Moscow magic

“World’s Leading City Destination” in 2019
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At the 2019 World Travel Awards held recently at the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman, Moscow was named the World’s Leading City Destination for 2019. Wings of Oman looks at the sensational collection of opportunities for family-oriented fun in the grand Russian capital…

Despite the cold, winter is one of the most beautiful times to be in Moscow. Much of the city gets covered in bright white snow, turning Moscow’s public parks, festive season markets, colourful cathedrals and mosques, grand palaces and government buildings into magical, fairytale-like settings.

You can also head indoors to discover a world of art galleries and museums housing countless magnificent works, see prestigious performances at the city’s famous theatres, feast on traditional Russian food and drink, and indulge in the city’s thriving shopping and nightlife scene.

If you’re in Moscow during the first half of January, there’s still time to celebrate the festive season at the Journey to Christmas 2020 festival, which runs until 13 January. (In Russia, Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on 6 January and Orthodox New Year on 13 January). This is one of Moscow’s most anticipated annual festivals; dozens of craft markets, food stalls and themed decorations and street lights are set up throughout the city. You can also take the kids skating at one of several ice rinks and check out a long list of live shows and traditional folk music performances.

Continuing through until 1 March, the huge VDNKH amusement park and exhibition venue has plenty of winter activities and entertainment – including Moscow’s largest ice-skating rink, a crafts park, lollipop factory, city farm and fairy tale theatre. It’s an excellent option to experience the magic of Moscow with your family, for the morning or afternoon.

Walking is one of the best ways to explore Moscow in winter. Indeed, the city’s streets, parks and public squares are at their most beautiful after a good, heavy snowfall, when the city becomes a hushed, happy playground. Provided everyone wraps up and stays warm, this is an excellent time to be in the city with your family.

If you’re keen to explore on foot, the official Discover Moscow tourism guide has a list of themed routes around the city. The Museum Route with Coffee Breaks takes you to some of Moscow’s most famous art galleries and parks, and includes a stop-off at the Strelka lounge/bar which overlooks the Moskva River. The Walking Route Around the Centre of Moscow takes in some of the most iconic sites of the city. There’s also the Planetarium, the Zoo and Museums: a Route for the Whole Family for those who want to enjoy nature without leaving the city.

You and the family can also hire bicycles and set off on Discover Moscow’s Cycle Ride in Moscow’s City Lights, a cycling route to explore the city at night. Moscow’s official bike-share programme now has 350 bicycle stations offering 3200 bikes. For rentals, registration is required at velobike.ru either via a mobile app or at the station terminals.

When the time comes to fuel up on food, head to Depo, one of the city’s favourite foodie and live entertainment venues. Housed in the recently converted Miyussky tram complex, which was built between 1874 and 1932, it’s here where you can explore well over 100 market stalls selling fresh produce and home-crafted foods and indulge in local and international dishes at Depo’s dozens of restaurants and cafes.

Moscow: Top 5 tourism classics

Visiting Moscow for the first time? Here are some of the city’s must-see sites…

1) The Kremlin and Red Square: The Kremlin and Red Square are Moscow’s grand political heart and continue to be the first stop on many tourist itineraries.

2) St Basil’s Cathedral: With its multi-coloured domes and fantastical design, St Basil’s Cathedral is one of Russia’s most famous landmarks. It’s also one of the world’s most photogenic buildings: Don’t miss out on a family selfie here!

3) Bolshoi Theatre: This world-famous theatre is a symbol of Russia’s reverence for the classical performing arts, where you can attend one of its spectacular ballet or opera performances, or take a guided tour of the exquisite building.

4) Gorky Park: Gorky Park is a favourite hang-out for both locals and visitors. There’s always lots happening, from food markets to fitness classes to open-air film festivals. In winter, the park’s ice-skating rink is also a classic.

5) Moskva River Cruise: Cruising down the Moskva with a local charter company offers a unique perspective on famous sites like The Kremlin, Saint Basil’s Cathedral and the Peter the Great monument.

Fly Oman Air! Oman Air flies direct to Moscow. To view the full flight schedules, visit www.omanair.com

Online Info! 

  • Travelling to Moscow? Check out the official tourism guide www.discover.moscow/en or visit www.moscow.info
  • Journey to Christmas 2020: www.moscowseasons.com
  • Moscow bike rental: www.velobike.ru
  • Depo (food/entertainment): www.depomoscow.ru

Images: © Shutterstock