Visiting Russia should be more than visiting St. Petersburg and Moscow and here you will find out about the best places to visit in Russia.
Russia is a massive country spread through eleven time zones, when it’s early morning in Vladivostok it’s late evening in Kaliningrad; 9 climate zones from Arctic to Subtropical which means here you can find a huge bio and geographical diversity.
Traveling Russia is a great combination of cultural and nature/wild life experience; great cities with hundreds of years of history, art museums and cathedrals and at the same time Baikal – the deepest lake in the world, the largest forest area in the world, vast Tundra plains and the Valley of Geysers.
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Russia Travel Guide
Before naming the 10 best places to see in Russia here are some travel tips.
Best Season to Travel in Russia
Summer (June – August) is the best time to visit Russia. It doesn’t matter where in Russia you want to go and what to see. Winter can be an option if you want to experience a real cold Russian winter, to ski or snowboard or to do ice-diving in Baikal lake.
Things you Need to Know About Russia
Find out about Visa requirements here.
Alphabet – Russian language has its own Cyrillic alphabet which makes it quite complicated for foreigners to read even street names and signs.
Google translate works good for Russia – English language combination, it can read and translate signs and voice messages as well.
Time – Russia has 11 time zones if you’re going to travel around the country always check local time.
Russian currency: Ruble (RUB), 1 USD = 60 RUB
In big cities are many ATMs and cards are widely accepted but if you’re going to the country or a small place bring cash.
Security Tips for Russia
Safety tips for Russia are limited by taking normal precautions like watch for your personal belonging in public places, don’t walk at night in dodgy areas and don’t carry all your valuable stuff with you all the time, all these are mainly for big cities. If you go hiking in the mountains or forest, make sure somebody knows where you go and when you’re planning to come back.
How to Move Around Russia
The fastest way is to fly though it’s quite expensive and worth doing only for long distances, 1000km and more. Double check luggage allowance for local airlines as some of them don’t include check-in luggage in the basic tariff some allow only small hand bags for carry on. A middle-distance flight 2000km, will cost you from 60USD.
Trains run across the country, the famous Trans-Siberian railway crossing Russia from West to East. Trains are cheap especially if you buy a sleeper class ticket, quite comfortable if you go for compartment ticket and easy to use. You can buy a ticket online to anywhere in Russia. Train ticket (2000km distance) costs 60USD.
Buses are quite popular even for long distances but traveling time is longer than by train and it’s less comfortable. Average price for a long-distance bus (1300km) from 40USD.
Renting a car is not very popular in Russia as public transport is quite good and relatively cheap but you can do it. It can be worth doing if you’re at least three or four people or if you have a lot of luggage and don’t feel like moving around with all your stuff by trains and buses. Just keep in mind that traffic in big cities, mostly in Moscow, is hectic.
Hitchhiking is quite popular in Russia especially in the South during summer holiday mostly between smaller towns and beaches. Between big cities hitchhiking for money saving is not worth of it as transport is not expensive and distances are huge. But some people do it and even manage to cross Russia from West to East hitchhiking if you’re seeking for adventure and interesting experience go for it.
TOP PLACES TO VISIT IN RUSSIA
Ready to find out about the most beautiful places to visit in Russia?
The cultural capital of Russia is one of the top tourist destinations in the country the city attracts more than 7 million visitors every year.
St.Petersburg is a young city only 314 years but so much was built and so many things happened in this short time that the city will keep you very busy for the whole period of your stay. During the Navigation season anybody can visit St.Petersburg without a visa and stay for 72 hours in the city as a part of a cruise.
The best time for visiting is June – July when you have a chance to experience famous White nights, with the shortest night, less than 2 hours, on 21st of June. Some of the St.Petersburg highlights; the Hermitage, Peter and Paul Fortress, St.Isaak cathedral, Church of the Saviour on the Spilled Blood, Peterhof palace and park, Catherine palace with Amber Room, Russian museum.
The best way to explore the city centre is on foot or by boat there are several water routes through the historical part.
The Russian capital is the largest European city with over 10 million people living in!
Moscow is a mix of old and new, a crazy bustling megapolis where something always happening. One of the oldest Russian cities it was founded in 1147 during its almost 900 years of history Moscow has been burnt, rebuilt and expanded in the last four centuries. It even ceased its leading role to St.Petersburg and was the second city of Russia for 207 years.
The oldest remained building in Moscow is Andronikov Monastery of the Savior, built in 1425. The city is huge the best and the fastest way to move around is using underground, it’s a widespread network of stations throughout the city. Must-see places in Moscow; Kremlin, Red Square, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Bolshoi Theatre, Tretyakov Gallery, Novodevichy Convent, Kolomenskoye.
Located in the Kabardino-Balkaria region near the border with Georgia Elbrus is a part of Caucasus mountain range.
The highest mountain in Europe, 5642m, for the first time it was conquered in 1874. Nowadays hundreds of people every year climb Elbrus though it doesn’t mean it is easy.
The area around Elbrus is famous for its beautiful mountain scenery, mineral springs, and great local food. The best seasons to come here are summer (June – August) if you plan to do climbing or hiking and winter (December – February) for skiing and snowboarding – visiting is surely one of the best things to do in Russia.
The easiest way of getting to Elbrus is to take a flight to Nalchik (the nearest airport), there are flights from Moscow, St.Petersburg, Istanbul, and Tbilisi.
The oldest Russian city on the bank of river Volkhov remained almost the same it was centuries ago.
Once it was the capital of Novgorod Republic (what later became Russian Empire) and one of the biggest European cities.
If you want to see old Russian architecture, experience tranquil life of a small Russian town and try traditional food Novgorod is a great place for these. The history of Novgorod goes back to 10th century when it was mentioned for the first time in Chronicles.
The highlights of Veliky Novgorod; Novgorodsky Kremlin, Cathedral of St. Sophia, Museum of Wooden Architecture, Yuriev monastery, St. Nicholas cathedral.
Novgorod can be visited as a day trip from St.Petersburg it takes 3 hours to get there by speed train.
It has many world records and impressive figures; the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume and the seventh large by surface area, the deepest lake in the world (max depth 1600m), the oldest lake in the world (25 million years).
All these sounds quite impressive and enough reasons to go and see Baikal but when you’re there it’s more just a huge lake it’s an incredible eco system and beautiful nature.
There are many activities to do in the area from hiking on Olkhon Island and kayaking in summer to ice-diving and skating/skiing in winter.
The fastest way to get here is to fly to Irkutsk or if you have more time and seek for adventure take famous Trans-Siberian railway all the way from Moscow, it’ll take you 4 days to get here.
The summer capital of Russia has gained back its popularity in the last years Sochi. First holding Winter Olympic Games and then being one of the main FIFA World Cup cities it is an one of the most interesting places in Russia.
Sochi has a subtropical climate with evergreen palm trees, warm water of the Black sea and beautiful mountains.
In summer it’s a good place for chilling on the beach, hiking in the surrounding mountains or doing some adventure tours e.g. rafting, abseiling, bungee jumping.
In winter people come here for skiing and snowboarding, there are some great slopes.
It’s easy to get here from any Russian city there are plenty of flights and trains going this way.
Best Off the Beaten Path Places to Visit in Russia – Hidden Gems in Russia
Overlooked by most tourists Altai region is a real hidden treasure of Russia; stunning landscape, untouched nature, many hiking trails this is a real paradise for nature lovers.
The region is on the South-East or Russia on the border with Kazakhstan, China and Mongolia.
Altai is famous for its lakes, there are over 7000 in the area, snow-peak mountains, including Mt.Belukha the highest mountain in Siberia, and incredible wild life, bears, wolves, snow leopards, foxes etc.
A capital of Tatarstan Republic Kazan might represent the country better than any other city; a mix of Asian and European culture and one of the most beautiful cities in Russia.
The capital of the Muslim republic with 48% of its population being Christian; mosques and churches, old Kremlin and modern architecture peacefully coexist here.
The history of the city goes back to 10th century it’s one of the oldest and multinational Russian cities.
The highlights of Kazan; Kazan Kremlin, Qolsarif Mosque, Millennium Park of Kazan, Bauman Street, Cathedral of the Apostles Peter and Paul.
Kazan is connected by railway with many Russia cities, to get here from Moscow takes 12 hours, price from 20USD. There are flights from Russian and many European cities.
The most remote out of all Russian regions Kamchatka is closer to Canada than to Central Russia.
A real wild Russia that many tourists imagine with many bears, forest, tough climate and few people. The highlights of Kamchatka; the Velley of Geysers, Gorely volcano, Avachinsky Bay, Mutnovsky volcano.
The most challenging is getting here and moving around as there are very few roads in the region and to get to some places you’ll need a helicopter. But there are helicopters that are used as public transport, so you don’t need to hire the entire chopper only for you.
The cheapest flight from Moscow costs about 300UDS return off season and from 500USD in season. To get here from other places in Russia is even more expensive. There is no railway here train is not an option.
A wooden architecture open-air museum located on one of the islands in Omega Lake, the North of Russia.
Kizhi is a perfect example of old-style wooden Russian architecture the main church was built in 1714 and replaced the early one that was destroyed years before by fire. The surrounding Nordic nature and wooden complex make a perfect match.
The main attraction of Kizhi is the Church of Transfiguration – a 37meter high building with 22 wooden cupolas, its body was built without using any nails (the cupolas constriction has some).
You can get from Moscow, St.Petersburg and some other cities by train to Petrozavodsk, the nearest town, and then take a ferry to the island.
These are some of the best places to visit in Russia and some famous tourist attractions as well as some hidden gems you can find in this huge country.
About the Authors
Stingy Nomads bio
We’re Campbell and Alya an adventurous travel couple that met surfing in the Philippines. Four years later they married and are still traveling. We’re based somewhere between Cape Town, South Africa and St.Petersburg, Russia, chasing summer and nice weather on both continents. We’re camping addicts and road trippers and like exploring the world’s best hiking and diving destinations and of course doing all the above on a tight budget.
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