Millions of tourists visit Moscow every year to see the Kremlin, Red Square, and Lenin's Mausoleum, the most popular attractions. But some come with a more original sight-seeing agenda.
Guides admit that they often get asked about military matters. Tourists are interested in stores that sell sailor's striped vests and other things. “Some foreigners ask where they can fire a Kalashnikov,” says Dasha, a guide and translator.
Tourists usually say little, says Katerina, founder
Besides the president’s office, she lets on that tourists (especially women from Asia) are interested in Russian cosmetics and fitness clubs that do not require membership. Visitors from India, Italy, Britain, and the U.S. are the most curious, in her opinion.
Russian cuisine is a must on any trip. “We treat tourists to cakes and sbiten (a honey-based drink mixed with water, spices, and jam). Everyone loves it, and sbiten is a real eye-opener,” says Katerina. But some have a particular food in mind. Daria Bulgakova, a Moscow tour guide, says that foreign tourists often ask where to buy “Doctor's sausage”— a foodstuff that appeared in the late 1930s supposedly for those whose health had been “damaged by the Civil War and the lawlessness of the tsarist regime," hence the name “doctor” (Russian: doktorskaya).
“Tourists mainly ask where they can eat and buy souvenirs,” says Dasha. “But a couple of times I’ve been asked about ‘typical Russian bars where men drink vodka and fight.’”
Vodka is a recurring theme. Tour organizer Anna Bulgakova says that some tourist FAQs are where to buy vodka after
Not everyone goes on an excursion to brush up on history. Yan Kondrusyevich used to work at the Kolomenskoye Museum Reserve, where he was sometimes quizzed by DIY-minded tourists. “The private studies of the tsars were decorated with natural leather wallpaper, and tourists asked me about price and where to buy it to make their home feel like a mansion,” he recalls. “A recent weird question was: What could I buy on my salary if I went back in time?”
If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.
to our newsletter!
Get the week's best stories straight to your inbox