The 7 Most Beautiful Places in Russia
Where to go in Russia?
- Karelia is a republic in the north of Russia known for its beautiful landscape covered with lakes and forests.
- The crystal clear Lake Baikal in Siberia is the world’s deepest, largest and oldest freshwater lake.
- The untamed wilderness of Kamchatka inspires with volcanoes, geysers and hot springs.
- In the middle of nowhere, the bright yellow Chara Sands are a remarkable distraction from the common Siberian landscape.
- The strange attraction of Dargavs, the City of the Dead, leaves no soul untouched.
- St. Petersburg is an architectural wonder of a city. Its omnipresent and colorful splendor will never cease to amaze.
Russia has so much to offer. From the stunning architectural splendor of St. Petersburg to miniature deserts surrounded by green plains and mountains and on to the frozen fantasy landscapes of Siberia — the magical charm of Russia’s grandeur and nature enchants even the grumpiest babushka or traveler! To give you a hint about where you should start planning your visit, here’s a (subjective) list of 7 of the most beautiful places in Russia.
The Republic of Karelia with its capital city Petrozavodsk is located in the Northwest of Russia, where it shares a border with Finland. It is best known for its stunning landscapes consisting of dense forests and numerous lakes and rivers. In the South of Karelia are Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega, and in the East and Northeast the cold waves of the White Sea shape the shores of the Republic. Some of Karelia’s most impressive architectural sights can be found on the island of Kizhi on Lake Onega. The island is home to Kizhi Pogost, a historical site built in the 17th century that consists of two beautiful wooden churches. Nowadays, the entire island of Kizhi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses historical 80 wooden structures to marvel at.
Lake Baikal, which lies close to Mongolia in southern Siberia, is the earth’s oldest freshwater lake. It’s also the deepest and largest one by water volume: Lake Baikal contains around 23% of the world’s fresh surface water. Hike around the lake to enjoy the crystal clear waters and beautiful nature or stay in nearby Irkutsk and discover the city’s exciting history and fascinating architecture.
Kamchatka, Valley of Geysers and Avacha Bay
Kamchatka is a volcanic peninsula in Russia’s Far East, surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk. The volcanoes are already impressive on their own, and you can see them without even leaving the peninsula’s capital Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy. For a real adventure, head over to the Valley of Geysers, a 4 km wide and 8 km long canyon that hosts more than 40 geysers as well as thermal springs. Scenic views can also be taken in at Avacha Bay - the second largest bay in the world. Here you’ll find the “Three Brothers,” a massive rock formation sticking their noses out of the water. Legend has it that three mighty brothers used to protect the local inhabitants from dangerous waves. After they had fulfilled their duty, they turned into stone to serve as eternal guardians for the bay.
The Chara Sands are a small desert halfway between the cities of Irkutsk and Yakutsk in the middle of Siberia. From the thick green forests that surround the desert there is no transition to this most peculiar patch of sand. What is more, this colorful natural phenomenon is laid out at the base of the Kodar and Udokan mountain ranges. These snow-covered glaciers provide the perfect backdrop for an extraordinary contrast of green, white and yellow.
The Altay Mountains are a mountain range in the south of Siberia that runs across the borders of Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan. At 4509 m, the Altay’s (and Siberia’s) highest mountain is Belukha. Year round it’s never seen without a complete cover of snow from its peak to the ground. But the region itself offers not only mountains, adventurers will also find steppes and plains, rivers and lakes as well as an active flora and fauna.
Not only is Siberia full of beauty and impressive landscapes, Russia’s European side, west of the Ural mountains has plenty to see as well. Dargavs, also called the City of the Dead, is located at the bottom of the Caucasus mountains in North-Ossetia in close proximity to the Georgian border. Once an ordinary Ossetian village with a large adjacent cemetery, a plague is said to have swept through the region, leaving all inhabitants dead and buried in what is now a necropolis. What looks like pretty, little, white houses are actually tombs. The place attracts a strange and mysterious fascination, which is further fueled by the many local myths and legends surrounding Dargavs.
Last but not least, when talking about Russian wonders St. Petersburg always makes the list. The cultural capital eclipses all other Russian cities with architectural masterpieces such as the Savior on Spilled Blood Church, St. Isaac’s Cathedral and the Kazan Cathedral. Wherever you go in St. Petersburg, one head-turning building or cityscape is never far from the other. The city is full of beautiful canals that create small islands which led one of the city’s nicknames, the Venice of the North. The Neva, though not a long river, due to its width is still one of the largest rivers in Europe and separates mainland St. Petersburg from the two islands Vasilyevsky and Petrogradsky. On the latter stands the impressive Peter and Paul fortress, where the first founding stones of the city were laid. Outside of St. Petersburg, the Leningradsky region entices with well-preserved medieval settlements and Europe’s largest lake - Lake Ladoga.