Russia is a sprawling country in Europe, with a presence that few other destinations can claim to possess. Spanning across 17,075,400 square kilometres, it is the largest country in the world, taking up over an eighth of the planet’s populated land area. Russia extends across northern Asia and the greater part of Eastern Europe, with 11 time zones!

As far as exotic holiday destinations go, this expansive country is right the top of the list of travellers from all around the globe. To help you on your way, we’ve made a list of some of our favourite Russian cities and a famous sight (or two) you simply have to see in each.

Moscow 

The west of Russia is home to two of the country’s major cities – St. Petersburg and Moscow.  Both destinations draws travelers from all over the world as they are shaking off the Soviet past to become bustling metropolises.  The most famous sights in Moscow is without a doubt the Red Square and the Moscow Kremlin. In fact, the Moscow Kremlin is the Russian visitor’s destination that draws the most travellers by far, and with good reason. This fortified complex in the heart of Moscow is not only gorgeous to look at, but also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is closely linked to most of the pivotal historical and political events the country has seen since the 1200s.  And remains the largest active fortress in Europe to this day with 5 palaces and 4 cathedrals within its grounds.

Moscow’s metro system is the fastest transport mode in the world. Trains run every 90 seconds during rush hour, and an estimated 9 million passengers use the metro every day!

Kremlin, Mosco, Russia
The Moscow Kremlin

Uglich

The Church of St. Dmitry on the Blood was built to commemorate the passing of Ivan the Terrible’s infant son tsarevich Dmitry. It is by far the most popular attraction in Uglich and provides visitors with a glimpse into the life and times of the tsars of the 1600s. 

Yaroslavl

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Roman Catholic religion is their litany of saints. St Nicholas the Wonderworker is a spellbinding example of these exalted Christians. A visit to the Church of St Nicholas the Wonderworker in Yaroslavl is a wonderful opportunity to learn about his legacy. It’s truly the best way to immerse yourself in the richness and wonder of Russia’s foremost religion. The church is also renowned for its well-preserved wall frescoes.

Russian Folk Holiday - local offers pancakes
Steaming pancakes offered by a local during Pancake week, a traditional Russian ritual

Sergiev Posad

The Trinity Monastery of St. Sergius in Sergiev Posad is known as the single most important Russian monastery. It serves as the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox. Currently home to 300 monks, the monastery was originally founded in 1345. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993. It is said to represent some of the finest expressions of Russian architecture throughout the ages.

Trinity Monastery, Sergiev Posad
Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius is the most important Russian monastery and the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. Sergiev Posad, Moscow region, Russia.

Goritsy

The Monastery of St Cyril on the White Lake in Goritsy is one of the oldest monasteries in Russia and the largest in Northern Russia. Featuring a vast collection of fortified, cultural and domestic structures, it is a truly iconic sight to behold.

Khizi

This is the largest open air-museum in Russia! The Kizhi State Open-Air Museum of History, Architecture & Ethnography. It features wooden architecture monuments and other mesmerising museum collections. You can choose to explore at your leisure, or as part of interactive multi-media games and trips.

Local hand-painting a Matreshka doll, Mandrogi.

Mandrogi

The town of Mandrogi is a secret village located outside of St. Petersburg that serves as somewhat of a living museum.   It’s a wonderful village, hardly touched by time showing visitors what life used to look like in a traditional Russian village. It’s wonderful to explore on foot. You can ride horses, practice archery and sit in on lacework and pottery demonstrations as well. Then there’s also Vodka Museum – seems only fitting when travelling through Russia, don’t you think?

Mandrogi Village, Russia
The Russian village of Mandrogi

St Petersburg

St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia, after Moscow. You can spend weeks, if not months, exploring this city! It’s a city that boasts the most amazing architecture, a vibey cultural scene and plenty of world-class museums, sights and attractions.

The Peter and Paul Fortress in St Petersburg is one of those bucket-list destinations you have to tick. It was the very first structure ever erected here and, as such, it quite literally the birthplace of the city. Although it never served to defend the city that developed around it, it served as the backdrop for plenty of other exciting developments. Visitors can learn all about its history by exploring the variety of exhibitions throughout the compound.

If you’re keen for a couple of interesting and different sights to explore? Pencil in a visit to the Museum of Hygiene (no kidding – they even have one of Pavlov’s dogs!). Or see St Petersburg’s tiniest sculpture, the Chizhik Pyzhik (a little bronze finch). There’s even a wonderful collection of natural oddities collected by thousands of participants during the rule of Peter the Great, the Kunstkamera.

Related: How to spend 24 hours in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Russia
Aerial view of Saint Petersburg with a view of the Church of the Savior on Blood

About ready to grab your bags and make a beeline for the enigmatic Russian Federation? We don’t blame you! This fascinating destination is filled with enough attractions to even the most seasoned traveller thoroughly entertained.  Russia is on our 2019 travel lineup, join us!

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