What Can And Should I See Inside The Kremlin

Updated: May 13, 2019

(All ticket prices were recently substantially changed. They'll be updated ASAP. Don't pay attention to the numbers in the meantime).

About half of all the Kremlin territory today is still functioning government buildings, among which is the working office of the President. The other half is managed by the 'Museums of the Kremlin' and provides several separate things for you to see, each of which requires its own separate ticket.

Detailed tips about buying those tickets you can find here. This article just describes what are the options to help you decide which parts would you want to visit and which tickets to buy.

There are 4 (!) separately sold tickets for the Kremlin that lead you to 4 different places:

1) Kremlin's territory and Cathedral Square

2) Ivan the Great Bell Tower (available only in summer months)

3) The Armory Camber Museum

4) The Diamond Fund Museum

The general advice here would be to try as much as possible to see all of them. After all, the Kremlin is the most important tourist sight in Moscow. Why not take the whole package?

But clearly, not all 4 are equally exciting or important. So let's go through all of them one by one, see what they have to offer, and which ones you should prioritize if you want to select just a couple out of 4.

The list goes from most to least skippable.

Ivan the Great bell tower

This one is the easiest to omit. First, because it will omit itself if you're coming to Moscow during any other season but summer. The thing is only open for 3 months a year. And second, because it wouldn't really show you that many more new things even if you get in. It's more of the same but from a different angle. Also, there's a lot of stairs-climbing involved to get to the top, so it should be automatically skipped by people who are not into overexerting themselves on vacations.

The bell tower is what it says it is. A tall, 81-meter bell tower in the middle of the Kremlin that used to ring any time there was a big service in any of the Kremlin's maaany cathedrals, none of which had their own bells. The tower was supposed to be the city's tallest building, and it remained so up until 18th century.

So the Kremlin, basically, invites you to climb up top (stairs only) and see that wonderful 360-degree panorama of the city with your own eyes that not that many people back in the days could enjoy. Separately, you can rent an audio-guide with brief descriptions all the most important city buildings you'll see from that vantage point.

The whole experience including climbing up and down is supposed to take about 30 minutes of your time. And everything would've been nice about it if not the limited number of people they can serve per hour. Which forces them to sell tickets, just like the Armory, only at special hours and only for special time slots.

You can find the full time-table in the article about actually buying Kremlin tickets. And even after a brief look at it, it might appear unnecessarily complicated. Especially, for something that brief that requires so much effort.

So if you're a big panoramic vista enthusiast, definitely check this article later and see how to make sure you get there on the same day as you visit everything else inside.

But for everyone else, my advice would be to go there only if those tickets are available at the same moment as you're buying regular tickets to the territory. Whatever point in time you happened to be at the official ticket offices, just ask them whether the tower is available at the moment. If it is, great, grab the tickets and go see it. If they say that the next available hour will be then and then, and that to buy them you'll have to come back at a particular time... just don't bother. You'll probably already have a lot of other important numbers to keep in mind by that point.

Note: the tower is located on the territory of the Kremlin that requires its own entrance ticket. You won't be able to visit it without buying another ticket for the 'Territory of the Kremlin and architectural ensemble of Cathedral Square' (or something to that effect).

In some rare cases when they don't sell all available tickets for a certain hour, they might try to sell them inside the Kremlin territory, right in front of the tower's main entrance. You might want to check that entrance when you're inside just to tell yourself later that you've done everything possible to visit it, but...

The Diamond Fund

The Fund is the one of the biggest and most expensive diamond collections in the world. It contains jewelry of women of the royal courts of the empresses Elizabeth I and Catherine the Great, the best works of Soviet jewelers and the collection of the biggest gold and platinum nuggets ever discovered in Russia.

It's not as big as you might imagine after reading this, however. Just 2 rooms with roughly 12-ish showcases. But nothing else in the Kremlin beats it in terms of quantity of truly stunning-looking stuff per square centimeter.

That said, stunning is not always historically important. The main exhibit and the most important historic object there in that diamond crown of Catherine the Great from the picture above. Everything else is very impressive, but with much less substance behind.

The museum is in the same building as the Armory Chamber. And just like the Ivan the Great bell tower should be considered an addition to your main territory visit, this one should be a compliment to your visit to the Armory. The tickets are much easier to buy than the Armory ones and you can even buy them right on the spot after getting inside the Armory building.

But the price of those tickets is 500 RUB. Which for a 15-minute experience might feel slightly exaggerated, especially considering you're expected to pay another 500 RUB for the territory and 700 RUB for the Armory itself.

So I would highly recommend you to visit it. But you're looking for something to cut out of your Kremlin visit to make it slightly more affordable, this will be the second most omitable option.

The territory and Cathedral Square

This one - is the most default Kremlin ticket available. It lets you inside the territory of the Kremlin, leads you along a well-defined tourist route showing all of the buildings around from the outside and allows you to go inside 5 (but in reality only 2 that are really worth going to) churches. When people talk about buying tickets to the Kremlin without specifying which, these tickets is, normally, what they mean.

Your experience and the level of your satisfaction from that kind of visit can differ greatly depending on how much information you pepper it with. It can be a full-blown 2-hour tour with a local guide telling you stories about each and every building inside, an 1-hour or so visit with a separately sold audio guide taking your time for pictures along the way, or just a 25-40-minute 'go in - take a photo - go out' kind of experience if you're going without any additional informational accompaniment.

In the latter case, you might have some mixed feelings about it later. As one solo Brazilian traveler once described it to me, 'You know inside it looks... kind of like outside'. Which I feel like, captures a frequent impression of tourists going there without a tour.

And indeed, if you've already walked around the Kremlin, taken some pictures from one of the bridges next to it, visited Red Square and Alexander's Garden - you will have already seen almost all of the Kremlin buildings from the outside by that point. So going inside without anything new being told about them might feel like taking lot of the same pictures but from up close instead.

Which means that you should definitely take a guide if you have time and opportunity. But live guided tours can be quite pricey and not always available. And also, having too much information sometimes might feel like a chore.

So if a live guide is off the table, the best advise will be to take the middle road and go on your own but armed with all the free information sheets that they provide inside. Grab a free map from the ticket office not to miss anything along the way (like the biggest canon and bell in the world). And inside the churches find free information papers next to their entrances. This way you'll see everything and get the most important info without spending too much time.

Or even better, grab your phone or tablet with internet connection and read my detailed written tour of the Kremlin territory (it's not there at the moment, but will be in 1-2 months). This way, depending on how much of it you decide to read, you can make your excursion as long as you want. And also, be sure that you've paid attention to all of the important parts inside.

So should you include this in your Kremlin visit? Yes, certainly. This ticket, essentially, is the Kremlin visit itself. And if you're not that into museums and want to get inside in the most affordable, uncomplicated and quickest way - this might even be the only ticket to the Kremlin that you should buy.

But if you want to see the most important part of the Kremlin densely filled with one-of-a-kind priceless historic artifacts, get the biggest bang for each ruble spent and yet you feel determined to buy only 1 out of 4 Kremlin tickets available, then you can skip even the main territory visit in favor of the Armory Chamber.

The Armory Chamber

This is the main museum of Moscow, period. It's not as densely and consistently stunning like the Diamond Fund. But it's much bigger and the most unique and priceless historical artifacts that are located in Moscow are located here. Royal crowns, thrones, dresses, coaches, a lot of gold- and silverware, some insignificant amount of actual arms and armor and, of course, the world-famous Faberge Eggs.

Not visiting it would be like going to Paris and not visiting Louvre. It is nowhere near in size though. Lack of space will be this museum's biggest flaw. Considering they weren't reorganizing some Tsar's bedroom for it, but were building a brand new building specifically to be the main Moscow's museum, they sure could've made it bigger. But that would be its only downside. If you don't have any particular dislike to museums, it is the part of the Kremlin that you should try to get in above all others.

Its relatively humble dimensions, though, make it very easy to overcrowd. And that's why all visits are divided in 4 different time windows throughout the day, each with its own limit of 500 tickets. So while being the most recommendable part of the Kremlin, it could be the most painful to procure tickets for.

So definitely read the article about best ways of buying different types of the Kremlin tickets to make sure you visit all of its parts that you want on the day and at the time you want without any surprises or complications along the way.

Hope this helps you to craft your perfect Kremlin experience. Please share it anywhere you can if you liked it.

Thanks for reading!