25 Best Places to Visit in Russia

kremlin

In the 21st century, most of the territory of Russia is still a little off-the-beaten-path travel destination, but actually, this is a great advantage.

The country is a very good opportunity for people who like to travel and are looking for something different and unknown.

Given the vast territory, you can easily find a place to enjoy as long as you know exactly what you are looking for.

The good news is that the country is quite affordable and most of the sights are not designed for tourists but are completely authentic.

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The Capital

The Russian capital is a huge city (12,593,252 in 2021), which offers a rare variety and opportunities for entertainment and places to visit.

If you only have a few days in Moscow, you will find it difficult to see everything, but you will certainly be able to visit the main sights.

Fortunately, the subway is among the most developed in the world, not to mention that it is a true work of art.

When to visit Moscow

Moscow has a temperate continental climate with very cold and frosty winters, but also with warm and sunny summers.

June and July offer the most pleasant weather conditions for walking and exploring the city.

The average temperature during the day is usually around 72°F (22°C) in June and 77°F (25°C) in July.

1. Moscow’s City

moscow's city
Moscow’s City by serbuxarev/Pixabay

Travelers are often surprised by the impressive appearance of the financial center of Moscow.

As the capital is the largest economic center in the country, the skyline of Moscow is dominated by modern skyscrapers.

Although the construction of tall buildings is not new to Russia, the first Western-style skyscrapers appeared on the background of the city only in the 21st century, with most of the highest structures completed after 2010.

By 2021, the tallest building in the city is the Federation Tower, which rises to an impressive height of 1,227 feet (374 meters).

2. Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square

st. basil's cathedral and red square
St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square by Anton Zelenov/CC BY-SA 3.0

Saint Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square are the most recognizable and iconic landmarks in Russia.

The square was initially created as a market place in the distant 12th century. Over the centuries it has been gradually enlarged and built up.

It acquired its modern appearance only in the 18th century. The Orthodox temple itself is even older, with its construction taking place between 1555 and 1561.

The Red Square and the majestic Saint Basil’s Cathedral were inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1990.

3. Izmailovo

Travelers often describe Izmailovo as the most charming place in Russia.

Founded as a village in the late 14th century, today it is part of the historic center of Moscow.

It plays the role of a major open-air tourist landmark, attracting visitors with its unique architecture, colorful and well-preserved historic buildings, cobbled streets and numerous entertainment opportunities.

Traditionally for the Old Russian architecture, most of the buildings were built of stone and wood.

4. Kremlin

A symbol of power in Russia and a true cultural monument under the open sky, the Kremlin is among the most recognizable landmarks of the Russian Federation.

Built between 1482 and 1495, it is a fortified complex with an area of ​​27.7 hectares (0.277 km²) in the heart of the capital.

The complex was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List along with the Red Square in 1990.

As they are built of red bricks, the walls of the Kremlin are known for their specific natural red color.

It is very interesting to mention that until the 19th century, they used to apply white paint over the walls as part of the regular maintenance of the fortress, so the Kremlin looked quite different.

5. VDNKh Park

VDNKh Park in Moscow is one of the most popular places for recreation, walks and entertainment in the Russian capital.

The park was built during the Stalin era between 1935 and 1939 as an exhibition center and was completely renovated in 2014.

It is one of the largest entertainment centers in Europe, combining in a very balanced way nature and tourist attractions.

Over the last years the complex includes the Moscow Botanical Garden, so you will have the opportunity to visit them both at the same time.

The Old Imperial Capital

St. Petersburg is the most beautiful and romantic Russian city.

Situated on the shores of the Baltic Sea, it is known as “Venice of the North”.

It is famous for its amazing architecture, great variety of museums, theaters, palaces and churches.

The best time to visit St. Petersburg

The best time for a holiday in St. Petersburg is in June and July.

Apart from the fact that the weather in this part of the year is the most pleasant and comfortable (around 74°F / 23°C), you will also be able to enjoy the beauty of the White Nights.

6. Saint Petersburg Canals

st. petersburg canals
St. Petersburg Canals by Peter H/Pixabay

St. Petersburg is known for its huge network of canals.

They are approximately 70 in number, of which 50 are natural and 20 are artificially created for drainage reasons.

As the city is located at a very low altitude above sea level and the terrain was quite swampy, the frequent floods were quite a serious problem, especially after heavy rainfalls and high water on the river.

The canals completely solved this problem and gave the city a unique charm.

Many of them freeze completely between early December and early April.

7. Peterhof

If you have to choose just one place to visit in Russia, it should be the Peterhof Palace Complex.

It is located on the southwest outskirts of the city, and it takes between an hour and an hour and a half to get there from the downtown of Saint Petersburg, depending on the transport you choose.

The beginning of the construction of the complex took place at the very beginning of the 18th century, in 1705.

However, it took more than a century before the complex acquired its present splendor and charm.

For example, one of the biggest landmarks, the fountains, were created only in the 19th century.

8. Hermitage Museum

hermitage museum
Hermitage Museum by Alexander Grishin/Pixabay

The Hermitage was established in 1746 to serve as a winter palace for Catherine the Great.

Today it is not only the symbol of St. Petersburg and the most photographed building in the city, but it is also the second largest art museum in the world.

It is located on the south bank of the main stream of the Neva River, next to the Admiralty and is surrounded by elegant squares and lovely gardens.

9. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

church of the savior on spilled blood
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood by Je-str/CC BY-SA 3.0

Constructed between 1883 and 1907 by order of the royal family Romanovi, the Savior on Spilled Blood is a former cathedral that today functions as one of the most visited museums in St. Petersburg.

It is located not far from the beautiful Mikhailovsky Park in the central part of the city and is easily recognizable from afar thanks to its colorful domes.

The former Orthodox cathedral rises 266 ft (81 m) above the city. The building was designed as a mixture between Neoclassicism and elegant Baroque style.

10. Kazan Cathedral of Saint Petersburg

kazan cathedral of saint petersburg
Kazan Cathedral of Saint Petersburg by Gilbert Sopakuwa/Flickr

Looking more like a palace than as an Orthodox temple, the Kazan Cathedral is one of the most famous buildings in Russia’s old imperial capital.

Its construction began in 1801 and was completed 10 years later, in 1811. It is modeled on the majestic St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the elegant neoclassical Helsinki Cathedral.

The majestic bronze gates are a copy of the doors of the Baptistery in Florence, Italy.

Siberia

Siberia covers a huge area of 5,100,000 sq mi (13,100,000 km2), which is more than the territory of China and India combined.

It is a symbol of harsh climate and polar frosts, but also an oasis of wildlife.

The region is among the least populated in the world. It falls within the boundaries of three climate zones (temperate, subpolar and polar).

It is covered with some of the vastest forests on the planet and is home to some of the deepest and longest rivers.

11. Baikal Lake

baikal lake
Baikal Lake by Simon Berger/Pixabay

Along with Crater Lake in Oregon, USA, Lake Baikal is considered the most beautiful in the world.

During the different seasons it changes beyond recognition.

In winter, the area is hidden under a thick snow cover, and the lake remains covered with 5 – 6 ft (almost 2 meters) of ice.

In summer, Lake Baikal is a magnet for wildlife lovers. Being the deepest in the world, the lake is known for its crystal clear emerald waters and wonderful swimming conditions during the summer season.

The best time to visit Lake Baikal

Baikal is located in Siberia, but as it falls in the southernmost parts of the region, the place has a temperate continental climate.

Summer is very short, but if you come here in late July and early August, the probability of encountering sunny weather and temperatures around 68 – 77°F (20 – 25°C) is very high.

12. Olkhon Island

olkhon island
Olkhon Island by Eszter Miller/Pixabay

Olkhon Island is located less than a mile off the west shore of Baikal Lake.

It is known for the most attractive in Russia soft golden sandy beaches, and approximately ⅓ of its territory is covered with beautiful and untouched forests.

Apart from the beautiful nature, the island is famous for always being shrouded in mystery.

It is believed that the place is imbued with a powerful positive energy, which attracts fans of shamanism from around the world.

When to visit Olkhon Island

Olkhon Island has a moderate continental climate, so July and early August bring the best weather conditions here.

The island experiences pleasant temperatures of around 77°F (25°C), in combination with clear skies and plenty of sunshine. Its wonderful beaches attract swimmers and beachgoers.

13. Altai Mountains

altai mountains
Altai Mountains by Jim Cooper/Pixabay

The Altai Mountains are one of the wildest and most untouched places in Russia.

They are situated in some of the most remote and isolated areas of central Asia, close to China, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

The area is harsh and very sparsely populated, which is why the landscape has been preserved completely unchanged.

The area is a mosaic of dense mountain forests, snow-capped mountain peaks, vast plains and almost no traces of civilization.

Although very beautiful, the place attracts relatively few visitors because of the need for serious preparation before traveling.

When to visit the Altai Mountains

The region of the Altai Mountains has a moderate continental climate with warm to hot summers and very cold winters.

However, it can vary dramatically from one point to another. This is why you should check the weather conditions specific for the area you want to explore.

The major city in the area is Barnaul and it experiences the most comfortable temperatures in late May and in June – between 68 and 77°F (between 20 and 25°C).

14. Yenisei River

The Yenisei River is one of the most powerful and majestic rivers in Asia.

It crosses the endless plains and plateaus of Siberia from south to north and flows into the Arctic Ocean after 2167 mi (3,487 km).

Although the European Volga River has traditionally attracted the majority of river cruise lovers, the Yenisei is becoming an increasingly attractive tourist destination as it passes through some of the least populated and most untouched areas of the country.

When to visit the Yenisei River

Summer is the best time to enjoy a long boat trip on the Yenisei River. In June and July you will enjoy lovely temperatures of around 68°F (20°C) or even more.

15. Oymyakon

The province of Oymyakon is located in one of the most remote northeastern regions of Russia.

As it falls within the subpolar climate zone, the place is known for the lowest winter temperatures on the planet outside Antarctica.

In January and February, temperatures such as -40°F (-40°C) are considered completely normal.

Residents became more cautious with low temperatures when thermometers show less than -67°F (-55°C).

The lowest temperature in Oymyakon ever recorded is -89.9°F (-67.7°C), and it was measured on February 6, 1933.

Visiting Oymyakon in winter

Oymyakon is the coldest town on the planet and this is exactly what the small settlement is most famous for.

It attracts very few visitors but most of them come here during the winter months to experience the extraordinary cold weather.

The temperatures here can be dangerously low so you should talk to your doctor before you go and you should follow all the safety tips they give you.

Visiting such a cold place can be dangerous and you do so at your own risk.

The Far East

The Far East of Russia is one of the least populated parts of the world.

Due to its geographical remoteness, the place still welcomes very few visitors, most of them from East Asian countries.

The region is known for its uniquely beautiful nature and rare species of animals, including some species of large predators, such as tigers and brown bears.

16. Vladivostok

Being a center of science, education and art, Vladivostok is one of the most remote and secluded cities not only in Russia but in the world.

It is located in the southern part of the Primorsky Krai and the first thing tourists notice here is the scenic location.

The old part of Vladivostok has a very beautiful architecture. Here you can feel a light Asian influence, but the vast majority of the buildings are in German Gothic or Romanesque architecture style.

The modern buildings and engineering facilities complement the urban environment, making Vladivostok one of the most harmonious cities in Russia.

Among the main attractions here is Tokarev Lighthouse, which was completed in 1913. With its picturesque location, it attracts artists and photographers from around the world.

When to visit Vladivostok

The climate of Vladivostok is moderate oceanic, with cool summers and cold winters.

The best time to visit the city is definitely in July and August, which bring the most comfortable temperatures. You can expect around 70°F (21°C) in July and 74°F (23°C) in August.

17. Kamchatka

If you want to travel off the beaten tracks in Russia, Kamchatka is the best place.

Covered with dense unspoiled Boreal forests, it is a land of unique natural beauty.

It is located on the Pacific coast, approximately 3882 miles (6248 km) east of Moscow.

The easiest way to get there is to take advantage of the regular daily lines between Moscow and Kamchatka. The duration of the flight is approximately eight and a half hours.

The peninsula is extremely sparsely populated, and approximately 1/3 of its territory has been declared a protected area.

The biggest attraction here are the volcanoes. They are about 300, but only 10% of them are active.

Among the most interesting for scientists are the volcanoes Avachinsky, Goreli and Mutnovski.

The Uzon Caldera, on the other hand, is one of the largest geothermal fields in Russia and in the world.

When to visit Kamchatka

Although the climate of Kamchatka is moderate oceanic, it is quite cold for most of the year.

The temperature is well below freezing for at least 5 months per year.

The best time to visit the peninsula is during the cold and short summer season, which brings average temperatures of around 61°F (16°C) in July and August.

Top 3 Cultural Centers

The vast territory of Russia includes an impressive variety of cultures and very often they coexist together, creating unique and incomparable cities.

Adding the centuries-old rich history and traditions, Russia has a lot to offer, especially if you explore three of the country’s most exciting cultural centers outside Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

18. Torzhok

If you want to touch the old Russian culture and traditions, Torzhok is a good place for you.

Founded in 1083, it is located just 3 and a half hours drive northwest from Moscow.

The old part of the city will offer you beautiful Neoclassical architecture.

You will also see some of the famous Russian wooden churches built between the 17th and 19th centuries.

The major tourist attraction, however, is the beautiful Boris and Gleb Monastery.

Torzhok is also famous for its traditional old crafts, especially the unique gold embroidery.

When to visit Torzhok

Torzhok has a continental temperate climate which is characterized by cold severe winters and warm pleasant summers.

The best time to visit the city is the period between early June and mid August, which brings temperatures of around 72 – 74°F (22 – 23°C).

19. Vyborg

Vyborg is a small but unique city in Russia, located 70 miles northwest of St. Petersburg, near the Finnish border.

It was founded by the Swedes in 1293, but was conquered by Russia in the early 18th century.

It had become part of Finland in 1918 but later it was rejoined to Russia again in 1940.

Vyborg is different from any other city in the country because it has a typical Scandinavian architecture.

With its extraordinary atmosphere, it attracts visitors both from Russia and from abroad.

When to visit Vyborg

As it has a marine temperate climate, the best time of the year to visit Vyborg is July. It brings pleasant and comfortable temperatures of around 74°F (23°C) in combination with clear skies and plenty of sunshine.

20. Kazan

kul sharif mosque
Kul Sharif Mosque by Kat Kitten/Pixabay

If you want to visit a place where people of different ethnicities, cultures and religions coexist together in Russia, you should visit the city of Kazan.

Here, in this very beautiful modern city, Muslims and Orthodox Christians have lived together for centuries.

Nowadays, Kazan is the largest and most important economic and cultural center of Tatarstan.

The most famous landmark is the Kazan Kremlin, which was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2000.

Here you will find the unique Kul Sharif Mosque which is known as one of the symbols of the city.

When to visit Kazan

The best time to visit Kazan is in summer. It brings temperatures between 74 and 79°F (23 and 26°C), with June and July being the best time to enjoy the city.

The Far North

Located beyond the Arctic Circle, the Far North of Russia is not a very popular place for tourism.

However, it is a great choice if you want to travel off the beaten tracks.

The most interesting places to visit in this part of Russia are the Soviet-style city of Murmansk and the small Teriberka known for its old traditions and extraordinary lifestyle.

Although in the subpolar climate zone, the weather here is much milder in comparison with Siberia.

21. Murmansk

Surrounded by endless tundra, Murmansk is a very interesting city and is different from all the places you have ever visited.

It is the largest settlement beyond the Arctic Circle and its appearance has remained largely unchanged since the Soviet era.

Quite surprising for many people, Murmansk is actually a Scandinavian city as it falls within the limits of a region better known as Fenno-Scandinavia, which is part of the Scandinavian Peninsula.

Murmansk is most beautiful during the winter season when you can see the city covered in deep snow.

When to visit Murmansk

The most beautiful time of the year to visit Murmansk is during the winter season, with January, February and March being the best months to enjoy the spectacle of the Northern Lights.

The average winter temperature is always below freezing in winter, but temperatures lower than 6°F (-14°C) are rare.

22. Teriberka

aurora northern lights
Aurora Northern Lights by Svetlana Nesterova/Pixabay

Located in the far north of European Russia, Teriberka has a declining population, but at the same time, it enjoys a growing popularity.

The people visiting the small town with a population of less than 1,000 residents are not many, but their number is constantly increasing because of the unique spirit of the place.

There are hundreds of small lakes scattered in the area. They are covered with thick ice and snow during the winter months.

It is not uncommon to see a polar bear roaming the surrounding tundra so you have to be careful!

The town is known for its numerous unique traditions and sporting events, including deer races, husky safaris and many others.

When to visit Teriberka

Although it falls within the subarctic climate zone, Teriberka is an exciting place, no matter the season.

The temperature in summer is about 15°C while winters bring temperatures below freezing from November to April.

However, because of the influence of Gulf Stream, the average temperature during the day in January and February is -5°C, which is much warmer in comparison with Siberia and the Far East.

Black Sea Coast and Caucasus

The Black Sea coast and the Caucasus Mountains offer the best that Russia.

Because of the combination of good climate, lush nature and sunny hospitable cities, this place is one of the most recommended to visit in the country and is better known as the Russian Riviera.

23. Sochi

bird's-eye view of sochi
Bird’s-eye view of Sochi by Евгений Лодянов/CC BY-SA 4.0

Nestled between the Caucasus Mountains and the sunny Black Sea coast of Russia, the city of Sochi is known for its beautiful architecture, lovely parks and gardens, numerous museums and comfortable urban environment.

The city is undoubtedly one of the most attractive to live or visit in Russia and is already on the list of cities that have hosted the Winter Olympics.

Sochi is famous for its warm subtropical Mediterranean climate and beautiful beaches covered with silver pebbles.

The sea water is very clear and the beaches are full of visitors from early June until September.

When to visit Sochi

Sochi enjoys lovely weather year round but if you want to take advantage of the beautiful beaches, you should go between early June and early to mid September.

The average temperature during the day in the period is between 77 and 82°F (between 25 and 28°C).

24. Gelendzhik

gelendzhik beach
Gelendzhik Beach by Evgeniy Isaev/Flickr

The pearl of the Russian Black Sea is the small town of Gelendzhik.

Home to about 76,000 residents, it is the most attractive destination for summer tourism in the country.

In stark contrast to the idea that Russia is a cold northern country, here you will find lovely sunny beaches covered with a mixture of small pebbles and golden sands.

Its cosy hotel complexes and holiday villas reveal a beautiful panorama from the green mountain slopes along the coast.

The city attracts visitors from all over the country and from other parts of the world.

As Gelendzhik is located at a well-shaped bay, it is known for its clear and balmy emerald sea water.

When to visit Gelendzhik

The best time to visit the city is from early June till early September. The weather during the summer season is quite stable with clear skies and temperatures between 77 and 86°F (between 25 and 30°C) on average.

25. The North Caucasus

Because of the harsh landscape, jagged snow-covered mountain peaks and deep emerald-green valleys, the Caucasus Mountains are often called the “Russian Alps”.

In fact, as a result of its more isolated location, the Caucasus is even richer in rare species of plants and animals.

Green mountain meadows attract rare species of herbivores, including mountain goats, rams, rabbits and some species of deer.

This in turn attracts predators, such as Persian leopards, brown bears, lynxes, wild cats and wolves.

Here you will find the highest peak in Russia and in Europe – Mount Elbrus, which is 18,510 ft (5,642 m) high.

However, the region is worth visiting not just because of its natural beauty but also because of the cultural and historical heritage.

One of the most recommended cities in the region is Kislovodsk, which is an old spa resort known for its hot mineral springs.

When to visit the North Caucasus

Because of its mineral springs and beautiful mountains, the North Caucus is worth visiting year round. However, the best time to come here is during the summer season from June to August.

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