Beautiful and historic cities, wild tundra, thick forests, idyllic countryside, stunning lakes and subtropical beaches are just a few reasons why Russia is one of the most intriguing countries in the entire world. As the world’s largest country (covering more than an eighth of Earth’s inhabited land), Russia is remarkably diverse and a fascinating area to travel through.
The major cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow to the west are absolute must visits and two of the most majestic cities in the world, whilst travelling through rural Russia and the many distinctive villages will be an eye-opening experience and show you wild, untamed and mysterious countryside.
What to Do
St. Petersburg and Moscow are the two obvious destinations and this is for good reason. Glittering palaces, stunning churches, majestic national treasures and a thriving atmosphere with fun and captivating sights and activities await in both cities. These two cities will give you a greater understanding of Russian history, but there are many other great areas to explore where you can experience rural Russia and understand the heart of this intriguing country.
Over to the east, Irkutsk is a popular destination for travellers. A small yet charming city deemed to be the capital of eastern Siberia; here you will find exquisite architecture and a pleasant ambience throughout. The key reason why people stop in Irkutsk is that it lies just 70km away from the ancient Lake Baikal; the oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and thick woodland, this is a terrific place to explore over a few days.
The major port city of Vladivostok is another popular destination with a lively atmosphere throughout. Stunning mountains, an intricate network of bays and the striking dock-lined Golden Horn Bay ensure that it is a wonderful and charming city to explore on foot. A quintessential Russian experience.
The Trans-Siberian railway is the best way to experience all of Russia as it travels across the country and makes many stops at key destinations along the way. Often called “the world’s greatest railway journey”, this is also a fantastic way to meet locals and other travellers and take in awe-inspiring views along the way.
Hearty and filling comfort food relying on bread, pastry, potatoes and sour cream is very common throughout Russia and particularly during the colder months. However, there are also many elegant and delicious typical dishes which include smoked fish, caviar and crepes.
Stroganoff is a Russian classic which is eaten around the world, but Russian sour cream, a variety of mushrooms and variations of hunting/game meats ensure that it is a new experience in Russia. Dumplings are also re-imagined here and a must try, with variations packed full of meats and herbs.
With a mixture of comfort and fine dining, Russia caters to all kinds of international cuisines which can be enjoyed in the major cities.
Covering more than an eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land, the climate in Russia can vary drastically. Typically, Russia experiences harsh weather with snow and very low temperatures between November and April, which can add to the appeal of the enchanting cities and wild landscapes. The climate is generally pleasant between May and October, seeing the cities bathed in sunshine and the rural areas come alive with fresh greenery. June to September can be very hot and the major cities can be packed during these months.
How to Get There
Russia requires a visa to visit, but flying to St. Petersburg or Moscow is simple and possible from most major airports. Other Russian airports can be reached from these airports, or onwards journeys can be simple to book with transport links from any of the airports.
St. Petersburg can be reached by train from Vilnius, Lithuania or from Helsinki, Finland. Moscow can be reached by train from Riga, Latvia. When in Russia, anywhere can be accessed by train and this is the recommended form of transport (particularly taking the Trans-Siberian railway).
Travelling to Russia? Don’t Miss…
- Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood will leave you in awe and is one of the main sights in the historic city of St. Petersburg. Built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated, the church features astonishing and detailed mosaics both inside and out. An area of intriguing Russian history and an architectural masterpiece; this is not to be missed.
- Red Square and the Kremlin in Moscow are often what come to mind first with Russia, which is for good reason as this is a breathtaking sight and also an important historic landmark. It is considered the central square of the city with all the major streets originating from here. This provides a lively feel, fascinating cultural activities and many great areas to explore and sights to behold.
- Lake Baikal is the oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world and is surrounded by astonishing natural beauty. The best way to experience the lake is on Olkhon Island; a lake-bound island accessible by ferry. Here, you can dip in the lake, camp, unwind on the sandy shores and enjoy the mesmerising vistas of snow-capped mountains, colourful flora and beautiful wildlife.
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