- State Hermitage Museum (St. Petersburg; 1 Palace Sq.; tel. 812/710-9079): The museum holds one of the world's best and biggest collections of fine art, from Egyptian carvings to Rembrandt to Impressionist masterpieces. A controversial hall holds so-called trophy art seized from the Germans after World War II. The museum is located in the Winter Palace, stormed in 1917 by revolutionaries arresting Czar Nicholas II's government.
- Armory Museum (Moscow; Kremlin; tel. 495/921-4720): Fabergé eggs, coronation robes, royal carriages, and jewels have filled what was once the czarist weapons storehouse. The Armory, the Kremlin's main museum, also holds an impressive collection of armor and weaponry. Admission is limited to four sessions per day.
- Tretyakov Gallery (Moscow; 10 Lavrushinsky Pereulok; tel. 495/230-7788): The largest collection of Russian art, this museum is treasured by locals but underappreciated by visitors. Chagall and Kandinsky share space with penetrating medieval icons. Vrubel's Style Moderne and Levitan's smoky landscapes are pleasant discoveries.
- Peter and Paul Fortress (St. Petersburg; Hare's Island or Zaichy Ostrov): This island fort holds the cathedral where the remains of Russia's last royal family are interred, as well as a former mint and several small galleries. It was here that Peter the Great started his project to build this northern capital.
- Museum of Cosmonautics (Moscow; 111 Prospekt Mira; tel. 495/683-7914): Housed beneath a sculpture of a rocket shooting off into the cosmos, this museum traces the formidable industry that put the Soviets head-to-head with the United States in the Space Race. Exhibits include moon rocks and the evolution of spacesuits.
- Literary Museums: Moscow and St. Petersburg have wonderful small museums devoted to Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Bulgakov, Gorky, and scores of other Russian writers, though signage is often in Russian only.
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.