What are the places to visit in Russia?
This is the question I hear most frequently. (Then comes “Is Russia safe to travel?“) And this is the most difficult to answer. Even knowing what exactly people are interested in, it’s possible to make a rather long list of things to do.
While planning your trip, use the map. Russia is big so be ready for long distances.
Make your own list of places to visit in Russia. Combine them into a coherent itinerary. Otherwise, you risk spending half of your trip on planes and trains between cities.
Russians don’t consider 700 km as a long distance, by the way 🙂
Places to Visit in Russia — What to Choose?
I’ve tried to make a list of places to visit in Russia with diverse attractions:
- Moscow and St. Petersburg are a good choice for those who love city holidays full of museums, restaurants and nightlife.
- Kamchatka and Altai are nice for nature lovers. they are perfect if you want to spend your vacations in the wilderness.
- Cities of the Golden Ring reveal the history of ancient Russia.
Moscow is a must-see city in Russia. No matter if this is your 1st visit or the 10th, Moscow will always amaze you.
I say this because Moscow is extremely vivid and changeable. Vivid 24 hours a day seven days a week.
To begin with, visit the must of the musts: Red Square, Kremlin, Arbat Street, Sparrow Hills, Tretyakov Gallery, Historical Museum, Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, VDNKh, Gorky Park, Tsaritsyno, Novodevichy Convent, Bolshoi Theatre, Ostankino Television Tower, department store GUM, Patriarch Ponds, metro… I suppose it’s enough for the first-timers.
Keep in mind that there are also endless lists of concerts, festivals, sports events and temporary exhibitions.
Clubs? Yes. Restaurants? Yes. Shopping? Yes. Honestly, in Moscow, you can find whatever you want. It’s the biggest European city, after all.
St Petersburg is the cultural capital of the country, city of white nights and sumptuous imperial palaces. Don’t even doubt to put it to your list of places to visit in Russia.
Royal palaces, amazing cathedrals, and drawbridges are the symbols of the city. I’ll mention just some of the must-see places in St Petersburg: the Hermitage Museum, St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood, Mariinsky Theatre, the Russian Museum, Peter and Paul Fortress, Fabergé Museum.
Undoubtedly, you have heard of the white nights in St Petersburg. This is the summer period when it never gets completely dark.
Moreover, St. Petersburg is surrounded by multiple royal residences (usually called summer residences). Millions of tourists visit Peterhof and Tsarskoye Selo every year.
To sum up, here are the statistics about places to see in St Petersburg.
Territories protected by UNESCO World Heritage in different cities:
— The historic centre of Prague — 1 100 ha
— Paris including Versailles — 1345 ha
— The historic centre of Rome — 1 400 ha
— The historic centre of St. Petersburg and related groups of monuments — 4000 ha
4000 ha is approximately = 90 Vatican Cities
Now I let you decide how many days are enough for visiting St Petersburg.
EXPLORE SAINT PETERSBURG:
The unique nature of the region attracts a huge number of travellers, scientists and artists. The most amazing feature of Altai is a combination of different landscapes. There you’ll discover everything: lakes, rivers, waterfalls, mountains and forests.
Many of Altai mountains are local shrines. That is why this region attracts a lot of pilgrims. For instance, mount Belukha is a sacred site to Buddhists.
The region of so-called Golden Mountains of Altai is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The “Golden Mountains” include Altai and Katun Natural Reserves, Lake Teletskoye, Belukha Mountain, and the Ukok Plateau. These are the main natural attractions of Altai.
Vladivostok is the capital of the Russian Far East. It’s a port on the coast of the Sea of Japan, not far from borders with China and North Korea. This is the beginning (or the end) of the famous Trans-Siberian Railway.
Vladivostok was founded in the middle of the XIX century. Nowadays, travellers can visit old fortresses, or wander among old houses in the downtown of the city. However, enormous cable-stayed bridges remind us we’re in the XXIth century.
Of course, the main attraction of Vladivostok is the sea. The city lays on the picturesque hills along the banks of the Golden Horn Bay. You can walk along the embankment, or opt for a lazy day on the beach of the Lazurnaya Bay.
Now let’s visit Russian South and its popular seaside resort — Sochi.
Sochi stretches along the coast of the Black Sea. Tourists come to Sochi for beach holidays and for… skiing! Yes, due to the differences in landscape, Sochi offers a variety of things to do.
No wonder why Sochi houses many summer residences of Russian political leaders. For instance, you can take a tour of the residence of Stalin (Stalin’s Dacha).
If you travel with kids, don’t miss Sochi-Park which is often called Russian Disneyland.
Besides, tourists are fond of the Imereti Lowlands and Sochi Olympic Park.
Gourmets should visit local food markets. Look for nut desserts, churchkhela, tkemali, pastilla, mountain honey, and spices.
Kamchatka is a land of volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, rivers, and waterfalls. If you like nature adventures, Kamchatka is the right place for you.
The Kamchatka Peninsula is situated in the Russian Far East, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Don’t expect extraordinary touristic service. And prices are high. But the beautiful nature overcompensates all those inconveniences.
While visiting Kamchatka, opt for skiing and mountaineering tours, hunting and fishing, boat trips and diving.
Veliky Novgorod (also known as Novgorod the Great) is a lovely city full of authentic sights. Founded in the VIII century, it’s one of the most ancient Russian cities. It’s a place to visit for those who are interested in Russian history.
There are approximately 50 old churches in Veliky Novgorod and surroundings. Some of them are well preserved and even contain ancient frescoes and icons. Others were blown up by the Nazis and are now in a rather poor condition.
Novgorod possesses its own Kremlin (like Moscow) and a number of truly amazing old orthodox churches. Since 1992, Novgorod is recognized as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
P.S. Don’t confuse Veliky Novgorod with Nizhny Novgorod (it’s another city in Volga region of Russia)
EXPLORE VELIKY NOVGOROD:
Kazan, the capital of the Republic of Tatarstan, is one of the oldest cities in Russia. It’s also called the 3rd capital of Russia (after Moscow and Saint Petersburg).
The city of Kazan, situated 450 km from Moscow, is a popular travel destination. It’s an interesting mix of cultures, architectural styles, ancient and contemporary sights. Orthodox churches coexist with mosques, ancient Kremlin — with brand-new amazing buildings… Have you ever heard of the Temple of all religions? You’ll find one while visiting Kazan!
Kazan is a big city full of sights and interesting places to visit. If you spend there only a few days, opt for a sightseeing bus. Thus, you’ll be able to see most of the local attractions.
Kaliningrad is the western edge of Russia. The picturesque city on the Baltic Sea, it is often called the city of amber.
The former name of Kaliningrad is Koenigsberg. It used to belong to Eastern Prussia. That is why even today Kaliningrad resembles European cities.
Walk along quiet streets and ancient buildings. Discover Gothic-style gates and Königsberg Cathedral. Visit the tomb of the great philosopher Emmanuel Kant.
In addition, the Kaliningrad region is famous for its natural resources. Why not go to Yantarny Beach and detect some pieces of amber?
I’d also include to the must-see list the Curonian Spit with its Dancing Forest. This place attracts not only tourists and photographers but also scientists (who still can’t solve the riddle of the Dancing Forest).
Churches of Kizhi Island are symbols of Russian wooden architecture. But churches are not the only attractions of Kizhi.
In fact, the total area of the museum is almost 10 000 hectares. This is where you can find out how Russian peasants lived. For example, take a tour of ancient villages. Traditional interiors of peasants houses, mills, barns will give you an idea of Russian past, traditions and way of life.
Lake Baikal is the deepest lake in the world. Perhaps, the oldest too. It’s supposed to be 25 million years old.
The water of the lake is surprisingly transparent. Despite the fact that Baikal is very deep, we can easily see the bottom and underwater inhabitants of the lake.
The Baikal coast is famous for beautiful landscapes: magnificent bays, forests and rocks.
Nature lovers can opt for a cruise tour of the lake, swim in the bays, ride horses… Just remember: be careful about this amazing sanctuary.
EXPLORE LAKE BAIKAL:
Cities of the Golden Ring
The Golden Ring is a symbolic “ring” of 8 ancient Russian cities. Each of the cities has its own attractions: authentic buildings, ancient cathedrals, the remains of fortresses or pagan shrines.
Some even say that if you want to understand and experience great Russia, take a tour of the Golden Ring.
As said above, the Golden Ring includes 8 cities: Sergiev Posad, Pereslavl-Zalessky, Rostov the Great, Yaroslavl, Kostroma, Ivanovo, Suzdal, Vladimir. You don’t especially need to travel to each of them. However, if you do visit, it will be an unforgettable immersion to Russian culture.
EXPLORE GOLDEN RING:
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These are 12 places to visit in Russia worth seeing 100%. Let me know if there are other regions in Russia you’d like to add to your bucket list!
Best wishes from Russia,
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