Ostankino TV Tower is a television and radio tower. It offers great views from its upper observation deck overlooking the city of Moscow. The tower was designed by Nikolai Nikitin and stands about 540 meters in height. Commendably, it is currently the tallest free-standing structure in Europe. Also, notably, from 1967 and 1974, the tower momentarily was the tallest man-made free standing structure in the world. Lets check out the TV Tower in a day trip today.

The full 360 panoramic views on top of the Ostankino TV tower observation deck
The full 360 panoramic views on top of the Ostankino TV tower observation deck.

Also, history has it, given on-going developments to be the tallest in the buildings such as the CN Tower and Burj Khalifa quickly overtook Ostankino for the title. It is currently the 11th tallest in the world. Moreover, the tower is operated by Moscow branch of unitary enterprise Russian TV and Radio Broadcasting Network.

Getting to Ostankino tower

Getting there can be quite challenging for first timers. Considering that there is no Metro station near the tower and no English direction signage leading up to the establishment. The nearest Moscow Metro station is VDNKh.

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Cosmonautics museum by VDNKh
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VDNKh Monorail station
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On the monorail!

You previously might remember my visit to the World-fair like park and amusement area. Moreover, the metro station is situated just beside the Museum Cosmonautics. Also, there are bus services and a monorail station which you can use to transfer to the TV Tower.

The TV tower is two stops away from the VDNKh on the public monorail service
The TV tower is two stops away from the VDNKh on the public monorail service.

Lastmile Metro to Monorail

Furthermore, from VDNKh metro, simply head beyond the metro station compound of the adjacent Russian museum of cosmonautics. Cross a road towards Stantsiya Metro “Vdnkh” monorail station. You can similarly use your Metro contact-less card here too. Also, the monorail runs a loop service here but waits can be pretty long. Head west bound on the monorail to the Teletsentr station. It is the second station and the journey will take under 10 minutes.

The monorail is a recommended way to get to the tower. It is a 10 min ride away, though the wait is pretty long
The monorail is a recommended way to get to the tower. It is a 10 min ride away, though the wait is pretty long.

After alighting from the Teletsentr monorail station, a good bet is to keep moving in the direction of the tower. Exit towards the station southern exit towards the tower, avoiding the large inviting multi-coloured rectangular TV station building on the other side with a visitor entrance.

The colour ful TV station on the other side of the TV tower. This is the wrong side to cross from the Monorail station, instead cross over to the other side of the road
The colour ful TV station on the other side of the TV tower. This is the wrong side to cross from the Monorail station, instead cross over to the other side of the road.

On the road on the opposite side, you have to walk about 100 meters along the main road back east bound to the attraction entrance. An “Ostankino” archway by the side of the main road marks the entrance to the Tower compound.

The entrance archway of the TV tower. You are there
The entrance archway of the TV tower. You are there!

You pass through an open-air carpark before entering into a high-security fenced up compound. Interestingly, security does look pretty tight here. The fence line even has two layers of barbed wire.

Really tight Security

After all, Ostankino TV Tower is a protected government building. Presumably, it is a critical communicators building, hence the security. The inner compound 4 layers of barbed wired fences, with armed guards sitting behind them. So don’t think about trying to get in for free!

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The entrance is beyond this parking area
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Security screening entrance
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Bag deposit hut

Furthermore, getting in involves quite an extensive security and registration process. The attraction has a couple of small single floor buildings with heavily tinted windows at the entrance. Here is where you find the airport-style security screening and locker storage rooms.

Do note you have to deposit all bulky items and haversacks in the locker room. You are only allowed small hand carry pouches with only the necessities. Water bottles are not allowed, but cameras and video cameras are allowed. Thankfully, there is a Cafe up on the tower which you can buy water from later.

Remember to bring your passport!

Even the guards at the locker room are armed with machine pistols carried openly by their side. They sit behind heavily tinted glass windows and watch your every move as you enter the tower compound. They are very friendly, but their stern uniforms and exposed weapons does make the experience bit more tense.

The guard will explain to you (in Russian) how to use the free combination-code lockers. When done, he will pass you a courtesy paper tag to write your combination code for you as a memory aid. That’s great service!

The open square pavilion area. There is a central fountain here but is completely devoid of people on my visit
The open square pavilion area. There is a central fountain here but is completely devoid of people on my visit.

Henceforth, you go through another building for a series of security screening before allowed to enter the inner tower grounds. After the first layer of airport style x-ray security screening, you exit into a “registration” counter where officers will register your visit and grant you entry. Do bring your passport with you- you will need it here for identification.

Obtaining tickets on-site

Henceforth you exit into what I call the “inner sterile” area of the TV tower grounds, where you are free to roam within the allowed public confines of pavilion fountain area. Furthermore, here is also where you can purchase walk-in tickets or verify your purchased tickets too.

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Entrance to the tower
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Onward to the tower!
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Walkway to the tower

The ticketing counter is located on the far left hand of the pavilion fountain area. There is English speaking staff which you can correspond with to obtain tickets. There are two types of tickets available for purchase. First is a standard ticket which just grants you access to the observation deck for about 1000 rubles.

Also the second and more expensive option with a guided tour. For non-Russian tourists, the counter staff was quick not to recommend the latter as the guided tours are conducted only in Russian. There is nothing less-off with the cheaper ticket which I what I recommend getting.

Check out a 180 degree panorama of the Ostankino tower lower level pavilion and fountain area.

180 degree panorama of Ostankino tower fountain pavilion

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Furthermore, there is no need to pre-purchase tickets before going. This is despite the Ostankino TV tower website recommending pre-booking your visitation tickets to beat the queues. However, judging from the lack of a crowd or a queue, you won’t really need to do that. You can simply walk in and you will be up on Tower in no time.

Going up Ostankino tower

I was surprised how quick it took to purchase the tickets. There were no queues at all and I was like one of the only few at the attraction on a weekday afternoon. Moreover, security clearances are fast and efficient.

In all, the walk from the Teletsentr monorail station, bag deposits, security checks and buying of tickets took under 30 minutes. With the security clearance and ticketing done, the hard part is all over and your adventures begin.

The entrance archway to the tower base. It leads into a sheltered walkway through an open field leading into the tower
The entrance archway to the tower base. It leads into a sheltered walkway through an open field leading into the tower.

From here, you pass by a welcome archway leading through a grassy green field. You follow a sheltered pathway leading into the base of the tower and tower lobby. The base of the tower looks pretty impressive in size. It is a super structure of reinforced concrete. Do have a look up before entering the entrance double doors.

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Under the tower
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Tower entrance
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Lobby infomatic screens

Additionally, the ground floor is filled with a number of Russian related historical exhibits. There is a small electronics museum complimented with a mini informatics display in the lobby area. There is also a touristy photo studio booth if you wish to have a go.

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Display exhibits on the lobby
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Staff tours
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Elevators up!

Ostankino Zippy Elevators

Elevators go up and down at regular intervals. Moreover, there are 5 elevators, though 2 were in active service on my visit. They are timed to regular entry intervals for people coming up and down. Moreover, the ground floor counter staff will inform you when the next elevator is ready.

The live camera feed of the inner elevator shaft. Going up!
The live camera feed of the inner elevator shaft. Going up!

There are queuing areas where patrons can convene and queue up for a space for the ride down. Furthermore, the queues are never long. The elevators are large enough to accommodate most groups of 10 to 15 people at a go. All elevators are operated by a human lift assistant.

Furthermore, the German ThyssenKrupp elevators serving the tower are standard sealed metal cabins, no fancy touristy stuff here. This is unlike other observation towers like the Burj Khalifa, Space needle and the Taipei 101 with glass walls or interactive in-elevator info screens within the elevators during your ascend. Ostankino ones are just plain simple.

Here, you have an indication of your climb through a led display showing your floor number, as well as an upward facing live camera feed looking upwards into the tower lift-well. It takes under a full minute to get to the observation deck.

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The entrance area below!
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The tower main viewing gallery
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Info screens

Five Decks of panoramic views

The observation deck has 5 floors in total you can roam and explore. The express elevator takes you from the ground floor up to the 4th floor. This entry deck the ground floor elevators serve sits in the middle floor of one of the 5 publicly accessible viewing floors.

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VDNKh pavilions
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VDNKh Space pavilions rockets from far
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Stairs serving the observation floors

Furthermore, the observation deck runs around in a full circular continuous manner. It has glass-clad windows offerings unobstructed a 360 degree views around the tower. The indoor decks are all entirely air-conditioned.

Up on the tower!
Up on the tower!

Things to see on the observation Deck

Moreover, lined along the windows are several information displays giving facts of the tower, as well as showing how the tower stacks up to other record setting tall buildings around the world. Interestingly, the tower has 1,706 steps up. And from the volume of concrete, it is calculated to weigh over 55 thousand tons. It was designed by architect Nicolai V Nikitine and built on 1967 at an estimated cost of USD $65 million.

Full 360 degree panorama from the tower mid-day

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Additionally you may notice from below, the tower has several intermediate antenna points placed at intervals throughout the tower’s height. These broadcasting telecommunication equipment hosts 20 television as well as 23 radio stations.

The TV station, monorail station and adjacent reservoir. Notably, it is surrounded by alot of green among the neighborhood buildings
The TV station, monorail station and adjacent reservoir. Notably, it is surrounded by alot of green among the neighborhood buildings.

Looking immediately below you is the large open green field and the TV tower entrance and car park. Across the road, you can recognize the TV station building by the Teletsentr Monorail station, and a large reservoir situated beside it. Checkout more with a full 360 degree panorama of the adjacent Prospekt Mira neighborhood around the tower at mid-day.

Panorama of neighboring buildings around ostankino tower

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Notably, the nearby Prospekt Mira neighborhood comprises largely of short to medium buildings, with notable few tall buildings at bust intersections. There are not other building in the Moscow skyline as dominating as the Ostankino TV tower. Moreover, you can see the entire All-Russian Exhibition Center, VDNKh from the entrance gates all the way to the space pavilion from up here.

The VDNKh archway and attraction entrance in the distance
The VDNKh archway and attraction entrance in the distance.

Moreover, you can see various nearby landmarks from up here. Such as the Moscow business district and the bird eye’s view of the entire VDNKh pavilion and parks.

Zoom in of the Moscow city district area from the observation deck
Zoom in of the Moscow city district area from the observation deck.

Also, on a clear day, the visibility to horizon from observatory is about 20km. You can really see out far from the top here. There are no other visible structure as tall as the TV Tower.

Clouds on a clear fair day. Great to be up on the tower with great visibility
Clouds on a clear fair day. Great to be up on the tower with great visibility.

Look below!

Additionally, adding to the thrill of the height is a sector is a Perspex clear floor area. It comprises of a sector of floor panels replaced with clear flooring. Also, it offers a nice view of the tower structure almost 500 meters below. It is definitely not for those with vertigo!

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Glass flooring
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I see the ground!
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Yea try that!

Furthermore, at the top most observation floor is an open air outdoor viewing deck. It is barricaded by grills and themed with several wall-painted aeronautical scenes. It is extremely windy up here, so windy that it is difficult to hold a conversation up here as well. Also, be sure not to have any loose items or they can be easily caught and blown away.

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Moreover, I found the observation deck more than sufficient. You can stay up at the deck as long as you want. At regular intervals, the PA system will call out when an elevator is departing from the top floor back down to ground level.

Hungry? Grab a cake and coffee

Furthermore, there is surprisingly plenty of dining options up here at Ostankino. Below the observation deck is a Bistro cafe with a revolving platform. It is simply known as the Coffee bar Café and opens from 10:30am to 10:00pm.

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Bistro on the cafe floor
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Lower cafe
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First level restaurant

Here, there is café counter selling fresh bread, snacks and cakes. You can pair the variety of breads and cakes to go with your tea, coffee or soft drinks. I would recommend a coffee with their cheesecakes to go on a nice afternoon tea break. You can grab a bite and dine in comfort overlooking the beautiful view of the city of Moscow. Notably, it takes one full hour for the revolving restaurant to make one full revolution.

Enjoying the views on the revolving cafe with freshly-made coffee and cheesecake
Enjoying the views on the revolving cafe with freshly-made coffee and cheesecake.

Moreover, the bottom two most floors are restaurant dining floors, also similarly with revolving platforms. There is an additional café dining floor below the restaurant counter floor.

Fancy restaurant dining floor
Fancy restaurant dining floor.

Additionally, one more floor down is occupied by Restoran 7 Nebo. Interestingly, it is a fine dining restaurant and opens from 12 noon to midnight on operating days (even past the tower opening times). It is touted to offer delicious European cuisine as well as traditional Russian dishes.

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Lower level posh restaurant
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Tower from ground floor
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That’s all folks!

Good for a half day out

You can stay up at the deck as long as you want. At regular intervals, the observation deck PA system will call out informing you that an elevator departing from the top floor if you need a ride down.

Wrapping it up, the remoteness of the tower from downtown Moscow means that about an hour can be spent traveling to the venue itself. Hence, the TV tower makes for good for a half-day out. Also, it will be recommended to check out the nearby VDNKh attraction, such as the Museum of Cosmonautics and the TV tower towards the evening.

The Museum of Cosmonautics in the distance beside the VDNKh metro station from the observation tower
The Museum of Cosmonautics in the distance beside the VDNKh metro station from the observation tower.

At night, a combination of large LED screens installed on the tower exterior makes it noticeable from anywhere in Moscow. It paints several advertisements which run through the night. Also, at night, the tower is lit by a series of purple and blue exterior lighting. It does distinctively stand out in the night sky.

All in all, you are good visiting Ostankino TV tower observation deck for a couple of hours. Also, it is advisable to visit just before sunset so you can check both the day and night views of the city. The tower opens 10am to 9pm, making it one of the few tourist attractions in Moscow which you can visit past 6pm. Definitely worthy of a visit.

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