The Best 5 Cities to Visit in Russia
What are the best cities to visit in Russia?
- Moscow is one of Russia’s most ancient cities. Culture and history lovers are spoilt for choice with world-famous sites, and can visit lively districts to experience local life.
- St Petersburg is the cultural capital of Russia adorned with countless museums and galleries. Visitors can explore the rivers and boulevards, or head to the suburbs to discover imperial residences.
- Vladivostok is located on the border of Russia and East Asia. The ‘San Francisco’ of Russia has much opportunity for hiking and watersports, and visitors can sample the delicious local cuisine, a fusion between Russian and Asian.
- Irkutsk is located on the edge of Lake Baikal, the largest and deepest lake in the world. Explore its imperial history, culture, and beautifully preserved wooden architecture.
- Visitors to Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, can discover a magical fusion between Russian and Islamic cultures. Visitors can admire the enchanting architecture, visit the thriving bazaar, and brush up on their knowledge of Russian history.
Russia’s landscape spans from Europe all the way to the Far East, and is home to unparalleled diversity. Tumultuous history and rich culture can be found in each town and city throughout the country. Read on to discover the top 5 cities that you simply can’t miss!
One of Russia’s most ancient cities, Moscow harbours centuries of Russian history and culture. Culture-lovers are spoilt for choice at the Tretiakov Gallery and the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, and can experience a world-renowned performance at the Bolshoi Theatre. Red Square is the largest square in Russia and is fringed by some of the country’s most famous sites - the seat of Russian state power in the Kremlin, the famous coloured cupolas of St Basil’s Cathedral, and the father of the Revolution in Lenin’s Mausoleum. Moscow comprises a number of lively districts and boulevards in which visitors can feel the life and energy of this city, and there is something for everyone. Visitors can admire the cityscape from Sparrow Hills or from the observation deck of Christ the Saviour Cathedral, and get a feel for Moscow’s medley of architecture - from medieval Russian, to imposing Soviet, to sleek skyscrapers. Moscow has excellent transport connections to other Russian cities, and St Petersburg can be reached in under four hours.
The seat of Imperial power for three centuries, St Petersburg is Russia’s cultural capital. A fairytale-like city epitomising opulence and elegance and adorned with museums and galleries, you’ll be immersed in culture and history both day and night. Taking pride of place in St Petersburg are the State Hermitage Museum, the second-largest art museum in the world, and the Russian Museum, the largest collection of Russian art in the entire country. Visit St Isaac’s Cathedral, the biggest Orthodox Church in the world, or the Church on Spilled Blood, a masterpiece of Russian architecture covered entirely in intricate mosaics. Take a stroll down beautiful Nevsky Prospekt, the city’s main thoroughfare, wander along the meandering embankments of the ‘Venice of the North’, and see the raising of St Petersburg’s famous bridges. Just outside of St Petersburg, you’ll find the Imperial residences of Peterhof and Tsarskoe Selo. Inspired by Versailles, Peterhof is adorned with golden statues and its manicured gardens lead straight to the sea, whereas the palatial architecture of Tsarskoe Selo rivals that of the Winter Palace. Discover St Petersburg during the White Nights, when the city is bathed in sunset glow for hours and assumes a carnival atmosphere. Or, if you can brave the Russian winter, experience the magic of St Petersburg in the snow.
The last stop on the Trans-Siberian railway, Vladivostok lies in the depths of the Far East on the shore of the Pacific Ocean. The name ‘Vladivostok’ means ‘Ruler of the East’, and the city certainly possesses a mysterious aura as the boundary between Russia and Asia. Nicknamed the ‘San Francisco of Russia’ for its hilly landscape, hiking through the nearby hills is popular in both winter and summer. Striking views over the city and the sea can be found by taking the funicular to the Eagle’s Nest observation deck. Food lovers can explore the local restaurants to sample not just Russian delicacies but Korean and Chinese cuisine, and take cookery masterclasses with local chefs. For those who are feeling a bit lucky, Vladivostok is home to the only casino in Russia’s Far East. Or for those who prefer outside activities, why not take a boat tour to experience Vladivostok through the eyes of local sailors? The city also sports a thriving watersports scene - paddleboarding, surfing, and even kitesurfing are some of the activities you can get involved in in the summer months.
An Imperial hub of science and culture perched on the edge of the biggest lake in the world, Irkutsk is a must-see for those wanting to visit Siberia. The city possesses a rich history, being the base from which exiles were banished into Russia’s snowy depths, and from which explorers set out to colonise the Far East. Irkutsk’s centre is a rare preservation of traditional wooden architecture which adorns the streets in all its colourful carved glory. For those searching for local produce, Irkutsk’s Central Market contains a huge number of stalls, and for those seeking a cultural fix, Siberia’s largest collection of art is housed in the Museum of Fine Arts Visit. Irkutsk is the perfect place from which to discover Siberia’s nature, as Lake Baikal lies a mere hour’s drive from the city. Head there in summer to enjoy its beaches, explore local villages, and swim in the lake. Alternatively take a trip in the winter time to see its magical transparent ice, take a dog-sleigh over the lake’s surface, or join the local people in some ice-fishing.
The capital of Tatarstan, Kazan’s name aptly translates as ‘cauldron’ - it is a veritable melting pot of Russian and Asian influence. Kazan boasts a wealth of unique architecture: visit the famous Kul Sharif Mosque with its sky-blue domes, and the Kremlin, a fusion of European and Islamic architecture. You can’t miss the Temple of All Religions, homage to the city’s cultural diversity with its eclectic mix of cupolas and minarets. Situated on the banks of the Volga, a boat trip along this formidable river is the ideal way to appreciate Kazan’s cityscape. And if you’re interested in Tatar culture, visit the historical bazaars of the Central Market, experience one of Kazan’s many festivals, or sample the delicious local cuisine with its Turkic influences. For history lovers, any one of Kazan’s many museums will help you brush up on Russian history from the age of Ivan the Terrible until the present day.