Visiting Arbat Street
Seriously, skip it! Of course we all know that souvenir shopping is a ‘must do’ in Moscow, and it’s very important to bring beautiful presents back home to your loved ones. It can be hard to pass up the trinkets glimmering in the shops, but waiting in a 5 km (3 mile) queue outside on a cold winter day is not worth it. We highly recommend you go to Partizanskaya Metro Station and the Izmailovsky Market for souvenir goodies. No queues, no tourists, basically nobody milling around a vast choice of local souvenirs, as well as antique goodies like old samovars and jewelry.
Assuming Russia is always cold
No, it’s not. Don’t bring too many sweaters with you; check the weather before you leave home. Yes, it sounds strange, but all Russians are used to this crazy weather. One day you may be wearing a fur coat against a blizzard. The next day, you may wake up to warm sunshine and melting snow. It’s not very cold all the time, in fact there are four seasons in Russia, all of which are quite different. Summers can be extremely hot, so plan in advance about what to put in your luggage.
Expecting to see a musical bear in Red Square
Avoid stupid stereotypes and keep an open mind about everything. We absolutely can’t deny the fact that modern Moscow is totally different from what we’ve imagined. Many things have changed here during recent years and Russia’s capital has become even more contemporary than many other big European cities. Unfortunately, some cliches still exist and we highly recommend you to forget about them. One thing is for sure, you won’t see a bear playing a balalaika in Red Square.
Following the maps and brochures from the hotel
Moscow’s city centre is huge and compact. It is easy to get turned around and confused if you are not from the area. However, the maps in the hotel brochures won’t help you find your way. Google Maps is more than sufficient, and if you don’t have access to Google Maps, tourism centres have printed maps that are also helpful.
Avoiding common rules
When in Moscow, do as locals do. Unfortunately, sometimes tourists forget that local rules apply to them too. Visitors should know how to say ‘no’ to the taxi drivers, who are increasing their fee, or how to avoid small talk with police officers, especially if they seem suspicious of others. Tourists should be able to recognize negative situations and know when to walk away at the right moment. A good rule to follow is to never put your iPhone or wallet in a back pocket when riding the subway or shopping in a supermarket. You’ll return home without it.