Moscow’s city metro system has the most beautiful metro stations I have ever seen, and I’m not saying that only because I am Russian! Ok, maybe partly, but seriously, they are so beautiful, each station is pretty much a palace!.
One of the architects of the Soviet subway system said: “They used to have palaces for kings, we are going to build palaces for the people!”
There are 203 metro stations, and most of them are architecturally amazing. Some of the most impressive ones have paintings, columns, and statues, while others go above and beyond with a museum or palace-style décor that will leave you astonished!
By the way, if you want to visit more things in the city beyond the metro stations (which are a must!), I recommend checking out my article about Unmissable Things to Do in Moscow.
Okay, let’s cut to the chase, here is how you can experience the real magic of Moscow metro stations:
My experience taking a Moscow metro tour
Being a local who has lived in Moscow for quite some years, I woke up one sunny Sunday morning and decided that I should go for a Moscow metro tour! Why?
I have literally spent hundreds of hours in the metros in Moscow and still, I didn’t know anything about its history! That had to be fixed right away!
So I checked what my options were and decided to go for this metro tour basically because it was the only one that could fit my schedule criteria, as it starts at 3 PM at Bolshoi Theatre every day.
- US$20 per person
- 90 minutes
- You will see from 7 to 9 of the best Moscow metro stations
- Get historical explanations of each station and its artistic creations
- The route is made to minimize travel time; the maximum number of stops we rode was, I think, 2
NOTE: It is very noisy in the metro, so at some point I got way too tired of listening to the guide because it was pretty hard to hear him despite the fact he was pretty loud and it was Sunday. The metro was not that crowded, but the trains are LOUD.
PRO TIP: Don’t go for a metro tour that takes place during rush hour, it will be SO crowded with locals rushing to work you won’t get to appreciate it! Moscow metro stations are never really empty (unless it is Sunday midnight and they, unfortunately, don’t run any tours at that time!), but it is better to minimize the crowds as much as possible so you’ll be able to enjoy the architectural beauty of each station.
So, do I recommend this tour? Well, I think it was ok, but if I were to go again or if I had to recommend the tour to my friends, I would suggest getting a tour with headphones – it was hard to hear the guide even if we were a small group!
Also, I recommend choosing a tour that takes place during the day time, so it will be less crowded.
My metro tour recommendations
Because there are so many tours and it may be confusing to choose between them, I have handpicked some options for you divided into group and private tours.
NOTE: Please note that the prices are per person and the final price may vary depending on the season and promotions, so please check the updated price by clicking on the link for each tour. Oh, and by the way, all the tours below include the cost of the Moscow metro ticket in its price!
The lists below will help you choose the best metro tour in Moscow:
Here are a couple of great group tour options you can choose from:
- This Moscow metro tour is a 1.5-hour journey around 7 metro stations during which you will learn the legend behind the Metro-2. You will also see the beautiful baroque moulding and astonishing stained-glass windows in each of the stations.
PRICE: US $22.50
- The benefit of this other Moscow metro tour is not only learning about the Moscow underground system and tricks on how to move around it, but it includes a headset so you can hear your tour guide perfectly!
PRICE: US $17
- Last but not least, this Moscow metro tour is a great alternative and a very interesting way to see the city from a different perspective.
PRICE: US $35
If you feel that the previously mentioned tour options will be too crowded and you prefer having a more exclusive tour just for yourself – these are your best options for private Moscow metro tours: (prices are per person)
- You could try this 2-hour tour – you will get picked-up from your hotel and then follow your Moscow tour guide to some of the best metro stations, each with a different architectural style. You’ll get too see amazing statues made out of black Armenian marble and also come across futuristic architecture.
PRICE: US $49
- This 2-hour private tour, with pickup service included, will take you to discover the hidden mysteries of the local metro stations and to see the historical treasures each one holds. You’ll definitely want to see the UNESCO site and learn the effects of WWII on the metro.
PRICE: US $64
Why limit yourself? You can also go for combo tours in the city that include some other attractions as well as the metro tours.
Here are some of the most interesting combinations:
1. Metro and Kremlin private tour
This private 4-hour Moscow tour to the metro stations includes pick-up service from your accommodation and entrance to the Kremlin Museum as well, an architectural masterpiece and UNESCO site. This private tour not only teaches about the history of Metro stations from the Soviet period but also takes you back in time to cathedrals and palaces where Mr. President works!
PRICE: US $110
2. Metro, Kremlin, and Communism walking tour
This great combo tour includes 4 different guided tours that you can take over a period of 7 days whenever you like! It allows you to enjoy the city of Moscow at your own pace. Start with the Moscow metro tour to the most beautiful underground stations, followed by a journey down memory lane and the Cold War remnants the next day, and finish with the Kremlin fortress. All of these on your preferred day and in your preferred order, but included in the same ticket.
PRICE: US $109
3. Metro tour, Kremlin, and Red Square
Maybe a 4-hour walking tour around Moscow is your best choice! During this tour you will get picked up from your hotel and make your way to the Kremlin, enjoy the Red Square, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and World War 2 memorial. The tour doesn’t stop there as your next destinations are the amazing Moscow metro stations and if that isn’t enough, you will get to visit Christ the Savior Cathedral as well!
PRICE: US $64
4. Metro tour and historical walk
This is a great 3-hour walking tour around Moscow metro stations; you will also get to visit Christ the Saviour Cathedral and be amazed by the 19th-century aristocratic residencies down on Arbat Street. You will have an insightful walk full of stories, secrets, and the turbulent history behind these attractions. It’s totally worth your time!
PRICE: US $68
5. Metro and River Cruise
Here’s a different way of discovering Moscow: a 5-hour metro and river cruise! Start by visiting 5 of the most impressive metro stations in the world, then continue your trip on a short cruise aboard a yacht where you will get to see the main sights of the city such as the Kremlin, Moscow State University and more!
PRICE: US $168
Self-organized metro tour
If you only want to see the most beautiful stations without learning about their history, you can just hop on the metro, do the same tour by yourself and experience a DIY Moscow metro tour!
There are 20 amazing metro stations in the city, and unless you want to visit them all… here are the best metro stations in Moscow I recommend visiting (in this particular order):
- Ploshchad Revolyutsii Station
- Mayakovskaya Metro Station
- Belorusskaya (or Belorussky) Station
- Kiyevskaya (or Kiyevsky) Station
- Taganskaya Station
- Kurskaya Station
- Komsomolskaya Station
- Prospekt Mira Station
- Novoslobodskaya Station
PRO TIP: Doesn’t matter how many stations you change and how long you spend underground, you only pay for one ticket, how cool is that?
Everytime you reach one of the stations I suggest you get off the train, give a look around, and head back to the metro. My suggestion is to go along 2 lines – the red Line 1 and then the circular brown Line 5.
Once you are at the Ploshchad Revolyutsii Station take red Line 1 to head to the next two stations. When you finish your tour around Belorusskaya Station you will need to change to the brown Line 5 and that is where you continue seeing the rest of my list!
The announcements are in 2 languages – Russian followed by English, but there are also comprehensive maps in Latin letters in each wagon, so you should not get lost. But, I always recommend to my foreign friends – install Yandex Metro map and you will never get lost! (more about the map below).
NOTE: Please note that going with a guided tour will give you a better understanding and I definitely recommend doing it if you have more time!
How to use the metro in Moscow
The basics of using the metro in Moscow
Did you know that the ending of most Russian metro stations names “-skaya” actually means “belonging to”? So, “Arbatskaya”, means “the one from Arbat”
To find the entrance to the metro in Moscow, you just need to follow the red M (no, not McDonalds)!
Buying your tickets is pretty simple as well – you can head over to the cashier and pay with cash or card, or you can use the automatic machine (don’t forget to select “English” for the language). The machine also accepts cash or card.
In Moscow, the metro ticket price can vary based on the card you want to purchase and the rides you want to take, so let me explain your options since there are basically two – a basic red metro card and a blue one with more choices (it is also cheaper):
1) A basic metro 1 way ticket
The red card costs 55 RUB (~US $0.90). If you get a one-time use ticket, you can throw it away after taking the metro ride; no need to save it as there are no controllers in the stations, only at the turnicets when you enter.
PRICE FOR 1 RIDE: 55 RUB
2) Troika card
Troika (blue card) is, in my opinion, your best option to get around on the metro!
The price of the card itself is 50 RUB (~US $0.80) and you can top it up with money to use for your rides.
You can purchase the card at any metro station – at the cashier or at the ticket machine (which is usually faster).
PRO TIP: By the end of your Moscow stay, you can return it any cashier and you will get your 50 RUB back; not too much, but still a nice surprise!
Here are the prices:
- Price for 1 ride (any public transport): 38 RUB
- Price for rides in 90 minutes (changes of transport): 59 RUB
- 1 day pass: 230 RUB (US $4)
The best part about this card? You just top it up with money and it automatically selects the cheapest option for you!
For instance, if you took 2 different rides in 90 mins, it is not going to charge you 38+38, but 38+21 (so that it is 59 RUB in total). Or, if you took maaaany metro rides in a given day, you are not going to be charged more than 230 RUB (the price of the day pass).
The card is pretty flexible and, also, smart. All the prices can be found here (it is in Russian only for now, but Google translator does a great job).
NOTE: You can use your metro ticket (red or blue, doesn’t matter) for all the stops on the map, regardless of the line.
If you go for the Troika card, you won’t need to stand in the line each time you are entering the metro and you can use it for 2 or more people!
Navigation in the Moscow underground system
Although Yandex Maps has ads, in my opinion it is the easiest to follow and it will help you get from point A to point B easily; it also counts the transfer time AND what side of the car you should enter for an easier transfer! I definitely recommend it when it comes to public transportation and mostly because of the Moscow metro map, as it gives more correct info – and it is also fully translated and free to use!
NOTE: Google Maps shows the direction between two points pretty accurately but sometimes it only shows you options of getting there by bus, when you could just walk for 5-7 minutes and reach the metro stop. This is why, for Moscow, I recommend the two apps above instead!
NOTE 2: The Moscow metro hours are from 5:30 AM to 1 AM. You should keep this in mind if you want to go and explore the metro stations at night when there are fewer people!
In this article I have mentioned the best and most interesting Moscow metro tour routes you can take, both as part of a group or by yourself.
I hope this post gave you a detailed explanation about one of the best attractions in Moscow and I’m sure now you understand the metro system better and which stations are a must-visit!
All in all, if you want to learn a brief history and some behind the scene facts of building the stations and Moscow metro in general, I invite you to take one of the metro tours mentioned above. I hope I helped you make your choice!
To get more ideas on what to do in the city, I recommend you read my article on Things to do in Moscow to complete your itinerary and a Where to stay in Moscow post where I recommend the best areas to stay together with hotel recommendations and prices!
Let me know if you have any questions, have a great time in Moscow!
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