Russia is vast and varied. Trek across rugged mountains, spend days wandering around bustling metropolises, lounge beside idyllic lakes and explore the shimmering seas and remote islands of the coast. Whether it’s the opulent architecture, astonishing art collections or warmth of the people, Russian never fails to captivate.
Among the most recognizable of Russia’s many cities is the capital Moscow, the country’s cultural hub. Attend a ballet performance at the Bolshoi Theatre and stroll down the Arbat, one of Moscow’s oldest and most upmarket streets. Don’t miss Red Square, a huge cobblestone central plaza surrounded by striking buildings and monuments such as the State Historical Museum and Lenin’s Mausoleum.
St. Petersburg, the second-largest city in Russia, is known for its striking bulbous-domed churches and picturesque palaces. See golden statues in Peterhof Park and marvel at the colorful façade of the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood. The region’s history is evident in the blue and gold Catherine Palace, which once hosted the Russian czars.
Outside of these two major cities, Russia’s attractions are widespread and plentiful. Head northwest to Arkhangelsk for the State Northern Sea Museum, a fascinating institution that displays old whaling tools. In the winter, skiers of all levels can find groomed trails on the slopes of Mount Elbrus. For stunning natural views and a remote getaway, head to the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea and explore the impressive Solovetsky Transfiguration Monastery.
Luckily for travelers hoping to explore as much of Russia as possible, an efficient train network and plenty of domestic flights make getting around relatively easy. Buses and fixed-route minibuses, often referred to as “marshrutky,” are usually reliable. Renting a car is possible, but check ahead to make sure your planned routes are adequately maintained with decent signposting.
Visit during Russia’s high season, from June to September, for warm weather. Cold winters promise picturesque snowy vistas, while spring and fall offer milder temperatures.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia has become an increasingly popular vacation spot, attracting visitors with its culturally rich cities, Black Sea beach resorts and great ski destinations.