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With a storied history, outstanding architecture and a unique culture, Russia makes for a fascinating trip.

Russia’s soviet past is often thought of by many when considering visiting the country but the major cities like Moscow and St Petersburg are more akin to other large European capitals such as London and Paris. Modern and cosmopolitan boasting outstanding art, great nightlife and a lavish reputation.

There are a wide variety of attractions, including amazing places to visit such as the Hermitage Museum and Saint Basil’s Cathedral. It isn’t just the large cities that are worth the trip either. Sochi has grown into one of Russia’s most popular tourist areas, while Kaliningrad is full of compelling museums that dig deep into the country’s intriguing past.

Currency: Russian Rubles are the official currency, with 100 of them equating to roughly £1.30 at the moment (Oct 2017).

Climate: Due to Russia’s enormous size, the weather varies drastically depending on where you are. Many areas of the country experience a humid continental climate, while most of the northern areas see subarctic temperatures during winter. During June and July typical high temperatures are around 23C in Moscow but can often top 30C during heat waves. Not too dissimilar to London’s climate. Further south in Sochi for example average temperatures are higher more similar to the Spanish climate.

Customs and etiquette:  It is important to carry your passport at all times in Russia and you may be fined if you cannot produce it. Make sure you do not photograph any military buildings either, as you may be arrested.

Moscow

Moscow

One of the most unique cities in Europe, Moscow continues to attract tourists in their thousands year-after-year.

Many of the buildings are built and decorated in ways that show off the country’s storied past. Areas such as Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral showcase the country’s unique architectural style.

Moscow also boasts a fantastic arts scene, with the legendary Bolshoi Theatre leading the way. Designed by Joseph Bove, the venue hosts fantastic ballet and opera performances throughout the year.

The city is home to an array of stunning green spaces, including the Gorky Central Park of Culture and Recreation and the Neskuchny Garden. These areas make for exceptional walks and show off Moscow’s phenomenal scenery.

Russia’s Space Museum should not be missed either. This magnificent collection of works showcases the amazing accomplishments of the country’s space missions. It’s ideal for anyone with an interest in the galaxy!

Must see: The Kolomenskoye Historical and Architectural Museum and Reserve is perfect for those looking to learn more about Russia’s past. Based by the riverside, this area makes for a charming change of pace from the busy centre and is the former home of the grand dukes of Moscow.

Shopping: Moscow’s European Mall is the place to be for the top high street brands. Expect high street stores from across the world at low prices.

Getting around: The metro is the cheapest and most reliable way to get around in Moscow, offering cheap tickets that are available at all stations. There are also extensive bus and tram networks.

St Petersburg

St Petersburg

As the second-largest city in Russia, St Petersburg offers a fascinating selection of attractions.

The destination is home to several cultural monuments and The Hermitage, which stands as one of the biggest art museums in the world. The architecture throughout the city is particularly wonderful, with magnificent buildings such as St Isaac’s Cathedral State Museum and the Grand Palace showcasing historic Russian craftsmanship.

The Historic Site of Saint Petersburg and Related Group of Monuments have been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, highlighting their immense cultural value. The city is also internationally-renowned for its performance artists, such as the amazing performers at the Mariinsky Ballet company.

If you’re looking for a city full of unspoilt historic beauty, St Petersburg is perfect.

Must see: The Church of the Saviour of Spilled Blood is one of the most popular sites in the city, continuing to wow tourists year after year. Its exceptional design and beautiful mosaics make it an unmissable landmark.

Shopping: The Nevsky Centre is full of excellent shops and is based right in the centre of St Petersburg. Along with retailers for more upscale shoppers, there are plenty of local stockists and European goods for all budgets.

Getting around: Transport systems in St Petersburg are highly efficient, with an advanced metro network covering most areas. There are also trams, buses and trolleybuses available.

Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod

Kazan is located in south-west Russia and has several sites of religious importance. The Kul Sharif Mosque is particularly awe-inspiring, with illuminations at night showing the building in all of its glory.

Similarly, the Cathedral of the Apostles is a wondrous feat of architecture and makes for some excellent photo opportunities. Such are the beauty of the city's streets, it is a fantastic place to walk around and admire its beauty, with the Kremlyovskaya embankment offering a wonderful selection of bars and restaurants.

Nizhny Novgorod is also full of exciting attractions, with the Chkalov staircase often one of the most popular sites for visitors, providing a wonderful view of the city’s stunning skyline. The Yurkovka Art Gallery should also not be missed, showcasing some magnificent artworks.

Must see: The Kazan Arena is fantastic for sports fans. This state-of-the-art stadium opened in 2008 and is the home venue for Rubin Kazan.

Shopping: The Fantastika Mall in Nizhny Novgorod is an ideal location for shoppers, featuring plenty of local and international brands.

Getting around: Kazan relies mainly on buses and trains, which can take visitors to many local towns and cities, while Nizhny Novgorod benefits from a highly efficient tram system.  

Sochi

Fur Hats

One of the leading tourist resorts in Russia, Sochi has become one of the world’s leading resorts for winter sports. It received substantial investment and media attention when it was chosen as the host city for the 2014 Winter Olympics and now sees skiers visit from all over the globe.

The Rosa Khutor Ski Resort attracts thousands of travellers every winter, offering exceptional views of the nearby scenery and extraordinary slopes. The hospitality is incredible and the atmosphere is fantastic, with skiing and snowboarding now a key part of the culture.

For some marvellous sights, the Arboretum Botanical Garden is a brilliant attraction. Visitors can look forward to outstanding gardens and breathtaking statues, creating a tranquil environment - the perfect place for a picnic!

There are also stunning walking trails for travellers to explore. A trip to the 33 Waterfalls in Golovkina, in particular, is sure to provide several photo opportunities, and there are cosy villages nearby offering a variety of Russian food and wares.

Must see: Whether you’re interested in winter sports or not, you cannot miss out on a trip up to the Krasnaya Polyana Mountain Cluster. The views overlook the stunning Sochi mountains, putting you breathtakingly close to nature.

Shopping: Moremall is the leading retail destination in Sochi. It features a wide variety of high street and local brands, with prices to suit every budget.

Getting around: The Sochi Light Metro is the easiest way to explore the city, while trolleybuses and minibuses also run throughout the tourist areas.

Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad

A city that is forever tied with the atrocities of World War Two, Kaliningrad has been transformed in recent years.

After being part of Germany in the WW2 era under its previous name of Konigsberg, it was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946 and has since been through a long regeneration phase. The city now features fantastic attractions and fascinating museums, offering a glimpse into its long history.

Kaliningrad boasts majestic scenery, too. The Curonian Split is one of the most appealing areas to visit, covering the thin strip of land that separates the Curonian Lagoon from the Baltic Sea. It is on the border to Lithuania and features excellent beaches, jaw-dropping sand dunes and amazing wildlife.

For history buffs, the B-413 Submarine Museum will offer an excellent day out. Expect fascinating artefacts and an interesting tour through a restored Foxtrot class submarine.

Must see: The Konigsberg Cathedral is arguably the finest architectural feat in Kaliningrad. As well as looking beautiful on the outside, there is fantastic art inside, chronicling the city’s compelling history.

Shopping: The Kaliningrad Plaza is the go-to place for shopping. After opening in 2006, the centre boasts a host of high-street brands and a multi-screen cinema.

Getting around: The best way to explore Kaliningrad is by bus. Several services are available that cover the tourist areas, with most services running every ten minutes.

Samara and Volgograd

Volgograd

Samara is one of the top summer destinations for tourists in Russia, offering a selection of outstanding attractions and the incredible Samara embankment, including one of the country’s top beaches. With plenty of great cafes and restaurants to choose from, it’s the perfect place for a day out in the sun.

The town’s stunning observation point is another excellent option for travellers, providing a majestic view over the local countryside and wondrous photo opportunities. Great museums to visit include the Modernist Style Museum and the Volga Region Museum of Railway Machinery.

Around 11 hours away by car from Samara, Volgograd has a very different selection of attractions to choose from. While you won’t be finding any sunny beaches in this colder area of the country, there are some excellent cultural things to do. A visit to the Motherland Calls sculpture is another thing you can't miss. The enormous tribute to those who died in World War Two towers over the skyline.

The Volgograd Memorial Historical Museum is another must-see destination, featuring rare exhibits from World War Two and the Russian Civil War.

Must see: The Samara State Philharmonic Society is a fantastic venue showing some of the best shows available in the country.

Shopping: The Troitsky Market is one of the best places for shopping in the two locations, serving up a fantastic selection of farming products.

Getting around: There are tram lines all over the city alongside a great bus system, making it easy for travellers to find their way around the town. 

Saransk and Rostov-on-Don

Rostov on don

As the capital city of the republic of Mordovia, Saransk boasts an outstanding variety of culture and attractions, including the Mordovian Republican Fine Arts Museum and the Pushkin Park of Culture and Leisure.

With buildings dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries, it is easy to see why Saransk is popular among photographers, as sites such as the Cathedral of Saint Righteous Warrior Feodor Ushakov.

On the other hand, Rostov-on-Don is one of the largest cities in southern Russia and is home to the beautiful Don River. Overall, the city boasts around 1,000 objects of cultural heritage and over 400 architectural monuments. The Rostov Academic Theatre, in particular, cannot be missed and a model of it is now kept in the British Museum in London.

Its reputation for art also means it is a fantastic host for a number of festivals focusing on fields such as jazz, comedy and theatre.  

Must see: The botanical garden of Southern Federal University in Rostov-on-Don is unforgettable, covering a massive 160 hectares and featuring a wide selection of stunning flowers.

Shopping: Rio Saransk is the place to be for shoppers. Boasting national and international high street brands, this mall has a wide variety of amazing products to choose from.

Getting around: There is a wide network of buses available in Saransk and Rostov-on-Don, while taxis can be used for those who are in a particular rush.

Yekaterinburg

yekaterunburg

While Yekaterinburg does not have the flair of Moscow or Sochi, it is full of amazing history and breathtaking architecture.

The Weir on River Iset makes for a fantastic place to wander. Based in the historical centre of the city and surrounded by beautiful fountains, the area makes for some truly wonderful photo opportunities. The Architecture and Design Museum is also nearby, providing an excellent insight into the history of the city.

The Church of Ascension and the Church on the Blood are outstanding religious sites that should not be missed. The Church on the Blood is the location where Romanov Royal family were executed and is deemed to be a holy place by Russians, while the Church of Ascension is one of the most popular places of worship in the city. Both of these buildings exude a prestigious presence and represent extraordinary Russian architectural work.

Must see: The Visotsky Business Centre Lookout is based at one of the highest points of the city, providing a birds-eye view of Yekaterinburg’s diverse landscape and great views throughout night and day.

Shopping: The Mall Rainbow Park is a great option for shoppers, boasting several stores and cafes as well as play areas for children.

Getting around: There are trams, buses and taxis available throughout the city, making it easy to explore all of its attractions. 

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