How expensive is Moscow?
I’m sure many of you are interested in coming to Moscow but are wondering: “So how expensive is Moscow really??”
In this post I’ll cover all you need to know about how much money you really need in Moscow for:
- Getting a visa
- Accomodation in Moscow: hotels, hostels and Airbnb
- Getting around by taxi
- Getting around by metro
- Eating out
- Hitting the famous Moscow nightlife
- Acquiring services of the world’s oldest profession
- How much money do I need in Moscow as a traveler
- How much money do I need to live in Moscow
You will know how much money you need in Moscow, no matter whether you are a traveler or coming to live in Moscow.
How much does it cost to get a visa to Russia
The cost of your visa will depend on the type, duration and days it takes for the visa to be processed.
For my native Germany for example, the cheapest tourist visa comes at 79€ (~100$), or 89€ (~110$) if you include the invitation letter that the application center offers. It is valid for 30 days and takes up to 10 working days processment.
Business visa can be from 89€ (~110$) (no invitation included, long processment) to 269€ (~325$) (with invitation and 1 day delivery).
I don't know whether visa centers in other countries offer the same kind of service to include the invitation letter. A ballpark number for your visa regardless of your location will be somewhere around 100€ (~120$) for the application + 50€ (~60$) for the invitation letter.
You can find out more about how to get a visa to Russia here.
How much is a hotel in Moscow (or a hostel, Airbnb)
Hostels are the basic option for the real budget traveler. Hostels in Moscow are not comparable to European hostels with loads of people and parties and all that jazz. Most of the times they’re more like apartments that can host a few people. However, hostels are really cheap and you can find good ones for less than 20$.
A more convenient option is Airbnb. Assuming you want to get a whole flat to yourself, a good, clean and well-rated apartment in the center can be found for 70$. If you’re a bit flexible on location and quality of the apartment, you can find decent places still within the first circle of the center for even less.
In terms of hotels your budget is the limit. Decent hotels with 2 to 3 stars and good ratings start at 50$ in a central location. A good business option will be 100$ a night, if you want to really make it rain, you can spend up to 500$ and more in one of the luxurious 5 star hotels in the center of Moscow.
How much is a taxi in Moscow
Transportation is really cheap in Moscow, regardless of whether you use a taxi or the metro.
I much advise to use taxis because they are convenient and cheap. The main apps in use are Uber, Gett and Yandex Taxi. Within the center you will rarely pay more than 5$ and 10$ would already be a 30-45min ride with the cheapest option.
If you want better service and a more comfortable car instead of hoping to get from point A to point B safely, then you should use business class taxis a la Uber Black. These will be about three times more expensive than cheap Hyundais and Kias but you’ll be riding in a BMW or Mercedes for the price of a normal cab in a Western city.
You can find more info about that in my post about taxis in Moscow.
How much is the metro in Moscow
The metro is the even cheaper and still convenient and reliable option to get around the city quickly.
The best tickets for tourists are those that are calculated by rides. For example:
- 1 ride: 55 Rubles
- 2 rides: 110 Rubles
- 20 rides: 720 Rubles
- 40 rides: 1440 Rubles
- 60 rides: 1700 Rubles
As you can see, the more rides you have, the cheaper a single one becomes. You can share a ticket between several people, so if you're in a group you just buy a multi-ride ticket and hand it over to the next person.
You are probably already on to the fact how dirt cheap taking the metro in Moscow is. There's no shenanigans like zones, so once you're past the turnstyles you can ride the metro all the damn day until you exit at a station (exit, not change!).
Check out the best metro stations with nightlife. If you chose to save some money on transportation in Moscow, it’s time to spend it somewhere else...
How much is a meal in Moscow
If you want to get dinner (or lunch or breakfast) in Moscow, you can do it really cheap or scandalously expensive.
Fast food chains are cheap. Whether it’s the old hangover favorites (McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, KFC) or Russian fast food chains (Teremok, Kroshka Kartoshka): you’ll be hard-pressed to spend more than 600 Rubles (10$). A cheeseburger is less than a dollar for example.
The next option are canteen-style places that can be very basic (Mu-mu) or a bit more elaborate (Grabli). A good meal will be 600-900 Rubles (10-15$), depending on how hungry you are).
A lot of restaurants offer what Russians call “business lunch". It’s essentially a combo of a soup, a main and a salad with a small drink. These are never more than 5$ and can be very filling, again depending on where you go.
In restaurants you have chains and actual unique restaurants. At chains like Chaihona, John Joli and countless others expect to pay 1000 Rubles (15-20$) for a full meal, give or take a few Rubles. Most of those are decent but portions in Moscow are not everywhere generous.
If you go to the most expensive restaurants in Moscow a la White Rabbit, it’ll be 70-100$+ for one, depending on what you’re getting. Somewhere in between those you have steakhouses or restaurants with ethnic cuisine like Georgian for example.
Nightclub prices in Moscow
Moscownightguide is about nightlife in Moscow so this point should’ve come first!
Anyways, with nightlife you have pretty much the same options like with restaurants. The basic “rough&real” clubs are really cheap. The beer price in these Moscow clubs is usually about 2$ for example. Spending more than 1500-2000 Rubles (around 30$) at those will mean you had a very good time.
For the popular mainstream places you can plan on spending 500-800 Rubles (8-13$) on a cocktail, depending on the venue and your drink of choice. In the most expensive clubs in Moscow drinks will be 900 Rubles upwards (from 15$).
A couple of clubs do a cover, often clubs with electronic music. Usually that’s gonna be 1000-1500 Rubles (~20$). Sometimes clubs ask you for a minimum spend at the door and you have to get a card. That can be anywhere between 1500 and 2500 Rubles per person (25-40$).
Bottle service is actually a much better deal in comparison to that and you can get table reservations from as little as 3000 Rubles (50$) per person in some venues. Top venues start from 40,000 Rubles (650$) for about a group of seven people. That’s still only roughly a hundred bucks each and a lot less than what you’re going to pay at comparable clubs in New York and London (without the “perks” that Moscow clubs have).
The real reason you're coming
How much does a prostitute cost in Moscow
Now I like the game too much and I’m personally neither interested in, nor a fan of prostitution, which is technically illegal in Russia. However, I realize that a lot of travelers come to Moscow and are looking for this kind of information It’s a part of nightlife for better or worse.
That being said, just like anything else, even sex in Moscow can be cheap or expensive. If you speak Russian, you should be able to arrange a meeting via one of the many sites where it’s offered. As far as I know, you can get an hour of service from 2,000 Rubles (30$) on there.
If you want some additional fun in the strip clubs, the going rate is 10,000+6,000 Rubles for the room. My understanding is that escorts in nightclubs charge about the same. The really high-end options can be even more expensive than that.
Erotic massage salons in Moscow don’t provide full sex (at least some) but you can get a happy ending and other kinds of perks at those. Services there will be from 2,000 Rubles to 12,000 Rubles, all depending on your needs and financial possibilities.
How much money do I need in Moscow as a traveler
To calculate how much money you need in Moscow as a traveler, we will recap your expenses.
Accomodation: from 10$ (hostel) to 100$ (decent hotel) per night. If you are considering 5 star options you shouldn’t be reading this post but take a look at this. For a decent solution you should estimate 60$ per night.
Transportation: a few bucks a day, 20$ per night at most if you take several taxis to change clubs. If you’re using Wheely or Uber Black, you’re better off reading this. Assuming you are taking the metro as well, at least during the day, transportation in Moscow should really not be more than 15$ a day and that’s probably stretching it.
Food: assuming you eat out twice a day you’re probably looking at 20$ (budget option) to 50$ (“not saving mode”). Let’s assume 35$ a day for the sake of the argument.
Nightlife: anything between 30$ and 500$+ is possible in Moscow. To experience the proper Moscow nightlife, you should always have someone who knows the deal with you. On your own expect to spend around 100$ a night (at least) if you want to have some fun.
In total you are looking at about 200$ a day (with accommodation and nightlife) if you want to have good fun in Moscow. You can do it much cheaper of course but bear in mind that Moscow is a city (like any other major city) that is most fun, if you are able to spend freely. This amount will make sure you have a good time.
How much money do I need to live in Moscow
Of course things change somewhat if you live in Moscow permanently.
A modern apartment for one person will set you back 60,000 Rubles in the center and about 40,000 Rubles if you live somewhat farther outside. Food prices in Moscow are low unless you tend to shop at the top stores like Azbuka Vkusa, which will raise your costs a lot.
Overall you can live well on about 120,000 Rubles (2,000$) a month. That is twice the average income in Moscow and guarantees a respectable standard of living.