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Moscow or St Petersburg: Which city to visit?

Which of Russia’s top cities should you travel to?

St Petersburg

Moscow and St Petersburg have been competing with each other for over 300 years. Setting off on a journey to Russia, it is very difficult to make a choice in favour of one city, since they are completely different.

Even by European standards, Moscow is a very expensive city. It’s quite problematic to find budget accommodation here. You can book modern double rooms at a hotel for $ 80 per day but outside the centre. St. Petersburg is cheaper than Moscow and has similar properties to most major European cities, especially in the case of attractions and restaurants.



Moscow is not only the capital but also one of the oldest cities in Russia. Over its 870-year history, the city witnessed a large number of historical events, including military actions and internal political conflicts. Moscow is called the city of contrasts: old cathedrals of the 16th century and buildings of Soviet-era have been preserved here. Moreover, it is full of clubs, restaurants and bars. It’s the city that never sleeps!

Major attractions of Moscow

Red Square is the main square of the city, and perhaps the whole country. Military parades, musical concerts and New Year’s fairs are held here regularly. The ensemble of the Red Square, including Lenin’s Mausoleum, the State Historical Museum and Saint Basil’s Cathedral, is under the protection of UNESCO as a monument of world heritage.

Red Square

Moscow Kremlin is the oldest part of Moscow. In addition to a large number of historical attractions, such as Dormition Cathedral or Troitskaya Tower, the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation is located here.

Novodevichy Convent. The architectural ensemble of the Orthodox nunnery was built in the 16-17th centuries and has not changed much since then. The first two centuries of its existence, the convent served as a place of imprisonment of female members of the royal family.


Kolomenskoye is a former royal residence located south of Moscow. A museum-reserve of Russian wooden architecture was created on the estate’s territory. In 2010, the wooden Royal Palace with an area of 7,000 square metres was restored in Kolomenskoye. It includes 26 towers, 270 rooms with more than 3,000 windows.

St Petersburg

This city is called the ‘cultural capital’ of Russia. Founded by Peter the Great in the 18th century, it is home to nearly 8,500 cultural heritage sites. There are more than 200 museums, 19 cathedrals and 10 royal palaces in St Petersburg. In 1990, the historical centre of the city and the palace-park ensembles of the suburbs were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Major attractions in St Petersburg

Palace Square and the Hermitage. Each tourist begins exploring the city from this place. The Hermitage is the second-largest art museum in the world located in the Winter Palace and the General Staff Building.

Saint Isaac’s Cathedral is decorated with numerous sculptures and mosaics. An observation deck with a wonderful view to the St Isaac’s Square, Alexander Garden, the Admiralty building is opened on the dome of the cathedral. So you can see not only the largest church in the city but also a panorama of the historical part of St Petersburg.

Peterhof. St Petersburg is surrounded by several former royal residences, but the Peterhof Palace is perhaps the most famous. The palace-park ensemble has one of the world’s largest fountain systems. You can see 147 operating fountains, wonderful palaces and pavilions.


Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood is an example of the late stage of the evolution of the ‘Russian style’. Its decoration includes a variety of finishing materials: brick, marble, granite, enamel, gilded copper and mosaic. Inside the church is a real mosaic museum, the area of which is 7065 square meters.

Where to go?

Moscow is a crowded modern city that does not fall asleep even at night. St Petersburg resembles an open-air museum, it takes just a few minutes to walk from one site to another. Both cities are beautiful in their own way and deserve a visit. But if you are limited in time or money, choose the one that is spirituality close to you.

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