You can experience it all in the world’s largest country. Historic cities from the Soviet era, the stunning beauty of nature in the countryside and some wild party nights. European Russia is where you want to be if you are after ancient fortresses and spiral churches. Or even if you are just looking for creative inspiration or the adventure type, Russia delivers. A country which is this huge has tons of things to experience. We shall look at some of the key places to visit in Russia, which should be on your itinerary.
Must Read : Best Time To Visit Europe In 2020
Best Places To Visit in Russia
Moscow, being the capital, is one of the most famous places to visit in Russia. Known for its Musical symphonies like The Bolshoi Theater, art and historic churches with beautiful domes. The Red Square and the Kremlin are the major Russia tourist places, including the statues of Stalin and Lenin. Other places include:
- The GUM shopping mall.
- St. Basil’s Cathedral.
- State Tretyakov Gallery and Pushkin Museum, if you’re into Russian art.
- Stary Arbat, a shopping street where only pedestrians are allowed.
- Tsaritsyno Palace, in the south of Moscow.
- Kremlin Armoury, which has a wealth of treasures including the Imperial Crown of Russia.
- Moscow Metro.
- Christ the Saviour cathedral.
- Lenin Mausoleum.
Recommended Read : 24 Best Festivals in Europe
2. Altai Mountains
Dubbed as the Golden Mountains, it’s a place where tourism is gaining prominence, and you get to see a lot of new hotels and resorts popping up. If you want to get the feel of the nature side of Russia, this is one of the places to visit in Russia. You get tours of the surrounding areas while on hikes including kayaking, sailing and fishing.
The Altai mountains are also one of the famous places in Russia for its honey treatments, herbal tea, and spa treatments.
Get to Gorno-Altaysk airport from Moscow. From there get busses or trains to any of the smaller villages in the area.
Suggested Read : 9 Best Cities To Visit In Europe In 2020
One of the new developments here is the Altika eco-hotel. Most of the rooms here have a fantastic panoramic view of the woods. There is the Maryin Ostrov resort which will be slightly more expensive but offers treatments in its spa.
3. Golden Ring
A bunch of several cities outside of Moscow, The Golden Ring is filled with the picturesque countryside. The class Russian style Onion shaped domes, cherry orchards, some historic churches make this one of the most beautiful places to visit in Russia.
Kostroma, Vladimir, Suzdal, Rostov Velikiy, Yaroslavl, Pereslavi-Zalesskiy and Sergiev Posad are some of the places that are part of this Golden ring.
4. St. Petersberg:
Considered to be Russia’s second-largest city, it is also known by the name of Leningrad. Tsar Peter the Great founded this place around 1703, which was an imperial capital. Being on the side of the Neva River, which ends in the Baltic sea through the Gulf of Finland, St. Petersburg is one of the most famous places to visit in Russia.
- Some of the most beautiful art collections you can find in the world.
- The churches like St. Issac’s Cathedral and the Hermitage museum are amazing.
- The famous dining and shopping street Nevsky Prospekt is not to be missed.
- The Moika Palace, where Rasputin was killed, is a must-visit.
5. Lake Baikal:
Considered as the oldest and deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal is the largest freshwater lake in the world. You can see up to 40 meters into the river during winters which also makes it one of the clearest lakes in the world. The water is pretty cold, even in August. You can also find a lot of resorts and camping grounds which are mostly from Soviet times. This is one of the fantastic places to visit in Russia.
Kayaking, cruise and discovering beaches are some fun things to do here. During winters you can opt for cross country skiing.
Get a direct flight from Moscow to Irkutsk. You can then catch buses or shuttles to your resorts. Travel time would be around 3 hours.
Suggested Read : Explore The 22 Best Beaches In Europe For Your Next Vacay!
6. Olkhon Island
Green forests and some steep mountains cover most of Olkhon Island, which makes it one of the best places to visit in Russia where you can be a part of nature. A small Mongolic indigenous group called Buryats comprise of the primary population. You can explore the coastal dunes and the Peschanaya village which is abandoned. There is also a Soviet labour camp nearby which you can visit.
- The ‘Walking Trees’ is famous here, which is due to strong winds that uncover the roots of the trees, and that gives the portrayal of a person standing.
- The National History Museum of Revyakin has some fantastic history of the place going back to Neolithic times.
7. Russian Tundra:
A fascinating biome that usually exists only near the Arctic circle, the tundra is what this place is famous for. A Russia point of attraction here is the different types of animals like Polar bears, seals and wolves including some types of birds that fly here during the nesting season. Another unique thing about this place is you can’t find trees as they can’t grow in this cold weather. Though you will find a lot of moss, shrubs or other types of grasses which can survive winter.
The Great Arctic State Nature Reservoir near Krasnoyarsk Krai which gives you an educational tour of the place or where you can also explore certain routes and enjoy some bird watching.
Also See : Top Incredible Romantic Places in Europe
On the far east, you will find one of the interesting places to visit in Russia where ecotourism is a new trend. With more than 100,000 people, the place is known for its seafood and the Kamchatka crabs. The place is surrounded by volcanoes, including the Koryakskaya Sopka volcano, which is an active volcano.
- Volcano hikes, kayaking, hunting and sailing are some adventurous things you can do here.
- Nachalnik Kamchatki is a hotel where you can find nature-themed rooms. If you are going solo, you can find a couple of hostels, but you will have to book in advance as the number of hostels is quite less in the region.
- Vulcanarium Museum is the place to be if you want to quench your thirst about volcanoes. Oh, you can also touch lava here!
You can book a direct flight from Moscow which will take around 8 hours of travel time.
Must Read : 13 Amazing Festivals In France In 2020
9. Ruskeala, Karelia
One of the most beautiful places to visit in Russia, Karelia lies in the north-west part of Russia. Some majestic waterfalls, incredible lakes and trees that grow on giant rocks are a part of this natural wonder. Sortavala is a bigger town, near which lies the village of Ruskeala.
Ruskeala mountain park, where there lies a crystal clear lake which was once a marble canyon with another underground lake. You can go for a drive or enjoy boating. Light shows can be enjoyed in summer.
Get to Sortavala through train from Ladozhsky railway station in St. Petersburg. From Sortavala you can hire a taxi or get on a bus to Ruskeala. It’s just a 20-minute drive from Sortavala.
Considered as Russia’s largest Port city, Vladivostok lies near the borders with North Korea and China. A Russia point of attraction here is Vladivostok Russky Bridge, which is the longest cable-stayed bridge you can find in the world. It’s connected to Russky Island where you can enjoy the sandy beaches and Philippovsky Bay.
- The World War 2 C-56 Submarine and the Museum Vladivostok Fortress are another major highlights of this place.
- Sportivnaya Harbor, where you can find some beautiful beaches. The Eagle’s Nest viewpoint, which gives you a stunning bird’s eye view of the place.
Known as the Istanbul of the Volga, Kazan is one of the famous places to visit in Russia where you get to experience European and Asian cultures. Church tower and minarets are famous. After Moscow and St. Petersburg, it is known as the third capital of Russia. People of Kazan have the highest standards of living in Russia.
The city of Kazan is over a thousand years old. One main landmark here is the Söyembikä Tower in the Kremlin fortress. Named after the city’s last queen, Söyembikä. Legend says she threw herself off the tower. But she was captured by the Muscovites led by Ivan the Terrible., is one of the city’s highlights: try the traditional tea with chuk-chuk, a sweet pastry dish.
- One of the main Russia tourist attractions here is the remains of the Kazan Kremlin, destroyed by Ivan the Terrible.
- Kul-Sharif Mosque, which was named after a man was killed defending Kazan from Ivan
- Bauman Street, a shopping street for pedestrians.
- The food is a key highlight where you have a mix of Russian and Tatar.
Flights from Moscow or St Petersburg are available. The trip should take about an hour and a half or 2 at most. An overnight train from Moscow’s Kazanskiy railway station is also an option.
Kaliningrad was called Königsberg and a tiny part of Europe. The surviving Brandenburg Gate and the Fishing Village has traces of Kaliningrad’s German heritage. The flea markets are the best places to visit in Russia. You get to meet many collectors from across the world who come here to find relics from the second world war. Flights from Moscow, St Petersburg, and other European cities are available.
Overnight trains from Berlin and Warsaw can also be taken. Though you have to keep in mind that if you plan to travel between other parts of Russia and Kaliningrad, a double-entry visa is required. A special short-term Kaliningrad visa is also available on the border.
The Amber museum is a popular attraction.
The Utro Hostel is designed in a 19th-century building which has a minimalist design with big windows. They have the city’s lowest prices per bunk bed and should be a steal.
13. Velikiy Novgorod
Velikiy Novgorod is also known as Novgorod the Great. It is considered to be one of the most important and beautiful places in to visit in Russia. Called the ‘birthplace of Russia’, the city was a sovereign principality and founded by merchants. The unification of Novgorod with Moscow was an essential step for a unified Russia which took place in the 15th century.
- The traditional wooden architecture museum of Vitoslavlitsi.
- The open-air exhibition of Russian izbas or farmhouses. It has an exciting tradition of building without nails or metal to hold the wooden planks together.
- The Kremlin fortress in Novgorod, one of the oldest Russia tourist places.
Take a flight to St Petersburg. From there you can ride on a fast Lastochka train from Moskovskiy railway station.
14. Stolby Nature Reserve
One of the most popular tourist destinations in Siberia, Stolby Nature reserve lies on the north-western spurs of the eastern Sayan mountain. The rocks and cliffs, called stolby or pillars in Russian, are the main highlights of the place. The smallest cliffs will be around 55 meters high, while the highest cliffs might go up to 600 metres. One of the interesting places to visit in Russia.
- Rock-climbing and hiking are popular adventurous activities not to be missed.
- Guided tours of the Siberian fir taiga underneath the rocks are also main Russia tourist attractions.
You can plan your stay in the wooden cabins on the reserve’s grounds, surrounded by the taiga and the rocks. Separate small cottages for six and eight people and a hostel are also available. The cabins area, known as ‘the village’ will take a bit of a hike from the reserve’s main buildings though there is a car service when you first arrive with your baggage.
Suggested Read : The City Of Dreams | 15 Best Things To Do In Vienna
Novosibirsk is the third-largest city in Russia which lies on the banks of the Ob River. It is also called as the unofficial capital of Siberia. A place with extreme weathers where summers are hot enough to swim and sunbathe while the winters have temperatures that go up to -40 degrees Celsius.
- The Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater.
- The outdoor Museum for Railway Technology is a fascinating place where many diesel and steam locomotives, electric trains, snowploughs, and many unusual carriages like tank, hospital and prison cars, including fire engines are featured.
The Novosibirsk Trans-Siberian railway station is considered to be one of the largest in the country. It is the main departing point for the journey to nearby cities, like the town of Berdsk, on the banks of the Ob Sea.
Fun Fact: The Ob Sea is a man-made reservoir and not an actual sea.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
1. What cities should I visit in Russia?
Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Vladivostok, Irkutsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Sochi, Volgograd, Kaliningrad, etc. are some of the major cities in Russia that you must not miss.
2. Is Russia safe to visit?
Russia is usually a safe country as long as you travel as a tourist to large cities like Moscow or St. Petersburg or if you take the Trans-Siberian route. Places like the Ukrainian border and certain other risk areas are better to avoid.
3. What is the most visited place in Russia?
Saint Basil’s Cathedral is among the top Russia tourist places that are a must-visit.
4. Is Russia a cheap place to visit?
Presently, after the devaluation of the Ruble, travelling to Russia has become affordable for foreign tourists, whereas a few years ago it was quite expensive (especially in places like Moscow or St. Petersburg).
5. What should I buy in Russia?
Tretyakov gallery album, Artisan jewellery, Caviar, Honey, Russian nested dolls, Orenburg shawls, perfumes, furs, felted boots and vodka.
6. What’s Russia famous for?
Russia is famous for its vodka, cold climate, beautiful women and of course, Vladimir Putin!
7. Can I use the euro in Russia?
Rubles is the official currency of Russia, and it is illegal to use US dollars or Euros.