11 Cheap and Cheerful Date Ideas in Moscow

Myasnitskaya in the early 20th century
Myasnitskaya in the early 20th century | © Собственная фотоколлекция / WikiCommons

Moscow is a city with a great concentration of wealth, the home of the oligarchs and the most expensive restaurants in Russia. It doesn’t mean that the city has nothing to offer to a traveller on a budget, even one who wants to impress their significant other. Here are 11 cheap date ideas in Moscow, Russia.

1. Go cycling in Tsaritsyno

Museum, Park

Moscow is a beautiful place in the summer. It’s a city full of parks of all shapes and sizes to suit any taste. If you and your sweetheart are avid cyclists, take them to Tsaritisyno for a cycling trip. Moscow has a very convenient bike rental system in place, so renting a bike will not only be cheap but also easy. Tsaritsyno is a very scenic place. The residence of Catherine the Great built in the park (and not finished within her lifetime) is the only example of Russian Gothic in Europe. It is a perfect place for a romantic, yet cheap date.

Dolskaya Ulitsa 1, Moscow, Russia. +7 499 725 72 87

Park-reserve Tsaritsyno | © A.Savin / WikiCommons

2. Explore the old Soviet exhibition centre

VDNKh, or the Soviet exhibition centre, is one of the most unusual places in Moscow. It was designed to impress and to showcase the achievements of each of the Soviet republics. It is a prime example of socialist realism in architecture and it is a truly impressive place to go to, especially on a sunny day, when the gold-covered elements sparkle with light. There are plenty of museums here now, and in winter the central part of the park turns into the biggest ice-skating rink in the whole of Moscow. It’s a truly unique place for a date on a budget.

Prospekt Mira 119, Moscow, Russia, +7 495 544 34 00

Ice skating rink around the Fountain of the Friendship of the Nations in VDNKh | © Mos.ru / WikiCommons

3. Go dancing in Gorky Park

Park

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© Ana Paula Hirama / Flickr
Thanks to The Scorpions, Gorky Park is by far the most famous park in Moscow. It was thoroughly refurbished a few years ago, and is now one of the most vibrant parks in the city. There’s always something happening here, especially in the summer – dance classes are one of the regular events taking place from May to September. Follow the music down the central alley and dance lindy hop or salsa with your significant other!

4. Have a picnic in Sokolniki

Forest, Park

Sokolniki is a park in the north-east of the city. It is a splendid place to go for walk or to have a picnic since it is full of green, unaltered areas. Some parts of Sokolniki feel more like a forest than a park. It’s sometimes hard to believe that you’re still within the city, just a short walk away from the nearest metro station. Be romantic, make some finger food and picnic away!

Sokolnicheskiy Val 1, Moscow, Russia, +7 499 393 92 22

The central fountain in Sokolniki | © Qweasdqwe / WikiCommons

5. See one of the world's most famous corpses

If you and your sweetheart are into morbid historical trivia, go to Lenin’s mausoleum in the Red Square. You need to go there fairly early in the morning and you might end up waiting in a rather long queue but it’s worth it! The admission is free and seeing preserved Lenin’s corpse together is a story you will definitely tell your grandchildren.

Red Square, Moscow, Russia, +7 495 623 55 27

Lenin’s Mausoleum | © Valeriy1960 / WikiCommons | © Valeriy1960 / WikiCommons

Go on a long stroll in Kitay Gorod

Moscow is one of the oldest cities in Russia, and Kitay Gorod is one of its oldest parts. It’s full of old churches, parks and cosy cafes. Kitay Gorod is a wonderful location for a long, romantic stroll followed by some delicious ice cream in a park.

Kitay Gorod, Moscow, Russia

A park in Kitay Gorod

6. Go for an evening pub crawl in Myasnitskaya

Pub, Russian

Myasnitskaya in the early 20th century
© Собственная фотоколлекция / WikiCommons
Myasnitskaya is a picturesque street right off the Lubyanka station, very close to the Red Square. It looks as if it was taken out of a fairytale, both by day and by night. It is also full of bars and restaurants to fit any budget. Go, and indulge in some beer-induced people watching!

7. See an independent film in one of Stalin's sisters

Building, Cinema

There are seven Stalinist-realist towers overlooking Moscow: the visible testimony to the country’s difficult past. Despite their historic origins, they serve very mundane purposes, and are home to offices, shops, and libraries. One of them is also the home of one of the city’s most magical independent cinemas: Illusion. They don’t screen blockbusters, they don’t sell popcorn and there is live piano music half an hour before every screening. It doesn’t get much more romantic than this.

Kotelnicheskaya embankment 1/15, Moscow, Russia, +7 495 915 43 53

The building which houses, among others, the Illusion cinema | © Nickolas Titkov / WikiCommons

8. Get in touch with your inner child at a magical toy store

There is a very special shop in Moscow, ironically located right in front of the forever-headquarters of Russian and Soviet secret police, the predecessors of Federal Security Bureau which now occupies the building. It’s called The Central Children’s Store and very likely it is the most magical place you have ever been to. Get lost in Nutcracker-like interiors, check out the most impressive Lego sculptures and see a puppet-theatre performance in the main hall. And make out where nobody can see you – you’re on a date after all!

Teatralnyi Proezd 5/1, Moscow, Russia, +7 495 777 80 77

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Go underground to discover the beauty of Moscow’s metro

The construction of the Moscow metro started in the 1930s and it was initially designed to impress passengers as much as to transport them. It has since undergone some thoroughly mundane phases, only to reach a new decorative stage in the recent decades. If the day is gloomy and you don’t feel like being outside, check out the history of Russia as inscribed on the walls of the 206 Moscow metro stations.

Moscow Metro architecture

Meet the locals in an anti-cafe

The idea of an anti-cafe is a rebelliously brilliant and a thoroughly Russian concept. Anti-cafes are establishments where you pay for the time spent there while you can consume all the tea, coffee and biscuits you can fit in. They are also very special community spaces: you can join any of the events organised there, play an instrument or chat to anybody who doesn’t seem too occupied with anything else. Whether you want to play the piano for your sweetheart, play some board games with them or just hang out with the locals, anti-cafes are the place to go.

Ziferblat in Moscow, one of the first anti-cafes in the world

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