If ancient walled fortresses, glittering palaces and swirly-spired churches are what you’re after, focus on European Russia. Here, Moscow and St Petersburg are the must-see destinations, twin repositories of eye-boggling national treasures, political energies and contemporary creativity. Within easy reach of these cities are charming historical towns and villages, such as Veliky Novgorod, Pskov and Suzdal, where the vistas dotted with onion domes and lined with gingerbread cottages measure up to the rural Russia of popular imagination.
Russia, a country of enormous social, political and geographic proportions, remains one of the great undiscovered destinations for travel in the 21st century. An incredible diversity of customs, culture and wildlife lies between the Gulf of Finland and the Pacific Coast’s Kamchatka peninsula. Russia remains the biggest country in the world, covering an eighth of the Earth’s land area. Travelling 9,200 kilometres overland from west to east takes six days on the Moscow – Vladivostok train, a route that crosses a fascinating landscape across eight time zones.
Russia is a country of great composers, musicians, ballet dancers and artistic traditions. Concert halls such as the Tchaikovsky Conservatory are ever popular and the Bolshoi and Mariinsky Theatres are among the most important ballet and opera stages in the world.
Best time to go to the Russia
There is a very popular, but somewhat unfair, joke that there is no summer in Russia, just nine months of expectations and three months of disappointment.
The best time to come to Russia is during the summer when days are generally warm, sunny and ideal for sightseeing. The end of May and beginning of June is a very special time in St. Petersburg, with “white nights” when it practically never gets dark.
Winter time has its charm too. Cold Russian winters are known all around the world, but in recent years the temperature has rarely gone below -5°C in Moscow and St. Petersburg. A famous Russian fur hat will keep the head warm and shot of vodka will warm you from the inside whilst you admire the palaces and onion-domed churches glittering with snow and icicles.