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Best CD rates for December 2023 (Up to 5.75%)

Matthew Goldberg is a consumer banking reporter at Bankrate. Matthew has been in financial services for more than a decade, in banking and insurance.

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Marc Wojno is a seasoned and accomplished finance editor and writer with more than two decades of experience editing and writing across a variety of news platforms including newswires, newsletters, magazines and online news sites.

Before joining Bankrate, Marc was Senior Editor at CNET Money and Senior Editor of Finance for ZDNet, both Red Ventures companies, where he wrote and edited news articles and features on a variety of topics including banking, blockchain, credit cards, cryptocurrency, fintech, home equity, investing and taxes. 

Greg McBride, CFA, is the Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate.com, leading a team responsible for researching financial products, providing analysis, and advice on personal finance to a vast consumer audience.

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Updated December 02, 2023

Certificates of deposit (CDs) can be an ideal account to allocate some of your savings, especially if you’re looking for a fixed APY. Read more

Bankrate’s list of top-yielding CD rates are much higher than today's national average yield of 1.74 percent for a one-year CD.

Bankrate provides you with timely news and rate information on top yielding CDs for some of the most popular, and largest, FDIC-insured banks and NCUA-insured credit unions. This way you don’t have to spend time searching many bank and credit union websites. Since 1976, Bankrate has been a trusted source of banking information to help you make well-informed decisions on your finances.

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Table of contents

Best cd rates from top banks, recent news on cd rates, current promotional cd rates, top cd rates today by term, how to choose the best cd for you, what is a cd and how does it work, pros and cons of cds, alternatives to cds, how are cds taxed, how to build a cd ladder, research methodology, best cd rates of december 2023.

Bankrate conducts market research on over 4,000 banks and credit unions nationwide to find accounts with the best CD rates. Here is Bankrate's list of top banks with overall great rates:

  • Limelight Bank —6 months - 3 years, 4.50% – 5.75% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
  • Synchrony Bank —6 months - 5 years, 4.00% – 5.65% APY, no minimum deposit
  • Bread Savings —1 year - 5 years, 4.50% – 5.55% APY, $1,500 minimum deposit
  • Barclays Bank —1 year - 5 years, 4.45% – 5.50% APY, no minimum deposit
  • Citizens Access —1 year - 5 years, 3.30% – 5.50% APY, $5,000 minimum deposit
  • CFG Community Bank —1 year - 5 years, 4.25% – 5.35% APY, $500 minimum deposit
  • First Internet Bank of Indiana —3 months - 5 years, 4.18% – 5.35% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit
  • America First Credit Union —3 months - 5 years, 4.20% – 5.30% APY, $500 minimum deposit
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs —6 months - 5 years, 4.10% – 5.30% APY, $500 minimum deposit
  • Discover Bank —3 months - 5 years, 2.00% – 5.20% APY, $2,500 minimum deposit

The following accounts can be found at most banks and credit unions. They’re federally insured for up to $250,000 and offer a safe place to put your money while earning interest.

Certificate of Deposit (CD)

CDs are best for individuals looking for a guaranteed rate of return that’s typically higher than a savings account. In exchange for a higher rate, funds are tied up for a set period of time and early withdrawal penalties may apply.

Checking account

Checking accounts are best for individuals who want to keep their money safe while still having easy, day-to-day access to their funds. ATM and other transactional fees may apply.

Savings / Money Market Accounts (MMA)

Savings and MMAs are good options for individuals looking to save for shorter-term goals. They’re a safe way to separate your savings from everyday cash, but may require larger minimum balances and have transfer limitations.

On This Page

Before opening a certificate of deposit, be sure to read expert advice and tips below to ensure a financially safe decision. Here are Bankrate's top picks for banks with the best CD rates:

Limelight Bank

Limelight Bank_logo

Current Limelight Bank CD Rates

Rate history for limelight bank's cd accounts.

See how rates for this account have changed over time. Select the CD term length from the dropdown and interact with the trend lines to view APY by date.

Limelight Bank CD rates

Why we chose it.

  • Limelight Bank’s CDs earn yields that are either competitive or higher than national averages. Deposits at Limelight help fund solar projects that reduce carbon footprints, according to the bank’s website.

What to watch for

  • Limelight Bank doesn’t offer any long-term CDs. CDs with lower minimum deposit requirements can be found elsewhere.

Synchrony Bank

Synchrony Bank_logo

Current Synchrony Bank CD Rates

Rate history for synchrony bank's cd accounts, synchrony bank cd rates.

  • Synchrony Bank offers many terms of CDs. It offers a competitive yield, and it doesn’t require a minimum opening deposit.
  • Partial withdrawals on the no-penalty CD are not allowed.

Bread Savings

Bread Savings_logo

Current Bread Savings CD Rates

Rate history for bread savings's cd accounts, bread savings cd rates.

  • Bread Savings has been known to pay top-tier yields on its CDs. It offers terms that should help most people with their savings goals.
  • Bread Savings has a higher minimum deposit requirement than some other online banks.

Barclays Bank

Barclays Bank_logo

Current Barclays Bank CD Rates

Rate history for barclays bank's cd accounts, barclays bank cd rates.

  • Barclays offers competitive yields on most of its CD terms. Also, the bank doesn’t require a minimum opening deposit.
  • Barclays, like many other online-based banks, isn't a full-service banking institution. It doesn't have a checking account, ATM network, mobile app or branch locations. The bank’s yields on CDs with a term of less than a year weren’t competitive at the time of Bankrate’s review.

Citizens Access

Citizens Access_logo

Current Citizens Access CD Rates

Rate history for citizens access's cd accounts, citizens access cd rates.

  • Citizens offers competitive yields on its five terms of CDs. The CDs are for people with at least $5,000 to deposit into a CD for its term.
  • Citizens Access requires at least $5,000 to open a CD. The bank also no longer offers a no-penalty CD.

CFG Community Bank

CFG Community Bank_logo

Current CFG Community Bank CD Rates

Rate history for cfg community bank's cd accounts, cfg community bank cd rates.

  • CFG Bank’s CD interest rates are highly competitive. 
  • The minimum opening deposit for CDs is manageable.
  • Only four terms of CDs are offered. 
  • No specialty CD options are available.

First Internet Bank of Indiana

First Internet Bank of Indiana_logo

Current First Internet Bank of Indiana CD Rates

Rate history for first internet bank of indiana's cd accounts, first internet bank of indiana cd rates.

  • First Internet Bank of Indiana CDs pay top-notch rates. A wide range of CD terms are offered.
  • Lower minimum opening deposits can be found elsewhere. No specialty CD options are offered.

America First Credit Union

America First Credit Union_logo

Current America First Credit Union CD Rates

Rate history for america first credit union's cd accounts, america first credit union cd rates.

  • CD rates from America First are highly competitive. Specialty CDs are available, including a bump-up option. Both the standard and specialty CDs require low minimum deposits.
  • The bump-rate CD cannot be opened online.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Marcus by Goldman Sachs_logo

Current Marcus by Goldman Sachs CD Rates

Rate history for marcus by goldman sachs's cd accounts, marcus by goldman sachs cd rates.

  • Ever since rates have been increasing, Marcus by Goldman Sachs has been one of the banks consistently increasing its yields to be competitive.
  • Some banks don’t require a minimum deposit. So if you don’t have at least $500 available to deposit into a CD, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

Discover Bank

Discover Bank_logo

Current Discover Bank CD Rates

Rate history for discover bank's cd accounts, discover bank cd rates.

  • Few banks have the number of CD terms and the long-term CDs that Discover Bank offers.
  • Some banks have lower minimum deposit requirements and higher yields than Discover Bank.

At its last meeting on Nov. 1, the Federal Reserve kept interest rates steady in order to further assess the strength of the U.S. economy. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee kept its key benchmark, the federal funds rate (which determines how much banks borrow and lend their reserves to each other overnight), at a target range of 5.25 to 5.5 percent. 

Although it’s a bad time to borrow money at these rates, it’s a great time to save as interest rates on savings accounts are at their highest in 22 years. And even though rates remain steady, now is still a good time to consider long-term CDs after the the Fed raised rates 11 times since March 2022.

The Fed’s next meeting to determine whether to raise or lower interest rates is scheduled for Dec. 13. It’s unlikely that the Fed will change rates at that meeting.

“If the Federal Reserve is done raising interest rates, then CD yields have peaked. Whether your time horizon is measured in months or years, think about locking in current CD yields." Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst

Where are CD rates headed in 2024?

CDs are likely to maintain their current levels in January 2024. But CD rates could decrease if the Fed indicates it will start lowering interest rates.

Currently, shorter-term CDs – with terms of six months to 18 months – generally have higher yields than longer-term CDs. But those longer-term CD yields could be peaking soon, if they haven’t already. So locking one in now could be a good decision for long-term money that you want to keep safe in an FDIC-insured bank.

However, most CDs have significant early withdrawal penalties , so consider these when deciding on an account and term.

National average interest rates for CDs

The national average of CD interest rates suggests that shorter term CDs have higher yields than longer-term CDs. With the Fed having raised rates 11 times since March 2022, what goes up might eventually come down. So, getting a long-term CD now could make sense if the Fed lowers rates in the future.

Researching average interest rates provides insight into the CD rate environment and can help in finding a CD with a yield that's much higher than average.

Here are the current average rates as of Dec. 2, 2023, according to Bankrate's most recent survey of institutions:

How Bankrate calculates the national average

Bankrate calculates and reports the national average APYs for various CD terms. Factored into national average rates are the competitive APYs commonly offered by online banks, along with the very low rates often found at large brick-and-mortar banks.

In June 2023, Bankrate updated its methodology that determines the national average CD rates. For the process, more than 500 banks and credit unions are now surveyed each week to generate the national averages. Among these institutions are those that are broadly available and offer high yields, as well as some of the nation’s largest banks.

Some banks have promotional CD rates.There might be certain restrictions on these CDs. For instance, you might have to bring money from outside the bank to be eligible for this APY. Promotional CDs may renew at a different term and at a different APY. (That APY is likely to not be known when you purchase a promotional CD.)

Even some of the largest banks might have some featured CD rates. 

*It’s possible for these offers to end sooner.

** Only for residents of Florida and Texas.

These promotional CDs might not be available in certain areas. APYs for some products may vary by region. The promotional offers are as of Dec. 1, 2023

When you open a CD, selecting a term is an important step. The term is the length of time that the money stays stashed in the account. For example, opening a CD with a one-year term means you’re making a commitment to the bank that you’ll keep your money in the account for one year.

Here’s where you’ll find some of the top yielding CDs by term. ( Note: Annual percentage yields (APYs) shown are as of Nov. 20 and Nov. 26, and may vary by region for some products.)

  • 3-month rates
  • 6-month rates
  • 1-year rates
  • 3-year rates
  • 5-year rates

CDs are a good option for longer-term goals or for money that you’re comfortable locking away for a set period of time. Follow the steps below to choose the right CD strategy for you:

  • Determine what the money will be earmarked for. Money you may need in the near future, such as for an emergency fund or short-term goals, usually works better in a liquid account such as a high-yield savings account or money market account. A no-penalty CD may also be a good place for money you might need access to before the CD matures. 
  • Figure out when you’ll need the money in the CD and pick a term that aligns with your savings goals. Terms can range from just a few months to several years.
  • Decide whether you prefer a fixed or variable APY. (If you think the Fed has raised rates so many times that rates will decrease in the future, you might want a CD with a fixed APY instead of a savings account with a variable APY.) 
  • Shop around and compare rates. Research banks and credit unions to find the best rates as well as a minimum opening deposit that’s in line with the amount you plan to put in the CD. Generally, rates are highest at online banks , but it’s possible for a brick-and-mortar bank or a credit union to offer a competitive yield.
  • Open the CD and deposit the funds into the account.

Types of CDs

Banks and credit unions offer a wide range of CDs to fit different financial needs. Take some time to consider which type of CD is best for you.

  • Traditional CDs
  • No-penalty CDs
  • Bump-up CDs

Traditional CDs are the most common type of CD, and they earn a fixed APY for the entire term. These CDs usually don’t allow you to add more funds after your opening deposit, and they also tend to have strict early withdrawal penalties.

If you withdraw from a CD before it matures, the penalty is usually equal to the amount of interest earned during a certain period of time. For instance, a bank may impose a penalty of 90 days of simple interest on a one-year CD if you withdraw from that CD before the year is up. 

When this CD makes sense: Traditional CDs are a good choice if you know exactly when you’ll need the money and there’s no chance of needing it before the term is up. They’re often good for CD ladders or other CD investing strategies in which timing is important.

Most CDs charge you a penalty for accessing the funds before the term is up. However, some banks offer no-penalty CDs — also known as liquid CDs — which allow you to withdraw the money early without being charged a penalty. 

A bank may require that you wait at least some time after opening a no-penalty CD — generally around six or seven days — before you’re able to withdraw from the CD, and some banks don’t allow for partial withdrawals. No-penalty CD rates tend to be lower than regular CD rates, but they can be better than some high-yield savings account or money market account rates.

When this CD makes sense: Consider a no-penalty CD if you don’t plan to withdraw the money before the CD matures, but you want to keep some flexibility in case you need access to the funds. As a result, you’re willing to give up a little return for added liquidity.

Bump-up CDs enable you to request an increase in your rate during the CD term under certain conditions. Banks that offer this CD usually allow just one bump-up per term. For example, you may open a three-year CD at a given rate, and the bank offers an additional half-point rate increase when you’re one year into the term. With a bump-up CD, you can request a rate increase for the remainder of the term. Like no-penalty CDs, bump-up CDs often pay lower rates than traditional CDs.

When this CD makes sense: A bump-up CD could be a good option if rates are expected to rise significantly during the term of the CD. Otherwise, you’re likely accepting a lower rate for limited potential upside.

A CD is a type of account offered by banks and credit unions that earns interest on your money for a set period of time. CDs typically pay a fixed rate of return for the duration of the term. 

Sometimes, longer CD terms will earn higher interest rates than shorter terms. No matter the term length, withdrawing your money before the term ends will likely result in an early withdrawal penalty.

Who should get a CD?

Savers looking for a low-risk place to earn a guaranteed rate of return should consider getting a CD. They can be a good choice for short- to medium-term goals, such as saving for a new car or for a down payment on a home.

A CD is worth considering for the following people:

For a person looking to make a purchase in a set number of years, a CD could be a great option for earning a competitive rate of interest leading up to that time.

For a person looking to make a purchase in a set number of months or years, a CD could be a great option for earning a competitive rate of interest leading up to that time.

A CD can help keep you from spending your money on a whim, thanks to its early withdrawal penalty.

Before you choose a CD, weigh the pros and cons to ensure you're making the right investment choice for your financial situation.

Some CDs earn a higher APY than money market accounts or savings accounts.

CDs are a good place to store funds that you don’t want to be able to dip into too easily.

CDs can help you separate money for financial goals or future expenses.

Deposit insurance covers accounts at FDIC banks and NCUA credit unions up to at least $250,000.

A CD can diversify your savings plan with a guaranteed rate.

Your principal remains intact if you keep your money in a CD for the full term.

CDs tie up your money for a potentially long period of time.

Many CDs have early withdrawal penalties.

Money committed to a CD could end up earning a lackluster yield if rates rise substantially. The early withdrawal penalty may negate any benefit of switching to a higher-yielding CD, however.

You could potentially earn better rates of return in the stock market or by investing in other securities.

CDs vs. traditional savings accounts

Savings and money market accounts are more liquid than CDs , meaning the funds you keep in those types of accounts are easier to access without penalties or limitations. This makes savings accounts better for your emergency fund . You could withdraw the savings you’ve placed in a CD, but be prepared to pay a penalty if you take the money out before the CD’s maturity date (unless you’ve purchased a no-penalty CD).

CDs vs. high-yield savings accounts

These days, it’s common enough for banks to offer one-year CDs that pay better APYs than their high-yield savings accounts.

The differences between CDs and high-yield savings accounts are: 

  • A high-yield savings account is a liquid account that allows you to withdraw money without a fee, whereas a CD usually imposes an early withdrawal penalty. (A savings account may charge a fee if you exceed a certain number of withdrawals during a monthly statement cycle. It’s also possible for a savings account to have an early closeout fee.)
  • High-yield savings accounts generally have variable APYs, while CDs usually have fixed APYs.

CDs vs. money market accounts

The gap between interest rates tied to CDs and savings accounts has narrowed. But CDs are more likely to pay a higher yield than savings accounts or money market accounts.

CDs and money market accounts are deposit products that share some key similarities. Commonly offered by banks and credit unions, both are considered safe as long as they’re held with federally insured institutions. Savers opening a CD or money market account might have to meet higher minimum deposit requirements than they would with a savings account.

Money market accounts offer more liquidity than CDs, though, often providing the ability to write a limited number of checks each month directly out of the account — and some also come with a debit card. These liquidity features aren't something you'll find with CDs.

In exchange for less liquidity, however, CDs typically offer a higher interest rate than money market accounts.

CDs vs. bonds

Investors have a lot to consider when deciding between CDs and bonds. CDs from federally insured financial institutions are covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) for banks and the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF) for credit unions.

CDs typically pay a fixed interest rate, so you know how much you’re earning up front. You’re also guaranteed to receive the same interest rate for the entire term and receive your full principal amount back, as long as you don’t make any premature withdrawals. 

On the other hand, bonds offer more flexibility and the chance to earn a higher yield. A bond is a loan you make to a government or a corporation to receive some interest. You can sell a bond before it matures without getting hit with an early withdrawal penalty, and you may get back more or less than your original investment if interest rates have moved. With municipal bonds, the interest you earn is often exempt from taxes.

There are many different types of bonds, and some are riskier than others. Bonds aren’t protected by FDIC or NCUSIF insurance like CDs are, and the value of your bonds will fluctuate based on what’s happening with interest rates. If interest rates are rising, the price of your bonds will likely fall and vice versa.

Yes, you will be taxed on the interest earned on a CD that contains non-qualified money –– money that you already paid income tax on. However, if the money is in a traditional IRA CD, you will pay taxes when the money is withdrawn. This is because traditional IRAs are tax-deferred accounts .

In some cases, you can deduct your CD on your taxes. Talk to your tax adviser about any tax situations you have. 

If you’re eligible to contribute to a traditional IRA CD, you may qualify for either a full deduction up to your contribution limit or a partial deduction. 

Factors that determine whether you’re eligible for an IRA deduction include your modified adjusted gross income, your marital status and whether you’re covered by a retirement plan at work.

Interest earned from CDs is an example of taxable interest , according to the Internal Revenue Service. When you earn $10 or more in interest, you should receive Copy B of Form 1099-INT or Form 1099-OID. Even if you don’t receive a 1099, all taxable and tax-exempt interest must be reported on your federal income tax return. Also, interest may be called dividends.

An exception to this would be, for instance, if the funds were rolled over from a 401(k) into a traditional IRA CD and those funds have never been taxed. If you’re withdrawing from a traditional IRA CD in that situation, the money that you withdraw will count as income.

CD laddering is a method to stagger the maturity dates on your CDs. This investment strategy involves buying multiple CDs at once that mature at different dates. It’s a way to spread out when the money becomes available and to keep from having all of your money stuck in a long-term CD if rates rise.

When longer CD terms earn higher rates of return, you can grow your savings and earn as much interest as possible by building a CD ladder. In doing so, you would buy several CDs at the same time that have different term lengths. This gives you the chance to invest in longer-term CDs with higher yields as well as short-term CDs that will free up some of your money sooner.

Example of a CD ladder

For example, a CD laddering plan of three CDs might have a one-year CD, a two-year CD and a three-year CD.

If you have $15,000 to invest, you could invest $5,000 in each rung:

  • $5,000 in a one-year CD
  • $5,000 in a two-year CD
  • $5,000 in a three-year CD

CD laddering can also shield you from interest rate changes that could otherwise hurt you. If rates are rising, you’ll be able to take advantage of higher yields the next time one of your laddered CDs matures. On the other hand, if interest rates are falling, you’ll be glad you locked up your savings when the bank was paying more favorable yields.

Consider keeping your CD ladder focused on CDs with shorter-term maturities during a rising rate environment so you can more quickly take advantage of higher rates. Conversely, committing to CDs with longer terms makes more sense when rates are decreasing because it enables you to continue earning higher CD yields than the market currently offers.

Are CDs safe?

Your CD is safe at either an FDIC-insured bank or an NCUSIF-insured credit union , as long as the amount of money in the account is within the established limits and guidelines. Federally insured deposit accounts are safe whether they’re at online banks, brick-and-mortar banks or credit unions since they’re backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. Just make sure you’re not exceeding the insurance limits.

For federally-insured banks and credit unions, the standard insurance limit is $250,000 per depositor or share owner, per insured bank or credit union, for each account ownership category.

Are there fees associated with CDs?

CDs generally have an early withdrawal penalty for taking your money out before the CD matures. No-penalty CDs are the exception, though they may also impose a penalty if the funds are withdrawn during the first six or seven days after the account is opened.

What is considered a good CD rate?

A good CD rate depends on a few factors, but the true answer depends on your personal financial situation. If you need to access your money in a year, for example, your best CD options will be those with a one-year term or less. If you’re able to lock up your money for longer, you may be able to achieve a higher yield with a longer-term CD. In general, longer terms may pay better yields.

Knowing for sure that you won’t need your cash for a specific amount of time also typically allows you to earn a higher rate. The bank is willing to pay you more for the certainty that your money will remain in its hands for the designated length of time.

Compare CD rates to the national average to make sure you’re getting a competitive return.  For example, the national average APY for 1-year CDs is 1.74 percent as of Dec. 02, 2023, while some top-yielding banks are currently offering APYs higher than 5 percent.

Is an online bank the best choice for a CD?

Online banks tend to offer higher APYs than brick-and-mortar banks. These online-only institutions typically have lower overhead costs and are able to pass the savings along to their customers in the form of higher rates. In addition, unlike your bank located on the corner of Main Street, online banks may need a higher APY to get your attention and earn your business.

How long can you leave money in a CD?

You can keep your money in a CD and let it renew over and over. CDs generally automatically renew. However, unclaimed CDs can be escheated — or transferred from an estate to the government — subject to each state’s laws. To avoid your CD being escheated due to being considered abandoned property, be sure to keep in touch with your bank and keep a valid mailing address on file.

Do CDs have beneficiaries?

Banks give account holders with CDs the opportunity to name a beneficiary, which is a person who will inherit your savings in the event that you die. While naming a beneficiary for your CD may be the last thing on your mind, experts say it’s an important step to take.

If you don’t have a beneficiary designated to receive the funds in your CD, your savings will go through probate, which is the court process for deciding what happens to the property of an individual after their death.

Can you lose money on a CD?

As long as your CD is at an FDIC-insured bank or an NCUA credit union and it’s within insurance limits and guidelines, you won’t lose money with a CD. You may lose some of your interest — and potentially some of your principal — by making an early withdrawal, however.

Bankrate has been around since 1976 . It is a leading publisher of rates and personal finance articles. It is also often cited by some of the most respected and well-known publications and websites. The Bankrate promise is that we strive to help our readers make smarter financial decisions, adhering to strict principles of editorial integrity and transparency.

Bankrate’s editorial team is made up of five banking experts. These experts have researched many banks and at least twice a month go to bank websites to make sure readers stay up to date on the latest rates and bank products.

We select banks that have high annual percentage yields (APYs) and that are popular and broadly available, and we include some of the largest banks.

Selection of banks shown on page and sorting logic

Banks are sorted based on the highest APYs with a $25,000 balance. Minimum balance requirements and then alphabetical order help break ties between banks and credit unions.

Banks we monitor

Alliant Credit Union, Ally Bank, Amerant Bank, America First Credit Union, American Express National Bank, Axos Bank, Bank5 Connect, Barclays, Bask Bank, BECU (Boeing Employees Credit Union), Bethpage Federal Credit Union, BMO, Bread Savings (formerly Comenity Direct), BrioDirect, Capital One Bank, Chase Bank, CIBC USA, CIT Bank, Citibank, Citizens, Citizens Bank (Rhode Island), Credit One Bank, Comerica Bank, Customers Bank, Delta Community Credit Union, Discover Bank, Emigrant Direct, Fifth Third Bank, First Citizens Bank, First Internet Bank, First Technology Federal Credit Union, FNBO Direct, Golden 1 Credit Union, Huntington National Bank, Investors Bank, KeyBank, Limelight Bank, Live Oak Bank, M&T Bank, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley Private Bank, MySavingsDirect, Navy Federal Credit Union, NBKC Bank, PenFed Credit Union, PNC Bank, Popular Direct, PurePoint Financial, Quontic Bank, Randolph-Brooks Federal Credit Union, Regions Bank, Sallie Mae Bank, Santander Bank, SchoolsFirst Federal Credit Union, Security Service Federal Credit Union, State Employees' Credit Union, Suncoast Credit Union, Synchrony Bank, TD Bank, TIAA Bank, Truist Bank, U.S. Bank, UFB Direct, USAA Bank, Vio Bank, VyStar Credit Union, Wells Fargo and Zions Bank.

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Home » Europe » Moscow

EPIC MOSCOW Itinerary! (2023)

Moscow is the heart of Mother Russia. Just the mention of this city conjures images of colorful bulbous pointed domes, crisp temperatures, and a uniquely original spirit!

Moscow has an incredibly turbulent history, a seemingly resilient culture, and a unique enchantment that pulls countless tourists to the city each year! Although the warmer months make exploring Moscow’s attractions more favorable, there’s just something about a fresh snowfall that only enhances the appearance of the city’s iconic sites!

If you’re a first-time visitor to Moscow, or simply wanting to see as much of the city as possible, this Moscow itinerary will help you do just that!

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Best Time To Visit Moscow

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Here is a quick look at the seasons so you can decide when to visit Moscow!

The summer months (June-August) are a great time to travel to Moscow to take advantage of the enjoyable mild temperatures. This is considered peak travel season. Bear in mind that hotel prices rise along with the temperatures!

when to visit moscow

If you’re planning a trip to Moscow during fall (September-November) try to plan for early fall. This way the temperatures will still be pleasant and winter won’t be threatening.

Russian winters (December-February) are not for the faint of heart as Napoleon learned to his peril. Some days the sun will be out for less than an hour, and snow is guaranteed. Although winters are exceptionally cold, this is when you’ll get a true glimpse of the Moscow experience!

The best time to visit Moscow is during spring  (March-May). The temperatures will begin to creep up and the sun begins to shine for significant portions of the day. Hotel rates will also have yet to skyrocket into peak ranges!

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With a Moscow City Pass , you can experience the best of Moscow at the CHEAPEST prices. Discounts, attractions, tickets, and even public transport are all standards in any good city pass – be sure invest now and save them $$$ when you arrive!

Moscow is a large city with many accommodation options to choose from. Staying in a location that fits with your travel plans will only enhance your Moscow itinerary. Here is a brief introduction to a few great areas of the city we recommend checking out!

The best place to stay in Moscow to be close to all the action is Kitay-Gorod. This charming neighborhood will put you within walking distance to Moscow’s famous Red Square, thus cutting down on travel time. This will allow you to see more of the city in a shorter amount of time!

where to stay in moscow

It’s surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. If you’re a first-time visitor to Moscow, or just planning a quick weekend in Moscow, then this area is perfect for you!

Another great area to consider is the Zamoskvorechye district. This area of the city offers a blend of new and old Moscow. It has an artsy vibe and there are plenty of fun sites you can explore outside of the main touristy areas of Moscow.

Of course, as in all areas of Moscow, it’s close to public transportation that will quickly connect you with the rest of the city and make your Moscow itinerary super accessible!

Best Airbnb in Moscow – Exclusive Apartment in Old Moscow

Exclusive Apartment in Old Moscow

Modern and cozy, this apartment is in the heart of Old Moscow. Bordering the Basmanny and Kitay-Gorod districts, this two-bedroom flat is walking distance to the Kremlin and Red Square. Safe, quiet, and comfortable, this is the best Airbnb in Moscow, no question!

Best Budget Hotel in Moscow – Izmailovo Alfa Hotel

moscow itinerary

The Izmailovo Alfa Hotel is a very highly rated accommodation that provides all the components necessary for a comfortable trip to Moscow. There is an on-site restaurant, bar, fitness center, and an airport shuttle service. The rooms are modern and spacious and are equipped with a TV, heating/air conditioning, minibar, and more!

Best Luxury Hotel in Moscow – Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre

moscow itinerary

If you’re touring Moscow in luxury, the Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre is the hotel for you! Elegantly furnished rooms are equipped with a minibar, flat-screen TV,  in-room safes, as well as tea and coffee making facilities! Bathrooms come with bathrobes, slippers, and free toiletries. There is also an onsite restaurant, bar, and fitness center.

Best Hostel in Moscow – Godzillas Hostel

moscow itinerary

Godzillas Hostel is located in the center of Moscow, just a short walk from all the major tourist attractions and the metro station. Guests will enjoy all the usual hostel perks such as self-catering facilities, 24-hour reception, Free Wi-Fi, and security lockers. This is one of the best hostels in Moscow and its wonderful social atmosphere and will make your vacation in Moscow extra special!

Godzillas Hostel is one of our favourites in Moscow but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

An important aspect of planning any trip is figuring out the transportation situation. You’re probably wondering how you’re going to get to all of your Moscow points of interest right? Luckily, this sprawling city has an excellent network of public transportation that will make traveling a breeze!

The underground metro system is the quickest and most efficient way to travel around Moscow. Most visitors rely exclusively on this super-efficient transportation system, which allows you to get to pretty much anywhere in the city! It’s also a great option if you’re planning a Moscow itinerary during the colder months, as you’ll be sheltered from the snow and freezing temperatures!

moscow itinerary

If you prefer above-ground transportation, buses, trams, and trolleybuses, run throughout the city and provide a rather comfortable alternative to the metro.

Moscow’s metro, buses, trams, and trolleybuses are all accessible with a ‘Troika’ card. This card can be topped up with any sum of money at a metro cash desk. The ticket is simple, convenient, and even refundable upon return to a cashier!

No matter which method you choose, you’ll never find yourself without an easy means of getting from point A to point B!

Red Square | Moscow Kremlin | Lenin’s Mausoleum | St. Basil’s Cathedral  | GUM Department Store

Spend the first day of your itinerary taking your own self guided Moscow walking tour around the historic Red Square! This is Moscow’s compact city center and every stop on this list is within easy walking distance to the next! Get ready to see all of the top Moscow landmarks!

Day 1 / Stop 1 – The Red Square

  • Why it’s awesome: The Red Square is the most recognizable area in Moscow, it has mesmerizing architecture and centuries worth of history attached to its name.
  • Cost: Free to walk around, individual attractions in the square have separate fees. 
  • Food nearby: Check out Bar BQ Cafe for friendly service and good food in a great location! The atmosphere is upbeat and they’re open 24/7!

The Red Square is Moscow’s historic fortress and the center of the Russian government. The origins of the square date back to the late 15th century, when Ivan the Great decided to expand the Kremlin to reflect Moscow’s growing power and prestige!

During the 20th century, the square became famous as the site for demonstrations designed to showcase Soviet strength. Visiting the Red Square today, you’ll find it teeming with tourists, who come to witness its magical architecture up close!

The Red Square

The square is the picture postcard of Russian tourism, so make sure to bring your camera when you visit! No matter the season, or the time of day, it’s delightfully photogenic! 

It’s also home to some of Russia’s most distinguishing and important landmarks, which we’ve made sure to include further down in this itinerary. It’s an important center of Russia’s cultural life and one of the top places to visit in Moscow!

In 1990, UNESCO designated Russia’s Red Square as a World Heritage site. Visiting this historic site is a true bucket-list event and essential addition to your itinerary for Moscow!

Day 1 / Stop 2 – The Moscow Kremlin

  • Why it’s awesome: The Moscow Kremlin complex includes several palaces and cathedrals and is surrounded by the Kremlin wall. It also houses the principal museum of Russia (the Kremlin Armory).
  • Cost: USD $15.00
  • Food nearby: Bosco Cafe is a charming place to grat a casual bite to eat. They have excellent coffee and wonderful views of the Red Square and the Moscow Kremlin!

The iconic Moscow Kremlin , also known as the Kremlin museum complex, sits on Borovitsky Hill, rising above the Moscow River. It is a fortified complex in the center of the city, overlooking several iconic buildings in the Red Square!

It’s the best known of the Russian Kremlins – citadels or fortress’ protecting and dominating a city. During the early decades of the Soviet era, the Kremlin was a private enclave where the state’s governing elite lived and worked.

The Kremlin is outlined by an irregularly shaped triangular wall that encloses an area of 68 acres! The existing walls and towers were built from 1485 to 1495. Inside the Kremlin museum complex, there are five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers.

The Armoury Chamber is a part of the Grand Kremlin Palace’s complex and is one of the oldest museums of Moscow, established in 1851. It showcases Russian history and displays many cherished relics. Definitely make sure to check out this museum while you’re here!

The Moscow Kremlin

The churches inside the Moscow Kremlin are the Cathedral of the Dormition, Church of the Archangel, Church of the Annunciation, and the bell tower of Ivan Veliki (a church tower).

The five-domed Cathedral of the Dormition is considered the most famous. It was built from 1475–1479 by an Italian architect and has served as a wedding and coronation place for great princes, tsars, and emperors of Russia. Church services are given in the Kremlin’s numerous cathedrals on a regular basis.

The Grand Kremlin Palace was the former Tsar’s Moscow residence and today it serves as the official workplace of the President of the Russian Federation (Vladimir Putin seems to have bagged that title for life) .

Insider Tip: The Kremlin is closed every Thursday! Make sure to plan this stop on your Moscow itinerary for any other day of the week!

Day 1 / Stop 3 – Lenin’s Mausoleum

  • Why it’s awesome: The mausoleum displays the preserved body of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin .
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Khinkal’naya is a charming Georgian restaurant with vaulted ceilings and exposed brick. It’s a popular place with locals and right next to the Red Square!

Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as Lenin’s Tomb, is the modernist mausoleum for the revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. It’s located within the Red Square and serves as the resting place for the Soviet leader! His preserved body has been on public display since shortly after his death in 1924.

It’s located just a few steps away from the Kremlin Wall and is one of the most controversial yet popular Moscow attractions!

Admission is free for everyone, you’ll only need to pay if you need to check a bag. Before visitors are allowed to enter the mausoleum, they have to go through a metal detector first. No metal objects, liquids, or large bags are allowed in the mausoleum!

Lenins Mausoleum

Expect a line to enter the building, and while you’re inside the building, you’ll be constantly moving in line with other visitors. This means you won’t be able to spend as long as you’d like viewing the mausoleum, but you’ll still be able to get a good look. Pictures and filming while inside the building are strictly prohibited, and security guards will stop you if they see you breaking this rule.

The mausoleum is only open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday – unless it’s a public holiday or a day scheduled for maintenance. The hours it’s open for each day are limited, make sure to check online before you visit to make sure you can fit this into your Moscow itinerary for that day!

Insider Tip: The Lenin’s Museum is there for people to pay their respect; remember to keep silent and move along quickly, it’s not intended for people to congregate around. Also, men are not allowed to wear hats and everyone must take their hands out of their pockets when inside the building.

Day 1 / Stop 4 – St. Basil’s Cathedral

  • Why it’s awesome: A dazzling designed cathedral that showcases Russia’s unique architecture. This cathedral is one of the most recognizable symbols of the country!
  • Cost: USD $8.00
  • Food nearby: Moskovskiy Chaynyy Klub is a cozy cafe serving food items and pipping hot tea; it’s the perfect place to go if you’re visiting Moscow during the winter months!

Located in the Red Square, the ornate 16th-century St. Basil’s Cathedral is probably the building you picture when you think of Moscow’s unique architecture. Its colorful onion-shaped domes tower over the Moscow skyline!

The cathedral was built from 1555-1561 by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. It was designed with an iconic onion dome facade and enchanting colors that captivate all who see it. Fun fact: If you’re wondering why Russian churches have onion domes, they are popularly believed to symbolize burning candles!

This iconic cathedral has become a symbol of Russia due to its distinguishing architecture and prominent position inside the Red Square. It’s one of the most beautiful, wonderful, and mesmerizing historical cathedrals in the world!

St. Basils Cathedral

The interior of the church surprises most people when they visit. In contrast to the large exterior, the inside is not so much one large area, but rather a collection of smaller areas, with many corridors and small rooms. There are 9 small chapels and one mausoleum grouped around a central tower.

Visiting the inside is like walking through a maze, there are even small signs all around the cathedral tracing where to walk, and pointing you in the right direction! The walls are meticulously decorated and painted with intricate floral designs and religious themes.

The church rarely holds service and is instead a museum open for the public to visit.

Insider Tip: During the summer months the line to go inside the cathedral can get quite long! Make sure to arrive early or reserve your tickets online to guarantee quick access into the cathedral!

Day 1 / Stop 5 – GUM Department Store

  • Why it’s awesome: This is Russia’s most famous shopping mall! It’s designed with elegant and opulent architecture and provides a real sense of nostalgia!
  • Cost: Free to enter
  • Food nearby: Stolovaya 57 is a cafeteria-style restaurant with a variety of inexpensive Russian cuisine menu items including soups, salads, meat dishes, and desserts. It’s also located inside the GUM department store, making it very easily accessible when you’re shopping!

The enormous GUM Department Store is located within the historic Red Square. It has a whimsical enchantment to it that sets it apart from your typical department store.

A massive domed glass ceiling lines the top of the building and fills the interior with natural sunlight. There are live plants and flowers placed throughout the mall that give the shopping complex a lively and cheerful feel! A playful fountain sits in the center, further adding to the malls inviting a sense of wonder and amusement!

The GUM department store opened on December 2, 1893. Today, it includes local and luxury stores, including Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and many more! There are numerous cafes, restaurants, and even a movie theater inside!

GUM Department Store

For a special treat, head into Gastronom 1. This 1950s-style shop sells gourmet food items, like wine, freshly-baked pastries, cheese, Russian chocolate, and of course, vodka! Also, be on the lookout for a bicycle pedaling ice cream truck with an employing selling ice cream!

The ambiance is simply amazing, a trip to this idyllic shopping mall is an absolute must on any Moscow itinerary!

Insider Tip: Make sure to carry some small change on you in case you need to use the restroom, you’ll need to pay 50 rubles – or about USD $0.80 to use the bathroom in GUM.

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Novodevichy Convent | Gorky Park | State Tretyakov Gallery | All-Russian Exhibition Center | Bolshoi Theater

On your 2 day itinerary in Moscow, you’ll have a chance to use the city’s excellent public transportation service! You’ll explore a few more of Moscow’s historic highlight as well as some modern attractions. These sites are a little more spread out, but still very easily accessible thanks to the metro!

Day 2 / Stop 1 – Novodevichy Convent

  • Why it’s awesome: The Novodevichy Convent is rich in imperial Russian history and contains some of Russia’s best examples of classical architecture!
  • Cost: USD $5.00
  • Food nearby: Culinary Shop Karavaevs Brothers is a cozy and simple place to have a quick bite, they also have vegetarian options!

The Novodevichy Convent is the best-known and most popular cloister of Moscow. The convent complex is contained within high walls, and there are many attractions this site is known for! 

The six-pillared five-domed Smolensk Cathedral is the main attraction. It was built to resemble the Kremlin’s Assumption Cathedral and its facade boasts beautiful snowy white walls and a pristine golden onion dome as its centerpiece. It’s the oldest structure in the convent, built from 1524 -1525, and is situated in the center of the complex between the two entrance gates.

There are other churches inside the convent as well, all dating back from many centuries past. The convent is filled with an abundance of 16th and 17th-century religious artworks, including numerous large and extravagant frescos!

Novodevichy Convent

Just outside the convent’s grounds lies the Novodevichy Cemetery. Here, you can visit the graves of famous Russians, including esteemed authors, composers, and politicians. Probably the most intriguing gravestone belongs to Russian politician Nikita Khruschev!

The Novodevichy Convent is located near the Moscow River and offers a peaceful retreat from the busy city. In 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The convent remains remarkably well-preserved and is an outstanding example of Moscow Baroque architecture! 

Insider Tip: To enter the cathedrals inside the complex, women are advised to cover their heads and shoulders, while men should wear long pants.

Day 2 / Stop 2 – Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

  • Why it’s awesome: A large amusement area in the heart of the city offering many attractions!
  • Cost: Free! 
  • Food nearby: Check out Mepkato, located inside Gorky Central Park for a casual meal in a cozy setting. There are indoor and outdoor seating options and the restaurant is child-friendly!

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure is a large green space in the heart of Moscow. The park opened in 1928, and it stretches along the scenic embankment of the Moskva River. It covers an area of 300-acres and offers a lovely contrast from the compact city center.

You’ll find all sorts of wonderful attractions, from boat rides to bike rentals to tennis courts and ping-pong tables, and much more! there are an open-air cinema and festive events and concerts scheduled in the summer months.  A wide selection of free fitness classes is also offered on a regular basis, including jogging, roller skating, and dancing!

Although many of the options you’ll find here are more suited for outdoor leisure during the summer, you’ll also a selection of winter attractions, including one of Europe’s largest ice rinks for ice-skating!

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

If you’re trying to decide what to do in Moscow with kids, the park also offers several venues designed specifically for kids. Check out the year-round Green School which offers hands-on classes in gardening and art! You can also feed the squirrels and birds at the Golitsinsky Ponds!

The park is very well maintained and kept clean and the entrance is free of charge, although most individual attractions cost money. There is also Wi-Fi available throughout the park.

With so many attractions, you could easily spend all day here! If you’re only planning a 2 day itinerary in Moscow, make sure to plan your time accordingly and map out all the areas you want to see beforehand!

Day 2 / Stop 3 – The State Tretyakov Gallery

  • Why it’s awesome: The gallery’s collection consists entirely of Russian art made by Russian artists!
  • Food nearby : Brothers Tretyakovs is located right across the street from the gallery. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric restaurant serving top quality food and drinks!

The State Tretyakov Gallery was founded in 1856 by influential merchant and collector Pavel Tretyakov.  The gallery is a national treasury of Russian fine art and one of the most important museums in Russia!

It houses the world’s best collection of Russian art and contains more than 130, 000 paintings, sculptures, and graphics! These works have been created throughout the centuries by generations of Russia’s most talented artists!

The State Tretyakov Gallery

The exhibits range from mysterious 12th-century images to politically charged canvases. The collection is rich and revealing and offers great insight into the history and attitudes of this long-suffering yet inspired people!

All pictures are also labeled in English. If you plan to take your time and see everything inside the museum it will take a good 3-4 hours, so make sure to plan your Moscow trip itinerary accordingly! This gallery is a must-see stop for art lovers, or anyone wanting to explore the local culture and history of Russia in a creative and insightful manner! 

Insider Tip: When planning your 2 days in Moscow itinerary, keep in mind that most museums in Moscow are closed on Mondays, this includes The State Tretyakov Gallery!

Day 2 / Stop 4 – All-Russian Exhibition Center

  • Why it’s awesome: This large exhibition center showcases the achievements of the Soviet Union in several different spheres. 
  • Food nearby: Varenichnaya No. 1 serves authentic and homestyle Russian cuisine in an intimate and casual setting.

The All-Russian Exhibition Center is a massive park that presents the glory of the Soviet era! It pays homage to the achievements of Soviet Russia with its many different sites found on the property.

The center was officially opened in 1939 to exhibit the achievements of the Soviet Union. It’s a huge complex of buildings and the largest exhibition center in Moscow. There are several exhibition halls dedicated to different achievements and every year there are more than one hundred and fifty specialized exhibitions!

All Russian Exhibition Center

The Peoples Friendship Fountain was constructed in 1954 and is a highlight of the park. The stunning gold fountain features 16 gilded statues of girls, each representing the former Soviet Union republics. 

The Stone Flower Fountain was also built in 1954 and is worth checking out. The centerpiece of this large fountain is a flower carved from stones from the Ural Mountains! Along the side of the fountain are various bronze sculptures.

You will find many people zipping around on rollerblades and bicycles across the large area that the venue covers. It’s also home to amusement rides and carousels, making it the perfect place to stop with kids on your Moscow itinerary! Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and allow a few hours to explore all the areas that interest you!

Day 2 / Stop 5 – Bolshoi Theater

  • Why it’s awesome: The Bolshoi Theater is a historic venue that hosts world-class ballet and opera performances!
  • Cost: Prices vary largely between USD $2.00 –  USD $228.00 based on seat location.
  • Food nearby: Head to the Russian restaurant, Bolshoi for high-quality food and drinks and excellent service!

The Bolshoi Theater is among the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world! It also boasts the world’s biggest ballet company, with more than 200 dancers!

The theater has been rebuilt and renovated several times during its long history. In 2011 it finished its most recent renovation after an extensive six-year restoration that started in 2005. The renovation included an improvement in acoustics and the restoration of the original Imperial decor.

The Bolshoi Theater has put on many of the world’s most famous ballet acts! Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake premiered at the theater in 1877 and other notable performances of the Bolshoi repertoire include Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker!

Bolshoi Theater

Today, when you visit the theater, you can expect a magical performance from skilled singers, dancers, and musicians with the highest level of technique!

If you don’t have time to see a show, the theater also provides guided tours on select days of the week. Tours are given in both Russian and English and will provide visitors with a more intimate look at the different areas of the theater!

The stage of this iconic Russian theater has seen many outstanding performances. If you’re a fan of the performing arts, the Bolshoi Theater is one of the greatest and oldest ballet and opera companies in the world, making it a must-see attraction on your Moscow itinerary!

moscow itinerary

Godzillas Hostel

Godzillas Hostel is located in the center of Moscow, just a short walk from all the major tourist attractions and the metro station.

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Cosmonautics Museum | Alexander Garden | Ostankino Tower | Izmaylovo District | Soviet Arcade Museum

Now that we’ve covered what to do in Moscow in 2 days, if you’re able to spend more time in the city you’re going to need more attractions to fill your time. Here are a few more really cool things to do in Moscow we recommend!

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

  • Hear the timeline of the ‘space race’ from the Russian perspective
  • This museum is fun for both adults and children!
  • Admission is USD $4.00

The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is a museum dedicated to space exploration! The museum explores the history of flight, astronomy, space exploration, space technology, and space in the arts. It houses a large assortment of Soviet and Russian space-related exhibits, and the museum’s collection holds approximately 85,000 different items!

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

The museum does an excellent job of telling the full story of the exciting space race between the USSR and the US! It highlights the brightest moments in Russian history and humanity and is very interesting and fun for all ages!

If you’re a fan of space or just curious about gaining insight into Russia’s fascinating history of space exploration, make sure to add this to your 3 day itinerary in Moscow!

The Alexander Garden

  • A tranquil place to relax near the Red Square
  • Green lawns dotted with sculptures and lovely water features
  • The park is open every day and has no entrance fee

The Alexander Garden was one of the first urban public parks in Moscow! The garden premiered in 1821 and was built to celebrate Russia’s victory over Napoleon’s forces in 1812!

The park is beautiful and well maintained with paths to walk on and benches to rest on. The park contains three separate gardens: the upper garden, middle garden, and lower garden.

The Alexander Garden

Located in the upper garden, towards the main entrance to the park is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its eternal flame. This monument was created in 1967 and contains the body of a soldier who fell during the Great Patriotic War!

The park stretches along all the length of the western Kremlin wall for about half a mile. Due to its central location in the city, it’ll be easily accessible when you’re out exploring The Red Square.

It provides a bit of relief from the city’s high-energy city streets. Bring a picnic lunch, go for a walk, or just sit and people watch, this is one of the best Moscow sites to wind-down and relax!

Ostankino Television Tower

  • Television and radio tower in Moscow
  • Currently the tallest free-standing structure in Europe
  • Make sure you bring your passport when you visit, you can’t go up without it!

For spectacular views of the city, make sure to add the Ostankino Television Tower to your itinerary for Moscow! This impressive free-standing structure provides stunning views of the city in every direction. The glass floor at the top also provides great alternative views of the city!

Ostankino Television Tower

It takes just 58 seconds for visitors to reach the Tower’s observation deck by super fast elevator. The tower is open every day for long hours and is a great site in Moscow to check out! There is even a restaurant at the top where you can enjoy rotating views of the city while you dine on traditional Russian cuisine or European cuisine!

The tower is somewhat of an architectural surprise in a city that is not known for skyscrapers! To see the city from a new perspective, make sure to add this stop to your Moscow itinerary!

Izmaylovo District

  • The most popular attractions in this district are the kremlin and the flea market
  • Outside of the city center and easy to reach via metro
  • Most popular during the summer and on weekends

Travel outside the city center and discover a unique area of the city! The Izmaylovo District is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and one of the coolest places to see in Moscow! The two main attractions we recommend checking out are the Kremlin and the flea market.

The Izmailovo Kremlin was established as a cultural center and molded after traditional Russian architecture. This colorful complex is home to several single-subject museums, including a Russian folk art museum and a vodka museum!

Izmaylovo District

Next to the Kremlin is the Izmailovo open-air market, which dates back to the 17th century! The market is connected to the Izmailovo Kremlin by a wooden bridge. Pick up all your Russian souvenirs here, including traditional handicrafts, paintings, books, retro toys, and Soviet memorabilia!

You will find many hand-made and hand-painted options available at higher prices, as well as mass-produced souvenir options at lower prices!

Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

  • Closed on Mondays
  • Filled with old arcade games that visitors get to try out!
  • The museum also includes a small cafe and burger shop

For something a little different, check out the Museum of Soviet Arcade Games! The museum features roughly 60 machines from the Soviet era, including video games, pinball machines, and collaborative hockey foosball! The machines inside the museum were produced in the USSR in the mid-1970s.

Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

The best part is, most of the games are still playable! Purchase tickets and try the games out for yourself! The museum also has a neat little screening room that plays old Soviet cartoons and an area with Soviet magazines! This unique attraction is a fun addition to a 3 day itinerary in Moscow, and an attraction that all ages will enjoy! 

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Whether you’re spending one day in Moscow, or more, safety is an important thing to keep in mind when traveling to a big city! Overall, Moscow is a very safe place to visit. However, it is always recommended that tourists take certain precautions when traveling to a new destination!

The police in Moscow is extremely effective at making the city a safe place to visit and do their best to patrol all of the top Moscow, Russia tourist attractions. However, tourists can still be a target for pickpockets and scammers.

Moscow has a huge flow of tourists, therefore there is a risk for pickpocketing. Simple precautions will help eliminate your chances of being robbed. Stay vigilant, keep your items close to you at all times, and don’t flash your valuables!

If you’re planning a solo Moscow itinerary, you should have no need to worry, as the city is also considered safe for solo travelers, even women. Stay in the populated areas, try and not travel alone late at night, and never accept rides from strangers or taxis without a meter and correct signage.

The threat of natural disasters in Moscow is low, with the exception of severe winters when the temperature can dip below freezing! Bring a good, warm jacket if you visit in Winter.

However, please note that Russian views on homsexuality are far less accepting than those in Western Europe. Likewise, Non-Caucasian travellers may sadly encounter racism in Russia .

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Now that we’ve covered all the top things to see in Moscow, we thought we’d include some exciting day trips to other areas of the country!

Sergiev Posad (Golden Ring)

Sergiev Posad Golden Ring

On this 7-hour guided tour, you’ll visit several scenic and historic areas of Russia. Start your day with hotel pick-up as you’re transferred by a comfortable car or minivan to Sergiev Posad. Admire the charming Russian countryside on your drive and enjoy a quick stop to visit the Russian village, Rudonezh!

You’ll see the majestic Saint Spring and the Church of Sergiev Radonezh. You’ll also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, one of the most famous Orthodox sites in Russia!

Lastly, you’ll swing by the local Matreshka market and enjoy a break in a nice Russian restaurant before returning to Moscow!

Day Trip to Vladimir and Suzdal

Day Trip to Vladimir and Suzdal

On this 13-hour trip, you’ll discover old Russia, with its picturesque landscapes and white-stoned beautiful churches! You’ll visit the main towns of the famous Golden Ring of Russia – the name for several cities and smaller towns north-east of Moscow.

Your first stop will be in the town of Vladimir, the ancient capital of all Russian principalities. The city dates back to the 11th century and is one of the oldest and the most important towns along the Ring! Next, you’ll visit Suzdal, a calm ancient Russian town north of Vladimir with only 13,000 inhabitants!

The old-style architecture and buildings of Suzdal are kept wonderfully intact. If you’re spending three days in Moscow, or more, this is a great option for exploring the charming areas outside the city!

Zvenigorod Day Trip and Russian Countryside

Zvenigorod Day Trip and Russian Countryside

On this 9-hour private tour, you’ll explore the ancient town of Zvenigorod, one of the oldest towns in the Moscow region! As you leave Moscow you’ll enjoy the stunning scenery along the Moscow River, and make a few stops at old churches along the way to Zvenigorod.

Upon arrival, you’ll explore the medieval center, including the 14th-century Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery. Next, you’ll take a break for lunch (own expense) where you’ll have the chance to try out the Russian cuisine! Next, you’ll visit the Museum of Russian Dessert and sip on tea at a Russian tea ceremony.

The final stop of the day is at the Ershovo Estate, a gorgeous place to walk around and enjoy nature!

Day Trip to St Petersburg by Train visiting Hermitage & Faberge

Day Trip to St Petersburg by Train visiting Hermitage and Faberge

On this full-day tour, you’ll enjoy a a full round trip to St Petersburg where you’ll spend an exciting day exploring another popular Russian city! You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Moscow and be transferred to the train station where you’ll ride the high-speed train ‘Sapsan’ to St Petersburg.

Upon arrival, you’ll start the day by touring the Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace. Next, you’ll visit the Faberge Museum, where you’ll explore the impressive collection of rare Faberge Eggs! In the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing boat ride and a traditional 3-course Russian lunch.

If you’re spending 3 days in Moscow, or more, this is an excellent trip to take!

Trip to Kolomna – Authentic Cultural Experience from Moscow

Trip to Kolomna - Authentic Cultural Experience from Moscow

On this 10-hour tour, you’ll escape the city and travel to the historic town of Kolomna! First, you’ll visit the 14th-century Kolomna Kremlin, home to the Assumption Cathedral and an abundance of museums!

Next, enjoy lunch at a local cafe (own expense) before embarking on a tour of the Marshmallow Museum – of course, a marshmallow tasting is provided!  Your final stop is the Museum of Forging Settlements, where displays include armor and accessories for fishing and hunting.

Discover this beautiful Russian fairytale city on a private trip, where all of the planning is taken care of for you!

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Find out what people want to know when planning their Moscow itinerary.

How many days you need in Moscow?

We recommend that you spend at least two or three days in Moscow to take it all in.

What’s the best month to visit Moscow?

The best time to visit Moscow is over the spring, from March to May as temperatures are mild, crowds are thin and prices are reasonable.

What are some unusual things to do in Moscow?

I mean, queuing up to see an almost 100 year old corpse is pretty unsual! Check out Lenin’s Mausoleum if you fancy it!

What are some fun things to do in Moscow?

The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is a fun place to explore the famous space race from the perspective of the ‘other side’!

We hope you enjoyed our Moscow itinerary! We’ve made sure to cover all the Moscow must-sees as well as some unique attractions in the city! Our addition of insider tips, favorite food stops, and day trips from Moscow is an added bonus and will guarantee you make the most out of your exciting Russian vacation!

Immerse yourself in the modern and traditional Russian lifestyle! Get lost in museums, witness awe-inspiring architecture, and indulge in Russian cuisine! Spend the day strolling through all of the charming sites of Moscow, admiring the beautiful scenery and discovering the city’s fairytale-like enchantment!

kaleidoscope side trips cd

And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Alya and Campbell

Alya and Campbell

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