Top 10 Places to Visit in Russia
Thinking about visiting Russia? Need some ideas or inspiration where to visit? Check out our top recommended destinations below which include well known cities and also lesser known off the beaten track locations...
Moscow has stunning tourist attractions ranging from huge squares to picture-postcard spires, you’ll be clicking your camera countless times. The history behind the red walls of the Kremlin dates back centuries. The city is one big museum, and is the perfect spot to start your Russian tour. The huge 16th century canon and enormous bell standing in the courtyard to the magnificent building itself and the cathedrals will give you enough about Russia’s tumultuous history.
The colossal Red Square is where the parades and spectacular celebrations happen. It dates back to the 15th century where you will find the pointy cathedral and the Lenin's Mausoleum. Next up are the fairytale towers of St. Basil Cathedral, an astonishing building with its origins way back in the 16th century. Each brightly colored tower symbolizes a historical event or geographical location, while the whole looks like something fresh from a colorful interpretation of Disneyland, without the tackiness. T
he Poklonnaja Mountain monument and the gorgeous, 400-year-old Novodevichy Convent and extensive Kuskovo Estate, former home to the Russian Royals are all waiting to be explored.
2. Veliky Novgorod
Veliky Novgorod is a beautiful old city in Russia. The city was first mentioned in the historical annals of 859. This city is replete with historical adventures and beautiful scenery. It is a 3 hour bus ride from Saint Petersburg or a 9 hour train ride from Moscow. The city is centered around the Volkhov River. Lake Ilmen is a popular spot in the summer months.
There is a walled section of the city, the inner most ring of which used to have three giant brick walls surrounding the inner yard where Novgorod's inhabitants lived. Rachmaninoff park has a statue of the famous composer, where he grew up. The park has Rachmaninoff music 24/7. The Wooden Architecture Museum features historical buildings from Russian peasant life. There is a river where locals go to picnic or visit the ruins of Rurik which belonged to the first prince of Russia. After your tour, drop by Coffee Land near the Volkhov Hotel.
Yekaterinburg is a wonderful destination which has many attractions for the visitor. The last decade has brought the city much improvement that it has become the third major city in Russia after Moscow and Saint Petersburg. This is a city is full of historical events and was also the final destination of Tsar Nikolas II and his family. The remains of the entire family were discovered here in 1998 and the Church on Blood was built at the place where the Tsar and his family were massacred.
The city is rich in minerals because of the Ural mountains. Many of the residents hold jobs in the mineral industry. Tourism is another source of income for the city. The traveler will find many interesting attractions like museums, art galleries, theaters, including the Opera and Ballet Theater as well as the fabulousYekaterinburg Circus. The continental border between Europe and Asia can be found on the outskirts of Yekaterinburg along the Ural Mountains.
Krasnodar is a city situated in southern Russia on the Kuban River. It is the administrative center of Krasnodar Krai (also known as Kuban). It has approximately 710,400 (2006 est.)residents. Krasnodar is called "The Capital of Kuban Region". The city was founder by Cossacks in 1794 as Yekaterinodar which means "Ekaterina's Gift" referring to Catherine the Great. Krasnodar has become the trading, transport and industrial centre of the region. Also Krasnodar is the most northern tea-production region.
The visitor should have a taste of Krasnodar Tea which is quite nice. There are a lot of interesting places to visit in Krasnodar and the surrounding Krasnodar region. The old downtown of the city has many historic buildings and structures that the local government preserved, reconstructed and restored. There are several good museums as well for the culture hound. The city also boasts of being the economic center in the south of the country and has been listed by Forbes magazine as the best city to do business.
5. St. Petersburg
St. Petersburg is indisputably one of the most beautiful cities to visit on a gap year in Europe. It's architecture plays on your senses, from the 96 columns of the startling Kazansky Cathedral to the Church of the Resurrection where you’ll see at almost every turn, neoclassical and baroque architecture that is nothing short of amazing. There’s plenty more history to uncover besides the historical buildings. The Hermitage has artworks you will never want to leave behind with its fairytale like green and white façade, is as beautiful as the nearby Dvortsovaya Bridge, a tiny but stunning arch crossing one of the city’s many canals.
There are huge squares and wide gigantic boulevards to stroll where you'll see monuments, crosses, rivers and canals. St Petersburg might not be typically Russian, but you can still sip vodka and crunch your way through caviar to your hearts content, and you’ll find the ambiance and architecture hard to match. Come visit in the summer when the sun barely sets and time for many festivities to happen.
Suzdal belongs to the Golden Ring of cities in Russia while it is a quiet small country city, there are lots of interesting monasteries and beautiful churches to visit. There's an interesting museum and a wonderful restaurant, the Trapeznia inside the Kremlin. Across the small river there's an interesting museum about life in old Russia which is a collection of old village houses and buildings brought in piece by piece from other villages and rebuilt. Interesting town square with lots of souvenir stalls where the traveler can pick up some bargains.
The Church of the Nativity is on the list of the World Heritage Site. The city is important to the traveler who likes ancient towns. The first historical mention was in the Norse Sagas when its name was still Sursdalar. The place has a village look although it's city's status was given in 1777. If going by bus beware the bus station is a long walk from the centre, a good 15-20 minutes.
Sochi hosted the 2014 winter Olympics and is one of the most popular tourist destinations to visit in Russia. In summer there are lots of thrilling outdoor activities and in winter you can hit the slopes for some of the best ski runs in the country.
If you are looking for somewhere a little off the beaten track Murmansk should be on your itinerary but caution that it is an important Russian Navy base location. There are places where no photos are allowed. Murmansk is a large empty grey city as the buildings are big and with a lot of spare place between them and fog covers the harbour. But it is more alive and pleasant and green than you think! It is above the Arctic circle where the winter northern lights and the summer polar days are attractions!
Although it comes with fog and rain with summer temperatures hovering at just 15C! The weather here is not very cold because of the warm Gulfstream which flows from the Mexican Gulf and warms up the Kola Peninsula. In summer it's about +15-20C. The amazing Northern lights can be seen here. The polar nights come in winter so it's almost 24-hour night in the Arctic but the polar day period comes from April to September when the sun shines all day long. Murmansk is surrounded by a great number of lakes and forests which makes the place a great hike.
Siberia is spectacular and unlike anywhere else in the world, this region is untouched by civilisation and globalisation. Siberias' vast open area is undervisited due to the remote location and extreme weather but plenty of Russia tours visit. Lake Baikal which is often described as the pearl of Siberia is beautiful, this is the oldest freshwater lake in the world. Be sure to try the local fish.
Kazan is over 1000 years old and if you add this city to your itinerary you will be pleasantly surprised. Popular sights you should check out include the Annunciation Cathedral, Kazan Kremlin, the Old Tatar Settlement, Qolsharif Mosque, Orthodox churches and the Bogoroditsky Cathedral.