Regardless of whether you’re a family of football fans heading to Moscow for the World Cup or you’re just planning a quick trip, there’s plenty to keep young children distracted and teens entertained in Russia’s capital city.
Visit an art gallery
Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, designed by Rem Koolhaas
There’s something of a gentle competition among Moscow’s art institutions to provide the most inspiring and engaging activity programmes for aspiring Kandinskys and Goncharovas. A popular modern art centre, the Garage Museum of Contemporary Art also takes parents into account, with an onsite cafe and a bookshop to explore while children are rolling up their sleeves.
Other options include classes and activities for kids at the Pushkin Museum of Fine Art, the Museum of Decorative & Folk Art and the Flacon Modern Arts Centre. There’s also the Museum of Optical Illusions, which includes Minion-themed exhibits that play with perspective and provide endless distractions. Continue the lightshow by checking into the nearby Hostel Kremlin Lights and enjoy a waterfront view of Moscow’s illuminated skyline.
Burn off some energy
Zaryadye, Moscow's new landscape and architectural park
It’s common for Moscow’s large parks to offer bike and boat hire, and partly thanks to World Cup fever, there’s usually a kick-about to join. Gorky Park has traditionally been one of the most popular spots for young local families to burn off some energy.
Recently, however, the newly developed Zaryadye Park has captured Moscowite hearts. This 14-billion-ruble green space project includes a year-around amphitheatre, four different climate zones, an unmeltable glacier and an Arctic cave. Get a room with a view of the park by checking in to the Hostel Artist on Kitay-Gorod.
Take in a play
The legendary A-Ya Theatre Company
The Natalya Sats Musical Theater (previously known as the Children’s Music and Drama Theatre) is based in the heart of Moscow city centre and, for over 25 years, has provided a home to the legendary A-Ya Theatre Company. The A-Ya program caters to all ages and tastes: from family-friendly productions that even toddlers will enjoy, through to experimental theatre designed to engage and enthuse teens with a love of the stage.
Before each performance the actors welcome their audience members in the theatre lobby and the company organises an annual festival for young performers: ‘The Miracle is Close’. Stage-struck families are recommended to book an apartment in the nearby Academic district, many of which offer big family rooms.
Conduct an experiment
Moscow Planetarium is one of the world's largest and oldest planetariums
The city of Moscow continues to love and revere scientific exploration, with many cultural institutions devoted to encouraging young scientists. At the Experimentanium, for example, children can wander through the mirrored labyrinth, make some noise in the Acoustics Hall and learn how to sit on nails without getting hurt.
Other scientific pursuits popular with families include the Mars-Terraforming exhibit at the All-Russian Exhibition Center, star-gazing at the Moscow Planetarium and, of course, the Space Museum. Stay close to the Planetarium (and reduce the journey home for tired stargazers) by staying at the homely Guest House on Sadovoi-Kudrinskoy.
Go for a swim
The Kva-Kva water park
During the summer, Moscow’s open-air swimming pools – Luijniki and Olympiysky – are open to the public, and in the colder months, the city is also flush with indoor water parks. Four of the biggest – Aquapark Karibiya, Aquapark Fantasy, Kva-Kva Park and Moreon feature rides for children of all ages and offer spa areas for parents in need of some rest and relaxation. You can also opt for a hotel with a pool (and an enviable view of the city) by staying at the Sky Apartments Moscow.