18, this pelmeni joint was rated Moscow’s top restaurant on TripAdvisor. While there’s limits to what one can do with pelmeni (dumplings), they’ve explored them all.
Mari Vanna ★★★★ / $$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺 – gluten free 🌾 / 2019
This is the perfect place for a tourist to degustate a representative sample of Russian cuisine in a space defined by decor that is classical Russian bourgeois to the point of kitsch from the draped lamps to the embroidered tablecloths.
Mari Vanna also has branches in Saint-Petersburg, London, and New York.

Marukame ★★★★ / $ / Japanese eatery-noodles 🇯🇵
Matsuya / $$ / Japanese restaurant 🇯🇵
Mayak / $$ / cafe
McDonald’s @ Tverskaya ★★★★ / $ / eatery-burgers chain USA🇺🇸  REVIEW 2020 
The restaurant in Tverskaya is notable as the first McDonald’s in the USSR – the Soviet elites were so enamored of it they sold off their “own” country.
Menza / $ / Japanese eatery 🇯🇵
Microbe / $$ / cocktail bar 🍸
This bar was accused of xenophobia when it refused to hire Chechens in 2017. I will need to patronize it sooner rather than later Seems like it closed down sometime in 2019.
Moscow-Delhi ★★★★★ / $$ / Indian restaurant 🇮🇳vegetarian 🥕
One of my favorites here – if I absolutely had to become a vegetarian, I would exclusively eat Indian food. There is a set menu, and for a flat sum, you can have second and third portions.
Shoes are taken off at the entrance and the food is prepared in the same room where guests sit on cushions which makes for a cool dining experience.
Mu-Mu ★★★ / $ / Russian/Soviet eatery chain 🇷🇺
This is a Soviet stolovaya-style fast food chain that is perfectly serviceable but not particularly cheap or anything to write home about.
Novikov Bar / $$$ / Russian restaurant-bar 🇷🇺
Oblomov / $$$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺 – gluten free 🌾
Odessa Mama / $$ / Russian-Jewish restaurant chain 🇷🇺🇮🇱
One Price Coffee / $ / cafe chain
This otherwise unremarkable cafe chain serves the “cheese latte”, a Nordic specialty that has also become highly popular in Siberia.
Osteria Mario / $$ / Italian restaurant chain 🇮🇹 – gluten free 🌾
Ostorozhno, Slon! (Careful, Elephant!) ★★★ / $ / Indian eatery 🇮🇳
Adequate for the low prices. Do not order the masala chai.
Paddy’s Irish Pub & Eatery ★★★★★ / $$ / Irish restaurant-bar 🇮🇪
Irish classics. Car bomb.
Papas ★★★★★ / $ / American eatery-burgers / 🇺🇸
American burger joint in Central Moscow that’s open until 6am, has cheap beer and has a strong Tex Mex component.
Paprika ★★★★ / $$ / Indian restaurant 🇮🇳
Pierogi, Vino, i Gus / $$$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺
⭐ PUSHKIN CAFE ★★★★★ / $$$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺 – gluten free 🌾
⭐ Receptor Cafe ★★★★ / $$ / restaurant-cafe – gluten free 🌾
This is one of the most SWPL places in Moscow.
Restaurant Armenia / $$ / Armenian restaurant 🇦🇲
I never went here, and don’t intend to. The consensus seems to be that this establishment at the heart of Tverskaya is a tourist trap.
⭐ Russian PUB ★★★★★ / $$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺 – gluten free 🌾
Rynok I Obshchepit Shuk / $$ / Israeli eatery 🇮🇱 – gluten free 🌾
Saigon ★★★★ $$ / Vietnamese eatery-pho 🇻🇳
Sakhalin / $$ / Russian restaurant-fish 🇷🇺
Selfie / $$ / European restaurant 🇪🇺 – gluten free 🌾
⭐ Severyane ★★★★★ / $$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺
Shinok / $$ / Russian (Ukrainian) restaurant 🇷🇺 – gluten free 🌾
Spatenhaus ★★★★★ $ / German restaurant-bar 🇩🇪
Excellent German eatery by Tverskaya with all the traditional dishes, good beer, and a very cost-effective business lunch.
Starlite Diner ★★★★★ / $ / American restaurant chain (4) 🇺🇸
Stary Sichuan ★★★★★ / $$ / Chinese restaurant chain (2) 🇨🇳
Steyk Khaus Butcher / $$ / steak restaurant 🇺🇸
Strelka / $$$ / European restaurant-bar 🇪🇺
Acquaintance BM says good in summer but full of hipster hacks otherwise.
Surf Coffee / $$ / cafe
Taj Mahal ★★★ / $$ / Indian restaurant 🇮🇳
Tchaikovsky Cafe ★★★★ $$ / restaurant-cafe
Cafe by the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall. I enjoyed it until one of the waiters started rudely angling for a tip when I was speaking in English and entertaining an American there (guaranteeing that he would not get a tip, and that I wouldn’t visit them again).
Teremok ★★★★★ / $ / Russian eatery chain 🇷🇺
Teschin Borscht/Korchma Taras Bulba ★★★ / $$ / Russian (Ukrainian) restaurant 🇷🇺
Traditional Russian cuisine in VDNKh region; formerly called “Korchma Taras Bulba”, with a Ukrainian theme.
Thai Thai ★★★ $$ / Thai restaurant 🇹🇭
Overpriced and inauthentic.
Tin Woodman’s Bar ★★★★ / $$ / restaurant-bar 🍺
Todase ★★★★ / $$ / Japanese sushi-bar chain 🇯🇵
One of the better sushi chains – also has cheap beer, which isn’t trivial to find in central Moscow.
Tsiferblat Cafe ★★★★ $$ / anti-cafe
Nice, quiet anticafe with a clock theme. Good place to find helpful hipster girls.
TWINS GARDEN / $$$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺vegetarian 🥕 – gluten free 🌾
Ukubar ★★★★ / $$ / restaurant-bar 🇪🇺
Uryuk ★★★★ / $$ / Central Asian restaurant-chain 🇺🇿
WHITE RABBIT / $$$ / restaurant 🇷🇺 – gluten free 🌾
Rated as the world’s 13th best restaurant in 2019, it has a wonderfully scenic view of Moscow.
Vaime Cafe ★★★★ / $$ / Georgian eatery 🇬🇪 – gluten free 🌾
Veladora. Tacos y Tragos / $$ / Mexican cocktail-bar 🇲🇽 
Viet Cafe ★★★★★ $ / eatery-pho-chain 🇻🇳
This venue is competitive with any pho that I have had in America – the only place I can recall doing it even better is family run Phở TNT in Portland, but that might have been because it was cold and rainy that day.
Voronezh / $$$ / Russian restaurant-steakhouse 🇷🇺
Vysota 5642 / $$$ / Russian restaurant 🇷🇺
Wine & Crab / $$$ / restaurant-fish 🇪🇺 – gluten free 🌾
Yuzhane ★★★★★ / $$ / restaurant-steakhouse 🇷🇺 – keto recommended 🥩
Zhiguli / $$ / restaurant 🇷🇺

 


Moscow Life

To Do

For the basics of living in Russia (bureaucracy, shopping, etc.) I refer you to the Russia Expat Guide. Likewise, more detailed advice on settling in Moscow long-term in the Advanced Muscovology section.

This section only contains specifically things that are of relevance to living in Moscow that are not covered above.

News & Utilities
The Moscow Mayoralty features city news, renovation plans, and a portal of services that is integrated with the national Gosuslugi system (e.g. utilities payments, school signups, clinic appointments/medical data).
Moscow residents can also participate in the Active Citizen platform where you can vote on renovation priorities, designs of new municipal buildings/infrastructure, etc.
Cultural news/announcements from the capital (liberal/urbanist slant) via The Village.

Food & Accomodation
Nothing new here that’s not in the Expat Guide. Apps such as Yandex.Food or Delivery Club for restaurant deliveries, and Airbnb or Hostel World for staying in Moscow on the cheap. (For those with cash, I hear the Metropole is a classical experience).

Money and Finance
Almost all restaurants accept e-payments (cards or cell phone). However, many private contractors (e.g. repairmen) and online shops that deliver physical goods will insist on payments in cash.

Transport
The Moscow Metro, which continues to expand every year, is the world’s longest and most intensively used metro system outside East Asia. I recommend the Yandex.Metro map app for your Moscow stay.
The Troika cards can be topped up on person or online. One can also buy ads-free Wi-Fi access.
Yandex.Taxi (or Uber, though it’s also owned by Yandex.Taxi) is very cheap by international standards. I suggest a standard 10% tip unless the driver underperforms.
Rail journeys can be booked through Tutu or the official Russian Railways website.

Libraries
The Russian National Library is a major cultural institution in its own right. The Moscow mayoralty runs a unified online library access service here, it can be set up at any library.

 

Restaurants

The old “sovok” culture, in which the entire purpose was going to restaurants was to show off how rich and cool you are, is happily a decade dead as of 2020 (the rest of Russia followed Moscow in the mid-2010s). Although the boomers at Michelin never started rating Russian restaurants, two of the world’s five best – #13 White Rabbit and #19 Twins – are based in Moscow. Establishments like Severyane and Grand Cafe Zhivago are building a Slavic counterpart to New Nordic Cuisine, while others such as Pushkin Cafe and Oblomov are rediscovering the aesthetic and gastronomic spirit of the Silver Age. Lower down on the totem pole, chains such as Teremok have created a nativist fast food equivalent to the American giants. These places are all just the pinnacle of a diverse food scene encompassing the whole gamut of national cuisines, vegetarian joints, paleo eateries, Russified steakhouses, craft beer breweries, and award-winning molecular gastronomy.

 

Diet & Dining Out

Tipping – 10%
Is not strictly necessary, a 10% tip for good service is recommended at non fast food establishments.

Spiciness
The Russian palate is not used to spices, so Indian restaurants in Moscow keep it tame. So make sure to formulate your order as “extra spicy” or “I have been to India” or “pretend I’m an Indian” if you want heat.

Vegetarianism [vegetarian 🥕]*
Although only something like 2% of Russians are vegetarians vs. 5-10% in the West, Moscow’s status as a SWPL capital has long made finding vegetarian options so trivial that specifically writing about it would be superfluous. There is a chain of cheap Indian eateries called “Jagannath” (haven’t yet been there) as well as the vegetarian, set menu “Moscow-Delhi” restaurant.

Keto [keto recommended 🥩]
Moscow is rather competitive in this regard. Despite its reputation for potatoes, Russian cuisine is actually very keto-friendly, e.g. most of our soups (sorrel, ukha), kholodets (aspic), and meat roasts.
Moreover, Moscow is not just a center of Russian cuisine, but of Central Asian and Caucasian. These are highly keto friendly, ranging from the ubiquitous kebab to Uzbek shurpa (lamb soup). Not to mention more esoteric cuisines from the steppe and the Far North (e.g. Cafe Bayar; Ekspeditsiya).
As “veterans” know, it’s not difficult to convert most any McDonald’s or Burger King sandwich into a low carb version by removing the buns. Many burger joints make a version of the sandwich without buns – “Fitness Burger”@ Burger & Fries (Miratorg); “Hagrid” @ Burger Heroes; “Hipster Burger” @ Starlite Diner. There is also no shortage of American-style steakhouses, as well as more recent Russian adaptations such as Yuzhane.

Gluten Free [gluten free 🌾]
Although gluten awareness is not high in Russia, awareness is spreading and there are many Moscow restaurants which specifically state that they are gluten free.
You can filter them on TripAdvisor here (go to “Dietary Restrictions” → “Gluten Free Options”).
FWIW, my guess is that the more “SWPL” the establishment, the higher the likelihood they understand the issue and will be conscientious about it. I would try: Receptor (cafe chain); KM20 (cafe – they have Bulletproof Coffee, so they’re surely clued up); AnderSon (cafe chain); Mari Vanna (they have a presence abroad); Pushkin Cafe (restaurant); Russian Pub (restaurant); Jagannath (vegetarian eatery chain).

* Please note that these vegetarian/keto/gluten free tags are not meant to be comprehensive.

Night Life
I repatriated to Russia a bit too late in life to have much interest in going out to nightclubs, something I never much enjoyed on account of the loud noise anyway. In any case, Moscow’s real heyday as a party city – as explored in the eXile, and confirmed by all of my expat acquaintances – were the mid-1990s to late 2000s. Since then, it has settled down into a more bourgeois and sober life.

 

Sports & Fitness

Most Russian housing developments feature playgrounds with calisthenics equipment, such as pull ups bars, benches, etc. No reason not to use them, if you’re not particularly self-conscious about being seen to be using equipment that’s primarily installed for children, but there are no rules against adults using them too. There is a convenient map of outside workout areas in Moscow (and Russia) here.

Gyms: There are no shortages of gyms. I am signed up to the Fitness USSR chain, but I imagine most would be OK. Just check the reviews. Moscow is particularly good for open air swimming pools during winter, e.g. Chaika.

Cryotherapy: Available at Ice Face.

Equestrian: There are a number of stables outside Moscow (doing it within the city is pointless as prices are expensive and space is limited). E.g., I am interested in checking out the Tarpan stables.

Ice Rinks: There’s plenty of them, but there are also noteworthy free, open air ones at iconic locations, such as Chistye Prudy and Patriarch Prudy, and the VDNKh Ice Skating Rink, during winter.

Rock climbing gyms: Limestone, Rockzona, Skala City, and X8 seem to be especially highly rated.

Shooting: So far as guns are concerned, Russia is unfortunately not the United States. Shooting ranges are not that all that frequent, and bullets are expensive. That said:

  • In the South-East area where I live, there is an indoors shooting range called Object, which is highly modern and convenient, but you need to take lessons from them and pass an exam before you can use their range.
  • There is also the SSKVOO outdoors clay pigeon shooting range. Acquiring guns in Russia (legally) is a complex process that needs a separate article.
  • The Labirint complex near Kievskaya hosts paintball, laser tag, archery, ax throwing, and an underground firing range.
  • The Anvio VR club is a free form virtual reality club where you can play coop shoot em up games.

Skiing: Frankly, you’re better off booking a $50 flight to Sochi/Adler. That said, I have heard good things about the Sorochany and Volen ski resorts 50 km north of Moscow, near Dimitrov.

 

Communities of Interest

Moscow officially hosts 12.6 million people as of 2019, but its metro area contains upwards of 20M, making it the largest such conurbation in Europe. It accounts for about 10% of Russia’s population, almost a quarter of its GDP, and more than half of its science output. As a major economic center that serves as a magnet for human capital (highest average IQ in Russia along with SPB and Yaroslavl), it hosts a wide variety of communities that are sure to satisfy any niche, no matter how obscure or esoteric. For obvious reasons, I have neither the time nor the resources to cover all of them. However, there are three in particular that I am somewhat familiar with, and which can serve as not entirely unrepresentative examples.

 

Expats & Repats – Demographics: Primarily Brits, Germans, French, Americans. Many Chinese, but most of them tend to keep to themselves – I even know more Indians than Chinese.

So far as I know, they’re mostly linked by private connections on Facebook. I suppose you can start off with the Moscow Expat Forum or /r/moscow.

Some places where they tend to congregate: Chicago Grill & Bar and/or the Starlite Diner by Tverskaya; Bobby Dazzler’s; Hudson Bar (the erstwhile Duran magazine had a few events there); Strelka (pretentious place catering to Western hacks).

 

Nationalists – The main Schelling points cluster around:

Only the Two-Headed Eagle is explicitly conservative/Orthodox, otherwise the landscape is ideologically neutral to even liberal leaning. They lean pro-regime, whereas the Russian Democrats and the boyars lean oppositionist.

There are also significant left-wing nationalist factions, e.g. the Zavtra newspaper (Prokhanov), the National Bolsheviks (the late Limonov used to hold public lectures on the 31st of each month by the Heroes of the 1905 Revolution monument), as well as “Putinist”/pro-regime factions that are loaded in a pro-nationalist direction. The latter have less of a dynamic grassroots community, whereas I am simply not very well acquainted with the former. As one may expect, there are significant tie-ins with the historical reconstruction community (e.g. probably the most famous Russian nationalist Igor Strelkov was of course in both).

There is a similarly active community in Saint-Petersburg.

SVORA is a useful info-resource for upcoming nationalist meetups in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, and online.

 

Transhumanists – The main focal point of the rationalism/transhumanism sphere is the annual Geek Picnic (2019) festival in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, which is the best place for making contacts with people in the sphere that interest you.

Otherwise, there is also:

  • Kocherga anticafe hosts regular lectures, meetups, and workshops running the whole gamut of futurist and rationalist topics.
  • Less Wrong meetup group as well as a small SSC readers group.

Russian self-identifying transhumanists in particular are very largely focused on radical life extension, in contrast to the American one where interests are more evenly spread across other domains (e.g. AI risk, cryptocurrency, etc).

Curiously, there is some substantial overlap between them and cliodynamicists, but that is for a separate article.

For those with more philosophical interests, I strongly recommend a visit to the Museum-Library of Nikolay Fyodorov, the founder of Russian cosmism – a late Tsarist/early Soviet-era movements that championed biological immortality and space exploration more than half a century before Silicon Valley nerds came up with transhumanism.

 

Tourism 101

First things first – most people coming to Moscow, I assume, will be doing so as tourists. I would recommend prioritizing as per the lists above (underlined/capitalized; highlighted; golden starred) while inclining it towards your own interests. Here are some suggestions to get your started – feel free to adjust to your own preferences!

 

3 Day Program

  • Red Square, Kremlin museums & St. Basil’s Cathedral, with lunch at a Teremok, shopping at GUM, and dinner at Cafe Pushkin.
  • State Tretyakov Gallery, a walk through Gorky Park, and a performance at the Bolshoi Theater.
  • State Historical Museum (or other museum of your choice) and watching the sunset at Ostankino Tower in VDNKh (feel free to also check out the Museum of Soviet Arcade Games) or one of the restaurants (e.g. Aviator) in the Moscow City business district skyscrapers (feel free to drop by the Public Museum of the Metro for an hour).

 

Additional Days

  • Listen to a symphony at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall and visit the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.
  • Day excursion to the Tsaritsyno park-palace estate.
  • Walk through the Novodevichy cemetery, where many of Russia’s most famous literati and creators are buried.
  • The VDNKh complex, which features national themed pavilions, the Museum of Cosmonautics, the Museum of Soviet Arcade Machines, an ice rink during winter, and Ostankino Tower.
  • If interested in religion: Day trip to the New Jerusalem monastery.
  • If interested in military history: Central Museum of the Armed Forces, the Tango-class submarine at the naval museum in Moscow, and the Victory Museum in the Poklonnaya Gora complex; as well as possibly a day to the Kubinka Tank Museum in Patriot Park (the recently constructed “fortress-monastery” is also nearby) and/or the Central Air Force Museum in Monino.
  • If interested in Soviet/dissident history: GULAG history museum, State Museum of Contemporary History, and the House of the Russian Diaspora.
  • If interested in technology: The Polytechnic Museum and Vadim Zadorozhny’s Technology Museum.
  • “Community” interests: E.g., take a look at the event schedule for Kocherga or Listva if you’re interested in Russian transhumanism and Russian nationalism, respectively. (Replace with own interests).

 

Extra-Moscow Excursions

Although I don’t have a detailed list of attractions for these places, you can access separate reviews of most of these places at the Travel page).

  • Sergiev Posad hosts the St. Sergius Lavra and is considered to be Russia’s “Vatican”. Also make sure to also visit the Abramtsevo Estate.
  • Kolomna is a perfectly nice, representative, medium-sized Russian city for a day trip. It has the Kolomna Kremlin and specializes in the pastila dessert.
  • Obninsk, site of the world’s first civilian nuclear power plant, and Borovsk, which has a Tsiolkovsky Museum, are worth visiting for technologists.
  • Volokolamsk is more of a sentimental suggestion than anything else (I lived ~3 years there), but it does have its own Kremlin as well as well as the monastery of St. Joseph of Volokolamsk, one of the key figures in the history of Russian monasticism.
  • Further afield,  one may productive spend a couple of days in Nizhny Novgorod (four hour rail ride), fly to Kazan, and/or take a 3 day to one week bus tour through the “Golden Ring” of medieval Russian towns (esp. Yaroslavl, Suzdal, Vladimir, and Kostroma).

 


Advanced Muscovology

Let’s say you liked Moscow well enough to decide to take out a long-term rental or even settle down and acquire property here. What should you have in mind? Broadly speaking, the basic division in Moscow is between the “SWPL” center/west and the “prole” rest of the city, especially the east and south.

SWPL Moscow is distinguished by: Higher property and rental prices; more accoutrements of the “bobo” lifestyle, e.g. as proxied by bike rental stations, upscale grocery stores such as Azbuka Vkusa, etc.; higher IQ people, who tend to have higher socioeconomic status (inc. coming from a nomenklatura background) and better educational attainment; environmentally, highly walkable spaces, excellent architecture, and a high density of museums, theaters, “places of historic interest”, and restaurants more varied than otherwise ubiquitous burger joints, pizzarias, and sushi bars. They also have a tendency towards liberal, oppositionist politics and “urbanist” cultural interests (converted lofts and open brick office walls, gourmet coffee, hipster grooming styles). Sadly, to the extent that SJW subcultures exist in Russia, they are almost exclusively drawn from these well to do but highly culturally “Westernized” regions.

Prole Moscow is distinguished by: Lower property and rental prices; higher ethnic diversity, because this is where those nouveau arrivistes from Central Asia and the Caucasus who settle down make their abode (that said, nowhere is it like in the Western big cities – I live in one of Moscow’s most “colored” districts, and even here, it is still solidly ~85% Slavic); more “racism” (e.g. incidence of “Russians/Slavs only” listings in rental ads); pro-regime and/or LDPR politics (although Communist support used to be heavily prole, it has now become neutral, as they have switched to populism as in the West).

One also encounters more lingering gopnik aesthetics, though this doesn’t translate into safety considerations; the gopnik, to the extent it still exists, has become a herbivorous creature, who blasts shitty rap music from his car as opposed to the skinheads going around with knives and baseball bats in the late 1990s to mid 2000s. The most annoyance they are likely to give you these days is asking you if you have a cigarette or a lighter.

Another attractive choice for some, especially young families with children, is to consider “academic communities” such as Dolgoprudny (MPTI). These are outside Moscow proper, but can be competitive since they combine relatively low property prices with high human capital (so high quality classmates and a plethora of extracurricular activities for children) and easier access to nature.

In conclusion, when you are looking for an abode in Moscow, you are basically deciding between:

  • Expensive, walkable, high IQ/prestige “SWPL Moscow” with its beautiful architecture and wide range of entertainment options and cultural institutions.
    • My personal favorites in the “high end” category are Tverskaya, Novokuznetskaya, and Mendeleevskaya, in that order; but they are all expensive.
    • My favorite “budget” regions in this category: Ulitsa 1905 goda, Profsoyuznaya, VDNKh, and Taganskaya.
  • Cheap, lower IQ/prestige (but safe) “prole Moscow” filled out with commieblocks and without many amenities but only a short Metro commute to Central Moscow.
    • The Vykhino-Zhulebino region, where I broadly live, is a classic example.
  • Cheap, higher IQ “akademgorodok”-type settlements outside Moscow, such as Dolgoprudny, with easy access to nature but longer commute to Moscow.

There are some other options which may interest you:

(1) There are also extremely cheap settlements immediately outside Moscow for proles, e.g. you can get an apartment in some of those “anthill” (муравейник) apartment blocks for just $50,000. However, I would strongly recommend against them, because they have the disadvantages of all the regions described above (lower IQ residents, long commutes to Central Moscow) and none of the advantages, such as amenities or (for the most part) easy access to nature.

(2) Living in an outlying town with 100-200 km of Moscow – I would not have recommended this as late as the mid-2010s, but many of them are receiving facelifts, as the SWPL revolution launched in Moscow a decade ago saturates through to the regions. In particular, I am a big fan of Kolomna (our dacha is within its general vicinity), and I was reasonably impressed with Obninsk during my short visit there. The tourist town of Torzhok is getting better (Bloomberg), and I had a positive impression of Yaroslavl even when I visited it during in 2004 (when most of Russia was still in figurative ruins).

(3) One can also consider buying or constructing a dacha or “cottage” in a rural locale outside Moscow, for living there during the summer months (a traditional Russian pastime during the Soviet era – though one that’s going out of the way, as memories of the peasant past fade and are replaced by mass tourism) or even year round. Though advantages/disadvantages should be obvious, one point in favor is that utilities bills are much lower in rural areas.

 


References

  1. The non-Russians are primarily industrious and well-behaved Gastarbeiters from Central Asia, the vast majority of whom repatriate after making their money in Russia – so, not really comparable to the vast, Third World underclasses you find in the Parisian banlieues. Now to be sure, this percentage will be 98% in Polish and Ukrainian cities. The reason for the latter is that the Ukrainians are just poor – not “based.” The Poles, for their part, happen to get Ukrainian Gastarbeiters on account of them being next door. This is likely to change over the next 1-2 decades, as subcon and African immigration to Poland picks up. The other Visegrad nations, especially Hungary and Slovakia, have large and dysfunctional Gipsy minorities.
  2. This guide covers a geographic area that I intuit to be a part of the greater Moscow region, e.g. including the air force museum at Monino and the New Jerusalem Monastery at Istra (~50 km), but not extending to the towns of Obninsk, Volokolamsk, or Kolomna (~100km+). Trips to the latter I will typically collate as a list on the Travel section of this website and possibly cover in travel posts on my blog at The Unz Review.