Russia is dotted with luxurious palaces, spectacular domed churches and picturesque villages. Icy tundra and windblown steppes, dense forests and mysterious lakes. A rich cultural heritage set in stunning contrast to modern, dynamic cities. Russia - the world's largest country - offers an incredibly varied range of delights for everyone.
Where to go
In Moscow, wander the famed onion domes of the Red Square and the historic Kremlin. Visit Lenin's Mausoleum and St Basil's Cathedral, and enjoy ballet at the Bolshoi Theatre and Russian art at the Tretyakov Gallery.
Experience rural life at the beautiful villages of Suzdal and Vladimir. View the astounding art collections of the Hermitage and the Russian Museum in cosmopolitan St Petersburg. Ascend the enormous dome of St Isaac's Cathedral, cruise the rivers and canals, and explore the Tsarskoe Selo summer palace.
Visit fairy-tale churches in Veliky Novgorod, atmospheric tombs at Pechory Monastery, charming cobblestone streets in Vyborg, and pretty house museums at Oryol. See the wooden buildings of Kizhi, tour a nuclear icebreaker ship at Murmansk, and explore the monasteries of Valaam and the beautiful Kola Peninsula and Solovetsky Islands.
Browse the museums of laidback Nizhny Novgorod, spot wildlife in the Volga Delta, and explore the fascinating, multicultural cities of Kazan and Elista. Experience the pitch darkness of the Kungur Ice Cave, the former gulag camp of Perm-36, the historic Church upon the Blood at Yekaterinburg.
Go hiking or horseriding through the Ural Mountains. Visit historic Starocherkassk, the coastal resort of Sochi, and the pretty spa towns of Kislovodsk and Pyatigorsk. Walk in beautiful Agura Valley, ski in Krasnaya Polyana, and scale Mount Elbrus, Europe's highest peak.
In Siberia, visit picturesque Tomsk, laidback Lake Teletskoe and mellow Ulan-Ude. Experience Tuvan throat-singing, and explore the historic city of Irkutsk, the ski resort of Sheregesh, and the monastery at Ivolginsk Datsan. Spend days around vast Lake Baikal, and sacred Olkhon Island. Celebrate the cold at frozen Yakutsk, before exploring the vibrant riverside of Khabarovsk, the bays of beautiful Vladivostok, the lagoons and volcanoes of the Kuril Islands, and the vast wilderness of the remote Kamchatka Peninsula.
Russia is a huge country, and the great distances involved make air travel very desirable for getting around. Most major cities have airports, and Moscow is the main hub for domestic flights.
That said, an extensive train network links almost every city and town. Trains are very convenient for shorter distances, and overnight services are common. For a romantic, quintessentially Russian rail experience, take the weeklong Trans-Siberian Railway. Train tickets should be booked in advance.
The cheapest way to get around is by bus. Connections are regular, and sometimes a more timesaving option than the train depending on the schedule frequency. They depart from either bus or train stations – please remember to arrive an hour before departure to buy your tickets.
Do's and Don'ts
Do offer your seat when taking public transport, especially to elderly or pregnant women. Not doing so is considered very rude and disrespectful.
When drinking with Russians, do keep your cup half-full if you're not ready to drink more. They'll refill it as a symbol of friendship and generosity.
Don't forget to dress properly when visiting a church. Men should take off their hats, and women should dress modestly and conservatively.
Don't be surprised if nobody smiles. Russians aren't feeling gloomy - smiles are reserved for friends and not mere strangers in public.
Did you know…?
Russia's geography is full of superlatives. The largest country in the world, Russia is located across 9 time zones and covers 1/7th of our planet's landmass. It has the world's oldest mountains (the Ural Mountains) and the deepest lake and largest reservoir of fresh water (Lake Baikal). It also has Europe's highest mountain (Mount Elbrus), and its longest river (Volga River).
Russians love their vodka. If you're lucky enough to be invited to an evening of drinking, the vodka will traditionally be drunk cold and neat, and accompanied by lots of typical Russian foods. If not, there's always the Vodka Museum in Moscow, where you can learn about the distillation process and sample this iconic alcohol.
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