07 May The Best Cities to Visit in Russia
Russia is the largest country on earth by area and is one of just two definitively transcontinental countries, the other being Turkey. Its contiguous lands run all the way from Lavry in the west to Cape Dezhnev in the east, stretching from the edges of the European Union by the Baltic Sea to the borders with China and North Korea.
This huge area creates some fantastic opportunities to explore, with many interesting places in the country.
So if you’re planning a visit to Russia, consider adding these to your list.
Moscow is the capital of the country and is more than 850 years old. It’s famous for the red walls of the Kremlin, St Basil’s Cathedral, and Red Square.
It’s a mammoth city, with one of the largest populations in the world despite much of the rest of the country having a very low population density. The huge arterial streets that bring hundreds of thousands of people in and out of the city every day are 8-lanes wide in many places are typically characterised by permanent traffic jams.
Don’t let this put you off though, it’s a beautiful city with huge open spaces like the famous Gorky Park and the outdoor exhibition space called VDNKh which turns into a huge outdoor ice rink in winter.
There are also plenty of museums and cultural sites, including the Bolshoi Theatre.
Sochi has always been a popular tourist destination among Russians and neighbouring countries, but it didn’t become a household name elsewhere in the world until the 2014 Winter Olympics.
It’s now home to the annual Russian Formula 1 Grand Prix and a new Sochi football team. The city also hosts a round of the European Poker Tour hosted by PokerStars, as well as regular hockey matches in the Kontinental Hockey League. These regular national and international events give the city an exciting atmosphere.
It’s a beach resort on the Black Sea but there are also quality ski resorts just a few miles away in the mountains. Aside from plenty of swimming, sunbathing and sport, you’ll find plenty of other activities including the theme park and the Olympic Park which is a great place for a stroll.
Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, St Petersburg served as the country’s capital for several centuries before it was moved back to Moscow in the early 20th century. It’s also easy to travel between the two capitals with regular high-speed trains.
It is still regarded as the country’s cultural capital today, with a lot of museums and galleries including the State Hermitage Museum and Peterhof Palace. Located in an industrial part of the city you will find Grand Maket, a giant model of Russia built using a model railway and other moving vehicles and people.
The city was built to model other parts of Europe, so the many canals around the city will remind you of Amsterdam or Venice. The bridges that cross the city are turned into a spectacle each night as they are lit up in bright colours and raise to allow ships to pass through.
Boats carry tourists from bridge to bridge to watch it lift, while thousands more watch from the banks. It’s a unique sight since draw bridges in many countries are considered a nuisance rather than a daily light show.
Yekaterinburg is a city that’s east of Moscow located near to the Ural Mountains on the border between Europe and Asia.
You’ll likely not need to spend as long in Yekaterinburg than Moscow or St Petersburg, but it’s still worth a visit. You’ll find a monument called The Obelisk which marks the border between the two continents.
There’s even a monument to the computer keyboard, which is a 30:1 scale of the PC Cyrillic keyboard, with 104 individual concrete keys located on the banks of the Iset River. It’s an incredibly popular spot among locals on Sysadmin Day, an international day that celebrates IT workers.
There are also plenty of large squares, palaces, and museums including a writers museum, a history museum, and a museum of stone-cutting and jewellery. There are also monuments to international musicians, including Michael Jackson and The Beatles that are dotted around the city.