Moscow has a reputation of being one of the most expensive cities in the world. Accounts of $12 coffees and $1,000 hotel rooms abound. And while such price tags may well be true, especially for the uninitiated tourist, it is possible to visit and not spend a fortune, and believe it or not, it can even be done on $100 a day.
Moscow has three international airports – Sheremetyevo, Domodedovo and Vnukovo – each located outside the city in a different direction. The one thing they all have in common, though, is the Airport Express rail service. For just 320 rubles (about $9.90) you can cruise non-stop into the very centre of Moscow, arriving at major train stations with excellent onward public transport connections.
Tab: $100 – $9.90
Other budget options: Small shuttle buses depart more or less regularly from the airports’ parking areas and usually run to the nearest metro station for a reasonable fare.
First and foremost, you’ll be needing somewhere to stay. Naturally, the Ritz won’t be on the list. For something a little more in your price range, you’d be hard pressed to do much better than Godzillas Hostel. One of the city’s oldest and largest hostels, it’s located in the historical center, in a pre-revolutionary building on a quiet side street. There are plenty of inexpensive cafes in the area and the metro is located just down the road. The cost of single bed in a mixed-gender, 10-bunk room will set you back $28.
Tab: $90.10 – $28
Other budget options: Most Moscow hostels offer accommodation of varying quality in a similar price range. One decent central option is DaHostel on the Arbat.
Moscow’s a big town and it can get a bit chilly out in winter, so as fun (and economical) as it might sound to get about on foot, it’s probably more practical to use some transport. Luckily Moscow has one of the best public transport systems in the world – the Moscow Metro. Until the end of 2013 (when the system is to change), passengers can purchase one- and two-ride tickets for 30 and 60 rubles correspondingly. Another option is the all-day travel pass, providing unlimited rides on all forms of public transport for a 24-hour period – all for just 200 rubles (about $6.20).
Tab: $62.10 – $6.20
Other budget options: A 90-minute ticket for 50 rubles. As the name suggests, the ticket provides one metro ride and unlimited above-ground transport rides for a duration of 90 minutes.
You can’t beat free when you’re on a tight budget. Hoping to entice you to purchase further paid tours, Moscow Free Tour offers free walking tours around the city centre as a little taste of what they have on offer. Departing daily at 10:45 am from beside the monument to Cyril and Methodius in the center of Slavyanskaya Square (near the Kitai-Gorod metro station), the tour runs for 2 ½ hours and takes in numerous landmarks, including St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Bolshoi Theatre and the Kremlin.
Tab: $55.90 – $0
Other budget options: Currently taking a short break while it prepares its bus for the winter roads, the Free Moscow Bus Tour service offers free bus tours once a week on Fridays, departing from near the Karl Marx monument on Revolution Square.
You’ll probably want to visit a museum or two while you’re in Moscow. The city offers a wide selection of museums, galleries and exhibitions of various kinds. Ticket prices vary wildly but many – including the amazing Cosmonautics Museum – offer free entrance on the third Thursday of each month. And, of course, visiting the Kremlin is obligatory, and that will set you back 350 rubles (about $10.80) just to wander the grounds.
Tab: $55.90 – $10.80
Other budget options: Check out Gorky Park – classified in Russia as a Park of Culture and Rest. In summer there’s plenty going on – from free lectures to free yoga lessons. While you’re there you can drop in to the Garazh modern art gallery located inside the park. Also walk down the Arbat street – a pedestrian zone with trade stalls, tiny shops and local cafes, the Russian «Montparnasse».
*Image of Moscow,Russia,Red square,view of St. Basil’s Cathedral via Shutterstock
*Image of Cathedral of Christ the Saviour via Shutterstock