The good news is that Moscow is no longer the most expensive city in the world; the bad news is that it’s still pretty darn close. However, budget-minded travellers can find a few bargains if they know where to look.

Art Centres

Most of Moscow’s postindustrial art centres – such as Winzavod – are free to enter (though you may pay for individual galleries or special exhibits). Spend an afternoon browsing the galleries and admiring the architectural repurposing.

Churches

Many of Moscow’s churches contain amazing iconography and eye-popping frescoes. The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in particular feels more like a museum than a church. By the way, some churches are museums, such as St Basil's Cathedral, which is not free.

Estates

At Kolomenskoe Museum-Reserve and Tsaritsyno Palace you pay to enter the museums, but seeing the beautiful grounds and churches costs nothing.

Lenin’s Tomb

Don’t pay money, just pay your respects at Lenin's Mausoleum. This is one of Moscow’s most wacky and wonderful (and free) things to do.

Moscow Metro

So it’s not quite free. But it only costs R55 to ride the metro, which is an amazing amalgamation of art museum, history lesson and mass-transit system.

Free Museums

All state museums are free on the third Sunday of the month. Some private museums are always free:

  • Art4.ru

Part gallery and part museum, this private museum offers a chance to check out some contemporary Russian art for free (unless you choose to buy something).

  • Museum of the Russian Icon

This is the private collection of a Russian businessman, who has put it on display – for free – in hopes of reigniting interest in this under-appreciated art form.

  • Sakharov Centre

Free political and artistic exhibits, as well as information about the life and times of the dissident.

Free Tours

  • Moscow Free Tour

This highly rated outfit offers a free daily walking tour, led by knowledgeable and extremely enthusiastic guides.

  • Moscow Greeter

Volunteer 'greeters' – local residents – show visitors their favourite places in the city. Donations accepted.

Parks

Maybe it's no surprise that a park does not charge an admission fee: the surprise is what you'll find inside. Gorky Park has an open-air cinema and an observatory, both of which are free of charge. Hermitage Gardens has yoga classes and dance lessons – all free. Zaryadye Pavilion was also free during the construction of the park, although that may change once the park is open.

Wi-Fi

At hotels, restaurants and cafes all over Moscow, wi-fi is almost always free. There's also free wi-fi on the metro and at hotspots around the city.

VDNKh

Replete with fountains and socialist-realist splendour, this vast complex is a curious vestige of communist paradise gone awry. Capitalism has taken hold here, but it's still free to enter.

Izmaylovsky Market

Perhaps it goes without saying that you don't have to pay to shop, but this souvenir market is still a fun, practically free way to spend a day.