10 Top Tourist Attractions in Russia

by Alexander Maxim

Russia, the world’s biggest country, is home to a wide variety of exciting vacation options, from hiking up glacier-covered mountains to exploring the world’s oldest lake. The country’s major urban centers also have a wealth of historical landmarks and cultural events. Whether you spend your time in Russia touring the Kremlin in Moscow or the Mongolian steppes, you’ll have an unforgettable travel experience either way. The following list of Russia’s most popular tourist destinations is intended to serve as a starting point for the creation of a fantastic vacation plan.

10. Trans-Siberian Railway

Transsiberian Railway crossing through Mongolia

A steam locomotive crossing through Mongolia via the Transsiberian Railway. Image source: Yannik Photography/Shutterstock.com

The classic Trans-Siberian Railway connects Moscow with Vladivostok, a city close to Russia’s borders with China and North Korea, and is part of the world’s longest railway system. The railway, also known as the Path of the Tsars, was started in 1891 by Tsar Alexander III and finished by his son, Tsar Nicholas II, in 1916. The majority of tourists use the train to sleep between destinations. There are first-class, second-class, and third-class beds available, and some of them even have their own private toilets and showers.

9. Mount Elbrus

Sunrise view of mount Elbrus

A breathtaking view of Mount Elbrus during sunrise. Image source: Vitaliy Kaplin/Shutterstock.com

Elbrus, the highest peak in Russia, can be found in the southern Caucasus Mountains. Elbrus, the tallest peak in Europe and Asia at 5,642 meters (18,510 ft), is a popular destination for mountaineers of all skill levels. Although the mountain was once a volcano, it hasn’t been active in centuries, so it’s now classified as dormant. Ascents to the peak are facilitated by a cable car system that can transport riders as high as 3,800 meters (12,500 ft).

8. Valley of Geysers

Kamchatka's Valley of Geysers mountains and fumaroles

The mountains and fumaroles of Kamchatka’s Valley of Geysers. Image source: AlexUm5/Shutterstock.com

The Valley of Geysers is the world’s second-largest geyser field, and it can be found on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Far East. In 1941, local scientist Tatyana Ustinova discovered the Valley of Geysers. Since then, it has been a focal point of scientific and tourist attention in Kamchatka.

7. Kizhi Island

Wooden Churches and Bell Tower on Kizhi Island

The historic site of wooden churches and bell tower on Kizhi Island, Republic of Karelia, Russia. Image source: Alvov/Shutterstock.com

Kizhi Island is a small island off the coast of Karelia, a region of northwest Russia that shares borders with Finland and the White Sea. The Karelian people have been in the area since the 13th century, and during that time they have been split between Eastern and Western influences. The 22-domed Church of the Transfiguration of Our Savior, which stands 120 feet tall, is one of the most recognizable structures in the museum’s collection. Dozens of barns, chapels, windmills, and wooden houses also draw visitors. Craft exhibitions and folk music groups are used to illustrate the rural way of life.

6. St Sophia Cathedral, Novgorod

St. Sophia Cathedral at Kremlin Detinets in Veliky Novgorod

The St. Sophia Cathedral at the Kremlin Detinets in Veliky Novgorod, Russia. Image source: Dm_Cherry/Shutterstock.com

Saint Sophia Cathedral can be found in the Novgorod Kremlin, the oldest city in all of Russia. The cathedral is the oldest religious structure in Russia and is 125 feet tall with five beautiful domes. The Mother of God of the Sign, an image said to have protected Novgorod from an assault in 1169, is only one of many historic holy treasures housed at Saint Sophia Cathedral. The three elaborately carved gates of the cathedral were added in the 12th century.

5. Lake Baikal

Sunny evening at Lake Baikal's Cape Burhan

A beautiful summer evening at Lake Baikal’s Cape Burhan on Olkhon Island. Image source: Katvic/Shutterstock.com

Lake Baikal, the deepest and oldest lake on Earth, is a popular stop for Trans-Siberian passengers. About 20% of the world’s fresh water is located in Lake Baikal. The lake, which is 25 million years old and can be found in Siberia, is surrounded by mountain ranges. Among the world’s lakes, this one has some of the clearest water. Several resorts dot the shores of Lake Baikal, drawing tourists to what is sometimes called “the Pearl of Siberia.”

4. Suzdal

Aerial view of the Nativity Cathedral and bell tower in Suzdal Kremlin

An aerial view of the Nativity Cathedral and the bell tower in Suzdal Kremlin, Russia. Image source: Pavel Suhov/Shutterstock.com

Suzdal, the ancient capital of many Russian princes, is the crown gem of Russia’s “Golden Ring” of well-preserved ancient cities. Suzdal is a great place to visit if you’re interested in seeing some of Russia’s most impressive examples of historic architecture, such as kremlins, cathedrals, and monasteries, many of which have onion domes. With a history dating back to 1024, the whole city is essentially an outdoor museum.

3. Moscow Kremlin

Kremlin Armory in Moscow

The Kremlin Armory, established in 1808, located in Moscow Kremlin. Image source: elina/Shutterstock.com

The Kremlin should be on the list of every traveler to Moscow. The walled area includes the seat of government, as well as various museums and four Gothic cathedrals from the 15th and 16th centuries. The Armoury houses historical royal treasures, while the Diamond Fund Exhibition displays an array of jewels, including a 190-carat diamond presented to Catherine the Great. Both are located on the 250-acre grounds.

2. Hermitage Museum

Horse carriage at Palace Square with Hermitage Museum in background

A horse carriage passing by Palace Square with the Hermitage Museum in the background, St. Petersburg, Russia. Image source: Mistervlad/Shutterstock.com

The Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great and displays highlights from a collection of more than 3 million items from all over the world. The Winter Palace, the official palace of the Russian tsars, is one of six ancient buildings that make up the complex that houses the collections.

1. Saint Basil’s Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow, Russia

The iconic St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Russia. Image source: dimbar76/Shutterstock.com

St. Basil’s Cathedral, which was constructed in the center of Moscow between 1554 and 1561, is one of the most visited sites in all of Russia. The cathedral’s striking architecture, more than the building’s relics, is what draws tourists. The building, which takes the form of a blaze in full flame, is unprecedented not only for the time period in which it was constructed but for all times in the future as well. St. Basil’s Cathedral is unlike any other building on the planet.

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