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The Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks for Any Adventure

Whether used solo or packed alongside other bags, the best travel backpacks we’ve tested hold plenty of stuff and make it all easy to access.

Image of Aer Travel pack laying flat next to a variety of other common travel accessories

By Will Sabel Courtney and Ben Bowers

Every product is carefully selected by our editors. If you buy from a link, we may earn a commission.  Learn more

An excellent carry-on-sized travel and adventure backpack can be a packing game changer. Whether used solo for shorter trips or carried along with other luggage for extended journeys, the best options offer plenty of storage space for clothes and a slew of easy access and protective pockets for water bottles, laptops, and other personal items.

Having spent many days on airplanes crisscrossing continents and oceans for work and play alike, here are the best carry-on travel and adventure bags we’ve tested and recommend hovering in the 35–55 liter size range.

Carry-On Travel & Adventure Backpacks We Recommend

Best Overall

Best Rollaboard Replacement

Best Bargain

Best Multi-Use

Smartest Feature Set

Most Distinctive Option

  • Made in America

Most Versatile

Best for Awkward-Sized Gear

How We Test Travel & Adventure Backpacks

travel bags

Our tester journeyed far and wide on numerous trips by plane, train and automobile with these backpacks, loading them up with apparel, gadgets and gear to see how they handle the stress. They were loaded and unloaded into luggage racks, trunks and back seats alike, carried on long walks to and from terminals and destinations, and left to bash about in the closet between trips.

For many of the tests, he loaded it up with a typical array of clothing and equipment one would need for a business or personal trip of several days time: an extra pair of jeans or slacks, 2–3 T-shirts, 1–2 overshirts or button-downs, a pair of sneakers, gym shorts and shirts, a DSLR camera , iPhone charger and Apple Watch charger and of course, several changes of undergarments.

To learn more about our testing methodology and how we evaluate products, head here .

Best Overall Travel Backpack

peak design travel backpack 45l

Peak Design 45L Travel Backpack

  • Can expand from a 35L day bag into 45L multi-day gear hauler
  • Offers many ways to load & access contents
  • Backpack straps can hide conveniently out of site via magnets
  • Weather proof shell
  • Main pouch less accessible than some other bags on the list
  • Cinch straps only work okay
  • $299 at Peak Design
  • $299 at Huckberry
  • $299 at REI
  • $299 at Backcountry
  • $299 at Amazon

Peak Design’s travel backpack has been a top pick of ours for a while now , and suffice it to say, it’s still impressive. You can tell it’s a premium product from the first moment you lay hands and eyes on it; it looks and feels nice, from the action of the zippers to the smooth, almost waxy waterproof exterior to the soft, gentle gray fabric of the interior. But look closer, and you’ll find more features you might have missed the first time; hidden magnets seamlessly tuck away the backpack straps when not in use. (Just be sure you check the straps’ length every time you pull them back out, as they can slide out longer a little more easily than some bags.)

Of course, none of that would matter if it weren’t capable of carrying a bunch of gear. Luckily, this bag excels at that. Two main pockets easily enable the carriage of several days’ worth of apparel, while smaller slots for everything from toiletries to cables to headphones to laptops are found inside. There are grab handles for one-handed toting, multiple zippers for easy entry from several angles, and slots for water bottles on the sides, of course. We also love that unlike most other options on this list, this bag can contract down to a smaller-sized bag 35 L capacity for shorter trips or bulk up to a 45 L if you need to bring more along (or wound up acquiring a few items while out on the road.) All in all, it’s probably as close to the perfect travel backpack as you might find on sale today.

Best Rollaboard Replacement Travel Backpack

cloudz travel backpack

Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 40L

  • Designed to maximize allowable carry-on space
  • Opens and packs like a carry-on suitcase
  • Featured padded hip belt with side pocket for better weight distribution
  • Accessing items in main compartment can be awkward on the go
  • Lacks luggage pass-through sleeve
  • Slightly heavier than other options
  • $350 at Tortuga

Tortuga’s Travel Backpack Pro is regarded as one of the best travel backpacks for good reason. Its rectangular shape lets the bag maximize its available storage capacity while ensuring its dimensions fall within standard airline carry-on guidelines. The primary storage compartment also opens as a suitcase to reveal a large mesh zipper compartment side and a spacious main compartment. Depending on your use case, this design detail can be a pro or con. On the one hand, it’s great to lay the bag flat on a bed and unzip the clam shell zipper to reveal and grab whatever’s inside quickly. However, quickly grabbing something buried deep inside the main compartment can be difficult if you don’t have enough space to lay the bag fully flat. The bag’s space-maximizing design also means its physically and aesthetically a bit more boxy than other options we recommend. Tortuga sells a smaller 30L capacity version of the same bag if 40L feels too big for your needs.

Best Bargain Travel Backpack

a black backpack with a strap

Aer Travel Pack 3

  • Features handles on all sides
  • Tons of pockets, including a hidden one for Airtags / Tracker
  • Includes luggage handle pass-through strap
  • $249 at Aer

Aer’s Travel Pack 3 is a little more affordable than the Peak Design entry, but don’t hold that against it; this bag is a lot like the above model. There are an abundance of pockets; you won’t have any trouble finding a place for everything and putting everything in its place. And while it doesn’t look or feel quite as premium when standing next to the Peak Design bag, it still has the quality and appearance of a high-end product.

travel bags

On the downside, the orientation of the main pouch can make opening it and filling the bag a bit trickier than some other entries on the list, and the magnetic clips for the chest strap and cinch straps feel like an unnecessary complication. It’s also a little smaller than other recommendations on this list. Still, overall, it’s a great choice for a few days on the road.

Best Multi-Use Travel Backpack

cloudz travel backpack

Yeti Crossroads Backpack 35L

  • Made from thick, abrasion resistant nylon
  • Stable luggage pass through sleeve
  • Removable external straps for lashing on other gear
  • Sold in multiple smaller sizes
  • Laptop sleeve is a little smaller compared to other bags
  • Less water resistance than other options
  • Lack of DWR coating also means its more prone to staining
  • $250 at Yeti

Yeti’s approach to backpacks is the same as its coolers . The brand’s Crossroads Backpack is a durably constructed and capable bag with a slightly less techy aesthetic than other recommendations on this list. It also includes a unique feature mix that makes it great for airports, city travel, and outdoor adventures.

For work-related trips or voyages within city limits, it’s got padded organization pockets for various items, including a laptop, and opens clamshell-style for easier packing. In cases of outdoor adventuring, it also features a pair of removal external straps for toting along other items like a rain shell, ground cover, or a lightweight camp chair. There’s also a pocket big enough to fit a 26 oz water bottle, although it’s located inside the bag, which might be a controversial decision for some. We lack the fact that Yeti sells smaller 22 L and 27 L versions of the bag for those interesting in something that’s closer in size to a more traditional backpack.

The Travel Backpack with the Smartest Feature Set

cloudz travel backpack

Matador GlobeRider 45L Travel Backpack

  • Features a highly adjustable outdoor backpack style harness for optimizing carrying comfort and weight distribution
  • Stowable main backpack straps can tuck away for checking
  • Dedicated internal compartment that's great for keeping dirty / worn shoes from the rest of the bag's contents
  • Looks more technical / camping oriented than other options
  • Bigger compared to other tweener-sized options
  • $350 at Matador
  • $350 at Huckberry
  • $350 at REI
  • $350 at Backcountry

Smart design details distinguish all of Matador’s products, and their premium  GlobeRider 45 travel and adventure backpack  puts this part of the brand’s DNA on full display. While the sheer variety of features makes this bag stand out, its outdoor-grade harness, complete with adjustable load lifters, a contoured aluminum framestay, and a backpacking carry harness, make it one of the best travel backpack options for anyone who expects to walk long distances carrying it. The harness is also stowable behind the padded back panel, which can help prevent the bag from being caught up in machinery if you decide to check it. 

We also love the larger, built-in internal organization pocket that’s sizeable enough to keep a pair of dirty hiking boots separated from other packed items and the internal shockcord securement system on the other side for keeping contents in place when the bag is open. There’s even a “smugglers pocket” tucked away behind the back panel for keeping critical items like a Passport out of harm’s way.

Most Distinctive Travel Backpack

cloudz travel backpack

Cotopaxi Allpa 42L Travel Pack

  • Available in more colorful outdoorsy-styled versions, including a randomized Del Dia option
  • Includes removable raincover
  • Includes strap for carrying crossbody
  • Designed to work perfectly with Cotopaxi packing cubes and accessories
  • Includes a lifetime warranty + repairs
  • Less open space for cramming gear inside
  • $220 at Cotopaxi
  • $220 at Amazon
  • $220 at REI

We gravitate to more unremarkable colors in bags. Still, if you prefer your equipment to stand out or like owning something unique,  Cotopaxi’s Allpa 42 L is an excellent option . It’s available in various standard colors, most of which mix and match various bright shades to give off a classic outdoorsy vibe. But there’s also the option of buying a one-of-a-kind  “Del Dia” version  made from leftover parts and pieces from other companies’ production runs. While you can pick the primary color you are interested in, the different colored elements of the bag are determined on the production line based on available materials. The result is an aesthetically unique bag that’s also more sustainably produced. 

But don’t assume the appeal of this bag is all aesthetic. It also offers plenty of practical travel-centric details, including various internal zippered organization pockets, a removal rainfly for foul weather protection, and a removable waist belt. Its primary harness straps can also be tucked away for easier checking. 

If you want to enter the Cotopaxi travel ecosystem fully, the bag is also specifically designed to fit the company’s packing cubes and fanny pack.

Best Made in the USA Travel Backpack

a backpack

GoRuck GR3 45L USA

  • Ridiculously sturdy and tough
  • Simple design
  • Harder to access laptop and other pockets on the go
  • Expensive compared to bags with bells & whistles
  • $455 at goruck.com

GoRuck is known for building bags that are sturdy as hell, and meant to go through it, too. The canvas skin feels thick enough to resist tiger claws. That’s not to say it’s harsh on the wearer; 201D Cordura straps and back panels feel plenty soft even over the long haul. We tested the smaller GR1, but even that 26-liter bag punched above its weight, proving large enough to carry our usual kit without much trouble; the 45-liter GR3 will no doubt prove capable of taking whatever you throw at it, inside or out.

travel bags

With only one main compartment and a couple rather small pockets, it’s a bit harder to stash smaller items in their own areas — you may have to rummage through your underwear to grab your laptop — but if your priority is making sure everything in your bag stays safe and sound no matter what, GoRuck has you covered. Be aware that this bag is often sold out.

Most Versatile Travel Backpack

a black and grey backpack

Osprey Farpoint 55 Travel Pack

  • A built-in secondary pack is great for day trips
  • Massive capacity
  • More affordable than other options
  • Re-assembly of constituent bags can be tricky when full
  • Forces you to split your gear up between two bags when packing
  • $220.00 at osprey.com
  • $176 at Backcountry Gear $220 (20% off)
  • $215 at Amazon
  • $220 at L.L. Bean

Nerd alert: What does the Osprey Farpoint 55 have in common with the USS Enterprise-D from Star Trek: The Next Generation? (Which, coincidentally, first aired with a pilot called “Encounter at Farpoint.”) Well, both starship and backpack can separate into two separate vessels if the need arises. In the case of the Osprey, that means the smaller, secondary pocket detaches to become its own daypack, perfectly sized for short hikes and office visits. Combined, the complete bag is a mammoth beast, capable of taking on a stunning amount of gear; if you tend to pick up souvenirs on your trips, this bag is for you.

travel bags

On the less-appealing side, it’s a bit difficult to get into the main bag when “assembled,” and that assembly process can be tricky when both bags are stuffed. Combined, the overall package is bulky; it’s not an issue when wearing it (or at least it wasn’t for our six-foot-four-inch tester), but it does generally necessitate splitting the bag into its constituent parts on the airplane, stowing the big part in the overhead and the small one under the seat ahead.

Best Travel Backpack for Awkward-Sized Gear

a black backpack with a white background

Patagonia Cragsmith Pack 45L

  • Giant pocket and wide opening make for easy packing
  • Light compared to other bags
  • Not as optimal for business travel as some other bags
  • No true dedicated sleeve for laptops or tablets
  • $152.99 at Patagonia $219.00 (30% off)

Of course, any list of high-quality backpacks wouldn’t be complete without a Patagonia entry. The Cragsmith may be made for rock climbing, but it’s also a good fit for travel, with ample capacity in a giant central compartment as well as secondary slots for other gear. That said, the lack of a second main compartment may be a turn-off for some, and the relaxed sleeve on the inside of the main cargo bay is better suited for rope than a laptop. But if you want a sleek travel backpack from one of the best names in outdoor equipment, the Cragsmith should treat you right.

Key details to consider before deciding on the right travel or adventure backpack for your needs.

  • Do you plan on using your travel or adventure backpack frequently in conjunction with a rollaboard? If yes, we recommend keying in on options that feature a luggage pass-through sleeve. This will allow you to take the bag off your back and more easily roll it with your suitcase during extended treks in the airport.
  • Do you plan on using your travel backpack off the beaten path or expect to be exposed to the elements for longer stretches? If yes, look for options made with DWR coatings or sold with an included rainfly as well as sealed zippers for added water protection.
  • Do you plan on walking/hiking long distances while wearing the travel backpack? If yes, we recommend focusing on backpacks that offer integrated waist straps or, even better, more adjustable/tunable harnesses. Both features will allow you to distribute the weight of the bag better and for more comfort. 
  • Do you plan on ever checking your travel backpack on an airplane? While less critical than the other considerations, bags with stowable straps and harnesses are better suited for checking. It’s an unlikely risk, but extraneous straps can get caught in conveyor belt machinery while being scanned.
  • Do you prefer packing with packing cubes and smaller bags? If so, then we recommend looking at backpacks with less built-in organization pockets to maximize what you can carry. If you’re in the opposite camp, then many of the options that include a variety of pockets and zippered compartments can help you quickly find whatever you’ve packed.

An easy rubric for gauging the right sized carry-on adventure backpack for your needs.

If you are hoping to use a single backpack for a trip lasting more than three days, we recommend focusing on bags with a capacity of 40 L unless you are an extremely light packer.

A handy list of approved carry-on sizes for major U.S. domestic airlines

Approved Carry-on sizing reference table last updated 4/9/2024

To learn more about how big (or heavy) your carry-on can be, refer to our broader guide to the best carry-on suitcases for every trip .

aluminum suitcases

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The Best Carry-On Travel Backpacks

A person standing outside in a light blue short sleeve shirt wears the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L backpack, in black with a gray llama-head logo and aqua accents.

By Kit Dillon

Kit Dillon is a writer focused on bags and travel gear. He has worked for Wirecutter for a decade and lost count of the number of bags he has tested.

When you open up your favorite carry-on travel backpack, it should feel like you’re opening the door to a well-organized closet or sitting down at a clean desk, with everything in the right place and easy to reach.

This is your moment to center yourself, no matter how chaotic the journey.

What we considered

A 45-liter bag maximizes overhead space but can get heavy when fully packed; 35-liter bags tend to be more manageable.

A bag with a clamshell design opens like a book and is the easiest to pack, but a bag that opens traditionally tends to have more structure.

Ideally, a travel backpack has handles on all sides—especially the bottom—so you can pull it out of overhead bins or from under seats.

Some internal pockets are useful, but major organizing is better managed with packing cubes.

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack and the larger Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L offer the best combination of features, quality, and durability. Both bags are exemplary carry-on travel backpacks that are designed for comfort, durability, and organization. Though these backpacks are great as companion bags for any trip, they’re designed to ultimately replace all of your other luggage and become your exclusive bag as you travel.

This style of packing is not for everyone, but once some people try it, they’re forever hooked. Finding the right bag is a personal choice, though, and no single bag will appeal to everyone. That’s why we also have picks that are great for people who travel for work , others that are designed to be carried over long distances , and a bag that’s basically luggage on your back .

The research

Why you should trust us, who this is for, best small carry-on bag for most situations: cotopaxi allpa 35l travel pack, best large bag for most situations: peak design travel backpack 45l, best mobile office: patagonia black hole mlc 45l, best bag for long journeys on foot: osprey farpoint 40 and fairview 40, best bag if you need a large suitcase on your back: tortuga travel backpack pro 40l, other good carry-on travel backpacks, how we picked and tested, the competition.

I’ve been covering aspects of luggage and travel bag design for Wirecutter for nearly a decade, and I have personally researched, tested, and compared hundreds of bags in that time. I personally try to do most of my travel with a single backpack, whenever possible. I spent nine months roaming around Hawaii with not much more than that, and I spent another six months nomadically couch-surfing in New York City.

I reached out to writers who specialize in traveling the world carrying everything they need in a single bag: Eytan Levy, the owner and operator of the Snarky Nomad travel website; James Feess, founder of The Savvy Backpacker ; and Sharon Gourlay, of the Where’s Sharon? travel website. I also spoke with moderators of Reddit’s r/onebag and r/heronebag forums, as well as with Chase Reeves, bag fanatic, reviewer, and owner of Matterful .

We researched and tested bags designed for those who want to travel light and stay flexible while flying, without the burden of checking luggage. For some people, the challenge of cutting down a packing list is intimidating. But if you can get past that initial hurdle, traveling with a single bag is a revelation. With fewer items, you have more time to concentrate on and appreciate the journey.

  • When you’re not loaded down by heavy luggage, it’s easy to remain more mobile. And it’s easier to adjust your plans mid-trip. If you’re willing to do laundry on the road, then one bag is all you need to travel indefinitely. At its heart, one-bag travel allows you to discover more—not just about the places you’re going but also about yourself and what you really need day to day.
  • Size and weight still matter. If you desire more creature comforts or more gear, or if you plan to be away for a long time across multiple climates, you’ll want a bigger travel backpack . These larger bags tend not to be carry-on-friendly, however, especially in Europe, so be prepared to check them.
  • No single backpack is perfect for everyone. Before you make any purchase, consider some basic points. How much can you carry? And where do you usually visit: the city or outback? Travel gear should feel like a welcome companion—there to support you when you need it but unobtrusive when you don’t.

45-liter bag vs. 35-liter bag

A graphic comparing the difference in capacity between a 45-liter and a 35-liter backpack.

Cotopaxi Allpa 35L

A versatile small pack for a week or a weekend.

This durable bag’s clamshell design makes it easy to organize your stuff. And due to its strap design, this bag can be worn on your back or carried in your hand while you’re on the move.

Buying Options

The Cotopaxi Allpa 35L Travel Pack is an easy-to-organize, comfortable-to-carry bag for getaways lasting just a few days or a whole week.

It’s one bag that can do it all. This is a great all-around bag for any traveler who’s dedicated to packing light, or for a smaller person who wants less to carry. There are handles on all four sides of this bag, so it’s easy to grab no matter where you’ve stowed it. It’s also protected by a full lifetime warranty, and it has the build quality to back that up. After more than four years of testing, this single backpack (plus a personal item ) has replaced nearly every travel bag or piece of luggage I use.

It comes in various sizes, but we think the middle-of-the-road version is the best. Cotopaxi also makes the Allpa in 28-liter and 42-liter sizes. But for us, the 35-liter bag is the best option. At 42 liters, this bag becomes heavy for most people to carry when it is fully packed, and we’d prefer that it had a more-robust hip belt. At 28 liters, the bag becomes a touch small for most people, and its internal organization feels fussy for shorter trips, such as an overnight. Cotopaxi also makes a hip pack , which is designed to fit snugly into the Allpa bag’s front top compartment. It’s a neat little addition to the bag, and it is worth getting if you like wearing fanny packs while you travel.

It’s organized, easy to pack, and easy to carry. The Allpa bag has a clamshell design, so it opens like a hard-sided suitcase—a large YKK zipper runs around three sides of the bag, allowing it to fall open into two halves when unzipped. On the right side is a deep compartment, spacious enough for two large packing cubes or half a suitcase’s worth of clothing (which you access through a mesh zippered flap). On the left, there’s space for one more medium-size packing cube behind a zippered flap. Above that there are two smaller pockets with high-visibility backing—useful when you’re looking for hard-to-differentiate personal items.

The packed Cotopaxi Allpa Travel Pack, shown fully open so that the contents are accessible.

It’s secure but still accessible. The Allpa pack has two side-access zippers—great for on-the-go access, especially when the bag is hanging from your shoulder. One of these reveals a flat computer pocket with a padded false bottom; so if you drop the bag, it won’t land on the corner of your computer. The other reveals a “secret” pocket with a hidden zipper and access to the main compartment. All of the main compartment zippers are protected by security loops, which you thread the zipper through at the end of its run. This prevents anyone from subtly or quickly grabbing a zipper and opening your bag when you aren’t paying attention.

It’s comfortable to carry. The Allpa bag’s hip belt—which can be removed while the bag is on your back—is substantial enough that it’s comfortable to wear when you need it. With or without the hip belt, the Allpa bag is comfortable to carry over long distances. However, folks who have longer torsos (over 19 inches) may find that the waist belt sits a little high off the hips, unless you fully extend the shoulder straps. Speaking of shoulder straps, unlike the ones on our other picks, the Allpa bag’s straps are contoured to fit people who have large or small chests. It’s not a specifically gendered design, but our female tester noticed the improvement right away.

The Allpa pack is made with 1680-denier ballistic nylon, similar to the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 . (Denier is a measure of a fabric’s fiber thickness.) It feels similar to a strong canvas, but it has a more prominent weave. This is the type of bag that’s as easy to toss into an overhead compartment as it is into the back of a rusty pickup truck. And it also includes a rainfly, which is unique in this category.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

  • Though this pack is well organized for packing, it’s less ideal as a mobile office. The Allpa pack has a minimal amount of administrative organization—places to keep pens and papers, spaces to hold tickets, and so forth. This is where a good personal item comes in handy. However, if you want to travel with just this one bag, there are a few nooks you can hide things in. The front organizer is deep enough that you can also fit several small organizing pouches, if you want, or the aforementioned fanny pack.
  • We prefer the model without the TPU front. Cotopaxi does enjoy playing around with fabrics and colors. Sometimes the company has released the Allpa pack without the TPU-lined front panel. The TPU panel improves water resistance, but after many years of traveling with our bag, we’ve found that the TPU layering can begin to flake in spots.

Capacity: 35 liters Weight: 3 pounds 5 ounces Main compartment access: clamshell opening Style: adventurous Colors: assorted

A person stands by a wooden fence outdoors while wearing the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L, our larger pick for the best carry-on travel backpack.

Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L

An easily customizable large bag for long trips and expensive gear.

This bag was built with photographers in mind. Yet most travelers will appreciate its easy accessibility, clever tuck-away straps, and the elegant way the bag expands and contracts. The accessory cubes cost extra, though.

The Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is a good choice for those carrying more expensive gear—especially camera gear. It’s also great for those who prefer a large, backpack-based packing system.

One bag provides many configurations. Some bags in this category are built to do one thing extremely well—be carried on your back. But the Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L is built to adapt. It’s the Swiss Army knife of backpacks: adjustable, customizable, and (if you spring for the extra cubes and organizers) an almost perfect system for a photographer or gearhead on the move. Most bags’ expanding mechanisms aren’t worth the extra zipper they’re built on, and they look about as attractive as a boiled ham splitting out of its plastic packaging. That’s not the case with the Peak Design: This bag looks just as good fully packed at 45 liters as it does compressed to a 30-liter daypack.

It’s expandable, with clever folds and zippers. You can access the bag through a back panel (which doubles as a computer and tablet pouch) as well as a front one (if you unzip the pass-through divider). You can also get into the main compartment via two wing-like trapezoidal flaps, which run along each side of the pack. In its natural shape, the Travel Backpack holds 35 liters, but an expansion zipper lets the bag swell to 45 liters. If you want to use the bag as a daypack, you fold in the top corners and snap them down, reducing the bag’s volume to a slim 30 liters. In this configuration, it will still feel larger than a normal daypack, but we think that’s a small compromise for being able to use one backpack as both your travel bag and your daily explorer. The bag itself consists of 400-denier nylon and polyester fabrics. It feels tough but not as tough as some other bags we’ve tested, such as the Cotopaxi Allpa.

It has fold-away straps, for easier storage. The Peak Design lets you tuck its shoulder and hip straps away when you’re not using them. But unlike any other bag we’ve ever tested, this pack has magnetic flaps on the back panel that open and close with an almost magical snap. Once you’ve played with them, you’ll wonder why every backpack doesn’t have something similar. A small, childish part of me still gets excited about tucking away the straps when I put the Peak Design into an overhead bin. Although the straps are thin, they’re still comfortable. The hip belt isn’t quite as plush as the one on the Tortuga pack; still, even when the Peak Design is fully loaded, the belt doesn’t pinch or dig into the body.

It’s great for carrying expensive gear. If you travel with a camera, you don’t have to use Peak Design’s camera cubes , but they do make carrying that gear a whole lot easier. The cubes come in five sizes. And if they’re situated properly in the bag with the provided clips, they line up with the Travel Backpack’s side-access flaps for quick access. Caleigh Waldman (a photographer for this piece and, full disclosure, my spouse) took this bag across the country for a wedding shoot. “I want this backpack,” she said after three weeks of travel. “I want to travel with it everywhere. With my cameras. Without my cameras. It doesn’t matter. I want to travel with it.”

  • It’s expensive—especially if you commit to the entire system of packing and camera cubes.
  • More complexity means more things that can break. The adjustable design and multiple zippers do add complexity, and complexity adds potential weaknesses. Peak Design covers all of its bags with a lifetime warranty , which should alleviate most people’s concerns. But if you’re particularly hard on your gear and still need to carry as much as possible, you might consider the Tortuga bag instead.

Capacity: 45 liters Weight: 4½ pounds Main compartment access: back-panel loader Style: minimalist and unobtrusive Color: black, sage

The Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L, our also-great pick for the best carry-on travel backpack, is held in midair by a person wearing a plaid shirt.

Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L

Combines more organization with a simple interior.

This bag’s split interior makes organizing easy. Those who travel for work will appreciate this bag’s dedicated panels for organizing tech, books, papers, and assorted miscellaneous items.

If you travel often for business and prefer a bag that’s much easier to work out of than most of our other picks, you may like the Patagonia Black Hole MLC 45L . This bag has a front panel and assorted pockets that make it feel like a small traveling office.

It’s built like luggage but organized like your office. Of all the bags we recommend, the MLC (short for Maximum Legal Carry) comes closest to being a suitcase on your back, due to its large size, simple interior, and minimal external features. The MLC is also one of the simplest bags we tested, divided into two leaves (imagine a book with only one page), with a main compartment for packing and a second compartment for document organization and tech storage. The MLC has a built-in laptop compartment that fits 17-inch laptops and is situated close to your back; this protects the computer and keeps its weight closer to your body.

Despite its size, it’s comfortable enough to carry. Most carry-on backpacks of this size, without frames, become somewhat unwieldy when fully packed. Thankfully, the Black Hole MLC bag, like the Cotopaxi Allpa, is a welcome exception to this rule. The MLC has two shoulder straps, a hip belt, and an optional shoulder strap, for easy carrying. When they're not in use, or when you’re checking your bag, all of the straps can be stowed away easily. When fully loaded, the bag was pleasant to carry—not as comfortable as the Peak Design or the Osprey, but decent enough. I wouldn’t want to carry it all day across a city, but I wouldn’t mind carrying it through an airport to a car and to a hotel.

It’s built from high-quality materials, with durability in mind. This pack is made from recycled polyester, and the fabric is woven in a cross-weave that’s very similar to what Patagonia uses in its long-lasting Black Hole series of duffle bags . This is a material I’ve come across a bunch with Patagonia gear, and I’ve tested it thoroughly; it’s very tough. The front of the bag is coated in a weather-resistant TPU, for extra protection from the elements. The bag has large YKK zippers (the industry leader) and smaller YKK zippers throughout. Unlike the Cotopaxi Allpa pack, the Black Hole MLC bag has no security loops.

It comes with one of the best repair programs and a lifetime warranty. Similar to our other picks, the MLC is backed by an excellent lifetime warranty , and we’ve always found that Patagonia’s repair program goes above and beyond other comparable companies.

  • We wish the Maximum Legal Carry (despite the name) came in a few more sizes. The 45-liter capacity may be intimidating for some people, and there is no alternative.

Capacity: 45 liters Weight: 3 pounds 10 ounces Main compartment access: clamshell Style: retro Colors: tan, black, olive, green

The Osprey Farpoint/ Fairview 40 Travel Pack, one of our also-great picks for the best carry-on travel backpack, shown in black.

Osprey Farpoint 40

For long distances on foot.

A great starter option for one-bag travel, this bag is easy to pack, adaptable to most situations, and sturdy enough to take with you as you travel the world.

cloudz travel backpack

Osprey Fairview 40

For long distances and smaller torsos.

A scaled-down version of the Farpoint, this bag has shoulder straps that are slightly lower, to keep the bag’s bulk more aligned with smaller torsos.

Updated in 2023, the Osprey Farpoint 40 and Fairview 40 packs are both built around a hiking backpack frame that’s easy to carry over long distances.

It’s built for travel but designed for hiking. The Farpoint 40 bag is well made, easy to pack, and comfortable to carry over most mid-length distances—such as walking across a city for an afternoon. (For simplicity’s sake, everything we say here about the Farpoint bag also applies to the Fairview bag.) Osprey makes excellent backpacks for hauling around, and its lifetime warranty is renowned within the industry . The Farpoint pack also has an optional messenger bag–style strap, which offers some flexibility when you’re maneuvering tight spaces like subways or crowded city centers.

View of the straps on the reverse of the Osprey travel backpack.

It’s simple to pack, but not as spacious as it seems. Opening the bag reveals a clamshell design; it’s deep enough to accommodate most large items, yet you won’t have to fumble awkwardly with zippers once it’s time to close up the bag. The feeling you get is not unlike when you’re packing a bit of sturdy luggage, and that’s something we love about bags like this one—especially when you use packing cubes . Osprey says this bag, when fully packed, can carry 40 liters. But after using the Farpoint bag for a few years, we’ve decided that its rounded shape seems to cut into that theoretical packable space more than other bags do. In practice, the Farpoint pack’s available space is closer to—but still less than—that of the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L .

It’s the easiest bag to carry among our picks. Like all Osprey bags, the Farpoint 40 has very comfortable shoulder straps. The years of design and consideration Osprey has put into its hiking backpacks are quite evident in the Farpoint 40. After more than seven years of long-term testing this bag, we’re still surprised by how great it feels to wear when fully packed. Crucially, the straps of the Farpoint 40 stow away neatly behind a zippered panel. However, when you’re using the shoulder straps, the design forces you to also use the hip straps. Though this isn’t a huge issue, if you prefer a sleeker look or would rather have the option of using shoulder straps without hip straps, the Cotopaxi Allpa pack is more flexible, and it lets you hide the waist straps while the bag is on your back.

The Fairview 40 has the same features, in a scaled-down size. The Farpoint 40 and the Fairview 40 packs basically have the same design, but the Fairview pack is made for someone with a more-diminutive torso. It’s also slightly lighter. However, it has the features and durability of the Farpoint bag. It also has the same hip belt and adjustability. On both, the chest-strap clip is also equipped with a small security whistle that’s surprisingly loud. It’s a handy feature for anyone traveling in unfamiliar environments.

  • For a smaller carry-on travel backpack, this one has little to not like. However, we do wish Osprey would trade some of the sleeker contours for a little more interior space.

Capacity: 35 liters Weight (Farpoint): 3 pounds 3 ounces Weight (Fairview): 3 pounds 2 ounces Main compartment access: front-panel loader Style: active Colors (Farpoint): green (Gopher), gray (Tunnel Vision), blue (Muted Space), black Colors (Fairview): blue (Winter Night), red (Zircon), blue (Night Jungle), black

The Tortuga Travel Backpack 40L, our also-great pick for the best carry-on travel backpack.

Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 40L

A suitcase to carry on your back.

For dedicated single-bag travelers, this water-resistant, durable bag is easy to pack and to travel with. And it’s comfortable to wear over endless miles—as long as you don’t mind the heavier weight.

The Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 40L maximizes packing space in a bag that’s durable, water-resistant, and customizable to fit most torso lengths (there’s also a 30L version ), with plenty of organizational features to suit any digital nomad.

It’s like a suitcase, with backpack straps. The Tortuga Travel Backpack Pro 40L is built to occupy the maximum carry-on space available. It’s a nearly perfect blend of backpack and luggage. On the outside, its tear-resistant sailcloth and sealed zippers provide ample protection from sharp objects and the elements. Opening the main clamshell zipper reveals a cavernous interior and a few organizational features that make the bag a cinch to pack. The front panel is a particular standout, great for keeping track of electronics and chargers. Of all the bags we tested, the Tortuga strikes the closest balance between the carrying comfort of a hiking backpack and the space and organization of a piece of luggage.

The Tortuga Backpack Pro shown with the front clamshell lid in the open position.

It’s as easy to pack as luggage. When it comes to packing, the Tortuga pack has a soothingly minimal interior, as any good suitcase should. In addition to the bag’s cavernous main pocket, its interior lid has a large vented panel. The panel is too narrow to hold additional packing cubes, but it’s great for holding light jackets or doubling as a dirty-laundry bag (if you’re really committed to one-bag travel). The Tortuga is available as a 40-liter pack (the maximum space for a carry-on bag), which we tested; there is also a 30-liter version, which is compliant with some intra-European flights. The more-diminutive version is a decent choice for weekend travel or for minimalist travelers—but for those uses, we prefer the space-saving profile and extra internal organization of the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L bag.

It’s very customizable. The Tortuga pack is the most adjustable model we tested, thanks to its adjustable torso length, shoulder straps, and waist-belt system. The adjustable strap system lets you manipulate the location of the shoulder straps (video) to fit a wider variety of body sizes, in both the 30- and 40-liter versions. Of the packs we’ve tested, this one (with its included load-adjuster straps at the top, to prevent the bag’s weight from sagging toward your lumbar region) is the best at distributing its weight (4½ pounds when empty—roughly 1½ pounds more than most of our other picks, except the Peak Design ). The hip straps are removable if you need, but the shoulder straps are not stowable.

  • Its straps don’t stow away. Some people, especially those who are hard on their gear, may consider not being able to remove or stow the shoulder straps (as they can with our other picks, like the Cotopaxi Allpa ) a disqualifying factor. But after years of testing, traveling with, and occasionally checking our bag, we haven’t had an issue. However, if these mysteries beneath the airport also make you nervous, you might prefer our picks with easy-to-stow straps, such as the Peak Design.
  • It's heavy. We’ve also fielded complaints from some testers who said that older models of this bag were too heavy for them to carry, even with the padded hip belt and adjustable straps. The additional padding does add weight. At 4½ pounds, this latest Tortuga bag is more than half a pound lighter than it used to be—the difference is noticeable—and it weighs the same as the equally large Peak Design pack. But if you think you would struggle carrying this model, we strenuously encourage you to consider one of our more-manageable picks, like the Cotopaxi Allpa 35L.

Capacity: 40 liters Weight: 4½ pounds Main compartment access: clamshell opening Style: minimal, with a rigid construction Color: black

If you want to travel like a backpacker but also fit in at a board meeting (and you have the budget for it): Consider the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 . This bag’s reputation for durability, adaptability, and a low-key aesthetic make it a favorite among many dedicated one-bag travelers. And after testing it, we think it’s a great bag too. That said, for the bag to really stand out against other backpacks—and to take full advantage of its carrying adaptability—you need to buy the internal frame , the hip belt , and (if you’re traveling with a suit or jacket) the shoulder strap . On a bag that already costs $330, all of this adds up. Everything about the Tom Bihn bag (the fabric, the zippers, the quality of construction) feels like an upgrade from other bags, but it’s simply too pricey, and its design is too rarified and specific for most people. The biggest flaw, from our perspective—apart from the price—is that the Tom Bihn bag lacks a dedicated laptop pocket. In its place, the company sells laptop sleeves (a fine version if you don’t have one) that clip into the bag’s central compartment. Not everyone needs a dedicated laptop pocket, but we prefer the more secure feeling of bags that do.

If you want a budget pick (but only when it’s on sale): The eBags Mother Lode Travel Backpack (our former budget pick) is still your best budget option, if you can catch it on sale for at least half off the list price. It’s not comfortable enough for trekking long distances on foot, but there are plenty of external pockets for organization, a laptop sleeve (which holds the weight of your computer high up on your shoulders), and an easy-to-access main compartment. This pack also has the largest capacity of any bags we tested, expanding to 65 liters—well beyond any airline’s regulated 45-liter limit. However, the bag’s casual-to-basic looks might not be to everyone’s taste. In 2024, eBags raised the price of the Mother Lode to $200. We have seen it on sale for $100, and in our opinion it’s worth getting only at the sale price.

We’ve narrowed our specifications for a great bag to the following list of features, ordered from most relevant to least:

  • Front- or back-panel loader or clamshell opening, for the main compartment: As with any good piece of luggage, with this type of bag, you should be able to open it and see everything you’ve packed. When you have a bag with a panel-loading or clamshell design—rather than a traditional, top-opening design—you can pack and unpack it just as you would a suitcase.

A graphic illustrating a clamshell bag opening

  • Backpack strap comfort and design: You never know when you’ll be walking farther with your bag than you’d intended. The more comfortable and well designed the straps are, the easier traveling will be. “Ideally, you want a bag’s shoulder straps to adjust to the angle of your shoulders,” said Eytan Levy of Snarky Nomad. “Good shoulder straps are the difference between an easy trip and a hard trip.”
  • Hip-belt comfort and design: A hip belt transfers heavy loads from your back and shoulders onto your hips, letting your legs—not your back—bear the brunt of the weight. Just having a waist belt is a plus, but having a padded and sculpted one—especially on bags with over 40 liters of volume—makes a world of difference.
  • Material quality: Durability is critical for any type of luggage, but especially for a backpack that will be your only bag. Most bags worth considering are made of nylon, which resists abrasion more than polyester fabrics of similar density. Spending more, however, can get you exotic, light, and strong materials, such as Dyneema or sailcloth.
  • Weight: Once the bags arrived, we weighed each one ourselves. Most of the bags weighed within a few pounds of one another. But unless you’re very strict with yourself, by the time you’re packed for a two-week journey, all bags are going to feel equally massive, even if one is just 2 pounds heavier than another when empty.
  • Stowable straps: These are nice to have, but they aren’t absolutely necessary. “The more often you need to check a bag, the more often you need to hide away the straps,” Levy said. “But if the straps are tough enough, it doesn’t matter.”
  • Accessory pocket layout and design: Some people will love an accessory pocket that has a specific space for everything; others may find that feature constricting and unadaptable. We prioritized bags with simple designs that guided our packing without constraining us.
  • Style: This is purely subjective. We preferred bags that had a minimalist exterior style, but not all of our picks will please everyone. Most of the people we spoke with, however, preferred not to stick out like a tourist wearing a large, colorful backpack, if they could avoid it.

During testing, we flew across the country with these bags, took weekend trips to nearby cities, lived out of them on extended trips, and tried them locally in our daily routines. We also packed and unpacked each bag, using a standardized set of weeklong travel necessities and accessories, to see how well the internal organizational features (or lack thereof) aided or got in the way of efficient packing.

This is not a comprehensive list of all of the carry-on travel backpacks we have tested. We have removed any models that have been discontinued or that no longer meet our criteria.

The Away Outdoor Convertible Backpack 45L is a rare miss from the Away team. This bag is resoundingly average for the price. Although it’s made from excellent materials, the bag is let down by its overall design, which lacks any kind of structure or attention to comfort. There are better options.

The cheap, no-frills Cabin Max Metz bag is intriguing for the price. Any bag at this price should almost be considered disposable. That said, if you need a simple bag that costs less than a seat upgrade, this might be the way to go—unless you can pick up the eBags Motherlode bag for under $100, which we think is a better deal at that price.

The GeniusPack Travel Backpack is the only model we came across that tried to fit a suit into a travel backpack. Though some people might need that, we think those who have to travel with a suit (or clothes that require pressing) would be better off with a piece of carry-on luggage . GeniusPack now offers a second version of this bag, but our conclusion hasn’t changed.

For certain people, the GoRuck GR3 is almost worth the cost. It’s strong and simple and covered by an iron-clad repair guarantee. The removable hip belt is comfortable to wear, and it’s good at displacing the weight of a 45-liter backpack. This is a decent bag. After testing it, however, we weren’t thrilled with the internal Velcro lining for compatible Velcro packing cubes. Velcro isn’t great: It wears out, it’s difficult to keep clean, and it clings to dirt. That might seem like a small thing, but for the price, this bag should feel perfect.

The Minaal Carry-On 2.0 was designed to be a backpack for business people. But if you’re carrying it for business, you’re probably wearing at least a blazer, so you wouldn’t use a backpack in any case. If you’re a business traveler who falls more on the casual end of the business-casual spectrum, and you’re not on a budget, this is a well-thought-out pack. But we think our picks are more versatile for world travel, and they come at a better price. Minaal has since introduced a 3.0 version of this bag ; our thoughts about it remain the same.

The Osprey Sojourn Porter 46L is a slightly larger sibling of the Farpoint pack. The Sojourn Porter bag is about 2 inches longer, and it pushes right up to most airline limits. If you don’t mind possibly having to check your bag at the last minute, this would be an excellent alternative to the Farpoint pack.

This article was edited by Ria Misra and Christine Ryan.

Chase Reeves, Matterful.co , phone interview , October 10, 2018

Addison Ryan, moderator, r/onebag , email interview , September 8, 2018

Lindsay Lorraine Calderón, moderator, r/heronebag , phone interview , September 28, 2018

Meet your guide

cloudz travel backpack

Kit Dillon is a senior staff writer at Wirecutter. He was previously an app developer, oil derrick inspector, public-radio archivist, and sandwich shop owner. He has written for Popular Science, The Awl, and the New York Observer, among others. When called on, he can still make a mean sandwich.

Further reading

Four Osprey travel backpacks, two blue, two green, sitting next to each other.

The Best Travel Backpack

by Geoffrey Morrison

For trips ranging from a week to multiple months, the Osprey Farpoint 55 and Fairview 55 carried everything we needed comfortably.

A person in an outdoor environment wearing one of our picks for best buy it for life backpack with a minimalist look, the GoRuck GR1.

The Best Buy It for Life Backpack (Please Don’t Call It Tactical)

by Kit Dillon

A buy-it-for-a-lifetime backpack should last you for years of heavy use. But as with all investments, you need to decide if it makes sense for you.

Three of our favorite backpacks, totes and duffle bags on display

Wirecutter’s Favorite Bags, Totes, Backpacks and Carryalls

by Truth Headlam

Whether you’re going to school, work, the gym, the store, or on vacay, you need a bag. Here’s the Wirecutter-recommended carrying gear we love most.

Our picks for best laptop backpack pictured with school supplies.

The Best Laptop Backpacks

by Zoe Vanderweide

A great laptop backpack protects your tech, is comfortable to carry, and looks good, too. These five bags are our favorites for wrangling your workday gear.

Cloudz Folding Travel Backpack

Cloudz Folding Travel Backpack

Product description.

Brand: Cloudz

Color: Black Backpack

  • The Cloudz Full Size Backpack is Perfect for Travel! So Compact it Folds into it’s Own Travel Case.
  • Expands into a Full Size Backpack: 12″W x 9″D x 15″H
  • Made of Tough 190 Denier and Includes 3 Zip Storage Compartments & 2 Mesh Side Pockets
  • Includes Adjustable Shoulder Straps and a Top Carry Handle.
  • Water Resistant and Clips to Luggage for Easy Transport

Details: Take your First Step in Travel with our Cloudz Compact Travel Backpack! Extremely durable made with tough 190 Denier, this pack is perfect for traveling or everyday use. This full size backpack was designed to fold into its own case when not in use to save valuable space when traveling, when storing at home or in your car. This bag comes with ample storage space, accessibility, and convenience. There is a large main zipper compartment for your larger items, two exterior zipper pockets in the front for your smaller items, two mesh side pockets for your water bottles, a top carry handle and adjustable shoulder straps for comfort. Our Cloudz Travel Backpack is also water resistant and clips to luggage for easy transport.

Package Dimensions: 48x444x1270

UPC: 648748938720

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cloudz travel backpack

Cloudz Original Dual Comfort Travel Pillow

Last updated: October 28, 2022

One of the best features of this travel pillow is the included snap closure. This allows the pillow to be attached to the outside of your carry-on, as well as keep the pillow in place when used around your neck. The inner microbeads conform to your body, so you can relax and enjoy your car, bus, train or plane ride.

Cloudz Original Dual Comfort Travel Pillow

We looked at the top Travel Pillows and dug through the reviews from some of the most popular review sites. Through this analysis, we've determined the best Travel Pillow you should buy.

Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow - Grey

Cloudz Microbead Travel Neck Pillow - Grey

Product details.

Key Takeaway : Not only can you us this travel pillow behind your head, but also behind your back for lumbar support and over your face when getting a massage.

From The Manufacturer

GUARANTEED | BUY WITH CONFIDENCE. Our customers come first! Seems like everyone is offering a travel pillow these days, but why take a chance with an “unknown” brand. Clöudz is one of the originators and innovators of the travel pillow. We have been here for the last 15+ years and will be here for many years to come. **THE ORIGINAL MICROBEAD TRAVEL PILLOW by Clöudz! Why take a chance on an imitation? For over 15 years, Millions of happy travelers have used our pillows in airports around the globe! **FILLED WITH EXCLUSIVE, ULTRA-PREMIUM Comforlite MICROBEADS. Our super small polystyrene beads will give you the relaxing support you need and will conform to your every position. However, they will not crush easily like so many other pillows on the market who use inferior quality beads. Buy the pillow that lasts! **DUAL COMFORT! Super soft and cozy plush on one side and cool, relaxing spandex on the other. It’s like having TWO pillows and everyone knows how important it is to have flexibility during travel. SNAP CLOSURE. Allows you to secure the pillow around your neck to help prevent your head from falling forward so you can catch some Z’s! **EASILY ATTACHES TO LUGGAGE. Simply snap around the handle of your luggage or to your backpack. A very hand feature during your travels. **USE IT AS A LUMBAR SUPPORT! Our pillow doubles as a lumbar support. Super soft and super versatile. **USE IT FRONTWARDS LIKE A MASSAGE TABLE PILLOW! Simply close the snap and rest your face forward into the pillow. USE ON-THE-GO OR AT HOME. Our pillow is just as comfortable on the couch or on the bed!

Expert Reviews

What reviewers liked, what reviewers didn't like, travel pillow rankings.

Trtl Ergonomic Adjustable Travel Pillow

1. Trtl Ergonomic Adjustable Travel Pillow

MLVOC Sweat-Resistant Support Neck Pillow

2. MLVOC Sweat-Resistant Support Neck Pillow

BCOZZY Children’s Cozy Travel Pillow

3. BCOZZY Children’s Cozy Travel Pillow

Dreamtown Kids Plush First Travel Pillow

4. Dreamtown Kids Plush First Travel Pillow

SAIREIDER Ultra Soft Zippered Neck Pillow

5. SAIREIDER Ultra Soft Zippered Neck Pillow

World’s Best Machine Washable Recycled Fibers Neck Pillow

6. World’s Best Machine Washable Recycled Fibers Neck Pillow

napfun Ergonomic Side-Sleeper Travel Pillow

7. napfun Ergonomic Side-Sleeper Travel Pillow

TALLGO Velour Ergonomic Travel Pillow

8. TALLGO Velour Ergonomic Travel Pillow

Crafty World Perfect Nap Thermo-Sensitive Neck Pillow

9. Crafty World Perfect Nap Thermo-Sensitive Neck Pillow

10. cloudz original dual comfort travel pillow.

MyPillow Roll & Go Cotton Lumbar Support Travel Pillow

11. MyPillow Roll & Go Cotton Lumbar Support Travel Pillow

J-Pillow Head Elevating Easy Carry Travel Pillow

12. J-Pillow Head Elevating Easy Carry Travel Pillow

Dot&Dot Twist Customizable Easy Clean Travel Pillow

13. Dot&Dot Twist Customizable Easy Clean Travel Pillow

AERIS Semicircular Removable Cover Travel Pillow

14. AERIS Semicircular Removable Cover Travel Pillow

Travelmate Plush Adjustable Neck Pillow

15. Travelmate Plush Adjustable Neck Pillow

Therm-a-Rest Foam Compact Travel Pillow

16. Therm-a-Rest Foam Compact Travel Pillow

Travelrest Scientifically Tested Anti-Pain Travel Pillow

17. Travelrest Scientifically Tested Anti-Pain Travel Pillow

Travelrest Ultimate Inflatable Travel Pillow

18. Travelrest Ultimate Inflatable Travel Pillow

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The 5 Best Compression Packing Cubes of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Keep organized and pack more with these high-quality compression packing cubes.

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In This Article

Jump to a Section

  • Our top picks
  • Others We Liked

Our Testing Process

  • Tips for Buying
  • Why Trust T+L

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more .

Travel + Leisure / Jessica Juliao

Filling a suitcase can be a tedious task but compression packing cubes are an extremely useful travel hack to stay organized and maximize space. While traditional packing cubes are great for keeping items sorted, compression cubes can save even more precious room in a carry-on or checked bag.

We tested a variety of packing cubes to find the best compressible, highly durable options to consolidate clothing in an organized, efficient way, and make traveling easier. Our top pick is the Gonex Compression Packing Cubes set with sturdy zippers and water-resistant nylon. We loved that the cube could be packed full and it was still easy to press the air out and zip the cube down to constrict the items with minimal effort. And if you’re not in search of a three- or four-piece cube set, we found an excellent singular cube as well as lightweight options, too.

Best Overall

Gonex compression packing cubes.

  • Capacity 5 /5
  • Design 5 /5
  • Quality 5 /5

Both the zippers and nylon material feel sturdy when the bag is packed full and compressed.

The bags weren’t as waterproof as we had hoped.

We love the simple and functional design of our top pick, the Gonex Compression Packing Cubes. These no-frills packing cubes thoroughly impressed us during testing thanks to their extremely tough zippers that easily closed around the packed items. In fact, even after using these compression packing cubes for six months, we didn't notice any signs that this set was losing its durability. All you have to do is fill the cubes with clothes, close the top zipper, and then squeeze out the air, and compress the bag with the center zipper that wraps around the sides. It didn’t require much effort to quickly close the compression zippers which prevented air from getting back into the bag. The seams remained perfectly stitched and didn’t show any signs of expansion or stress even after we packed it to the brim.

While we would consider the nylon material more water-resistant than waterproof after we splashed the bag with a little bit of water, we still think they would protect clothes from condensation or dampness, especially if they’re also packed away in a suitcase. The four-pack compression bags come in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes so you can compress a variety of clothing from pants to jackets. We love that the bags have handles on the top making it easier to grab the bags whether they’re in a suitcase or a backpack.

The Details: 4 bags | 17.3 x 13 x 3.54 inches (extra large), 14.5 x 10.6 x 3.54 inches (large), 11.8 x 8.9 x 3.54 inches (medium), 9.8 x 7.5 x 3.54 inches (small) | Water-repellent

Travel + Leisure / Vicky Wasik

Travel + Leisure / Jessica Juliao

Well Traveled Compression Packing Cubes

 Amazon

  • Design 4 /5
  • Value 4.5 /5

The set includes three compression bags and a sack for laundry or shoes.

The bags aren’t water resistant.

For travelers in search of a budget-friendly pack of travel cubes, the Well Traveled Compression Packing Cubes set comes with three different sized compression cubes and a bag for shoes or dirty laundry. The set also includes labeling cards for travelers to write the contents of each cube and then place the card into the slot on the back. We think the value is unmatched given the amount of bags in the set combined with their sturdy structure and superb compression ability.

We used the cubes to pack an entire suitcase including shoes, pants, tops, undergarments, and toiletries across the varying cube sizes. After three months of use, we especially loved the small size for packing undergarments and separating laundry. While the material isn’t water-resistant, it does feel well-made with strong stitchwork. Plus, the cubes are outfitted with metal zippers that glide smoothly to compress the bags, even when they’re packed full of clothes.

The Details: 4 bags | 7 x 5.5 x 1 inches (small), 11.5 x 8 x 1 inches (medium), 14 x 10 x 1 inches (large), 18 x 11 inches (laundry/shoe bag) | Water-resistant

Best for Group Travel

Leantravel compression packing cubes for travel, set of 3.

  • Quality 4 /5

The total weight of all three cubes is just over 1 pound.

The cubes are made of polyester which is generally less durable than nylon.

If you’re looking for packing cubes to stay organized but not to add more weight to an already packed suitcase, consider the lightweight polyester Lean Travel Premium Compression Packing Cubes. After using these for six months of use, we've decided they're truly a game changer when it comes to organized packing. Although polyester is a little less durable than nylon (typically used for packing cubes), the material has more give making it easier to squeeze a few more clothing items into the cubes. We had no issues with zippers getting snagged or stuck and the fabric feels thick enough that, if there was a spill in a suitcase, it could soak it up before reaching the clothes packed inside.

This set comes with two large and one medium-sized cube so you can easily pack clothes like jackets or jeans. While it depends on the size of your suitcase , we found that it might be easier to only pack one or two cubes in a suitcase at a time, due to the fact that the large cubes are incredibly spacious on the inside and can fit plenty of clothes, but take up a good amount of space once full. However, if you’re looking for more sizes, the brand also carries a 6-piece set that has small, medium, and large sizes, but we think the 3-piece is the perfect number for heavy packers or traveling families so you don’t have too many bags to manage.

The Details: 3 bags | 15.5 x 11.5 x 1 inches (large), 11 x 11 x 1 inches (medium) | Waterproof zipper bag included

Best for Backpacking

Suited nomad compression packing cubes.

The ripstop material is durable for even longer backpacking adventures.

Your items may wrinkle if you pack these too full.

Going on a backpacking trip and need to fit all your stuff in one rucksack? Be sure to use these compact compression cubes from Suited Nomad when packing. Each set comes with three packing cubes in varying sizes. They're made from a water-resistant, ripstop material that won't snag or tear during your travels. The cubes also have convenient top handles to make it easier to pull them in and out of your pack.

The double-zipper compression system makes them super compact and small enough to fit inside a backpack while still being roomy enough to pack all the essentials. While testing out the set, we were able to fit all three fully packed cubes into a L.L.Bean backpack ( llbean.com, $70) and still had enough room to pack other items like shoes and travel accessories .

The Details: 3 bags | 11 x 8 x 4 inches (medium), 15 x 11 x 4 inches (large, two included) | Water-resistant

Best Lightweight Cubes

Eagle creek specter compression cube set.

It opens wide, so you can easily pack all of your items neatly.

Only one bag is included, making this a pricier option.

Eagle Creek has been making traveler-loved packing organizers for more than 20 years, and the Specter line is one of the brand's newest innovations. The zippers unzip three-quarters of the way around the cube, which makes it easy to load in a lot, and then, a second set of zippers compresses the cube's size by up to 50 percent if you packed it with flexible materials. We were able to fit a full week's worth of warm-weather clothing — mostly dresses — into this medium-sized packing cube, and the smaller one is perfect for stowing for socks and undergarments.

Also, the material they're made of is incredibly lightweight and it's water-resistant, too, so your clothes won't get ruined if your toiletry bag happens to spring a leak. The best thing about these cubes is how easy they are to use and how durable they are.

The Details: 1 bag | 10 x 13.5 x 3.25 inches | Water-resistant

Other Compression Packing Cubes We Liked

While we tried several sets of compression packing cubes, the two highlighted below almost made our list for the best compression packing cubes but they fell short due to a few flaws during testing.

Bagail Compression Packing Cubes : The material felt soft and the bags boasted spacious capacities, but the quality was questionable due to flimsy zippers and stressed stitchwork when the bag was packed.

Tripped Compression Packing Cubes for Travel : The set of cubes have water-resistant exteriors and solid storage capacities, but the $50 price seems a bit too high considering the zippers and stitching felt weak.

We tested 23 sets of packing cubes in our New York City lab and found there were several sets of compression-specific packing cubes that had stellar performances during our tests where we rated the cubes on a scale of one to five based on capacity, design, and quality.

After unboxing the packing cubes, we thoroughly examined the quality of each bag by twisting and pulling on the cubes with it zipped and open to see how the material and stitchwork held up with some pressure. The cubes scoring highest for quality appeared to be made with durable materials and stitching, and had smooth and tough zippers. Then, we packed the cubes full of clothes, undergarments, shoes, and toiletries to judge the capacity of the varying-sized cubes. It was during this test that we evaluated the consolidation ability of the compression cubes by pressing the air out of each bag and closing the compression zipper before we placed the cubes into a standard carry-on suitcase. Our favorite compression cubes for capacity were able to fit a solid amount of items and zipped down easily.

All of our top-performing compression cubes had sleek designs that helped us pack in an organized and efficient way, and saved a noticeable amount of space in the carry-on with room leftover for other items, if desired. We splashed water on the outside of each cube to see how protective the material was, since many of the brands we tested claimed the bags were waterproof or water-resistant. Lastly, we were unaware of the cost of each set of compression packing cubes and were only made aware of the price after testing was completed to judge the value based on its performance.

After testing the packing cubes in our lab, we sent each set home with testers to use during their real-world travels. Over a period of six months, we checked in with the testers to see how the compression cubes were performing and updated this article accordingly.

Tips for Buying Compression Packing Cubes

Consider how many you want.

There are plenty of packing cube sets ranging from one to six (or more!) cubes included. For travelers looking to fill a carry-on or checked bag with cubes, we recommend getting a set with multiple bags in varying sizes to get the best value. If you’re planning to pack boots or a bulky jacket, a single compression cube could do the trick without having to buy a whole set.

Look for high-quality materials

Most of the compression cubes we tested were made of nylon which is known for being an ultra-durable material for soft goods like sports bags and suitcases. Polyester is lighter in weight than nylon but it’s a little less durable than nylon.

Check the dimensions

Before you purchase a set of compression packing cubes or a single one, double-check the dimensions of each bag to ensure that they will fit in your preferred suitcase. Some large or extra-large packing cubes could work great in a checked bag but they might take up a lot of room in a carry-on or not fit in a duffel bag at all.

Depending on the type of packing cube, some are machine-washable. If it’s not listed in the product description before or after you purchase it, you can always spot clean the fabric with soap and water, and then let it air dry before using the cube or storing it for your next trip.

Both regular and compression packing cubes are designed to organize the items you need to pack in a suitcase, but compression packing cubes are designed to release the air inside of the bag to consolidate the items down to a flattened packing cube. Compression cubes are best suited for travelers looking to save space in a suitcase, especially for packing jackets, jeans, or other larger items that take up a lot of space.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Anna Popp is a commerce writer at Travel + Leisure , where she writes and reviews travel products. She has been travel writing since 2018 and product testing since 2021. Anna worked with travel editors to determine the results for the best compression packing cubes based on a series of tests completed in our New York City lab.

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Encompass RL Travel Accessories

Review Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket - Charcoal

Today I want to share my thoughts on the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket - Charcoal . As someone who loves traveling and always wants to stay warm and cozy, I was excited to try out this compact travel blanket. I'll provide you with the pros and cons of this product and give you a quick verdict on whether it's worth your investment.

compact travel blanket

Pros and Cons

What we liked.

  • Lightweight and compact design: Unlike bulky fleece blankets, this travel blanket is easy to carry and stows away effortlessly when not in use. It won't take up much space in your bag or luggage.
  • Trusted brand: Clöudz has built a strong reputation for providing quality products, so you can trust the reliability and durability of this blanket.
  • Versatile use: Whether you're traveling, at home, or enjoying the outdoors, this blanket keeps you warm and cozy in different settings.
  • Variety of colors: The Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket comes in a range of great colors, allowing you to choose the one that suits your personal style.
  • Opens to full size: Once unfolded, the blanket measures 40 x 62, providing enough coverage for an individual.

What Can Be Improved

  • Dry clean only: The blanket's care instructions indicate that it should be dry cleaned, which may be inconvenient for some users who prefer machine washing.
  • Limited size coverage: If you're taller, like me at 5'11, you might find it challenging to fully cover yourself with this blanket.

Quick Verdict

In conclusion, the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket - Charcoal is a lightweight and compact solution for staying warm and cozy while traveling or enjoying various activities. It's backed by a trusted brand, and its variety of colors allows you to express your personal style. The blanket opens to a decent size, but taller individuals may find it a little small for complete coverage. While it is soft and functional, the dry clean only label may be a downside for those who prefer easy machine washable items. If you're in need of a travel blanket that won't take up much space in your bag and provides adequate warmth, this product is worth considering. You can find more information about it here .

Text: Unboxing - What's Inside?

I recently purchased the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket in Charcoal from Amazon. As someone who travels frequently, I was in need of a compact and lightweight blanket that would be easy to carry with me. The product had great reviews and came with a reasonable price tag, so I decided to give it a try. The delivery was incredibly fast, and I received it within two days of placing the order.

Upon opening the package, I found the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket neatly folded inside. The blanket was tightly packed, allowing it to easily fit into its compact form. It unfolded smoothly, revealing a beautifully crafted blanket. The Charcoal color was exactly as shown in the product images on Amazon, and the material felt soft and cozy to touch.

Specifications:

  • Brand: Cloudz
  • Manufacturer: Cloudz
  • Fabric Type: 100% Viscose
  • Size: 40 x 62
  • Item Weight: 6.4 ounces
  • Fabric Warmth Description: Lightweight
  • Product Dimensions: 42L x 42W
  • Date First Available: June 13, 2014
  • Is Discontinued By Manufacturer: No
  • Number of Items: 1
  • Department: unisex-adult
  • Seasons: All
  • Pattern: Solid
  • Theme: Plain
  • Blanket Form: Travel Blanket
  • Style: Solid
  • Special Feature: Compact, Lightweight
  • Color: Charcoal
  • Material: Viscose

User Guide:

The Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket did not come with a specific user guide or documentation. However, the blanket itself is pretty straightforward to use. Simply unfold it, and you're ready to go. The care instructions, stating to machine wash cold and air dry, were clearly mentioned on the product packaging. In case you need any additional assistance or information, you can visit https://www.cloudz.com/support to access their online support and FAQs section.

Overall, I am extremely satisfied with my purchase of the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket . It has become an essential item in my travel bag, providing comfort and warmth during my journeys. The convenience of its compact size, coupled with its lightweight nature, makes it the perfect travel companion. If you're looking for a reliable and practical travel blanket, I highly recommend the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket in Charcoal.

Features - What We Found

Lightweight and compact travel solution.

The Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket is designed to be your perfect travel companion. It is incredibly lightweight, making it easy to carry wherever you go. Unlike bulky and heavy fleece blankets, this travel blanket can be conveniently stowed away when not in use. Whether you're traveling by plane, car, or train, this compact blanket won't take up much space in your bag.

Pro Tip: Keep the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket in your car or backpack, so you're always prepared for unexpected chilly nights or chilly airplane cabins. Its compact size allows you to have a cozy blanket on hand whenever you need it.

Variety of Colors to Choose From

Add a touch of style to your travels with the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket . Available in a variety of great colors, you can pick the one that matches your personal taste or travel accessories. Choose from vibrant hues or subtle tones to suit your style and make a fashion statement even when you're on the go.

Exclusively sold on Amazon, you can find the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket in the color of your choice by visiting the product page here .

Stay Warm and Cozy Anywhere

Whether you're traveling, at home, or enjoying the outdoors, the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket keeps you warm and cozy. Its soft and comfortable material wrap you in a gentle hug, providing the warmth you need in various settings. Whether you're on a long flight, camping under the stars, or simply snuggling up on your couch, this blanket ensures your comfort.

Opens to Full Size of 40 x 62

Don't be fooled by its compact size when folded, as the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket transforms into a full-size blanket when unfolded. With dimensions of 40 x 62, it provides ample coverage to keep you cozy and comfortable. No matter where you are, you can unfold this blanket and enjoy its cozy embrace.

Pro Tip: Use the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket when lounging in parks or sitting on stadium seats. Its larger size ensures you have enough coverage to stay warm and comfortable.

Trusted Brand - Clöudz

When it comes to travel comfort, Clöudz is a trusted brand known for their top-quality products. With their Compact Travel Blanket, you can expect the same level of excellence in design and functionality. Clöudz has built a reputation for providing travel essentials that prioritize comfort and convenience, ensuring you have a comfortable journey no matter where you go.

Final Thoughts

Our score: 83.0.

I recently purchased the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket in Charcoal and I have been extremely satisfied with its performance. As someone who frequently travels, I was looking for a lightweight and compact blanket that would keep me warm during long flights and also be easy to carry around. This blanket exceeded my expectations in every way.

The Cloudz Travel Blanket is made by a trusted brand and is available in a variety of great colors, including the Charcoal color that I chose. The first thing I noticed about this blanket is its compact size. It opens to a full size of 40 x 62, which is perfect for covering myself during flights or while enjoying the outdoors. When not in use, it easily stows away without taking up much space in my bag.

Not only is this blanket lightweight, but it is also incredibly cozy. The material is soft and provides just the right amount of warmth. I have used it both as a blanket and as a pillow, and it has kept me comfortable throughout my journeys. Additionally, I found it to be easy to clean by washing it on a delicate cycle and hanging it to dry, contrary to the label's instructions for dry cleaning only .

I highly recommend the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket for anyone in need of a reliable and versatile travel companion. Its compact size, lightweight design, and cozy feel make it perfect for keeping warm during travel or any outdoor activities. Click here to check it out for yourself!

Best combination

Terry Cotton Beach Towel

When it comes to traveling, comfort is key. That's why I highly recommend pairing your purchase of the 'Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket - Charcoal' with the Arus Jacquard Woven Turkish Terry Cotton Beach Towel . This beach towel is not just your ordinary towel, it's a versatile piece that can serve multiple purposes during your travels.

Whether you're lounging by the pool, strolling along sandy beaches, or even exploring new destinations, this beach towel is an essential item that guarantees both functionality and style. Made with high-quality terry cotton, it provides exceptional softness and absorbency, ensuring every use is a cozy experience.

Featuring a stunning wave design in a beautiful shade of blue, this beach towel adds a touch of elegance to any setting. Its generous size of 28x55 inches provides ample space for you to relax and unwind. Additionally, the jacquard woven construction ensures durability, so you can enjoy this towel for many trips to come.

By purchasing the Arus Jacquard Woven Turkish Terry Cotton Beach Towel along with the 'Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket - Charcoal', you'll have the perfect combination for your travel needs. Enjoy the ultimate comfort and convenience, and make the most out of every journey with these two exceptional products.

Click here to complete your travel essentials with the Arus Jacquard Woven Turkish Terry Cotton Beach Towel!

Alternatives To Go For

When it comes to travel blankets, the Cloudz Compact Travel Blanket - Charcoal is a great option. However, if you're looking for some alternatives, here are a few other options worth considering:

  • SAGEFINDS Airplane Travel Blanket: This versatile blanket not only keeps you warm during long flights, but it also converts into a pillow for added comfort. It's the perfect travel gift and attaches easily to your luggage, making it convenient to carry around. You can find more information about this product here .
  • BROWNTREK Pocket Blanket: If you're heading outdoors for a picnic, camping trip, or beach visit, this compact picnic blanket is a must-have. It is sand-proof and water-resistant, making it ideal for various outdoor activities. With its packable design, it's easy to carry around on your adventures. You can find more information about this product here .
  • SAGEFINDS Airplane Travel Blanket: Similar to the previous alternative mentioned, this blanket also converts into a pillow for added convenience during long flights. It's a travel essential that attaches to your luggage, ensuring you always have it on hand when needed. You can find more information about this product here .
  • Empty Alternative: Unfortunately, there is no fifth alternative product available at the moment.

These alternate products offer unique features and functionality that may suit your specific needs. Whether you're looking for versatility during air travel or a compact blanket for outdoor activities, these options have got you covered. Simply click on the provided links to learn more about each product and make an informed decision.

Related Articles: How Do You Pack A Blanket For Travel?

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Travel Itinerary For One Week in Moscow: The Best of Moscow!

I just got back from one week in Moscow. And, as you might have already guessed, it was a mind-boggling experience. It was not my first trip to the Russian capital. But I hardly ever got enough time to explore this sprawling city. Visiting places for business rarely leaves enough time for sightseeing. I think that if you’ve got one week in Russia, you can also consider splitting your time between its largest cities (i.e. Saint Petersburg ) to get the most out of your trip. Seven days will let you see the majority of the main sights and go beyond just scratching the surface. In this post, I’m going to share with you my idea of the perfect travel itinerary for one week in Moscow.

Moscow is perhaps both the business and cultural hub of Russia. There is a lot more to see here than just the Kremlin and Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Centuries-old churches with onion-shaped domes dotted around the city are in stark contrast with newly completed impressive skyscrapers of Moscow City dominating the skyline. I spent a lot of time thinking about my Moscow itinerary before I left. And this city lived up to all of my expectations.

7-day Moscow itinerary

Travel Itinerary For One Week in Moscow

Day 1 – red square and the kremlin.

Metro Station: Okhotny Ryad on Red Line.

No trip to Moscow would be complete without seeing its main attraction. The Red Square is just a stone’s throw away from several metro stations. It is home to some of the most impressive architectural masterpieces in the city. The first thing you’ll probably notice after entering it and passing vendors selling weird fur hats is the fairytale-like looking Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It was built to commemorate one of the major victories of Ivan the Terrible. I once spent 20 minutes gazing at it, trying to find the perfect angle to snap it. It was easier said than done because of the hordes of locals and tourists.

As you continue strolling around Red Square, there’s no way you can miss Gum. It was widely known as the main department store during the Soviet Era. Now this large (yet historic) shopping mall is filled with expensive boutiques, pricey eateries, etc. During my trip to Moscow, I was on a tight budget. So I only took a retro-style stroll in Gum to get a rare glimpse of a place where Soviet leaders used to grocery shop and buy their stuff. In case you want some modern shopping experience, head to the Okhotny Ryad Shopping Center with stores like New Yorker, Zara, and Adidas.

things to do in Moscow in one week

Read Next: Things To Do on Socotra

To continue this Moscow itinerary, next you may want to go inside the Kremlin walls. This is the center of Russian political power and the president’s official residence. If you’re planning to pay Kremlin a visit do your best to visit Ivan the Great Bell Tower as well. Go there as early as possible to avoid crowds and get an incredible bird’s-eye view. There are a couple of museums that are available during designated visiting hours. Make sure to book your ticket online and avoid lines.

Day 2 – Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, the Tretyakov Gallery, and the Arbat Street

Metro Station: Kropotkinskaya on Red Line

As soon as you start creating a Moscow itinerary for your second day, you’ll discover that there are plenty of metro stations that are much closer to certain sites. Depending on your route, take a closer look at the metro map to pick the closest.

The white marble walls of Christ the Saviour Cathedral are awe-inspiring. As you approach this tallest Orthodox Christian church, you may notice the bronze sculptures, magnificent arches, and cupolas that were created to commemorate Russia’s victory against Napoleon.

travel itinerary for one week in Moscow

How to Get a Decent Haircut in a Foreign Country

Unfortunately, the current Cathedral is a replica, since original was blown to bits in 1931 by the Soviet government. The new cathedral basically follows the original design, but they have added some new elements such as marble high reliefs.

Home to some precious collection of artworks, in Tretyakov Gallery you can find more than 150,000 of works spanning centuries of artistic endeavor. Originally a privately owned gallery, it now has become one of the largest museums in Russia. The Gallery is often considered essential to visit. But I have encountered a lot of locals who have never been there.

Famous for its souvenirs, musicians, and theaters, Arbat street is among the few in Moscow that were turned into pedestrian zones. Arbat street is usually very busy with tourists and locals alike. My local friend once called it the oldest street in Moscow dating back to 1493. It is a kilometer long walking street filled with fancy gift shops, small cozy restaurants, lots of cute cafes, and street artists. It is closed to any vehicular traffic, so you can easily stroll it with kids.

Day 3 – Moscow River Boat Ride, Poklonnaya Hill Victory Park, the Moscow City

Metro Station: Kievskaya and Park Pobedy on Dark Blue Line / Vystavochnaya on Light Blue Line

Voyaging along the Moscow River is definitely one of the best ways to catch a glimpse of the city and see the attractions from a bit different perspective. Depending on your Moscow itinerary, travel budget and the time of the year, there are various types of boats available. In the summer there is no shortage of boats, and you’ll be spoiled for choice.

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If you find yourself in Moscow during the winter months, I’d recommend going with Radisson boat cruise. These are often more expensive (yet comfy). They offer refreshments like tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and, of course, alcoholic drinks. Prices may vary but mostly depend on your food and drink selection. Find their main pier near the opulent Ukraine hotel . The hotel is one of the “Seven Sisters”, so if you’re into the charm of Stalinist architecture don’t miss a chance to stay there.

The area near Poklonnaya Hill has the closest relation to the country’s recent past. The memorial complex was completed in the mid-1990s to commemorate the Victory and WW2 casualties. Also known as the Great Patriotic War Museum, activities here include indoor attractions while the grounds around host an open-air museum with old tanks and other vehicles used on the battlefield.

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The hallmark of the memorial complex and the first thing you see as you exit metro is the statue of Nike mounted to its column. This is a very impressive Obelisk with a statue of Saint George slaying the dragon at its base.

Maybe not as impressive as Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower , the skyscrapers of the Moscow City (otherwise known as Moscow International Business Center) are so drastically different from dull Soviet architecture. With 239 meters and 60 floors, the Empire Tower is the seventh highest building in the business district.

The observation deck occupies 56 floor from where you have some panoramic views of the city. I loved the view in the direction of Moscow State University and Luzhniki stadium as well to the other side with residential quarters. The entrance fee is pricey, but if you’re want to get a bird’s eye view, the skyscraper is one of the best places for doing just that.

Day 4 – VDNKh, Worker and Collective Farm Woman Monument, The Ostankino TV Tower

Metro Station: VDNKh on Orange Line

VDNKh is one of my favorite attractions in Moscow. The weird abbreviation actually stands for Russian vystavka dostizheniy narodnogo khozyaystva (Exhibition of Achievements of the National Economy). With more than 200 buildings and 30 pavilions on the grounds, VDNKh serves as an open-air museum. You can easily spend a full day here since the park occupies a very large area.

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First, there are pavilions that used to showcase different cultures the USSR was made of. Additionally, there is a number of shopping pavilions, as well as Moskvarium (an Oceanarium) that features a variety of marine species. VDNKh is a popular venue for events and fairs. There is always something going on, so I’d recommend checking their website if you want to see some particular exhibition.

A stone’s throw away from VDNKh there is a very distinctive 25-meters high monument. Originally built in 1937 for the world fair in Paris, the hulking figures of men and women holding a hammer and a sickle represent the Soviet idea of united workers and farmers. It doesn’t take much time to see the monument, but visiting it gives some idea of the Soviet Union’s grandiose aspirations.

I have a thing for tall buildings. So to continue my travel itinerary for one week in Moscow I decided to climb the fourth highest TV tower in the world. This iconic 540m tower is a fixture of the skyline. You can see it virtually from everywhere in Moscow, and this is where you can get the best panoramic views (yep, even better than Empire skyscraper).

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Parts of the floor are made of tempered glass, so it can be quite scary to exit the elevator. But trust me, as you start observing buildings and cars below, you won’t want to leave. There is only a limited number of tickets per day, so you may want to book online. Insider tip: the first tour is cheaper, you can save up to $10 if go there early.

Day 5 – A Tour To Moscow Manor Houses

Metro Station: Kolomenskoye, Tsaritsyno on Dark Green Line / Kuskovo on Purple Line

I love visiting the manor houses and palaces in Moscow. These opulent buildings were generally built to house Russian aristocratic families and monarchs. Houses tend to be rather grand affairs with impressive architecture. And, depending on the whims of the owners, some form of a landscaped garden.

During the early part of the 20th century though, many of Russia’s aristocratic families (including the family of the last emperor) ended up being killed or moving abroad . Their manor houses were nationalized. Some time later (after the fall of the USSR) these were open to the public. It means that today a great many of Moscow’s finest manor houses and palaces are open for touring.

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There are 20 manor houses scattered throughout the city and more than 25 in the area around. But not all of them easily accessible and exploring them often takes a lot of time. I’d recommend focusing on three most popular estates in Moscow that are some 30-minute metro ride away from Kremlin.

Sandwiched between the Moscow River and the Andropov Avenue, Kolomenskoye is a UNESCO site that became a public park in the 1920’s. Once a former royal estate, now it is one of the most tranquil parks in the city with gorgeous views. The Ascension Church, The White Column, and the grounds are a truly grand place to visit.

You could easily spend a full day here, exploring a traditional Russian village (that is, in fact, a market), picnicking by the river, enjoying the Eastern Orthodox church architecture, hiking the grounds as well as and wandering the park and gardens with wildflower meadows, apple orchards, and birch and maple groves. The estate museum showcases Russian nature at its finest year-round.

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If my travel itinerary for one week in Moscow was a family tree, Tsaritsyno Park would probably be the crazy uncle that no-one talks about. It’s a large park in the south of the city of mind-boggling proportions, unbelievable in so many ways, and yet most travelers have never heard of it.

The palace was supposed to be a summer home for Empress Catherine the Great. But since the construction didn’t meet with her approval the palace was abandoned. Since the early 1990’s the palace, the pond, and the grounds have been undergoing renovations. The entire complex is now looking brighter and more elaborately decorated than at possibly any other time during its history. Like most parks in Moscow, you can visit Tsaritsyno free of charge, but there is a small fee if you want to visit the palace.

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Last, but by no means least on my Moscow itinerary is Kuskovo Park . This is definitely an off-the-beaten-path place. While it is not easily accessible, you will be rewarded with a lack of crowds. This 18th-century summer country house of the Sheremetev family was one of the first summer country estates of the Russian nobility. And when you visit you’ll quickly realize why locals love this park.

Like many other estates, Kuskovo has just been renovated. So there are lovely French formal garden, a grotto, and the Dutch house to explore. Make sure to plan your itinerary well because the estate is some way from a metro station.

Day 6 – Explore the Golden Ring

Creating the Moscow itinerary may keep you busy for days with the seemingly endless amount of things to do. Visiting the so-called Golden Ring is like stepping back in time. Golden Ring is a “theme route” devised by promotion-minded journalist and writer Yuri Bychkov.

Having started in Moscow the route will take you through a number of historical cities. It now includes Suzdal, Vladimir, Kostroma, Yaroslavl and Sergiev Posad. All these awe-inspiring towns have their own smaller kremlins and feature dramatic churches with onion-shaped domes, tranquil residential areas, and other architectural landmarks.

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I only visited two out of eight cities included on the route. It is a no-brainer that Sergiev Posad is the nearest and the easiest city to see on a day trip from Moscow. That being said, you can explore its main attractions in just one day. Located some 70 km north-east of the Russian capital, this tiny and overlooked town is home to Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, UNESCO Site.

things to do in Moscow in seven days

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Sergiev Posad is often described as being at the heart of Russian spiritual life. So it is uncommon to see the crowds of Russian pilgrims showing a deep reverence for their religion. If you’re traveling independently and using public transport, you can reach Sergiev Posad by bus (departs from VDNKh) or by suburban commuter train from Yaroslavskaya Railway Station (Bahnhof). It takes about one and a half hours to reach the town.

Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is a great place to get a glimpse of filling and warming Russian lunch, specifically at the “ Gostevaya Izba ” restaurant. Try the duck breast, hearty potato and vegetables, and the awesome Napoleon cake.

Day 7 – Gorky Park, Izmailovo Kremlin, Patriarch’s Ponds

Metro Station: Park Kultury or Oktyabrskaya on Circle Line / Partizanskaya on Dark Blue Line / Pushkinskaya on Dark Green Line

Gorky Park is in the heart of Moscow. It offers many different types of outdoor activities, such as dancing, cycling, skateboarding, walking, jogging, and anything else you can do in a park. Named after Maxim Gorky, this sprawling and lovely park is where locals go on a picnic, relax and enjoy free yoga classes. It’s a popular place to bike around, and there is a Muzeon Art Park not far from here. A dynamic location with a younger vibe. There is also a pier, so you can take a cruise along the river too.

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The Kremlin in Izmailovo is by no means like the one you can find near the Red Square. Originally built for decorative purposes, it now features the Vernissage flea market and a number of frequent fairs, exhibitions, and conferences. Every weekend, there’s a giant flea market in Izmailovo, where dozens of stalls sell Soviet propaganda crap, Russian nesting dolls, vinyl records, jewelry and just about any object you can imagine. Go early in the morning if you want to beat the crowds.

All the Bulgakov’s fans should pay a visit to Patriarch’s Ponds (yup, that is plural). With a lovely small city park and the only one (!) pond in the middle, the location is where the opening scene of Bulgakov’s novel Master and Margarita was set. The novel is centered around a visit by Devil to the atheistic Soviet Union is considered by many critics to be one of the best novels of the 20th century. I spent great two hours strolling the nearby streets and having lunch in the hipster cafe.

Conclusion and Recommendations

To conclude, Moscow is a safe city to visit. I have never had a problem with getting around and most locals are really friendly once they know you’re a foreigner. Moscow has undergone some serious reconstruction over the last few years. So you can expect some places to be completely different. I hope my one week Moscow itinerary was helpful! If you have less time, say 4 days or 5 days, I would cut out day 6 and day 7. You could save the Golden Ring for a separate trip entirely as there’s lots to see!

What are your thoughts on this one week Moscow itinerary? Are you excited about your first time in the city? Let me know in the comments below!

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24 comments.

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Ann Snook-Moreau

Moscow looks so beautiful and historic! Thanks for including public transit information for those of us who don’t like to rent cars.

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MindTheTravel

Yup, that is me 🙂 Rarely rent + stick to the metro = Full wallet!

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Mariella Blago

Looks like you had loads of fun! Well done. Also great value post for travel lovers.

Thanks, Mariella!

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I have always wanted to go to Russia, especially Moscow. These sights look absolutely beautiful to see and there is so much history there!

Agree! Moscow is a thousand-year-old city and there is definitely something for everyone.

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Tara Pittman

Those are amazing buildings. Looks like a place that would be amazing to visit.

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Adriana Lopez

Never been to Moscow or Russia but my family has. Many great spots and a lot of culture. Your itinerary sounds fantastic and covers a lot despite it is only a short period of time.

What was their favourite thing about Russia?

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Gladys Parker

I know very little about Moscow or Russia for the\at matter. I do know I would have to see the Red Square and all of its exquisite architectural masterpieces. Also the CATHEDRAL OF CHRIST THE SAVIOUR. Thanks for shedding some light on visiting Moscow.

Thanks for swinging by! The Red Square is a great starting point, but there way too many places and things to discover aside from it!

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Ruthy @ Percolate Kitchen

You are making me so jealous!! I’ve always wanted to see Russia.

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Moscow is in my bucket list, I don’t know when I can visit there, your post is really useful. As a culture rich place we need to spend at least week.

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DANA GUTKOWSKI

Looks like you had a great trip! Thanks for all the great info! I’ve never been in to Russia, but this post makes me wanna go now!

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Wow this is amazing! Moscow is on my bucket list – such an amazing place to visit I can imagine! I can’t wait to go there one day!

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The building on the second picture looks familiar. I keep seeing that on TV.

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Reesa Lewandowski

What beautiful moments! I always wish I had the personality to travel more like this!

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Perfect itinerary for spending a week in Moscow! So many places to visit and it looks like you had a wonderful time. I would love to climb that tower. The views I am sure must have been amazing!

I was lucky enough to see the skyline of Moscow from this TV Tower and it is definitely mind-blowing.

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Chelsea Pearl

Moscow is definitely up there on my travel bucket list. So much history and iconic architecture!

Thumbs up! 🙂

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Blair Villanueva

OMG I dream to visit Moscow someday! Hope the visa processing would be okay (and become more affordable) so I could pursue my dream trip!

Yup, visa processing is the major downside! Agree! Time and the money consuming process…

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

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Home » Europe » Moscow

EPIC MOSCOW Itinerary! (2024)

Moscow is the heart of Mother Russia. Just the mention of this city conjures images of colorful bulbous pointed domes, crisp temperatures, and a uniquely original spirit!

Moscow has an incredibly turbulent history, a seemingly resilient culture, and a unique enchantment that pulls countless tourists to the city each year! Although the warmer months make exploring Moscow’s attractions more favorable, there’s just something about a fresh snowfall that only enhances the appearance of the city’s iconic sites!

If you’re a first-time visitor to Moscow, or simply wanting to see as much of the city as possible, this Moscow itinerary will help you do just that!

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Best Time To Visit Moscow

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Here is a quick look at the seasons so you can decide when to visit Moscow!

The summer months (June-August) are a great time to travel to Moscow to take advantage of the enjoyable mild temperatures. This is considered peak travel season. Bear in mind that hotel prices rise along with the temperatures!

when to visit moscow

If you’re planning a trip to Moscow during fall (September-November) try to plan for early fall. This way the temperatures will still be pleasant and winter won’t be threatening.

Russian winters (December-February) are not for the faint of heart as Napoleon learned to his peril. Some days the sun will be out for less than an hour, and snow is guaranteed. Although winters are exceptionally cold, this is when you’ll get a true glimpse of the Moscow experience!

The best time to visit Moscow is during spring  (March-May). The temperatures will begin to creep up and the sun begins to shine for significant portions of the day. Hotel rates will also have yet to skyrocket into peak ranges!

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With a Moscow City Pass , you can experience the best of Moscow at the CHEAPEST prices. Discounts, attractions, tickets, and even public transport are all standards in any good city pass – be sure invest now and save them $$$ when you arrive!

Moscow is a large city with many accommodation options to choose from. Staying in a location that fits with your travel plans will only enhance your Moscow itinerary. Here is a brief introduction to a few great areas of the city we recommend checking out!

The best place to stay in Moscow to be close to all the action is Kitay-Gorod. This charming neighborhood will put you within walking distance to Moscow’s famous Red Square, thus cutting down on travel time. This will allow you to see more of the city in a shorter amount of time!

where to stay in moscow

It’s surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops. If you’re a first-time visitor to Moscow, or just planning a quick weekend in Moscow, then this area is perfect for you!

Another great area to consider is the Zamoskvorechye district. This area of the city offers a blend of new and old Moscow. It has an artsy vibe and there are plenty of fun sites you can explore outside of the main touristy areas of Moscow.

Of course, as in all areas of Moscow, it’s close to public transportation that will quickly connect you with the rest of the city and make your Moscow itinerary super accessible!

Best Airbnb in Moscow – Exclusive Apartment in Old Moscow

Exclusive Apartment in Old Moscow

Modern and cozy, this apartment is in the heart of Old Moscow. Bordering the Basmanny and Kitay-Gorod districts, this two-bedroom flat is walking distance to the Kremlin and Red Square. Safe, quiet, and comfortable, this is the best Airbnb in Moscow, no question!

Best Budget Hotel in Moscow – Izmailovo Alfa Hotel

moscow itinerary

The Izmailovo Alfa Hotel is a very highly rated accommodation that provides all the components necessary for a comfortable trip to Moscow. There is an on-site restaurant, bar, fitness center, and an airport shuttle service. The rooms are modern and spacious and are equipped with a TV, heating/air conditioning, minibar, and more!

Best Luxury Hotel in Moscow – Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre

moscow itinerary

If you’re touring Moscow in luxury, the Crowne Plaza Moscow World Trade Centre is the hotel for you! Elegantly furnished rooms are equipped with a minibar, flat-screen TV,  in-room safes, as well as tea and coffee making facilities! Bathrooms come with bathrobes, slippers, and free toiletries. There is also an onsite restaurant, bar, and fitness center.

Best Hostel in Moscow – Godzillas Hostel

moscow itinerary

Godzillas Hostel is located in the center of Moscow, just a short walk from all the major tourist attractions and the metro station. Guests will enjoy all the usual hostel perks such as self-catering facilities, 24-hour reception, Free Wi-Fi, and security lockers. This is one of the best hostels in Moscow and its wonderful social atmosphere and will make your vacation in Moscow extra special!

Godzillas Hostel is one of our favourites in Moscow but they’re not taking guests right now. We’re not sure if they’re closed for good but we hope they’ll come back soon.

An important aspect of planning any trip is figuring out the transportation situation. You’re probably wondering how you’re going to get to all of your Moscow points of interest right? Luckily, this sprawling city has an excellent network of public transportation that will make traveling a breeze!

The underground metro system is the quickest and most efficient way to travel around Moscow. Most visitors rely exclusively on this super-efficient transportation system, which allows you to get to pretty much anywhere in the city! It’s also a great option if you’re planning a Moscow itinerary during the colder months, as you’ll be sheltered from the snow and freezing temperatures!

moscow itinerary

If you prefer above-ground transportation, buses, trams, and trolleybuses, run throughout the city and provide a rather comfortable alternative to the metro.

Moscow’s metro, buses, trams, and trolleybuses are all accessible with a ‘Troika’ card. This card can be topped up with any sum of money at a metro cash desk. The ticket is simple, convenient, and even refundable upon return to a cashier!

No matter which method you choose, you’ll never find yourself without an easy means of getting from point A to point B!

Red Square | Moscow Kremlin | Lenin’s Mausoleum | St. Basil’s Cathedral  | GUM Department Store

Spend the first day of your itinerary taking your own self guided Moscow walking tour around the historic Red Square! This is Moscow’s compact city center and every stop on this list is within easy walking distance to the next! Get ready to see all of the top Moscow landmarks!

Day 1 / Stop 1 – The Red Square

  • Why it’s awesome: The Red Square is the most recognizable area in Moscow, it has mesmerizing architecture and centuries worth of history attached to its name.
  • Cost: Free to walk around, individual attractions in the square have separate fees. 
  • Food nearby: Check out Bar BQ Cafe for friendly service and good food in a great location! The atmosphere is upbeat and they’re open 24/7!

The Red Square is Moscow’s historic fortress and the center of the Russian government. The origins of the square date back to the late 15th century, when Ivan the Great decided to expand the Kremlin to reflect Moscow’s growing power and prestige!

During the 20th century, the square became famous as the site for demonstrations designed to showcase Soviet strength. Visiting the Red Square today, you’ll find it teeming with tourists, who come to witness its magical architecture up close!

The Red Square

The square is the picture postcard of Russian tourism, so make sure to bring your camera when you visit! No matter the season, or the time of day, it’s delightfully photogenic! 

It’s also home to some of Russia’s most distinguishing and important landmarks, which we’ve made sure to include further down in this itinerary. It’s an important center of Russia’s cultural life and one of the top places to visit in Moscow!

In 1990, UNESCO designated Russia’s Red Square as a World Heritage site. Visiting this historic site is a true bucket-list event and essential addition to your itinerary for Moscow!

Day 1 / Stop 2 – The Moscow Kremlin

  • Why it’s awesome: The Moscow Kremlin complex includes several palaces and cathedrals and is surrounded by the Kremlin wall. It also houses the principal museum of Russia (the Kremlin Armory).
  • Cost: USD $15.00
  • Food nearby: Bosco Cafe is a charming place to grat a casual bite to eat. They have excellent coffee and wonderful views of the Red Square and the Moscow Kremlin!

The iconic Moscow Kremlin , also known as the Kremlin museum complex, sits on Borovitsky Hill, rising above the Moscow River. It is a fortified complex in the center of the city, overlooking several iconic buildings in the Red Square!

It’s the best known of the Russian Kremlins – citadels or fortress’ protecting and dominating a city. During the early decades of the Soviet era, the Kremlin was a private enclave where the state’s governing elite lived and worked.

The Kremlin is outlined by an irregularly shaped triangular wall that encloses an area of 68 acres! The existing walls and towers were built from 1485 to 1495. Inside the Kremlin museum complex, there are five palaces, four cathedrals, and the enclosing Kremlin Wall with Kremlin towers.

The Armoury Chamber is a part of the Grand Kremlin Palace’s complex and is one of the oldest museums of Moscow, established in 1851. It showcases Russian history and displays many cherished relics. Definitely make sure to check out this museum while you’re here!

The Moscow Kremlin

The churches inside the Moscow Kremlin are the Cathedral of the Dormition, Church of the Archangel, Church of the Annunciation, and the bell tower of Ivan Veliki (a church tower).

The five-domed Cathedral of the Dormition is considered the most famous. It was built from 1475–1479 by an Italian architect and has served as a wedding and coronation place for great princes, tsars, and emperors of Russia. Church services are given in the Kremlin’s numerous cathedrals on a regular basis.

The Grand Kremlin Palace was the former Tsar’s Moscow residence and today it serves as the official workplace of the President of the Russian Federation (Vladimir Putin seems to have bagged that title for life) .

Insider Tip: The Kremlin is closed every Thursday! Make sure to plan this stop on your Moscow itinerary for any other day of the week!

Day 1 / Stop 3 – Lenin’s Mausoleum

  • Why it’s awesome: The mausoleum displays the preserved body of Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin .
  • Cost: Free!
  • Food nearby: Khinkal’naya is a charming Georgian restaurant with vaulted ceilings and exposed brick. It’s a popular place with locals and right next to the Red Square!

Lenin’s Mausoleum, also known as Lenin’s Tomb, is the modernist mausoleum for the revolutionary leader Vladimir Lenin. It’s located within the Red Square and serves as the resting place for the Soviet leader! His preserved body has been on public display since shortly after his death in 1924.

It’s located just a few steps away from the Kremlin Wall and is one of the most controversial yet popular Moscow attractions!

Admission is free for everyone, you’ll only need to pay if you need to check a bag. Before visitors are allowed to enter the mausoleum, they have to go through a metal detector first. No metal objects, liquids, or large bags are allowed in the mausoleum!

Lenins Mausoleum

Expect a line to enter the building, and while you’re inside the building, you’ll be constantly moving in line with other visitors. This means you won’t be able to spend as long as you’d like viewing the mausoleum, but you’ll still be able to get a good look. Pictures and filming while inside the building are strictly prohibited, and security guards will stop you if they see you breaking this rule.

The mausoleum is only open on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday – unless it’s a public holiday or a day scheduled for maintenance. The hours it’s open for each day are limited, make sure to check online before you visit to make sure you can fit this into your Moscow itinerary for that day!

Insider Tip: The Lenin’s Museum is there for people to pay their respect; remember to keep silent and move along quickly, it’s not intended for people to congregate around. Also, men are not allowed to wear hats and everyone must take their hands out of their pockets when inside the building.

Day 1 / Stop 4 – St. Basil’s Cathedral

  • Why it’s awesome: A dazzling designed cathedral that showcases Russia’s unique architecture. This cathedral is one of the most recognizable symbols of the country!
  • Cost: USD $8.00
  • Food nearby: Moskovskiy Chaynyy Klub is a cozy cafe serving food items and pipping hot tea; it’s the perfect place to go if you’re visiting Moscow during the winter months!

Located in the Red Square, the ornate 16th-century St. Basil’s Cathedral is probably the building you picture when you think of Moscow’s unique architecture. Its colorful onion-shaped domes tower over the Moscow skyline!

The cathedral was built from 1555-1561 by order of Tsar Ivan the Terrible. It was designed with an iconic onion dome facade and enchanting colors that captivate all who see it. Fun fact: If you’re wondering why Russian churches have onion domes, they are popularly believed to symbolize burning candles!

This iconic cathedral has become a symbol of Russia due to its distinguishing architecture and prominent position inside the Red Square. It’s one of the most beautiful, wonderful, and mesmerizing historical cathedrals in the world!

St. Basils Cathedral

The interior of the church surprises most people when they visit. In contrast to the large exterior, the inside is not so much one large area, but rather a collection of smaller areas, with many corridors and small rooms. There are 9 small chapels and one mausoleum grouped around a central tower.

Visiting the inside is like walking through a maze, there are even small signs all around the cathedral tracing where to walk, and pointing you in the right direction! The walls are meticulously decorated and painted with intricate floral designs and religious themes.

The church rarely holds service and is instead a museum open for the public to visit.

Insider Tip: During the summer months the line to go inside the cathedral can get quite long! Make sure to arrive early or reserve your tickets online to guarantee quick access into the cathedral!

Day 1 / Stop 5 – GUM Department Store

  • Why it’s awesome: This is Russia’s most famous shopping mall! It’s designed with elegant and opulent architecture and provides a real sense of nostalgia!
  • Cost: Free to enter
  • Food nearby: Stolovaya 57 is a cafeteria-style restaurant with a variety of inexpensive Russian cuisine menu items including soups, salads, meat dishes, and desserts. It’s also located inside the GUM department store, making it very easily accessible when you’re shopping!

The enormous GUM Department Store is located within the historic Red Square. It has a whimsical enchantment to it that sets it apart from your typical department store.

A massive domed glass ceiling lines the top of the building and fills the interior with natural sunlight. There are live plants and flowers placed throughout the mall that give the shopping complex a lively and cheerful feel! A playful fountain sits in the center, further adding to the malls inviting a sense of wonder and amusement!

The GUM department store opened on December 2, 1893. Today, it includes local and luxury stores, including Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and many more! There are numerous cafes, restaurants, and even a movie theater inside!

GUM Department Store

For a special treat, head into Gastronom 1. This 1950s-style shop sells gourmet food items, like wine, freshly-baked pastries, cheese, Russian chocolate, and of course, vodka! Also, be on the lookout for a bicycle pedaling ice cream truck with an employing selling ice cream!

The ambiance is simply amazing, a trip to this idyllic shopping mall is an absolute must on any Moscow itinerary!

Insider Tip: Make sure to carry some small change on you in case you need to use the restroom, you’ll need to pay 50 rubles – or about USD $0.80 to use the bathroom in GUM.

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Novodevichy Convent | Gorky Park | State Tretyakov Gallery | All-Russian Exhibition Center | Bolshoi Theater

On your 2 day itinerary in Moscow, you’ll have a chance to use the city’s excellent public transportation service! You’ll explore a few more of Moscow’s historic highlight as well as some modern attractions. These sites are a little more spread out, but still very easily accessible thanks to the metro!

Day 2 / Stop 1 – Novodevichy Convent

  • Why it’s awesome: The Novodevichy Convent is rich in imperial Russian history and contains some of Russia’s best examples of classical architecture!
  • Cost: USD $5.00
  • Food nearby: Culinary Shop Karavaevs Brothers is a cozy and simple place to have a quick bite, they also have vegetarian options!

The Novodevichy Convent is the best-known and most popular cloister of Moscow. The convent complex is contained within high walls, and there are many attractions this site is known for! 

The six-pillared five-domed Smolensk Cathedral is the main attraction. It was built to resemble the Kremlin’s Assumption Cathedral and its facade boasts beautiful snowy white walls and a pristine golden onion dome as its centerpiece. It’s the oldest structure in the convent, built from 1524 -1525, and is situated in the center of the complex between the two entrance gates.

There are other churches inside the convent as well, all dating back from many centuries past. The convent is filled with an abundance of 16th and 17th-century religious artworks, including numerous large and extravagant frescos!

Novodevichy Convent

Just outside the convent’s grounds lies the Novodevichy Cemetery. Here, you can visit the graves of famous Russians, including esteemed authors, composers, and politicians. Probably the most intriguing gravestone belongs to Russian politician Nikita Khruschev!

The Novodevichy Convent is located near the Moscow River and offers a peaceful retreat from the busy city. In 2004, it was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The convent remains remarkably well-preserved and is an outstanding example of Moscow Baroque architecture! 

Insider Tip: To enter the cathedrals inside the complex, women are advised to cover their heads and shoulders, while men should wear long pants.

Day 2 / Stop 2 – Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

  • Why it’s awesome: A large amusement area in the heart of the city offering many attractions!
  • Cost: Free! 
  • Food nearby: Check out Mepkato, located inside Gorky Central Park for a casual meal in a cozy setting. There are indoor and outdoor seating options and the restaurant is child-friendly!

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure is a large green space in the heart of Moscow. The park opened in 1928, and it stretches along the scenic embankment of the Moskva River. It covers an area of 300-acres and offers a lovely contrast from the compact city center.

You’ll find all sorts of wonderful attractions, from boat rides to bike rentals to tennis courts and ping-pong tables, and much more! there are an open-air cinema and festive events and concerts scheduled in the summer months.  A wide selection of free fitness classes is also offered on a regular basis, including jogging, roller skating, and dancing!

Although many of the options you’ll find here are more suited for outdoor leisure during the summer, you’ll also a selection of winter attractions, including one of Europe’s largest ice rinks for ice-skating!

Gorky Central Park of Culture and Leisure

If you’re trying to decide what to do in Moscow with kids, the park also offers several venues designed specifically for kids. Check out the year-round Green School which offers hands-on classes in gardening and art! You can also feed the squirrels and birds at the Golitsinsky Ponds!

The park is very well maintained and kept clean and the entrance is free of charge, although most individual attractions cost money. There is also Wi-Fi available throughout the park.

With so many attractions, you could easily spend all day here! If you’re only planning a 2 day itinerary in Moscow, make sure to plan your time accordingly and map out all the areas you want to see beforehand!

Day 2 / Stop 3 – The State Tretyakov Gallery

  • Why it’s awesome: The gallery’s collection consists entirely of Russian art made by Russian artists!
  • Food nearby : Brothers Tretyakovs is located right across the street from the gallery. It’s a wonderfully atmospheric restaurant serving top quality food and drinks!

The State Tretyakov Gallery was founded in 1856 by influential merchant and collector Pavel Tretyakov.  The gallery is a national treasury of Russian fine art and one of the most important museums in Russia!

It houses the world’s best collection of Russian art and contains more than 130, 000 paintings, sculptures, and graphics! These works have been created throughout the centuries by generations of Russia’s most talented artists!

The State Tretyakov Gallery

The exhibits range from mysterious 12th-century images to politically charged canvases. The collection is rich and revealing and offers great insight into the history and attitudes of this long-suffering yet inspired people!

All pictures are also labeled in English. If you plan to take your time and see everything inside the museum it will take a good 3-4 hours, so make sure to plan your Moscow trip itinerary accordingly! This gallery is a must-see stop for art lovers, or anyone wanting to explore the local culture and history of Russia in a creative and insightful manner! 

Insider Tip: When planning your 2 days in Moscow itinerary, keep in mind that most museums in Moscow are closed on Mondays, this includes The State Tretyakov Gallery!

Day 2 / Stop 4 – All-Russian Exhibition Center

  • Why it’s awesome: This large exhibition center showcases the achievements of the Soviet Union in several different spheres. 
  • Food nearby: Varenichnaya No. 1 serves authentic and homestyle Russian cuisine in an intimate and casual setting.

The All-Russian Exhibition Center is a massive park that presents the glory of the Soviet era! It pays homage to the achievements of Soviet Russia with its many different sites found on the property.

The center was officially opened in 1939 to exhibit the achievements of the Soviet Union. It’s a huge complex of buildings and the largest exhibition center in Moscow. There are several exhibition halls dedicated to different achievements and every year there are more than one hundred and fifty specialized exhibitions!

All Russian Exhibition Center

The Peoples Friendship Fountain was constructed in 1954 and is a highlight of the park. The stunning gold fountain features 16 gilded statues of girls, each representing the former Soviet Union republics. 

The Stone Flower Fountain was also built in 1954 and is worth checking out. The centerpiece of this large fountain is a flower carved from stones from the Ural Mountains! Along the side of the fountain are various bronze sculptures.

You will find many people zipping around on rollerblades and bicycles across the large area that the venue covers. It’s also home to amusement rides and carousels, making it the perfect place to stop with kids on your Moscow itinerary! Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and allow a few hours to explore all the areas that interest you!

Day 2 / Stop 5 – Bolshoi Theater

  • Why it’s awesome: The Bolshoi Theater is a historic venue that hosts world-class ballet and opera performances!
  • Cost: Prices vary largely between USD $2.00 –  USD $228.00 based on seat location.
  • Food nearby: Head to the Russian restaurant, Bolshoi for high-quality food and drinks and excellent service!

The Bolshoi Theater is among the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world! It also boasts the world’s biggest ballet company, with more than 200 dancers!

The theater has been rebuilt and renovated several times during its long history. In 2011 it finished its most recent renovation after an extensive six-year restoration that started in 2005. The renovation included an improvement in acoustics and the restoration of the original Imperial decor.

The Bolshoi Theater has put on many of the world’s most famous ballet acts! Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake premiered at the theater in 1877 and other notable performances of the Bolshoi repertoire include Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker!

Bolshoi Theater

Today, when you visit the theater, you can expect a magical performance from skilled singers, dancers, and musicians with the highest level of technique!

If you don’t have time to see a show, the theater also provides guided tours on select days of the week. Tours are given in both Russian and English and will provide visitors with a more intimate look at the different areas of the theater!

The stage of this iconic Russian theater has seen many outstanding performances. If you’re a fan of the performing arts, the Bolshoi Theater is one of the greatest and oldest ballet and opera companies in the world, making it a must-see attraction on your Moscow itinerary!

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Cosmonautics Museum | Alexander Garden | Ostankino Tower | Izmaylovo District | Soviet Arcade Museum

Now that we’ve covered what to do in Moscow in 2 days, if you’re able to spend more time in the city you’re going to need more attractions to fill your time. Here are a few more really cool things to do in Moscow we recommend!

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

  • Hear the timeline of the ‘space race’ from the Russian perspective
  • This museum is fun for both adults and children!
  • Admission is USD $4.00

The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is a museum dedicated to space exploration! The museum explores the history of flight, astronomy, space exploration, space technology, and space in the arts. It houses a large assortment of Soviet and Russian space-related exhibits, and the museum’s collection holds approximately 85,000 different items!

Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics

The museum does an excellent job of telling the full story of the exciting space race between the USSR and the US! It highlights the brightest moments in Russian history and humanity and is very interesting and fun for all ages!

If you’re a fan of space or just curious about gaining insight into Russia’s fascinating history of space exploration, make sure to add this to your 3 day itinerary in Moscow!

The Alexander Garden

  • A tranquil place to relax near the Red Square
  • Green lawns dotted with sculptures and lovely water features
  • The park is open every day and has no entrance fee

The Alexander Garden was one of the first urban public parks in Moscow! The garden premiered in 1821 and was built to celebrate Russia’s victory over Napoleon’s forces in 1812!

The park is beautiful and well maintained with paths to walk on and benches to rest on. The park contains three separate gardens: the upper garden, middle garden, and lower garden.

The Alexander Garden

Located in the upper garden, towards the main entrance to the park is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with its eternal flame. This monument was created in 1967 and contains the body of a soldier who fell during the Great Patriotic War!

The park stretches along all the length of the western Kremlin wall for about half a mile. Due to its central location in the city, it’ll be easily accessible when you’re out exploring The Red Square.

It provides a bit of relief from the city’s high-energy city streets. Bring a picnic lunch, go for a walk, or just sit and people watch, this is one of the best Moscow sites to wind-down and relax!

Ostankino Television Tower

  • Television and radio tower in Moscow
  • Currently the tallest free-standing structure in Europe
  • Make sure you bring your passport when you visit, you can’t go up without it!

For spectacular views of the city, make sure to add the Ostankino Television Tower to your itinerary for Moscow! This impressive free-standing structure provides stunning views of the city in every direction. The glass floor at the top also provides great alternative views of the city!

Ostankino Television Tower

It takes just 58 seconds for visitors to reach the Tower’s observation deck by super fast elevator. The tower is open every day for long hours and is a great site in Moscow to check out! There is even a restaurant at the top where you can enjoy rotating views of the city while you dine on traditional Russian cuisine or European cuisine!

The tower is somewhat of an architectural surprise in a city that is not known for skyscrapers! To see the city from a new perspective, make sure to add this stop to your Moscow itinerary!

Izmaylovo District

  • The most popular attractions in this district are the kremlin and the flea market
  • Outside of the city center and easy to reach via metro
  • Most popular during the summer and on weekends

Travel outside the city center and discover a unique area of the city! The Izmaylovo District is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, and one of the coolest places to see in Moscow! The two main attractions we recommend checking out are the Kremlin and the flea market.

The Izmailovo Kremlin was established as a cultural center and molded after traditional Russian architecture. This colorful complex is home to several single-subject museums, including a Russian folk art museum and a vodka museum!

Izmaylovo District

Next to the Kremlin is the Izmailovo open-air market, which dates back to the 17th century! The market is connected to the Izmailovo Kremlin by a wooden bridge. Pick up all your Russian souvenirs here, including traditional handicrafts, paintings, books, retro toys, and Soviet memorabilia!

You will find many hand-made and hand-painted options available at higher prices, as well as mass-produced souvenir options at lower prices!

Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

  • Closed on Mondays
  • Filled with old arcade games that visitors get to try out!
  • The museum also includes a small cafe and burger shop

For something a little different, check out the Museum of Soviet Arcade Games! The museum features roughly 60 machines from the Soviet era, including video games, pinball machines, and collaborative hockey foosball! The machines inside the museum were produced in the USSR in the mid-1970s.

Museum of Soviet Arcade Games

The best part is, most of the games are still playable! Purchase tickets and try the games out for yourself! The museum also has a neat little screening room that plays old Soviet cartoons and an area with Soviet magazines! This unique attraction is a fun addition to a 3 day itinerary in Moscow, and an attraction that all ages will enjoy! 

Whether you’re spending one day in Moscow, or more, safety is an important thing to keep in mind when traveling to a big city! Overall, Moscow is a very safe place to visit. However, it is always recommended that tourists take certain precautions when traveling to a new destination!

The police in Moscow is extremely effective at making the city a safe place to visit and do their best to patrol all of the top Moscow, Russia tourist attractions. However, tourists can still be a target for pickpockets and scammers.

Moscow has a huge flow of tourists, therefore there is a risk for pickpocketing. Simple precautions will help eliminate your chances of being robbed. Stay vigilant, keep your items close to you at all times, and don’t flash your valuables!

If you’re planning a solo Moscow itinerary, you should have no need to worry, as the city is also considered safe for solo travelers, even women. Stay in the populated areas, try and not travel alone late at night, and never accept rides from strangers or taxis without a meter and correct signage.

The threat of natural disasters in Moscow is low, with the exception of severe winters when the temperature can dip below freezing! Bring a good, warm jacket if you visit in Winter.

However, please note that Russian views on homsexuality are far less accepting than those in Western Europe. Likewise, Non-Caucasian travellers may sadly encounter racism in Russia .

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance for Moscow

ALWAYS sort out your backpacker insurance before your trip. There’s plenty to choose from in that department, but a good place to start is Safety Wing .

They offer month-to-month payments, no lock-in contracts, and require absolutely no itineraries: that’s the exact kind of insurance long-term travellers and digital nomads need.

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Now that we’ve covered all the top things to see in Moscow, we thought we’d include some exciting day trips to other areas of the country!

Sergiev Posad (Golden Ring)

Sergiev Posad Golden Ring

On this 7-hour guided tour, you’ll visit several scenic and historic areas of Russia. Start your day with hotel pick-up as you’re transferred by a comfortable car or minivan to Sergiev Posad. Admire the charming Russian countryside on your drive and enjoy a quick stop to visit the Russian village, Rudonezh!

You’ll see the majestic Saint Spring and the Church of Sergiev Radonezh. You’ll also visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, one of the most famous Orthodox sites in Russia!

Lastly, you’ll swing by the local Matreshka market and enjoy a break in a nice Russian restaurant before returning to Moscow!

Day Trip to Vladimir and Suzdal

Day Trip to Vladimir and Suzdal

On this 13-hour trip, you’ll discover old Russia, with its picturesque landscapes and white-stoned beautiful churches! You’ll visit the main towns of the famous Golden Ring of Russia – the name for several cities and smaller towns north-east of Moscow.

Your first stop will be in the town of Vladimir, the ancient capital of all Russian principalities. The city dates back to the 11th century and is one of the oldest and the most important towns along the Ring! Next, you’ll visit Suzdal, a calm ancient Russian town north of Vladimir with only 13,000 inhabitants!

The old-style architecture and buildings of Suzdal are kept wonderfully intact. If you’re spending three days in Moscow, or more, this is a great option for exploring the charming areas outside the city!

Zvenigorod Day Trip and Russian Countryside

Zvenigorod Day Trip and Russian Countryside

On this 9-hour private tour, you’ll explore the ancient town of Zvenigorod, one of the oldest towns in the Moscow region! As you leave Moscow you’ll enjoy the stunning scenery along the Moscow River, and make a few stops at old churches along the way to Zvenigorod.

Upon arrival, you’ll explore the medieval center, including the 14th-century Savvino-Storozhevsky Monastery. Next, you’ll take a break for lunch (own expense) where you’ll have the chance to try out the Russian cuisine! Next, you’ll visit the Museum of Russian Dessert and sip on tea at a Russian tea ceremony.

The final stop of the day is at the Ershovo Estate, a gorgeous place to walk around and enjoy nature!

Day Trip to St Petersburg by Train visiting Hermitage & Faberge

Day Trip to St Petersburg by Train visiting Hermitage and Faberge

On this full-day tour, you’ll enjoy a a full round trip to St Petersburg where you’ll spend an exciting day exploring another popular Russian city! You’ll be picked up from your hotel in Moscow and be transferred to the train station where you’ll ride the high-speed train ‘Sapsan’ to St Petersburg.

Upon arrival, you’ll start the day by touring the Hermitage Museum and the Winter Palace. Next, you’ll visit the Faberge Museum, where you’ll explore the impressive collection of rare Faberge Eggs! In the afternoon, enjoy a sightseeing boat ride and a traditional 3-course Russian lunch.

If you’re spending 3 days in Moscow, or more, this is an excellent trip to take!

Trip to Kolomna – Authentic Cultural Experience from Moscow

Trip to Kolomna - Authentic Cultural Experience from Moscow

On this 10-hour tour, you’ll escape the city and travel to the historic town of Kolomna! First, you’ll visit the 14th-century Kolomna Kremlin, home to the Assumption Cathedral and an abundance of museums!

Next, enjoy lunch at a local cafe (own expense) before embarking on a tour of the Marshmallow Museum – of course, a marshmallow tasting is provided!  Your final stop is the Museum of Forging Settlements, where displays include armor and accessories for fishing and hunting.

Discover this beautiful Russian fairytale city on a private trip, where all of the planning is taken care of for you!

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Find out what people want to know when planning their Moscow itinerary.

How many days you need in Moscow?

We recommend that you spend at least two or three days in Moscow to take it all in.

What’s the best month to visit Moscow?

The best time to visit Moscow is over the spring, from March to May as temperatures are mild, crowds are thin and prices are reasonable.

What are some unusual things to do in Moscow?

I mean, queuing up to see an almost 100 year old corpse is pretty unsual! Check out Lenin’s Mausoleum if you fancy it!

What are some fun things to do in Moscow?

The Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics is a fun place to explore the famous space race from the perspective of the ‘other side’!

We hope you enjoyed our Moscow itinerary! We’ve made sure to cover all the Moscow must-sees as well as some unique attractions in the city! Our addition of insider tips, favorite food stops, and day trips from Moscow is an added bonus and will guarantee you make the most out of your exciting Russian vacation!

Immerse yourself in the modern and traditional Russian lifestyle! Get lost in museums, witness awe-inspiring architecture, and indulge in Russian cuisine! Spend the day strolling through all of the charming sites of Moscow, admiring the beautiful scenery and discovering the city’s fairytale-like enchantment!

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And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links . That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!

Alya and Campbell

Alya and Campbell

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