Last Updated on April 19, 2020 by Irena Domingo
Moscow is a city that can be enjoyed to the fullest with children. And I say this based on my own experience. The list of things you can do with your children is long: zoos, oceanography, space museums, interactive science museums, circuses, children’s theaters, children’s shopping malls, boat cruises, etc. In this article I’ll tell you about the main places in Moscow that you can visit with your children and as a family.
I'm going to talk about ...
- 1. Moscow: the capital with numerous programs for children
- 2. Some recommendations beforehand for traveling to Moscow with children
- 3. Places to go and enjoy with children in Moscow
- 3.1. Zoos and Aquariums
- 3.2. Astronomy Museums
- 3.3. Science Museums
- 3.4. Circuses
- 3.5. Theaters for children
- 3.6. Shopping in Moscow with children
- 3.7. Other spaces for children
1. Moscow: the capital with numerous programs for children
You must have asked yourself at some time, “Is it worth traveling to Moscow with children? Of course it is! I’ve traveled to Moscow with my young kids and they were able to enjoy the city to the fullest since there are numerous attractions for them.
There are excursions such as tours of the Kremlin, Red Square or St. Basil’s Cathedral walks through Moscow’s public parks, or a boat cruise, which will be fascinating to both children and adults. Even a visit to Lenin’s Mausoleum can be a lot of fun for kids.
However, in this article I’ll show you specific places for kids or youngsters, let’s call them adolescents, all recreational and quite varied, some of them for fun and most of them with a definite cultural and educational focus. Russians attach great importance to educating their citizens from an early age.
But first I’ll start with some advice, recommendations and practical tools that may come in handy, and that come from common sense and my holidays in Moscow with my kids.
2. Some recommendations beforehand for traveling to Moscow with children
It is important that you carry your children’s passport and visa with you to avoid possible problems when entering and leaving Russia and during your stay.
It is recommended that you let your kids wear a bracelet with their basic personal information and your cell number so you can find them in case they are small and get lost.
2.2. Getting around
First of all, we must say that it is preferable to travel around the city by metro or taxi. Each means of transportation has its advantages and disadvantages.
When traveling as a family it may be more convenient to take a taxi, although it is obviously more expensive. You can order it with a child’s seat for infants or children.
The other option is the Metro. The advantage is that it allows you to get to the main attractions for a cheaper price. Children under seven do not need a ticket. Children love to go down and up the Metro escalators.
In crowded places like the Metro it is better to hold your kids’ hands. You should know that stations do not usually have elevators to go downstairs with a stroller, so you have to do so carefully on the escalators.
With respect to traveling by train from Moscow to other cities such as St. Petersburg, it is important to know that children aged 5 to 10 get a discount of approximately 30%, while children under 5 do not need a ticket if they do not occupy a seat.
2.3. Tickets and tourist cards
I think that with small children it is not worth buying the Moscow City Pass, because with this pass you go at a different pace. However, if you have planned your trip with the attractions and museums to visit, your calculations will tell you if it is cost-effective or not.
Bear in mind that children may have free admission or discounts at many attractions. It’s best to visit the official websites of the attractions to check for free offers or discounts.
2.4. Restaurants for children in Moscow
In Moscow you can find many McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC or Subway restaurants, but for tourists visiting Russia it’s much more interesting to try Russian fast food restaurants that serve typical local food (blini, grechka, pelmeni, borsch, sirniki, etc.)
These are a good alternative if you are looking for something cheap, if you have little time or if you are traveling with children, since it is food adapted to kids’ tastes and they have spaces for them to play.
Teremok is in the business of blinis (crêpes), while potatoes are the speciality of Kroshka Kartoshka. You can find them in central locations and in the city’s shopping malls, sometimes as a restaurant and sometimes as street kiosks.
2.5. Russian gifts or toys for children
There are two gifts that kids usually like: matryoshkas and Cheburashka.
First of all, matryoshkas, are undoubtedly one of the main icons of the country’s culture. These are traditional Russian hand-painted wooden dolls which usually represent Russian mothers decorated with flowers. At first sight they look completely normal, but what’s special about them is that the dolls are hollow, and inside they have another doll, and this doll, in turn, has another, and so on, up to a number that may range from 5 dolls to several dozens.
Children love to pull out the smaller dolls and then put them back in one at a time.
Matryoshkas are both toys and decoration. A highly appreciated Russian souvenir. There are also numerous matryoshkas that break with the traditional style, such as those of politicians, soccer players or famous movie personalities.
Secondly, the doll called Cheburashka, is a classic character from children’s literature and Russian cartoons, very popular in Russia, with a body similar to that of a little bear.
3. Places to go and enjoy with children in Moscow
Next, I’ll show you the places that your children will love, which I have classified by themes: zoos, museums, circuses, theaters, etc. Of course it will be impossible for you to visit them all, so choose those that best suit your children’s tastes.
On this map I’ve marked the location of them all to make it easy for you to locate them:
3.1. Zoos and Aquariums
The Moscow Zoo is one of the oldest in the world and dates back to 1864 when it opened with 268 animals. It was quite an experiment because of the severe weather conditions in Russia.
At present it has more than 5,000 animals and about 1,000 species of fauna. It occupies 21.5 hectares. The main renovation took place in 1990. In addition to being an exhibition space or an important tourist attraction, it is also a science and education center. It is the tenth most visited zoo in the world, with 3.8 million visitors per year.
The Pallas cat, commonly called manul, a mammal that lives in the steppes of Mongolia, Siberia and Tibet, is the zoo’s symbol.
In recent decades, a marine aquarium, an aviary, a creatures of the night exhibit and sea lions have been added to the zoo in an aquatic setting with ponds, waterfalls and streams.
You can spend the whole day there with your family and you will not be disappointed. The opening hours vary throughout the year. I suggest that you check the Internet for this. In summer, opening hours are much longer. Tickets: 500 rubles (adults). Sold online, but then you must change the electronic ticket at the ticket office. Be careful because admission is free for children and students up to age 17.
As its name suggests, the Moscow Oceanarium is home to 3,000 species of fish and other animals from all around the world from South America to Lake Baikal, of all colors, shapes and sizes, such as fascinating sharks and original stingrays. Water from the aquariums, two of which may be accessed through spectacular tunnels, covers a whopping 1 million cubic meters.
You also have the option of diving with divers for 45 minutes.
It is visited by 1 million people a year and has been in operation since 2011, so everything is very well preserved. If you get caught in a season of long queues, it suits you to buy tickets online on the website.
Opening hours: 10 am – 10 pm Monday to Friday: 500 rubles (250 children 5 to 14). Weekends and holidays: 600 rubles (300 for children 5 to 14). Additional 150 rubles if you want to take pictures. Option of a guided tour for this same price.
The Center for Oceanography and Marine Biology “Moskvarium” is the largest of its kind in Europe. It was inaugurated by Vladimir Putin in 2015.
It is located in the All-Russian Exhibition Center (or VDNKh, its Russian acronym), a large and very famous exhibition site and entertainment center.
In the Moskvarium aquarium you can see different shows with dolphins, whales and amazing water shows, as well as a host of marine species.
Opening hours: 10 am – 10 pm Admission: Adults 900-1000 rubles (Monday to Friday, weekends and public holidays). Children 3 – 12: 600-800 rubles (same days as for adults). Sold online.
3.2. Astronomy Museums
The Moscow Planetarium is a museum for discovering the wonderful world of stars and the progress of science, the history of astronomy and the conquest of cosmic space.
You can also do experiments in the Lunarium, see the oldest astronomical devices in the Urania Museum and touch the meteorites.
At the same time, you will be able to watch very interesting movies about the universe, the moon, the stars or the space world in general. There is a highly recommended film called “Flight over Moscow”, that’s only 20 minutes long but vivid, in which you can get a bird’s-eye view of the Russian capital. There are also other films for kids. Some of the films are also shown in English and prices vary from film to film.
In any case, the Planetarium will not disappoint you. You can check the schedule in advance and plan your own tour. The Planetarium has several pavilions, observatories and cafeterias.
Opening hours: 10 am – 9 pm (cafeterias open at 11 am). Closed on Tuesday.
The prices vary according to the area we visit. It’s normally between 450 rubles and 650 euros per area (about four, including the 4D cinema). The Small Star Hall is the most affordable area: between 100 and 200 rubles. The Big Observatory, which is separate, costs 250-350 rubles. Option to buy tickets online.
Before 2:00 pm and on weekdays it costs a bit less. There’s also a 20% discount if you buy a ticket for several areas. Free admission to the Lunarium for children under 6.
Museum of Cosmonautics
Dedicated to Soviet space exploration, the Museum of Cosmonautics was inaugurated in 1981. It is located at the base of the Monument to the Conquerors of Space, an obelisk 107 meters high that was inaugurated on October 4, 1964, coinciding with the seventh anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. It depicts a long column of smoke left by a rocket headed for space.
The museum displays space suits, space capsules, space age posters, etc. It was reopened in 2009 after three years of renovations. More information in this article: Moscow in Space: from the Museum of Cosmonautics to the Planetarium.
Opening hours: 10 am – 7 pm (Monday- Friday and Sunday); 10 am – 9 pm (Thursdays and Saturdays). Admission: 250 rubles with family discounts.
3.3. Science Museums
A museum dedicated to modern science and based on the premise that science is grounded in experiments, which is why the visit to Experimentanium is a unique experience, with more than 300 screens or interactive exhibits and a host of educational exhibits for the young and not so young.
There are expos or exhibitions on mechanics, optics, acoustics, electricity and magnetism, hydrodynamics and puzzles. For example, we will explore how musical instruments work, optical illusions, the laws of magnets and magnetic objects, some electrical and other aquatic phenomena, etc. A totally sensory experience.
They also show films and it has a cafeteria. It is not a spectacular attraction, but it is a very original space, geared towards the most curious kids and young people.
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 9.30 am – 7 pm Weekends and public holidays: 10 am – 8 pm Adults: 550-650 rubles. Children 4 to 16: 450-550 rubles. Under 3 free. Option of guided tours in English by booking at firstname.lastname@example.org
Orlov Museum of Paleontology
The Moscow Museum of Paleontology, dedicated to the Russian paleontologist Yuri Alexandrovich Orlov, is part of the Paleontological Institute of the prestigious Russian Academy of Sciences. It is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. The new building was opened in 1987.
It contains some 5,500 natural paleontological objects and exhibits that represent almost all types of fossil organisms, such as dinosaurs from Mongolia, therapsids from the Perm (region in Russia) and Precambrian fossils from Siberia, to name a few important examples. In its six rooms you can view the main stages of the evolution of life on Earth.
The museum has an educational aspect and very important workshops for teaching school children.
Opening hours: October to May: 10 am – 6 pm, Wednesday to Sunday. Admission: 400 rubles. School children and college students: 200 rubles. Admission free for children under 6.
Zoological Museum of M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University
If you want to complement your visits to the Moscow Petting Zoo with animals in the open generally, and those in the first-rate Museum of Paleontology, the Zoological Museum of Moscow University is a good place to see all the fauna in another habitat, since they are put on display either after being stuffed by taxidermists or preserved in other ways.
It was founded all the way back in 1791, as the Natural History Cabinet of the Moscow Imperial University.
In its collections you can view creatures from insects to mammals and, along the way, amphibians, reptiles or birds, etc. It also has a science terrarium that is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 pm
Opening hours: 10 am – 5 pm Closed on Monday. Thursday: 1:00 pm – to 9:00 pm. It is also closed on the last Tuesday of every month. Tickets: Adults 200 rubles. School children and college students: 50 rubles.
Darwin State Museum
The Darwin Museum dates back to 1907. It is very large and varied – the largest of its kind in Europe. It contains many stuffed animals. There are explanations of the theory of evolution and biodiversity. In addition, they show films and have their own exhibitions.
Opening hours: 10 am – 6 pm (except Mondays). The exhibition complex opens from 1:00 pm – 9 pm on Thursdays.
Admission: Museum (main exhibition and exhibition halls): 400 rubles for adults. Discount for school children and students: 150 rubles. Children under 7 free / Exhibition hall: Adults 150 rubles. Discount for school children and students: 50 rubles. Children under 7 free.
Great Moscow State Circus
It was founded in 1971 and can accommodate 3,400 people.
Admission: 600 – 5,000 rubles.
The Nikulin Circus also puts on a great show with the classic clowns, acrobats, tightrope walkers or animal tamers, all acclaimed.
It is one of the oldest in the country and can accommodate more than 2,000 people.
Tickets: 500 – 3,500 rubles as a general guide.
3.5. Theaters for children
S. Obraztsov State Puppet Theater
For puppet shows, the Moscow State Puppet Theater is the oldest in the city, dating back to 1931, and it is without doubt the one that’s most famous. Its founder was the famous Sergey Obraztsov.
It is a unique place that also has its own museum. Its shows are for all audiences.
Tickets: 400 – 1,500 rubles according to the show and location. Sold online.
Yuri Kuklachev Cat Theater
A very original concept in which the actors are mostly cats. In the Y. Kuclachev Cat Theater the most domesticated felines will surprise you with their incredible numbers and antics.
Tickets: 500 – 2,500 rubles. Sold online.
“Natalia Sats” Musical Theater for Children
What is also called the Natalia Sats Musical Theater has a very wide-ranging program that is also for adults. However, it specializes in operas, ballet and other dramatic productions for kids. So it’s a good way to introduce your children to the performing arts.
Tickets: 200 – 2,000 rubles generally. Many shows for about 500 rubles.
3.6. Shopping in Moscow with children
Central Kids Store on Lubyanka
The Central Kids Store on Lubyanka is a seven-storey shopping mall and entertainment center for children with family activities. It is located in a magnificent building, inside and out, dating back to 1953 and, please note, in 1957 it already had escalators. Its most significant renovation and adaptation to today’s purposes took place in 2015.
Very central and close to Red Square. Admission is free.
It currently houses a total of 97 stores, 12 entertainment areas or attractions and 24 restaurants, so we can have a good time with the kids and discover everything there is, or is to be had.
But beyond its commercial activity and our private shopping, the Central Kids Store on Lubyanka has one of the largest mechanical clocks in the world. It weighs all of five tons. It is made of steel, aluminum and titanium, apart from being covered in gold. This puts it on the same level as other world-class clocks of this kind, such as Big Ben (London), the Kremlin Chimes in Moscow, the Clock Tower (Prague) or the clock in the Chinese city of Ganzhou.
So it is interesting beyond being a shopping mall and includes a three-dimensional light show at 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00 pm. Other highlights include its beautiful atrium and lovely stained-glass windows based on fairy tales by the famous illustrator Ivan Bilibin and paintings by Aristarchus Lentulova.
Also specially worth mentioning is a rocket 18.5m tall, including its base, built with a total of 1.9 million Lego pieces, on the ground floor in the Hamleys store area. Quite a record.
And you can’t miss visiting the viewing platform in this shopping mall, on the sixth floor with an entrance from the Children’s Museum (with old toys basically). Entry to the platform costs 50 rubles and it has good views of the capital.
Opening hours: 10 am – 10 pm every day. The viewing platform is open until 9:30 pm
In the so-called Izmailovo Kremlin, apart from enjoying its wooden buildings, it is very colourful and there are many things to do, of course, with the kids. It is a very unique cultural and entertainment center.
I’ll point out a few activities:
- Shop in the market at a better price and with more typical products than in other stores.
- Visit the Museum of Spoiled Children, the Museum of Bread or the Museum of Dolls.
- Take a ride on the lake and a walk around the green area next to it.
Opening hours: 10 am – 8 pm Entry to Izmailovo is free, but there is a fee for the museums. They are small and therefore quite cheap.
3.7. Other spaces for children
Masterslavl would be like a City of Trades or Professions, which has government support and is geared towards children ages 2 to 14. Here the youngest children learn in different workshops, chosen by them, tasks and skills for different professions (up to 250). It is also like a mini-city with its own infrastructure since there are also streets, squares, monuments, a bank, electricity and post offices, a travel agency, etc.
Although it is more focused on Russian children, its original innovative concept makes it a good place to go if curiosity gets the better of us.
Opening hours: 10 am – 7 pm Affordable prices that vary according to age, whether it is working day or weekend, or the hours spent inside. More information here.
It is located in Moscow City (or the Moscow International Business Center), the spectacular area of new skyscrapers in the capital, specifically around the Evolution Tower, in the shopping arcade that connects the Vystavochnaya Metro Station and the Bagration Bridge.
You can complete the visit to Masterslavl by going up to one of the viewing platforms of Moscow City’s colossal buildings to enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the city and to be left speechless for a moment.
And that’s all for this guide to traveling to Moscow with kids. I hope you’ve found it useful
Have you visited Moscow with your kids? Would you add any other Moscow attraction to be visited with kids?
You can tell us about your experience below