Moscow tours and excursions
One of the best ways to see Moscow is to take a boat trip on the Moskva River. Sightseeing cruises run by the Capital Shipping Company leave half hourly from a number of landing points in the city centre and trips last around 90 minutes, passing such Moscow icons as the Kremlin and the Moscow State University. Tickets can be booked through hotels or from the boat company. For longer cruises, including the trip to St Petersburg, contact Visit Russia.Tel: +7 800 555 5379
Travel agencies and hotels can arrange private guides to lead you through Moscow on foot, and these individuals are more reliable than the freelance guides who offer their services in Red Square, some of whom speak only limited English. For something a little more imaginative, MoscowMania is a team of energetic history scholars who offer a wide range of informal city walking tours.Tel: +7 903 713 0583.
Around 20km (12 miles) south of Moscow, Peredelkino was a favourite retreat for Moscow's great writers and intellectuals, who maintained dacha (second homes) in the surrounding pine forests. Boris Pasternak, the poet and author of Dr. Zhivago, lived here from 1953 and is buried in the graveyard next to the village church. Pasternak's dacha is open to the public as a museum and contains his personal belongings and a large library. The surroundings are perfect for summer walks or cross-country skiing in the winter.
One of Russia's most magical sights is the Trinity Lavra of St Sergius in Sergiyev Posad (formerly Zagorsk). Founded in the 1340s by St Sergius of Radonezh, this is the most important monastic complex in Russia and the spiritual heart of the Russian Orthodox Church. Resembling a castle, it's one of only four Russian Orthodox Churches to have the honorific 'Lavra', an Orthodox term reserved for revered retreats for hermits. It's open daily 0500-2100 and admission is free. Sergiyev Posad is part of the Golden Ring, a group of ancient Russian towns northeast of Moscow that are practically open-air museums.Tel: +8 496 540 5334.