Top 8 Places to Visit in Russia, the Country of Tsars

Russia, the majestic country of tsars, awes tourists seeking mysteries. This vast nation spreads its ground across nearly one-sixth of the Earth’s land mass. Its complex topography and diverse climate make it one of Europe’s top travel destinations.

The Ural Mountains set the mark where European and Asiatic Russia meet. At West, Russia stretches over a broad plain with occasional low hills, while the eastern part is described by lowlands and the deserts of central Asia. Expect long winters and brief summers, so choose your travel period wisely.

Here are the top 8 places to visit in Russia to get the most out of your holiday:

1.      Sankt Petersburg

St Petersbourg

More popular than Russia’s capital, Moscow, St. Petersburg is regarded as the country’s most European city. Most Petersburgers actually consider themselves Europeans, constantly taking trips to the neighboring Finland as a pastime activity.

History and culture lovers will get a kick out of visiting St. Petersburg. The city encompasses more than 2000 libraries, over 220 museums, and about 80 theaters. And that’s not all. Young people looking for fun can enjoy edgy art galleries, underground clubs, bohemian cafes, and other hang-out places that have embraced the minimalist Scandinavian décor.

The city center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its magnificent Baroque and Neoclassical buildings, set among a fascinating network of canals, makes it one of the best places to visit in Russia.

2.      Moscow

Moscow Red Square

Moscow is Russia’s capital city, a mega-metropolis full of dramatic contrasts. Its broad avenues and massive Soviet buildings might even seem intimidating. The most iconic landmarks of this sophisticated town and the best places to visit in Moscow are the grandiose Red Square and Kremlin, a fortified complex that sits at the city’s core.

Rich in museums, galleries, and cultural institutions, the capital is also home to the Bolshoi Theatre. The Bolshoi is one of – if not the greatest – opera and ballet theaters. Culture aficionados from all around the globe visit Moscow to enjoy the performances offered by some of the world’s best artists.

Do visit the Mausoleum, the Russian Historical Museum, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, and the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. You can then relax by going on a scenic river cruise along the Volga or Moskva Rivers.

3.      Kizhi Island

Kizhi Island

If you want to get away from the city and enjoy some tranquility, head northwest to Kizhi Island. The island sits on Lake Onega, and it offers a fabulous open-air museum with many wooden structures listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Kizhi’s most recognizable attraction is the Transfiguration Church. The church has 22 domes and reaches a height of 37 meters, making it one of the tallest wooden structures in Northern Russia. Photography enthusiasts should get their cameras ready because this is one photogenic building they shouldn’t miss.

Aside from the wooden churches of Kizhi Island, tourists can explore ancient rural settlements scattered among the pristine landscape.

4.      Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal holds the trophy for the deepest lake in the world. It’s an area filled with tales of ancient monsters, and seeing it with your own eyes can be a unique experience. Outdoors lovers can take hikes on specially designed paths, and in the summer, travelers can enjoy a good swim. If you’re good with cold water, that is.

While in the region, do not miss the chance to visit Irkutsk. This compact city is locally known as the “Paris of Siberia”. Also rich in wooden churches, museums, and theaters, it doesn’t leave room for boredom. Furthermore, it’s one of the best places to visit in Russia if you want to follow Russia’s cultural trail while still enjoying nature.

5.      The Golden Ring

Plyos Russia

The Golden Ring of Russia is not just one, but multiple destinations. It’s a collection of historic cities situated northeast of Moscow. The cities are closely located, and you can easily get from one place to another in a few hours. The area is famous for its charming medieval towns, fortresses, and ancient churches.

Stop at the most interesting establishments along the route: Vladimir, Suzdal, Sergiev Posad, Rostov Veliky, and Plyos (locally known as the “Pearl of the Volga”).

6.      Ulan-Ude

Ulan-Ude Russia

Ulan-Ude is not your typical Russian destination. The name itself was given by the Buryat Mongols that first inhabited the area. Today, Buryat Mongols make up over 20 percent of the city’s population. Mongolian influence is very noticeable, ranging from architectural styles to religion. Shamanism and Buddhism are common religious cults, along with Orthodox Christianity.

The town’s main attraction is the world’s largest Lenin head monument. The head is 7.7 meters tall and weighs about 42 tons. If not impressed by Lenin sculptures, you’d better visit the merchant’s mansions, stroll down Lenina Street – the main gathering and shopping place for locals, and go see the victory arch in the Revolution Square.

7.      Altai Mountains

altai mountains

For the active travelers, the Altai mountains are the perfect destination to go trekking or even rafting. With the boost of ecotourism in the region, you can purchase themed tours that take you to the most picturesque spots of the Altai. The abundant vegetation comprises steppes, forest-steppes, mixed forests, and alpine vegetation. It’s also a great area to spot wildlife, being inhabited by endangered animal species such as the snow leopard.

You can enjoy nature by opting for hikes along routes filled with legends, or go sailing, kayaking, and fishing. When deciding you’ve had enough fresh air, tourists can enjoy the various spa treatments available. Honey treatments and saunas in big cedar barrels are popular in the area.

8.      Kazan

kazan kremlin

Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan republic. Besides, it’s also Russia’s Muslim capital. This vibrant melting pot of cultures is also home to many world-class events, such as the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup. Football fans, you might want to start packing and visit one of the best places to visit in Russia sports-wise.

Kazan is one of the finest places to visit in Russia if you’re a history enthusiast. The city offers a unique complex of archeological, historical, and architectural monuments, called Kazan Kremlin. This major attraction is included in the List of the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage.

Furthermore, tourists can enjoy a broad range of bars, cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and many other leisure activities. The city bursts with life in the pedestrian Bauman Street.