The 10 best Russian cities to visit as a tourist
The are a lot of cities in the Russian Federation but these are the best to go to if you are a tourist.
Unexpectedly, Moscow is one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world. Moscow boasts some of the world’s most iconic sites including the Kremlin and Red Square. The city also boasts a number of other famous buildings such as the Bolshoi Theatre, TSUM shopping centre and the massive Detsky Mir shopping centre.
The city also has several amazing parks which can be enjoyed any time of year. History buffs will not be short of things to do and see in Moscow. Those who enjoy the high-life may be more impressed with Moscow City, this new area of the city plays host to many of Europe’s tallest buildings. The city is a must-see and while many feel it’s not as beautiful as St. Petersburg, I feel that Moscow has a special charm that is hard to replicate.
2 Saint Petersburg
Built by Peter the Great, the city of St. Petersburg has had a number of name changes over the years. St. Petersburg was the capital of the Russian Empire until the revolution of 1917 and is considered by many to be the Venice of the North. This is due to the city’s many canals and beautiful bridges.
There is also a number of buildings of particular architectural significance. One of the most iconic being the Kazan Cathedral built to celebrate the taking of Kazan in 1552 by then Tsar Ivan the Terrible. Another must-see is the Winter Palace which was the residence of the Russian Royal Family from 1732 until the Russian revolution. History buffs would also be recommended to visit the Peter and Paul Fortress which played a key role in both the troubles of 1905 and the revolution in 1917. St. Petersburg can rightly claim to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Kaliningrad is formerly known as Königsberg. This city is wedged in-between Poland and Lithuania, with no direct link to mainland Russia. The city changed hands during World War II and remains part of the Russian Federation to this day.
The city’s Prussian heritage gives the city its own distinct feel and the German influence can be felt in its architecture. There is plenty to see and do in Kaliningrad and the city is certainly worth a visit.
The city of Kazan is not well known outside of Russia but can be considered one of the most beautiful cities in the entirety of the Russian Federation. The city of Kazan lies at the confluence of the Kazanka and Volga rivers. The city centre is one of the most beautiful in the Russian Federation, showing off many architectural highlights.
Kazan’s Kremlin is particularly notable and is UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting a range of buildings both old and new including the Kul-Sharif mosque and the Annunciation Cathedral of Kazan which dates all the way back to 1561. The city also gives tourists the chance to experience Tatar culture, with the population of Kazan being split evenly between ethnic Russians and Tatar’s. In 2015, a total of 1.5 million tourists visited the city and Kazan is a must-see for those looking to experience a different side of Russia. So why not take the one and a half hour flight from Moscow and experience all that Kazan has to offer.
If you read the news then you know that the 2014 Winter Olympics took place in Sochi. Sochi is a very modern city which also has a very mild warm climate. The city is situated on the Black Sea.
If you want to combine sightseeing with some sunbathing Sochi has great beach resorts for you. In winter Sochi can offer world-class skiing and snowboarding at Krasnaya Polyana ski resort. In summer you can go to Dolphinarium Riviera or Tiso-Samshitovaya Roshcha which is a nature reserve. Take a stroll in the forest or walk along the river and the canyon.
Suzdal is one of the oldest towns in Russia having been founded way back in 1024. The town is a must visit and is one of the most visited towns in Russia’s Golden Ring. A number of the town’s monuments are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites, with a particular highlight being the Nativity of the Virgin Cathedral. Walking around Suzdal is like being transported back in time to ancient Kievskaya Rus and it is certainly worth taking this relatively short trip from Moscow to visit this town steeped in history.
Yaroslavl is the capital of the Golden Ring of Russia. The Golden Ring is a chain of 8 Russian ancient cities that are in close proximity to one another and are part of the World Heritage. The city has managed to retain its urban substance of the 17th, 18th and 19th century. The interesting fact is that Yaroslavl has a triangular shape due to the borders of river Volga and the neighbouring cities.
The most recognisable building that you might have heard of is the ‘Spaso-Preobrazhensky’ – Cathedral of the Spassky Monastery. This monastery and its cathedral are also the oldest buildings as they were built in the 12th century.
The centre of the city has in total around 140 architectural monuments that you should see and take a few snaps of. At Yaroslavl Embankment you can take a stroll along river Volga, watch the fountains and enjoy the magnificence and vastness of this site.
Irkutsk as a city itself might not be as exciting as Moscow, Saint Petersburg or modern Sochi. However, it’s the closest city to the renowned lake Baikal that everyone is so keen to see. Lake Baikal is very vast and is worth seeing in summer as well as winter. Each season of the year opens up a very different side of this beautiful landmark of Irkutsk.
Irkutsk is situated on Angar river and has quite a few museums set up in historical buildings reflecting the architecture of the old Russia.
The rock that you see in the image is a sacred sight of the shaman. This rock is one of the most mysterious places of Baikal.
9 Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhniy Novgorod is also called Nizhniy by the locals to keep it short and simple. It’s the fifth largest city in Russia and was founded in the 13th century.
The climate in Nizhny Novgorod is very similar to the climate in Moscow which is quite cold in winter.
One of the historical places to visit is the Kremlin and Square of Minin and Pozharsky. There are also a lot of museums and monuments that you can visit.
You should definitely think of doing a tour across Russia in winter and in summer. I promise you will feel as if you’ve never been to all these places before – the winter time turns every city into a magical land.
10 Sevastopol (Crimea)
Sevastopol is a more recent addition to the Russian Federation, with Crimea having returned to Russian control during the political unrest of 2014. The city is particularly popular with Russian tourists who come to enjoy the Black Sea.
Sevastopol boasts many dramatic cliffs and much period architecture as well as relatively temperate climate. Architectural highlights include St Vladimir’s Cathedral and The Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral.
The city also makes a great base for exploring the rest of the Crimean peninsula and I would recommend you take the time to visit the beautiful Swallow’s Nest (image above) situated in a spa town Gaspra.