15 Best Cities to Visit in Russia

by Alexander Maxim

Russia is a country of epic proportions, and its cities are equally impressive in size and style. Travelers visiting Russia will discover a wealth of amazing historical and cultural monuments to explore, including massive fortresses, cathedrals, and churches that line the city’s broad streets and boulevards.

This ancient country is full of surprises, from the beauty of its cities to the hidden treasures you’ll find while exploring the streets.

The opera and theater performances in Russia are examples of the country’s thriving cultural landscape, and its authors and composers are recognized worldwide. The best Russian cities are a fascinating blend of the old and the new, with Soviet-era buildings coexisting with ancient structures and contemporary retail complexes and fashionable restaurants and bars.

15. Novosibirsk

Novosibirsk, located on the Trans-Siberian Railway, is, surprisingly, the third-biggest city in the country. As a tourist destination, it is highly recommended. The pleasant museums and monuments more than make up for the unappealing Soviet-era architecture in this otherwise tranquil and laid-back city with many green parks and boulevards.

It’s worth spending at least a few days there, what with all the great museums, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife choices.

14. Ufa

Ufa, the capital of the Russian autonomous republic of Bashkortostan, is a cultural melting pot where Bashkir and Slavic traditions blend together. Ufa, located at the confluence of two rivers, is a stunning metropolis.

Although crime has escalated in recent years due to the economic crisis, it is home to numerous cultural attractions and a unique atmosphere. Kazakhstan is conveniently accessible from here.

13. Smolensk

Smolensk, one of the oldest cities in Russia, is on the Dnepr River and has a plethora of attractive tourist attractions. The city’s extensive history means that it has churches, buildings, and monuments from many different eras, since it has been captured and governed by many different countries.

A visit to the city’s magnificent fortress, which is even bigger than Moscow’s Kremlin, is a treat, and the stunning Assumption Cathedral is another sight not to be missed. Cultural institutions, including museums, galleries, and theaters, present the region’s artistic and musical legacies in addition to its historical landmarks.

12. Kaliningrad

Kaliningrad, on the Baltic coast, is geographically and historically distinct from the rest of Russia due to its location across the border from Poland and Lithuania and under German authority for significant stretches of time. After the German population was removed in 1946, the area was occupied by the Soviet Union and lost its German heritage.

Some remnants of the city’s German past survive after the war’s destruction, while the majority of structures are from the Soviet period and are drab and grey. Surprisingly pleasant to stroll about, thanks to tree-filled parks and attractive neighborhoods that help soften its stark characteristics, and a selection of great museums.

Kaliningrad, once known as Konigsberg, is perhaps most known for its spectacular cathedral, but the old city’s walls are just as impressive.

11. Krasnodar

Krasnodar is a beautiful city, sometimes referred to as “Little Paris,” with an upbeat, bustling vibe throughout its streets. Although it lacks the stunning views of other Russian cities, it is a pleasant location to spend time due to the abundance of stores, cafés, and restaurants, as well as the attractive Tsarist-era architecture present everywhere.

If you want to go out and see the rest of the area, getting around is a breeze thanks to the convenient transportation options available.

10. Veliky Novgorod

Located on the Volkhov River, this city served as Russia’s first capital in the 9th century. Veliky Novgorod, located on a major trade route between Central Asia and Europe, miraculously survived World War II with the majority of its magnificent monasteries and monuments still standing.

St. Sophia’s Cathedral, built in the 11th century, is one of several attractions in the city’s medieval core, along with St. George’s Cathedral, the oldest monastery in Russia. After a long day of touring, visitors can relax in the city’s old bars and restaurants.

9. Volgograd

This city, once known as Stalingrad, gained notoriety during World War II as the scene of the decisive battle that halted the Nazi advance. The Soviets rebuilt Volgograd after the war, and the impressive public buildings and broad streets we see today were built to celebrate their triumph.

The large monument commemorating their victory is impressive, but the vast war cemetery on the outskirts of the city is sobering when you consider the tremendous cost paid by the Soviet people. Visitors to Volgograd can stroll along the city’s beautiful shoreline, which is also home to cozy cafés and elegant restaurants.

8. Sochi

Sochi, located on the coast of the Black Sea, played home to the Winter Olympics in 2014. Consequently, the city’s infrastructure and visitor offerings were upgraded extensively. Russia’s most well-known beach destination has a beautiful waterfront promenade lined with exciting bars and restaurants. Additionally, the city is home to a number of beautiful parks.

The water is warm for swimming, and the weather in Sochi is pleasant, although the beaches are not very attractive and the cost of living rises dramatically during the summer. Ski resorts in the neighboring Alps, site of the Olympic Games, are easily accessible from here, as are the Russian Riviera and the Agura Valley.

7. Nizhny Novgorod

Nizhny Novgorod, situated at the confluence of the Volga and Oka Rivers, is best known for its breathtaking kremlin perched on a hill above the city. Despite its obvious prominence, the city has more than enough to keep tourists occupied for a few days.

Visitor attractions include excellent museums, dining options, and scenic vistas. There are lovely river cruises to local towns and villages that depart from here.

6. Irkutsk

Irkutsk, a city on the shores of Lake Baikal, has recently become a hotspot for tourists because of the proliferation of informative and engaging museums in the area. Traditional Siberian wooden buildings line the streets of the 130 Kvartal region, making for a beautiful stroll. These structures coexist with trendy modern restaurants and bars.

Irkutsk is a fantastic starting point for trips into the surrounding area, and most visitors get here by the Trans-Siberian Railway.

5. Vladivostok

Vladivostok, in the far east of Russia, serves as the regional capital and is an important port and naval station. Beautiful small islands and bays dot the Pacific coast of this hilly area, adding to the idyllic atmosphere.

There is a mix of Soviet-era concrete and brick, with some beautiful architecture here and there. New theaters and cultural attractions are developing in this dynamic metropolis, and the city’s great restaurants, accompanied by trendy cocktail bars and a pulsating nightlife, are only the beginning.

4. Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg has been the scene of several pivotal moments in Russian history, including the execution of the Romanovs and the rise to power of Boris Yeltsin. Situated in the Ural Mountains, Yekaterinburg was once the focus of a gem rush when a swarm of hopeful miners made their way there.

The city now has several cultural and historical attractions. As the economy improves, more and better restaurants and cafés open, creating a culinary landscape that will make your mouth water. Having an international airport, this city serves as a stopping point for many travelers en route to the Ural Mountains, contributing to its heavy foot traffic.

3. Kazan

This city on the Volga is the heart of Tatarstan (a Turkic people). This makes it a one-of-a-kind and fascinating destination in all of Russia. As a city where many people are of Slavic and Russian descent, Kazan has a fascinating cultural melting pot.

Street signs are printed in both Arabic and English, and church spires can be seen amid the mosque minarets. Tatarstan is a self-governing area whose rapid modernization is thanks in large part to the region’s oil deposits.

Kazan is a wonderful place to visit because of its unique character, which is reflected in its delicious local food and fascinating cultural monuments like the Kazan Kremlin.

2. St Petersburg

St. Petersburg may only have been established in 1703, but its troubled past already includes a number of name changes. The Tsars’ original capital was the site of the Communist Revolution and a subsequent Nazi assault.

The city has a very European flavor, with plenty of grand cathedrals and stately palaces, as well as plenty of attractive, tree-lined parks in which to relax and take in the sights. St. Petersburg is traversed by a network of rivers, canals, and magnificent bridges.

The city offers a relaxed atmosphere and is home to a wide variety of exciting entertainment venues, shops, and restaurants. The Hermitage Museum has a priceless collection of artwork.

1. Moscow

The Russian capital is a beautiful city with a feeling of grandeur and epic size; the Kremlin and Red Square are must-sees. A visit to the ancient fortress at the city’s core is awe-inspiring on its own, and the breathtaking St. Basil’s Cathedral nearby just adds to the majesty of the scene.

There are several memorials to the country’s Soviet history, including museums and statues, the best of which is the Bunker-42 Cold War museum. There are more than 600 churches in one city alone, attesting to the orthodoxy that is another distinguishing trait of the country.

Catching a ballet, circus show, or opera at one of Moscow’s theaters is an experience that will live long in the mind, as new and cutting-edge works are continuously being created. In addition, Moscow is home to several excellent dining options, trendy hangouts, and lively bars and clubs.

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