Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Moscow tips from international correspondent

St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square is perhaps Moscow's most iconic sight.
St. Basil's Cathedral on Red Square is perhaps Moscow's most iconic sight.
  • More than 10 million people call Moscow home
  • Moscow is regularly ranked among the world's most expensive cities
  • Sparrow Hills offers sweeping views of the river and the cityscape below
  • A good Moscow souvenir is a furry hat with ear flaps
  • Moscow
  • Russia
  • Travel and Tourism

Editor's note: CNN's Insider Trip Tips taps staffers around the globe for a local's look at places where they work and live. Share your Moscow tips in the comments section below.

Moscow (CNN) -- Moscow is a city defined by its scale.

"Everything is massive, like the 10-lane roads that run through the city. The buildings are vast and monumental, as befits the capital of the world's biggest country," said Matthew Chance, a CNN senior international correspondent who has lived in Moscow for six years.

Russia is about 1.8 times the size of the United States and more than 10 million people call Moscow home, according to the CIA World Factbook.

It's a huge city with price tags to match. Moscow is regularly ranked among the world's most expensive cities.

"That means limos and bling everywhere," Chance said. asked Chance to share some of his favorite spots:

CNN's Matthew Chance on assignment in Afghanistan.
CNN's Matthew Chance on assignment in Afghanistan.

Where can you get the best view of the city?

From Sparrow Hills, which overlook the river and the cityscape below. There are some beautiful walks through the park there, and it's a handy place to pick up a Soviet-era souvenir from the stalls that line the road.

Insider Trip Tips: Berlin

What's the biggest misconception about the city?

That it is ugly. It's actually quite beautiful in many parts, especially at night when it is lit up.

Which restaurant would you take your loved one to for an anniversary or other special occasion?

Depends on if you want to be flashy or subdued. Galleria (located on Petrovka Ulitsa) would be one flash option, though in Moscow there are many others. On the more romantic side, Georgian food at Tiflis (on Ostozhenka Ulitsa) could work for you.

What is your favorite neighborhood?

Gallery: Moscow, Russia

Patriarch's Ponds is my favorite. It's got the feel of a village and is crammed with interesting little shops and cafes, including a favorite bar (Klava) and excellent bakery (Volkonsky). It also has a beautiful pond, which is relaxing to stroll around in summer. It becomes an ice rink in winter.

Where do you go to relax?

Sanduny Banya, the ultimate traditional Russian sauna. You can get rubbed down with a hard brush, beaten with birch branches or simply bask in the searing heat of the steam. When it all gets too much, plunge into the ice cold pool, then retire to eat shrimps and drink hot tea with lemon and honey. I'm feeling relaxed just (talking) about it.

Insider Trip Tips: Seattle

What essential thing should visitors see/experience if they only have a few hours?

If you want to see something iconic, then you have to go to Red Square to see St Basil's Cathedral (see above). Take a photo. Then go to Banya.

How do tourists stick out, and what's the best way to blend in?

They stick out by not speaking Russian, or by speaking Russian badly.

What's the biggest "tourist trap"? Is there one that's actually worth seeing?

Lenin's Tomb on Red Square, ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre, the Kremlin Armory. All touristy, all worth seeing.

Where was your most memorable meal?

There's a surprisingly excellent Indian restaurant, Darbar, on the top floor of the Hotel Sputnik on Leninsky Prospect. It has Indian staff, who all speak English, and fabulous views over city.

Insider Trip Tips: Wolf Blitzer's Washington

Where's your favorite place to spend a night out of town?

A friend's dacha, or country house, perhaps. But if you want to spend a night away from Moscow, hop on the new bullet train and head to St. Petersburg.

Are there local specialty dishes or drinks that visitors must try?

Vodka and caviar, with blinis (pancakes) and sour cream.

What is a good local souvenir?

A furry hat, with ear flaps.

Have you been to Moscow? Share your tips in the comments section below.