The world’s largest country Russia, undoubtedly accommodates most travel enthusiast’s needs. Whatever your interest is, whether you are a nature lover, an adventurer, or an art admirer, Russia caters to everyone. Home to 18% of the planet’s land area, the landscapes of Russia are blessed with magnificent mountains, valleys, frozen terrains, and a diverse array of natural landmarks. The landmarks of Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia’s oldest cities, display the splendour of their imperial eras in their architecture, parks, shopping areas, and even in their metro stations. We hope you are excited about reading on some of the enthralling places to visit in Russia, so let’s start exploring now.
Besides being the capital of Russia, Moscow is also the country’s cosmopolitan centre for arts, music, sciences, and politics. Stunning architecture, beautiful greenery, and historical relics overflow in this beautiful city. Although it may appear mystical, Moscow is not a fairy tale capital. Instead, it is a city of adventures and real-life experiences. One of the most iconic places in Russia is the Red Square, which is situated in the heart of Moscow and is aptly named after the word ‘red’, which meant ‘beautiful’ in old Russia. Among Moscow’s top attractions are St. Basil’s Cathedral, Kazan Cathedral, The Iberian Gate, The Bolshoi Theatre, State Tretyakov Gallery, Kremlin Wall, Lenin Mausoleum, State Hall Museum, and City Hall.
Lake Baikal – World’s oldest and deepest lake
Beautiful green expanses, breathtaking mountain ranges, and abundance of fauna and flora make this lake a favourite for photographers and nature lovers alike. Lake Baikal offers unique wildlife safari experiences and hiking opportunities. A top tourist attraction in southern Siberia, Lake Baikal is a world-renowned natural beauty. Ice skating, cross-country skiing, and sleigh riding can be enjoyed on the frozen waters of Lake Baikal in the winter. The crystal clear waters of Lake Baikal are apparent in the winter when you can see 40 meters under the surface in some areas. In late summer, when the lake’s water is warm, you can take quick dips or swim for a short period in the lake. There are endless activities to enjoy at Lake Baikal in the summers, such as kayaking, boat cruises, island hopping, and discovering shorelines and beaches.
Altai – Galore of Lakes and Meadows
A trip to the Altai Mountains, a place with pristine lakes and serene stretches, should be on the top of your itinerary of places to visit in Russia. The Altai Mountains are a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Siberia that runs along the border between China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. This destination is popular among ethnic tourists who want to experience Russian culture. A picturesque backdrop and plains abound with lush greenery, made even more spectacular by the beautiful view of the Altai Mountains. Horseback riding, glacier climbing, white water rafting, and mountain climbing are among the adventures available at the famous Aktru Glacier in the region. Additionally, you can relax and enjoy a traditional Russian steam bath and then take a stroll around the countryside admiring its natural beauty.
Kamchatka – A vast volcanic peninsula
The majestic Kamchatka Peninsula is nestled in the northeastern part of Russia. It is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, the Okhotsk Sea, and the Bering Sea. With rivers running fast, hot springs and snow-capped peaks, it is a place of breathtaking natural beauty. In terms of attraction, Kamchatka has a variety of bizarre geological structures and natural wonders, making it among the most intriguing places to visit in Russia. It is almost untamed and very geologically active; there are countless volcanoes, hot springs, geysers, and even a thriving acid lake. Fishing and hunting are also popular on the peninsula, as the peninsula is the southernmost part of the Arctic Tundra in the world. Most of the places can only be reached by helicopter, although several are accessible by car or foot. Despite the challenges involved in travelling and exploring the region, visitors rarely leave feeling anything other than absolute amazement.
Olkhon Island – Fantasy on a remote island in Siberia
Lake Baikal’s largest island, Olkhon, is the third-largest lake island in the world. It has an expansive area of more than 700 kilometers spread out over a large area. The site lies deep in Siberia’s vast wilderness, and it is considered sacred by the Buryat, the indigenous people of this area. With steep mountains, dense forests, and taiga covering the landscape, you can explore coastal sand dunes and visit the nearby abandoned village and former Soviet labor camp. “Walking trees” are another feature of this area, a phenomenon that occurs when strong winds uncover tree roots on the beach and give the appearance of standing people. Khuzir, the island’s largest semi-urban settlement, offers homestays to tourists who wish to stay over.
Peterhof Palace – Russia’s blend of opulence and grandiosity
Peterhof Palace is a luxurious Baroque design and an architectural masterpiece in the suburbs of Russia’s second-largest city, St Petersburg. Built by Peter the Great during his rule over Russia, this magnificent palace overlooks the Gulf of Finland and is fondly called the Russian Versailles. One of Russia’s best tourist attractions, the Peterhof Palace features over 24 rooms that are each lavishly adorned with distinct themes. There are more than hundreds of fountains around the palace, some of which emit water jets in response to people approaching, such as the Grand Cascade fountain. There are also marble statues, shaded paths, and an aviary pavilion in the lower gardens, which are designed in French formal style. Its many attractions include the Chess Board Hill Cascade adorned with three dragons, Roman and Greek idols.
Sochi – The charming and contemporary Russian City
With its lush parks dotted with palm trees and its two-hundred-year-old neoclassical buildings, Sochi is a picture-perfect summer destination. Sochi is an iconic resort town on the Black Sea, featuring a long stretch of pebble and sand beaches, Stalinist architecture and an annual film festival known as Kinotavr, in addition to a wide variety of outdoor markets for weddings and other celebrations. Skiers and snowboarders make the most of the area’s winter skiing and snowboarding opportunities, and water sports lovers can engage in kitesurfing, diving, and other water activities in the summer. Russia’s longest and most floatable river, the Mzymta, flows through Sochi before entering the Black Sea, making it a popular rafting destination. One of the attractions of Sochi city, which is spread throughout the Caucasus Mountains, is the Forested Sochi National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Ruskeala – An oasis nestled in marble mountains
The small town of Ruskeala lies in the northwest region of Karelia and attracts many visitors due to its peaceful surroundings, lovely views, and peaceful atmosphere. The town lies on the Blue Highway, the crossroads connecting Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Ruskeala, which is located along the Tokhmayoki River, boasts natural beauty and also has a rich history as a marble mining center. The Ruskeala Mountain Park is not only one of the best places to visit in Russia, but has also contributed marble to the construction of many iconic Russian landmarks. Its majestic marbles can be found on the floors of Kazan Cathedral, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, and the window sills of the Hermitage. Water-filled ravines draw visitors to Ruskeala Mountain Park, where they can swim, hike, and boat. Walking trails offer breathtaking views of the park, as do the ancient marble quarries, which are brimming with water.
St. Petersburg – The glistening cultural capital of Russia
Having been the capital of the imperial era for nearly two centuries, Saint Petersburg is filled with fascinating architecture, arts, and culture. It’s no surprise that St. Petersburg’s historic core is a world-renowned destination thanks to its UNESCO World Heritage status. As a port city located on the Baltic Sea, it provides visitors with the chance to explore the architecture up close by taking a voyage through one of its long stretches of canals, or by simply traversing the city walking around. The Winter Palace is one of the biggest attractions in this city, which is home to the Hermitage Museum, which has more than three million exhibits from around the globe.
Moika Palace and St. Isaac’s Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox Museum that dates back to the 19th century, are two places that will overwhelm you with gold and white. You could spend years exploring Saint Petersburg, but the highlights include attending ballet and opera performances and touring several historical monuments.
The Golden Ring – A journey into the past of Russia
Russian culture is considered to have originated in the eight primary cities that form the Golden Ring. Located on the northeast side of Moscow along this route are numerous medieval cities and towns, which make this one of the great places to visit in Russia for history lovers. Yaroslavl, Vladimir, and Suzdal are some of the cities you should visit en route. Because the area contains many medieval and earlier structures, visitors to the area can experience a glimpse into centuries past. In addition to their delicious traditional food and picturesque domed white churches, they are well known for their little gingerbread-style cottages that line the countryside. There are ancient monuments, well-preserved churches, ancient monasteries, and other UNESCO World Heritage Sites found on The Golden Ring. You can travel the entire circuit by train or bus, but renting a car will ensure you see everything.
Novgorod – The city that gave Russia its identity
The ancient city of Novgorod is about midway between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Historic monuments and religious buildings are found all over the city, and it has an enormous amount of historical significance. The Kremlin, one of the oldest citadels in Russia, is home to several of the city’s most popular attractions. Inhabitants of the area refer to this wooden fortress as ‘Detinets’. A Unesco World Heritage site, the Novgorod Kremlin has exhibits and artefacts demonstrating the history of the city, including an open-air market, which was once Yaroslav’s Courtyard. The monument at the heart of the Kremlin depicts a sculpture of Prince Rurik at the helm of the Russian Statehood Millennium monument. In a spiral-shaped representation of Russian history, notable people, including Mikhail Romanov and Catherine the Great, are depicted.
The Ural Mountains – The Aladdin’s cavern filled with treasures
Located to the west of the Kara Sea in northwest Russia, the Ural Mountains create the border between Europe and Asia. They extend almost 2,400km from the Kara Sea to Kazakhstan. This region is incredibly popular, as there are many rivers and caves in and around Perm city. The river Tschussowaja and its rocky banks attract adventurous water sports enthusiasts. Here, the current is relatively mild, which makes it suitable for even people with less experience to explore this area. Water levels sometimes fall so drastically in summer that you can run aground. There are no better places for hiking than the protected areas in the Ural Mountains region, and you can easily traverse the diverse landscape on foot. You can also experience the untouched taiga of Sjuratkul National Park, which is home to numerous mountain ranges, rivers, and brooks.
Kizhi Island – The epitome of medieval and Scandinavian architecture
As the most picturesque destination along Russia’s largest waterway, Kizhi Island offers an astonishing array of wooden churches in the heart of Lake Onega. Kizhi is one of the best places to visit in Russia in addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A visit to this island will reveal amazing wooden structures and incredible traditional crafts. The island has two significant landmarks, the 22-domed Transfiguration Church and the Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus. This island’s spirituality and artistic quality are further complemented by chapels dedicated to Archangel Mikhail, Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and Divine Savior. At night, the church domes glow with a mysterious, incandescent light, adding to the beauty of Kizhi during the long northern summer. Yet during winter mornings, the church appears dazzlingly lit, as though it were part of a fairy tale.
The Russian Tundra – Coast of Eastern Siberia and Laptev Seas
The Russian Tundra is a unique biome that’s unlike any other on the planet, with thousands of lakes and depressions and an array of diverse wildlife. In total, the Russian Tundra covers about ten percent of the total Russian land surface. The Tundra, which stretches across a narrow strip of coast and maxes out at 500 kilometers, is a marshy plain devoid of trees. Animals in the tundra region are fur-bearing animals who have adapted to its extreme weather conditions. Some of the animals you can spot in the region are polar bears, seals, squirrels, foxes. During the breeding season, they provide habitat for elks, bears, gray wolves, and a variety of birds. There is a wide range of ecotourism opportunities close by Krasnoyarsk Krai, including tundra hikes, bird watching, and educational programs at Great Arctic State Nature Reserve. The Kola Peninsula in Murmansk not only provides you with incredible views but there is also the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights.
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