here you will find the most essential guides:
24 hours, Alphabet, Alcohol, Books, Electricity, Buses, Credit cards, Crime, Eating out, Floors, Holidays, Health, Local calls, Local time, Money, Photography restrictions, River, Sport events, Tickets for events, Taxi, The Moscow metro, Telephone service, Tipping, Toilets, Weights and measures, Water.
We hope we have covered most of your questions regarding day to day stay in Moscow. If you have any specific requests for information, or would like to add your experience to this section, please e-mail
One of the good things about Russia is that it is never difficult to find a place to get food or drink, even in the middle of the night, whether it is a simple shop or an expensive night club. If you see the 24-sign it means this place is open around the clock! Even experienced global travellers are astonished at the number of supermarkets and kiosks open all night long.
бБ (b) – b in bit
вВ (v) – v in vine
гГ (g) – g in go
дД (d) – d in do
еЕ (ye, e) – ye in yet
ёЁ (yo) – yo in yolk
жЖ (zh) – s in pleasure
зЗ (z) – z in zoo
иИ (i) – ee in see
йЙ (i, y, j) – y in boy
кК (k) – k in kitten
лЛ (l) – l in lamp
мМ (m) – m in maxima
нН (n) – n in not
оО (o) – o in folk
пП (p) – p in pet
рР (r ) – r in roll
сС (s) – s in see
тТ (t) – t in tip
уУ (u) – oo in book
фФ (f) – f in face
хХ (kh, h) – h in house
цЦ (ts) – ts in sits
чЧ (ch) – ch in chips
шШ (sh) – sh in shut
щЩ (sch) – sh in sheet
ъЪ - "tvyordiy znahk", "hard sign"
ыЫ (y) – i in ill
ьЬ - "myagkeey znahk", "soft sign"
эЭ (e) – е in met
юЮ (yu) – u in use
яЯ (ya) – ya in yard
Vodka is rather cheap and there are oodles of different brands with cool labels to choose from. Russki Standard, Diplomat and Lviz are pretty good, and if you want something more exotic, try Nemiroff: Ukrainian pepper vodka with honey.
Russian pivo (beer) is good stuff, which is why Russians consume more beer than any other alcoholic drink. Locally brewed Nevskoe, Baltika N7 and Bochkarev are usually on tap and are the mainstay for most russians. Local designer-beer Tinkoff is also very good.
No Russian celebration is complete without Sovietskoe Shampanskoe (Soviet Champagne), the national party drink. A bottle of this bubbly, which some like more than the real French stuff, will set you back only 3-5 euros. Sovietskoe Shampanskoe comes in five varieties ranging from very sweet (sladkoe) to dry (sukhoe) and very dry (brut).
The largest selection of books can be found at the famous Dom Knigi, Arbat 26, open every day from 11.00 a.m. - 8.00 p.m., at Biblioglobus, Miasnitskaya st. (metro Loubianka), same schedule, or at Dom Knigi "Moskva", Tverskaya 8, open every day till 1.00 a.m. Both also sell antiques and music. For classic literature and dictionaries, go to the library called Progress, at Zubovskij Boulvar 25 (metro Park Koultouriy), open daily.
Electricity in Russia is 220 V 50 Hz AC. Sockets are standard European-size for double round-pin plugs, the same as in France or Germany. Appliances from the US, Canada, Britain will need adaptors (it's better to buy them in your own country, as it's very hard to find them in Russia). Trains usually provide sockets for electric razors.
Buses, trolley-buses, and trams
These three types of vehicles operate throughout the city, and run from 5.30 a.m. to 12.30 a.m. To ride a bus, trolley-bus, or tram you first need to purchase a coupon, which the driver punches upon entering the vehicle.
Most hotels, shops, and restaurants, especially those near the city center, accept all major credit cards. Sometimes you may be asked to show your passport or identifying documents. Traveler's checks haven't yet become popular in Moscow, but you may always exchange them for cash in exchange offices, hotels, and banks.
Moscow's reputation as a crime capital peopled by shady Mafia types is unfair. Undoubtedly they are present, but you won't come into contact with them unless you're very unlucky
Like you would in any other city, it is best to follow these simple rules:
- Avoid walking through unknown and deserted streets after dark.
- When walking through crowded streets, big stores, or marketplaces, check your pockets regularly.
- If pickpockets see that you are on your guard, they'll be less likely to single you out.
- Never carry a lot of money with you. Most stores and restaurants downtown accept credit cards.
- The crowded public places (like railway stations and the Arbat, e.g.) are full of Gypsies, who may offer to tell your fortune. Most are legitimate, but some can be thieves. Be on your guard.
A Russian Restaurant is not only a place to eat out, but also a place to be entertained. Usually, live bands will play from 8.00 p.m. – 12.00 (noon) and people will sing and dance. Eating times are different from Western European habit:
Lunch: 2.00 p.m. - 3.00 p.m.
Dinner: 7.00 p.m. - 9.00 p.m.
For small dishes, you may also consider Cafes to eat out. They are usually cheaper.
Prices for a meal are around 10-20$ in a cheap restaurant. Middle class and exquisite restaurants charge 2-5 times more. Bringing your own wine/drinks is not allowed. Tipping, "chaiaviye" in Russian meaning "tea money", is expected (10-15%) for good service and added (10-15%) to the bill in some upper class restaurants. Unlike Europe, the "service" is usually only included in the bill if there is a large group, and this will usually be noted in the menu.
Breakfast consists of cold meats, boiled eggs and bread served with Russian tea. Kasha (porridge) is a traditional breakfast dish, made from milk and oats, buckwheat or semolina. Midday and evening meals vary a lot, but may include borshch, the traditional beetroot soup served hot with sour cream, beef stroganov, bliny, aladyi and especially ikra or krasnaya ikra (black and red caviar). Local chicken kiev should not be confused with Western imitations. Tsipleonok tabaka, is a delicious chicken dish roasted on spit. Whole roast suckling pig & roast goose stuffed with buckwheat, roast duck stuffed with apples and or shashlik (shish kebab) are tradional dinners served at parties and for special occasions. Other dishes are kotlyety po Pozharsky (chicken cutlets), pirozhky (fried rolls with different fillings, usually meat), prostakvasha (yoghurt), pelmeni (meat dumplings), rossolnik (hot soup of pickled vegetables) and shchi (cabbage soup). Salads (salati) are served in great variety (cucumbers, tomatoes, diced vegetables, cabbage, etc.) to almost every meal. Typical desserts: morozhenoye (ice cream, even in the coldest winter!), ponchiki (hot sugared doughnuts) and vareniki (dumplings containing fresh berries, cherries or jam).
The Russian floor-numbering system is American style, which means there is no ground floor. When you’re on the ground floor, you’re actually on the first floor. Go up one and you’re on the second, and so on.
Russian Orthodox Christmas Day
Russian Orthodox New Year (work day)
Defenders of the Motherland Day
International Women's Day
Day of Spring and Labour
Great Victory Day (World War II)
National Reconciliation Day
Russian drivers are your biggest danger, so cross the road carefully, and don’t assume cars will stop just because you’re on a zebra crossing. Other dangers include dodgy electrical fittings, temperamental gas stoves, slippery ice, falling ice, uncovered manholes and cold weather.
Russia has 9 time zones, and Moscow is in the same zone as St. Petersburg: UTC/GMT +3. So, when it's 12.00 (noon) in Moscow, it's 04.00 a.m. in New York, 09.00 a.m. in London, 10.00 a.m. in Berlin and 8.00 p.m. in Sydney. Daylight Saving Start - last Sunday in March.
Daylight Saving End - last Sunday in October.
Tokens for the public telephones are available at the Metro entrances, but it is much more convenient to use plastic phone cards (with one card you can phone 50 times, provide the duration of each call is three minutes or less). The card operated phones are available at the Metros. Using the card, you may also call other cities and towns in Russian and the CIS.
The national currency is the rouble (RUB). Banknotes come in denominations of 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000, 5,000 and there are 1, 2 and 5 RUB coins. There are 100 kopecks to every rouble, and kopecks come in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 50. Officially, it’s illegal to pay in dollars or euros. But prices are sometimes written in Cyrillic, especially in places with a lot of foreign customers. This stands for 'uslovnaya yedinitsa', which means fixed unit. This refers to the exchange rate between the rouble and the US-dollar, the rouble and the euro, or the rouble and something in between the dollar and the euro. It's complicated! ATMs (bankomaty), can be found at most metro stations, banks and large hotels. Note that old or very worn dollar bills are often not accepted at banks and exchange offices
Many museums do not permit photography near the exhibits. At the time you are purchasing your tickets, inquire as to whether or not photography is allowed in the museum, if a permit is required, how much the permit will cost, and, if photos taken with high-speed film and without a flash are allowed. When in doubt, ask your tour guide or someone else in authority if it is acceptable to take a photograph.
The river, which flows through Moscow is called Moskva. Moscow and Moskva are two different transliterations of the same Russian word. The city is named after river. The length of the river is 503 km. The area of its drainage basin is 17,600 sq km. Vertical level drop is 155 meters (long-term average). Maximum depth above Moscow city limits - 3 meters, and up to 6 meters below it. Normally, it freezes in November-December and begins to thaw around late March.
Tickets for sport events are usually sold at the stadium. There is a huge sport complex near the university, where ice-hockey is played during the season. Other popular sport events are soccer games.
Tickets for ballet, circus, theater, concerts etc.
Programs and tickets for all cultural events are usually available at small kiosks on streets or outside metro stations. Programs and available places are posted on the window. Don't expect the selling person to advice you with tickets.
The ticket office of the Bolshoi-theater (the season is from September-May, during the Summer the Bolshoi is closed) sells tickets at a reasonable fare. Men standing at the entrance sell bad places for very high fares, but prices sink in the 5 minutes before beginning of the representation.
Moscow has a number of excellent theaters playing classic and modern Russian pieces. Our favorites are
- Drama theater, Ul. Malaja Bronnaja 4
- Gogol theater, Ul. Kazakova 8
- Gorki art theater, new house, Tverskoj Boulvar 22
- Bolshoy theater, Pl. Teatralnaya 1
- Small theater, Pl. Teatralnaya 1/6
- Satire theater, Ul. Sadovaja Bolschaja
Taxi in Russia can be divided into 2 general types: “official” taxi and private transporters. The main identifier of official taxi is yellow colour of the cars and the emblem of black checkers along with a light table with the word “taxi” situated on the car roof. A private transporter is any ordinary Russian driver with a private car who does not belong to a taxi company but is willing to make money on giving someone a ride for a certain fee. Private transporters also can use a yellow table with the word “taxi” written on it, and this often makes it impossible to guess whether it is an official taxi car or not.
The main pluses of official taxi are fixed prices (but generally more expensive) and predictability of the drivers` behaviour. Besides, travellers can order a taxi by phone – in this case a car arrives in 10-15 minutes. However, the number of official taxi cabs in the streets is much less than the number of private transporters; therefore, catching a private car takes less time in this way.
One must keep in mind, that one of the main problems with private drivers in Russia is the drivers` poor knowledge of foreign languages, including English, along with the belief that all western foreigners are rich. It is also strongly not recommended to get into cars which already have a passenger and it is better to have the traveller’s destination point written in Russian on a paper and show it to the driver.
The Moscow Metro
Moscow's most popular form of public transportation is its world-famous Metro. For foreign urbanites accustomed to the subway systems of their homelands, riding the Moscow Metro and visiting its opulent stations is an attraction in itself (for more information on the Metro as an attraction, see the Metro page in points of interest.)
There are over 150 Metro stations in Moscow, all of them open from 5.30 a.m. to 12.30 a.m. The entrances to all stations are marked with a big red letter "M". At a cost of ticket, one token can take you anywhere in the system. Multi-trip plastic cards and season passes can also be purchased. Each of the ten Metro lines is marked by a different color, and before riding a train you should always confirm your route by checking one of the large maps posted in every station. This is especially important, because at present all the directional signs in the subway (as well as in most of the city) are printed in Cyrillic only. You may be surprised how fast you learn to read Russian. See the illustration above for translations of the most common signs. You may also wish to avoid riding during the peak commute hours of 7.30 – 10.30 a.m. and 4 – 7.30 p.m.
Here is a list of important numbers and agencies that provide information for tickets, museums, telephone numbers, addresses, flights etc. Moscow phone code is 495
Tipping is increasingly expected at restaurants. Tip 10-15% depending on service.
Public toilets in the centre of the city are few and far between. Innovative, although somewhat squashy toilet buses (10Rbl) are sometimes parked at public events or outside the Hermitage. Generally speaking, McDonald’s and random hotels and cafes are your best option. Just utter the words ‘gdye tualet?’ (where is the toilet?), while flashing a friendly smile, and most establishments will let you use their facilities. Otherwise, look for the Russian letters ‘Ж’ (women’s) and ‘M’ (men’s). Never leave home without your own stash of toilet paper! There is a national toilet-paper shortage - hence the bits of cut-up newspaper and old romance novels next to some toilets.
Weights and measures
Russia uses the metric system, and on menus, next to the column of prices, there is usually a column of measurements in grams. Spirits and wine are also sold in grams. A standard shot of vodka is 50g, and a glass of wine is 150 - 200g. Menus often show prices for meat and wine per 50 or 100g, so be sure to check carefully before you order. Beer is sold in big and small glasses; a big glass is half a litre and a small glass 250 - 330ml.
1 fl. oz. = 28.4 ml.
Water quality varies widely in Russia. Your best bet is to drink only bottled water. Be careful to avoid ice and raw foods and vegetables.
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