A large proportion of Moscow's tourists come primarily for its performing arts or, increasingly, its nightlife. Its reputation in both departments is well-deserved. The Bolshoi Theater is merely the most famous of the city's top-quality ballet and opera houses, which survived the cash and identity crisis of the 1990s to emerge livelier and just as talent-packed as before. Prices are no longer rock-bottom bargains, but most performances will still cost less than in the West, especially classical music concerts.

The club scene, meanwhile, raced out of the restrictive Soviet era to make Moscow one of the most cutting-edge party spots in Europe, complete with sex, drugs, and enough over-the-top behavior to impress even the most jaded clubbers. Not so long ago, Russia's bar scene was limited to hotel lobbies and seedy, standing-only beer halls frequented largely by construction workers. Today's gamut of bars is as broad as that of any European capital, with cool cocktail bars, kitschy Soviet theme bars, billiards bars, cigar bars, sports bars, and more. The booming Russian beer industry has helped, with several brewery-run bars around town.

Less obvious but no less impressive is Moscow's jazz scene, the legacy of devoted musicians who coveted banned LPs in the Soviet era and have taken Russian jazz to a nuanced, world-weary level.


The most thorough English-language listings for theater, music, and movies are found in the Friday edition of The Moscow Times (www.themoscowtimes.com), the Russia Journal (www.therussiajournal.com), and the monthly magazine Passport (www.passportmagazine.ru). The intentionally offensive weekly eXile newspaper (www.exiledonline.com) is a guide to hedonistic Moscow as well as the premier English-language source of bar and club advice.

Up All Night -- Moscow is a city that doesn't sleep, so if you can't sleep because of a switch in time zones, don't despair. Whether it's a midnight burger, a 3am tanning session, 5am sushi, or home electronics at 6am that you crave, Moscow's many all-day, all-night establishments are ready to accommodate you. Venturing out alone in the dark is unwise, but if you have a traveling companion you should be fine. If there's nothing near your hotel, call a cab -- all major taxi companies work 24 hours. Look for signs on establishments saying 24 or KRUGLOSUTOCHNO (round-the-clock).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.