Arbat – Top Things to Do in Moscow

Historical street of Moscow

The Old Arbat street is in our Top 10 list on a Moscow city tour.

It is a truly mysterious place. It’s rich in history but it’s also modern and vibrant.

With its countless cafes and gift shops huddling closely side by side, Arbat street always full of street artists musicians, and young people getting together in a flash mob or just having fun.
On its side-streets, plenty of lovely old churches are hidden waiting for a curious traveler to discover them.

Historical Old Town of Moscow - Arbat street

Old Arbat street. Photo by Yury Degtyarev

Let`s see what secrets good Old Arbat keeps:

  • Arbat is one of the oldest streets in Moscow. It was laid in 1493.
  • The word “Arbat” derives from the Arabic word “arbad”, which means “suburb”.
  • The street was almost completely destroyed during Napoleon’s occupation of Moscow in 1812 and had to be rebuilt.
  • It was the street where the most famous noble families used to live. By the way, Russian famous poet Alexander Pushkin rented a flat here and lived with his wife Natalie.
  • In the beginning of the 20th century Arbat became a busy shopping street.
  • After the October revolution of 1917, Bolsheviks confiscated private apartments from their owners and nationalized them.
  • In the early 1980s Arbat, which had been a busy street in terms of traffic, was closed off and made into the first pedestrian zone of the Soviet Union.
  • After the crash of USSR, the street was a gathering place for informal youth movements like hippies or punks.
  • The world famous Hard Rock Café is located in this street.
  • Arbat ends at Smolenskaya-Sennaya Square which is dominated by the imposing Ministry of Foreign Affairs, one of Moscow’s seven skyscrapers built in mid-20th century and known as the Seven Sisters.
  • There is also the New Arbat Street, a long avenue constructed in the late 1950s.
  • Arbar and Red Square are most popular walking areas for locals and tourists. However, on our Red Square tour we are always at a loss when it comes to lunch, as there are almost no decent, but affordable places to eat.  Whereas Arbat is all about good food experience.
Arbat street in Moscow in winter

Old Arbat. Photo by Elena Belukova

Most famous and popular street in Moscow - Arbat

Old Arbat street. Photo by

Things to do on Arbat:

  • Savor Russian cuisine in the cosy Varenichnaya cafe;
  • Ask a street artist to draw you;
  • Drop in some peculiar museums like the Museum of Corporal Punishment, Mirror Maze or the Museum of Optical Illusions;
  • Visit the memorial flat of Alexander Pushkin;
  • Try local Soviet-style ice cream.

Best Restaurants on Arbat:

  1. Prague Restaurant  on Arbat dates back to the XIX century, it has retained many ancient traditions and has become a legend. Beloved by many for its distinguished atmosphere, impeccable service and delicious dishes.

    Pragues offers ten halls with various cuisines, atmosphere and styles, including a nightclub and a bakery.

  2. Tajj Mahal is a restaurant with a luxurious interior in the Empire style. Here you will be able to taste delicious dishes from different cuisines – European classics are in harmony with the Arab and Indian dishes and is complemented by Japanese and Uzbek cuisines.

    The elegance of the interior is expressed in the Indian and Islamic architectural elements. Airy sofas and lush pillows, colorful rugs and delicate lighting fixtures  are all thought over to the smallest detail (which, incidentally, were imported from Eastern countries), so you can feel a completely different world, a world of lightness , mystery, romance and wealth of the East. Pleasant background music in the air creates a relaxed, laid-back vibe, combined with flavors of Eastern spices that de-stress and release your tension.

  3. The menu of Pochtmeister Restaurant features more than 10 varieties of beer from the best Russian and international manufacturers. Beer is served with snacks, hot meat and fish dishes, casseroles and salads. Interior is rustic and is ideal for those who want to feel local traditions: wooden furniture, warm colors and atmospheric lighting, a lot of pictures on the walls, brickwork and lights.
Monument after Famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin and his wife Natalya

Monument after Alexander Pushkin and his wife. Photo by Dmitry Devin

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