THE BEST WAY TO MOSOW
U.S. citizens must have a Russian visa.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 7 (country code for Russia), 495/499 (Moscow area code) or 812 (
WHERE TO STAY
Swissotel Krasnye Holmy, 52 Kosmodamianskaya Embankment, Building 6, Moscow; (495) 787-9800, http://www.swissotel.com/hotels/moscow/. This five-star hotel in the heart of Moscow offers panoramic city views, an indoor pool and a popular, award-winning bar. Doubles start at $440.
Peking Hotel, 5 Bolshaya Sadovaya St., Moscow; (495) 650-0900, http://www.hotelpeking.ru/en/. Located on a major central intersection, this four-star hotel features the newly opened Time Out bar with panoramic views and the best cocktails in town. Doubles start at $409, but rates vary.
Hotel Astoria, 39 Bolshaya Morskaya, St. Petersburg; (812) 494-5757, http://www.thehotelastoria.com. The hotel overlooking St. Isaac's Square houses Davidov Restaurant with live piano music and the Rotonda Lounge with its chocolate fountain and Russian blintzes during tea time. Doubles start at $293.
WHERE TO EAT
Schisliva, 9 Volkhonka St., Building 1, Moscow; (499) 393 3961.Two-story restaurant offers modern Russian cuisine in a sleek, cozy setting. Entrees $11-$21.
Mari Vanna, 10A Spiridonievskiy Lane, Moscow; (495) 650-6500. The restaurant, which is decorated as a cozy 1960s apartment complete with popular Soviet cartoons in the "living room" and several pets that call it home, serves Russian home cooking. Entrees $13-$39.
Vatrushka, 5 Bolshaya Nikitskaya St., Moscow; (495) 530-5511. First-class Russian cuisine created by one of the country's top chefs is served in a historic brick mansion. Entrees $12-20.
Stolle, 11 Nevskiy Prospekt and 32 Vosstaniya St., St. Petersburg; (812) 314-7021 and (812) 327-8284, respectively, http://www.stolle.ru/. Bakery famous for savory and sweet pies to eat inside or take out. Pies from $8, smaller pies $1-$2.
Russkaya Charka, 92 Fontanka, St. Petersburg; (812) 495-5558. Decorated with folkloric Russian objects, the restaurant specializes in traditional Russian cuisine and homemade vodka infusions. Entrees $12-$31.
Time Out Bar, 5 Bolshaya Sadovaya St., Moscow; (495) 229-0180, http://www.hotelpeking.ru/en/restaurants/TimeOutBar. Atmospheric bar on top of Peking Hotel features stunning city views, unique cocktails and a snack menu. Open 6 p.m.-6 a.m. Cocktails $10-$15.
Russian Vodka Room No. 1, 4 Konnogvardeyiski Blvd., St. Petersburg; (812) 570-6420, http://www.vodkaroom.ru. Traditional and Soviet-era Russian dishes and more than 200 kinds of vodka. Most entrees $13-$32.
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WHAT TO SEE
Gorky Park, 9 Krymskiy Val St., Moscow; (495) 995-0020. Open 365 days a year.
Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, 15 Volkhonka St., Moscow; (495) 637-1276, http://www.xxc.ru. Open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Sundays and 1-5 p.m. Mondays.
Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, 12 Volkhonka St., Moscow; (495) 609-9520, http://www.arts-museum.ru/?lang=en. Admission $13.
Patriarch's Pond, Moscow. Open 365 days a year.
Arbatskaia Lavitsa, 27 Arbat St., Moscow; (495) 690-56-89. The store offers a wide and well-priced selection of Russian souvenirs. Open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.
St. Petersburg River cruise, Nevskiy Prospekt and Fontanka River, St. Petersburg; (495) 225-6070, http://www.cck-ship.ru. The 1- to 1.5-hour canal cruise through the historical center of St. Petersburg is a great way to get a sense of the city. Boats leave throughout the day. Last tour starts at 8 p.m. Tickets $13.
Russian Museum, 4 Injenernaya St., St. Petersburg; (812) 595-42-48, http://www.rusmuseum.ru/eng/home/. Museum is closed Tuesdays; open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays-Sundays; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays; 1-9p.m. Thursdays. Admission $11 for adults, $5 for students and children 7-16.
Russian Vodka Museum, 4 Konnogvardeyski Blvd., St. Petersburg; (812) 570-6422, http://www.vodkamuseum.su/index.php?lang=en. Admission $5; with guided tour $10. Vodka sampling with three kinds and traditional Russian snacks $10.
Pushkin Apartment Museum, 12 Moyka River Embankment, St. Petersburg; (812) 571-38-01, http://www.museumpushkin.ru/eng/. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesdays-Mondays. Closed last Friday of the month. Admission $5.