Moscow boasts many magnificent museums, including the Kremlin and palaces. For some of them, the queues are simply endless. However, what if we tell you that the city has a museum with no queues and a price cheaper than € 1? Can you believe it? Probably not, but you still have to. We are talking about one of the most modernized underground transport networks – the Moscow metro. In many cities, the metro looks rather untidy and sometimes frankly dirty. But not here.
Here you might feel as if visiting a historical museum, art gallery or even a palace. Of course, not all metro stations are equally magnificent – some of them, alas, don't bathe in luxury. That is why we decided to draw up a detailed route for you during which you will see only the finest stations. The full tour takes about two to three hours, and we advise you to go for it while avoiding the rush hours of the morning (from 7 - 9.30h) and the evening (from 16 - 20h). At the very end of the tour, there's an interesting surprise waiting for you. Welcome to the Moscow metro!
We enter the majestic metro of Moscow from Bogoyavlenskiy Pereulok, a sidestreet of the beautiful pedestrian Nikolskaya Street in the very centre of the city. This is one of the two direct entrances to Ploshchad Revolyutsii metro station. Stepping into the impressive entrance hall, you will see several escalators leading you deep under the ground. Most people will already be impressed by the length of the escalators here – in this case, you will dive 34 meters under the surface.
All across this platform from 1938, you will find bronze sculptures of Soviet revolutionists, like soldiers, peasants and sailors. The most legendary are statues of guards standing with dogs with shiny noses. The shiny nose follows from a superstition that rubbing the nose of these dogs brings you luck. Do you know how many of such lucky dogs you can find at Ploshchad Revolyutsii metro station? Each of the four rows of sculptures contains one lucky dog, so four is the right answer!
After obtaining the luck needed, dive even deeper into the Moscow subway by taking the stairs for the dark green line 2.
A beautifully decorated passageway may seem like you've just found a new underground branch of the Louvre Museum, but no, this is just the introduction of the metro station Teatralnaya. Be sure to make a right at the junction, heading for the metro in the direction of Khovrino.
Teatralnaya opened in 1938 at a depth of 35 meters. True to its name and location – near Bolshoi Theatre – the station reproduces the atmosphere of a theatre hall. The central arches here are decorated with porcelain theatre actors in national clothing, but also both tracks have been decorated elegantly. The station has a stately but warm appearance, with dimmed lights.
If you want to see more of this, then head straight for Bolshoi Theatre. Otherwise, let's continue our metro tour. Taking the metro in the direction of Khovrino will bring you in two stops at our next station, Mayakovskaya.
Mayakovskaya is an amazingly smooth and futuristic station, especially when you realize that it dates from 1938. It is wide, open and bright, named after the Soviet poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. The columns and arches of this station are covered in stainless steel, whilst its platform is illuminated by oval niches each containing sixteen lamps. The project of Mayakovskaya station won the Grand Prix at the World Fair of New York in 1938. It is still considered one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world.
Now continue for one stop on the dark green line 2 towards Khovrino, and disembark at metro station Belorusskaya.
Be careful in the hall of this station, as Lenin is overseeing it all from the back of the hall – a gorgeous hall, but actually not exceptional for Moscow. The main treat here can be found on the other platform of Belorusskaya, the one of the brown line number 5. The brown line encircles central Moscow and can be extremely crowded – but it is also this line where you will find some of the most beautiful stations. Head to the brown line 5 by ascending the stairs.
The snow-white ceiling of Belorusskaya, decorated with fine ornaments strikes you immediately. The design theme of this station from 1952 is dedicated to the heyday of the economy and culture of Soviet Belarus. This is expressed on twelve mosaic panels, which give you a look into the ordinary life of the Belarusian people at the time.
Once one of the panels here depicted toilers embroidering a portrait of Stalin. In the time of Khrushchev this portrait of Stalin was removed, to make room for a mosaic dedicated to the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.
For our next stop, we are going to take a ride on this brown circle line. Make sure you take the metro in the direction of Kievskaya, which is two stops away.
Kievskaya is certainly among the most beautiful metro stations of Moscow. Located next to Kievskaya Railway Station, it is always busy here during the day.
The station opened in 1954, at a depth of 53 meters. Its 18 pylons are decorated with mosaic panels of smalt and precious stones, which celebrated the unity of the Russian and Ukrainian people. The inter-pylon passages are finished with stucco, which is typical for Ukrainian architecture of the 17th century. Despite the De-Stalinization and the demolition of all images related to Stalin, Kievskaya station has still preserved one. Can you find it?
An interesting detail can be seen on the panel titled "The struggle for Soviet power in Ukraine". Here you can see a partisan who uses a portable telephone, which was produced in Germany early 20th century. Some passengers are convinced to see a mobile phone and a laptop though – and we can see their point.
Besides this gorgeous platform on the brown circle line, Kievskaya has another beautiful platform on the blue line number 3, which is slightly brighter but smaller and cosier. Get there by going up the stairs towards the blue line 3, but remember that for continuing our tour you should return to Kievskaya on the brown line 5!
To continue our tour, make sure you head for Taganskaya on the brown line 5. Try to get yourself a seat, as our next ride will be five stops on the brown circle line.
What catches the attention at Taganskaya, are the large white panels on a blue background. These round medallions depict fighters of the Red Army, complete with the insignia of their troops. Here you will see sailors, tankmen, artillerymen, pilots, cavalrymen, infantry soldiers and partisans.
Taganskaya opened in 1950, initially with a sculptural group depicting Stalin surrounded by workers and children on the Red Square. After the De-Stalinization this composition was replaced by a panel with a portrait of Lenin. But also his portrait has not survived to this day, being removed to make way for a passage to another metro line.
For our next station, we need to head for the yellow line 8, which can be reached by taking the stairs halfway the platform towards Marksistskaya.
Make sure to take the train on the track on the left-hand side, towards Tretyakovskaya. After only one stop on the yellow line, we will reach its terminal station – which is not so pretty. Follow the signs for Novokuznetskaya, by going up the escalators on the left. Novokuznetskaya is on the dark green line 2.
Rich white ceiling decorations bordered by brown ribbons depicting flags and famous generals welcome you at Novokuznetskaya. In the centre of the platform, you will find a row of six free-standing lanterns, illuminating the mosaics on the ceiling which focus on achievements of the USSR on the fields of construction and engineering.
Our next station is Komsomolskaya, one of the most beautiful metro stations in the world. So get ready! Start by taking the dark green line 2 towards Teatralnaya, which is only one stop away.
At Teatralnaya we need to switch lines towards the red line number 1 – the oldest metro line of Moscow, officially opened on 15 May 1935. Follow the signs up the stairs halfway the platform, in the direction of Okhotny Ryad on line 1.
From Okhotny Ryad, take the right-hand track to catch the metro to Komsomolskaya, which is four stops away.
Upon leaving the train you'll find yourself in a remarkable metro station. Quite beautiful, but probably not one of the most beautiful stations in the world. For this, we need to switch lines to the brown line 5. Find line 5 by heading left after leaving the train, towards the staircase at the end of the platform. Make a right directly after the stairs, following the signs for Komsomolskaya on the brown line number 5.
The size and greatness of Komsomolskaya with its large chandeliers and moldings can be overwhelming. Komsomolskaya opened in 1952, at a depth of 37 meters. The station is dedicated to the triumph of the Soviet people in World War II. The ceiling is covered with 8 puzzles, showing princes and generals who have all fought for independence since the Middle Ages.
We are now going to take another ride on this circle line, the brown line 5. Make sure you head for the right train, which reaches Novoslobodskaya in two stops. Note that if you take the train in the other direction, Novoslobodskaya will be 10 stops away!
Leaving the metro after two stops feels a bit like entering a church building. Amidst the relative darkness of the station, you will notice that most of the light comes from large stained glass panels. These colourful panels depict scenes of peaceful life in the USSR. Ornaments of copper and matching chandeliers complete the solemn setting.
Now head for the grey line number 9 and go up the stairs to Mendeleevskaya. At Mendeleevskaya, make sure to take the metro to Tsvetnoy Boulevard, which is only one stop away. Tsvetnoy Boulevard station is not particularly interesting, but from here we go up the stairs towards Trubnaya station, which is on the light green line number 10.
Trubnaya is one of the nicer modern stations, built in 2007. It can be nice comparing this station with the older stations we have seen so far.
The modern platform of Trubnaya at a depth of 60 meters attracts the attention with vintage-looking boulevard lanterns and colourful glass windows and panels made by the famous Russian artist Zurab Tsereteli. These panels depict Russia's oldest cities like Vladimir, Novgorod and Yaroslavl – which other cities can you identify?
This is how the city of Moscow builds its metro stations nowadays. In our opinion, Trubnaya cannot compete with the pre-war Soviet stations. What do you think?
Now embark here on line 10 to head for Dostoevskaya, our last modern station of this tour, and only one stop away.
Dostoevskaya opened in 2010 at a depth of 60 meters, as a remarkable black-and-white station. The walls of the hall are decorated with scenes from the most famous works of the great writer Fyodor Dostoevsky – scenes from Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, The Brothers Karamazov and Demons. The design of the station reminds a bit of the atmosphere of Saint Petersburg like he created in his books.
Our next station is Elektrozavodskaya, named after a nearby electrical plant. Get there by taking the light green line 10 (back) to Chkalovskaya, which is three stops away.
From Chkalovskaya we need to connect with the blue line 3, to reach the station Kurskaya. Kurskaya is one of the large railway stations surrounding Moscow, with long-distance trains to Ukraine, the Black Sea coast and cities in the North Caucasus.
From Kurskaya metro station, take the track on the right-hand side with trains departing to Elektrozavodskaya, just two stops away.
Elektrozavodskaya is officially our final stop. Located outside the brown circle line, this station is often missed by travelers, but certainly worth a visit.
Elektrozavodskaya opened in 1944 at a depth of 31.5 meters. The theme of the main hall is dedicated to the work of the Soviet people during WWII. By far the most striking detail of the station is its ceiling, in which more than 300 lamps are mounted.
Our metro tour showing some of the world's most beautiful metro stations ended here, amidst the lights of Elektrozavodskaya. To get back to our starting point, simply take the blue line back to Ploshchad Revolyutsii, only three stops away.
But there's more, of course, for those who cannot get enough of the Moscow metro! Especially for you, we present a hidden gem which reminds about Soviet times. It is a little café, exclusively located right on the platform! It goes by the name of Buffet No. 11, and so far has only rarely welcomed visitors. To get there from Elektrozavodskaya, take the blue line (back) to Arbatskaya, which is four stops away.
Although the station we are looking for is also called Arbatskaya, we haven't arrived yet, as we are looking for Arbatskaya on the light blue line 4. Go up the escalator on the left side, when leaving the train. Make a left after the escalator, to follow the signs for the station Aleksandrovsky Sad, on the light blue line 4. Find the platform immediately right after some stairs. We only need to go one stop on this light blue line, to reach the Arbatskaya station we are looking for.
Head left after leaving the train to find our treasure, Buffet No. 11. This is a somewhat hidden place, particularly popular with Moscow metro workers. Among the typical things being sold here, are entire eggs, pickles, pots with tomatoes and packs of milk. What we recommend to take here is Kvas, a legendary Soviet soft drink. For less than € 1 you'll have a true Soviet experience. What does it taste like? Simply try! Please note that Buffet No. 11 is open only on weekdays, from 6.30h till 16h.
Having finished your journey through the majestic metro of Moscow, you will end up in one of the most famous streets of the capital – Arbat Street. This is a magnificent pedestrian street with beautiful historical buildings and always full of life and people. Here you can drink a glass of wine, sit down for some food after your tour, or you can just stroll through the life of Moscow and enjoy the street musicians and painters here.
If you are still full of energy and ready to explore Moscow further, we advise you to check our Streetwise map. By checking the Streetwise map, you are sure to know about your nicest options in any part of Moscow: find the nice shopping streets, the coolest bar streets, or the greatest sights and the most beautiful metro stations of Moscow. Have a walk on Gogolevsky Boulevard towards the Moskva River, or head for Alexandrovsky Garden and the Red Square. There is plenty to do in Moscow, day and night!
The Moscow Metro is one of the busiest metro systems in the world, carrying over 8 million people daily. It owes its existence to the Soviet government, which, by the middle of the 1920s, was determined to solve the problem of traffic jams in Moscow.
Our article When Soviets build a metro fills you in on how the Soviet people have managed to build one of the most impressive metro systems in the world, and all the challenges they faced.