7 urban observation decks in Russia that offer the best views

Want to sweep your date off her feet, or just be inspired by spectacular city vistas? If you’re willing to climb the tallest skyscraper in Europe, and even an ancient bell tower, then you’ll have the chance to enjoy Russia's finest scenery.

1. Moscow City (Moscow)

This is Europe’s highest observation platform, with a panoramic view of the entire city. Located on the 89th floor of the Federation Tower of the Moskva City district, it boasts a spacious deck with giant glass walls. Chances are that you’ll be able to find the building where you’re staying in the city, regardless of how far away it is.

The deck has a restaurant, souvenir shop, small ice cream factory, and a miniature theater that runs a short animated presentation about Moscow.

Visit in the morning and save money; a daytime ticket costs 1,200 rubles.

How to get there?

Take the metro to Delovoy Tsentr station. Buy tickets here or at a box office on the second floor of the Afimall shopping center that is accessible from the metro station. With tickets in hand, find the Federation Tower and ask staff to escort you to the observation deck in what will probably be the fastest elevator you’ve ever taken.

2. St. Isaac’s Cathedral (St. Petersburg)

When visiting Palace Square make sure you find an extra hour to visit this iconic cathedral, whose roof has the best view on the former imperial capital. Tickets for the observation deck can be purchased at the cathedral’s entrance, and prices are considerably less than in Moscow.

How to get there?

The St. Isaacs is one of the city’s major sites, located within a short walk from Palace Square. From there, walk down Admiralteyskiy Avenue until you reach the cathedral on your left.

3. Observation Tower on Akhun Mountain (Sochi)

This is only a three-story tower but it has the best view since it’s on a mountaintop. Visitors will be able to see majestic mountains, the city of Adler, the Olympic Park, the Black Sea and its shore, as well as mountains in neighboring Abkhazia. And for the best news -- all this costs a symbolic fee of just $1.5 (100 rubles). There is also free parking, and locals sell tea and snacks.

How to get there?

The safest way is by taxi: a one-way ride from the center of Sochi is in the range of $11-$15 (700-1000 rubles).

4. Mamayev Kurgan (Volgograd)

In the absence of tall city towers, this memorial complex on a hill provides the best view of the city and the Volga River. Contrary to popular belief, there is no observation deck inside “The Motherland Calls” monument. Yet a great view opens from the hilltop where the monument stands.

How to get there?

Mamayev Kurgan is the city’s major tourist attraction and is conveniently located next to the Volgograd Arena Stadium.

5. Observation deck on Sedov Street (Rostov-on-Don)

While the riverbank is not very high, this deck is a cozy retreat fancied by youth and pedestrians. Surrounded by trees, it offers a great view of the Don River.

How to get there?

Located across the river from Rostov-Arena stadium, a walk across the Voroshilovskiy Bridge from the stadium takes 30 minutes by foot and just four minutes by car. From the Voroshilovskiy Bridge turn right on to Sedova Street and you’ll find the deck on your right.

6. The bell tower of the Cathedral of the Epiphany (Kazan)

Red, thin, and tall, it’s impossible to pass this bell tower without noticing its striking features. While one of the tallest buildings in the city center, the view is not the only attraction. Strolling along its ancient passages made of red brick makes for an unforgettable adventure in its own right.

How to get there?

Start from Tukaya Square metro station and walk down Bauman Street, which takes only three minutes.

7. Vysotskiy Skyscraper (Yekaterinburg)

This is one of the most obvious buildings in Yekaterinburg. The blue skyscraper overlooks the city center and can be seen from anywhere. The venue is accessible day and night, with entry fees rising up to $10 (600 rubles) at night. The marvelous view on the Iset River is worth every penny.

How to get there?

The tower is located on the crossroad of Malysheva Street and Karl Libknekht Street, and is within walking distance from the Yekaterinburg Zoo and the History Museum of Medicine.

See where to find Moscow’s best skating runs here.

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