Russia, by far the largest country in the world, occupies both Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. The European part is smaller (though it is the biggest country in Europe) and more populated (25% of the land with 75% of the population), thus making it ideal for cultural tourism. The best way to travel through the European side is by train, on the extensive railway net. The Asian part, far larger and sparsely populated, is all about nature. Though the famous Trans-Siberian line gives you a glimpse of Siberian nature distances are immense and landscapes similar, so travelling is better done by mixing trains and planes.
Here are our Top 10 Russia Destinations
1. Saint Petersburg
There is a reason why Saint Petersburg is a tourist Mecca: it is a neoclassical masterpiece, with strong Italian and French influences. Numerous elegant palaces and western style churches are scattered between canals and rivers. Though it is a very big city most of the action happens around the famous Nevsky Prospekt. Do not forget the nearby towns of Peterhof and Pushkin.
More photos of Saint Petersburg HERE
2. Solovetsky Islands
One of Russia’s best kept secrets, Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea, a plethora of fresh nature, is perfect for those of us looking for something different. Six isles and islets form an archipelago separating the White Sea from the Onega Bay. The largest island, Bolshoi Solovetsky, homes an astonishing 15th century monastery, witness of a very turbulent past and still in use today.
Read more about Solovetsky Islands HERE
Kizhi is a beautiful island located on Europe’s second largest lake, the Onega. The whole island is an open air museum with a couple of settlements and wooden churches brought from elsewhere in the country. The crown jewel, the 17th century Kizhi Pogost with two churches and a bell tower is one of the best examples of Russian wooden architecture.
More photos of Kizhi Island HERE
Russia’s capital, Moscow is its most spectacular city. Its streets, buildings, parks, people, cuisine, colors and sounds are so varied, yet you are constantly reminded you are in Russia. Huge soviet statues, enormous pavilions, Stalinist towers and onion domes lie next to shiny adorned hearts, gates, lamps and flower bouquets. A vibrant nightlife and superb hotels complete the feast.
More photos of Moscow HERE
5. Sergiev Posad and Rostov Veliky
These two outstanding monastery towns are part of the so called Golden Ring. Sergiev Posad, the most visited, is famous for its elegant 14th century Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius. Rostov Veliky with its beautiful Citadel near the lake is fortunately overlooked by tourists, an extra pleasure.
More photos of Sergiev Posad and Rostov Veliky HERE
6. Vladimir and Suzdal
Vladimir and Suzdal are both part of the Golden Ring. Vladimir was once Russia’s medieval capital and an important centre of Russian language. Its two cathedrals and the Golden Gate are a testament of such a glorious history. Suzdal is Russia’s nicest little town. Its four large medieval monasteries are still in function today.
More photos of Vladimir and Suzdal HERE
Kazan is arguably Russia’s most multicultural city, and quite as nothing you have ever seen before. The capital of historical Tatarstan is home to the country’s only Kremlin with a mosque inside, included in Unesco’s World Heritage Sites. The mighty Volga and the Kazanka River surround the city, intersected by several canals and Kaban Lakes.
More photos of Kazan HERE
8. Altai Mountains
Altai Mountains, located at the border between Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China are an unspoiled piece of land. The River Katun digs deep inside the mountains, with the main tourist infrastructure next to it. There are several lakes in the area, including the beautiful Teletskoye. For the truly adventurous, there are even glaciers to the south.
More photos of Altai Mountains HERE
Irkutsk is Siberia’s prettiest city. Most tourists make a short stop there on their way to Baikal Lake missing on its magnificent wooden houses. A bit younger than Krasnoyarsk it has maintained most of its historical buildings, with neoclassical palaces popping between hundreds of colorful two storey wooden houses.
More photos of Irkutsk HERE
10. Baikal Lake
Baikal Lake is the world’s oldest and deepest lake. It is one of those natural places that give you peace and joy, just by being there and admiring it. The best place to fully enjoy it is Olkhon Island to the north. With a couple of small villages, pine forests, sandy beaches, many cliffs, it offers the most impressive views.
Read more about Baikal Lake HERE