Everdon’s Guide to Russia: Sights and Scenes

Are you visiting Russia soon? An important aspect of traveling is witnessing the sights and scenes of your host country. Thus, a key part of planning a trip usually is outlining your itinerary.  An itinerary organizes your tours so you don’t miss out on the tourist attractions in  the region.

As the largest nation in the world, Russia attracts visitors from all over the world. The country’s size means that there truly is something for everyone here. Obtaining a Russian visa can be a difficult process, but the chance to visit this incredible country is worth it. It would be impossible to see everything the country has to offer in a single visit. Whether you are visiting Russia for the World Cup or for a vacation, we hope our list of top tourist attractions can inspire a great and versatile itinerary for a memorable trip.

Trans-Siberian Railway, Moscow

First on our list is the Trans-Siberian railway, a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East. It is the longest railway line in the world with connecting branch lines into Mongolia, China and North Korea. It was originally intended to connect Moscow with the city of Vladivostok in the Far East. Today, it is one of the most exciting and scenic ways for visitors to travel through the country. Reservations are required for all trains, so you cannot decide to hop off one and catch another without the necessary ticket.

The Moscow to Vladivostok route covers 9,258 KM and passes through eight time zones. It takes seven days, unless you break the journey. This journey is the best way to catch pristine views of the country. The trains typically stop every three to four hours so that passengers can get off to stretch their legs and grab a bite. Most travelers use the train as overnight accommodation from one destination to the next. The train features first, second, and third-class sleepers, some with private bathrooms and showers. There is also the luxurious option with the privately run Golden Eagle Services.

The Golden Eagle Luxury Train en-route, Russia

The Golden Eagle Luxury Train En-route. Photo Credit: www.planetrail.co.uk

Kizhi Island, Republic of Karelia

Situated in the geographical center of Europe’s second largest lake, Onega, Kizhi has long since been a strategic stopover for travelers. It is blessed with one of the most picturesque ensembles of Russian wooden churches. It also provides the most scenic destination on Russia’s greatest waterway, the River Volga. The island became a settlement in the mid-16th century.

Today the island is best known for its Museum Site of History and Architecture (opened 1960), where early wooden structures were collected and restored as part of an open-air museum. The museum’s features include the 120-foot high Church of the Transfiguration of Our Savior, made famous by its 22 domes. Other tourist attractions include dozens of wooden houses, windmills, chapels and barns.

A view of the Kizhi Island, Russia

A view of the Kizhi Island. Photo Credit: www.easyvoyage.co.uk

Cathedral of Saint Sophia, Novgorod

Located in Novgorod, Russia’s oldest city, Saint Sophia Cathedral is situated within the grounds of the city’s Kremlin. It is the focal point of the Kremlin, unmissable with its glowing golden dome. Standing 125 feet high and adorned with five spectacular domes, the stone cathedral is the oldest church building in Russia.

This cathedral is significant for being the city’s great necropolis. It is the burial place of the prominent members of the city including several princes and posadniks and over thirty bishops, archbishops and metropolitan of Novgorod.

Saint Sophia Cathedral features an array of ancient religious artifacts. Noteworthy is The Mother of God of the Sign, an icon that legend says saved Novgorod from attack in 1169. The cathedral’s three famous ornately carved gates also date back to the 12th century. The cathedral is opened every day from 8 a.m. till 8 p.m.

Saint Sophia Cathedral, Russia

Saint Sophia Cathedral. Photo Credit: www.scoopnest.com

Lake Baikal, Southern Siberia

Many travelers on the Trans-Siberian railway make plans to stop at Lake Baikal, the deepest, largest and oldest lake on Earth. Lake Baikal holds around 20 percent of the world’s fresh water.

Located in Siberia, the 25-million-year-old lake is surrounded by mountain ranges. It is considered one of the clearest lakes in the world. Baikal is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, many of which exist nowhere else in the world

Known as the Pearl of Siberia, Lake Baikal is home to several resorts, making the area a popular vacation destination. It is one of the biggest tourist attractions in southern Siberia and is a great destination year-round. The water freezes solid in the winter, allowing visitors to cross-country ski, skate, and take sleigh rides. Summer visitors will be rewarded with marvelous scenery and the chance to swim in and boat on the world’s largest lake.

Lake Baikal in the summer, Russia

Lake Baikal (Summer) Photo Credit: www.56thparallel.com

Lake Baikal (Frozen solid during winter)

Lake Baikal (Frozen Solid during Winter) Photo Credit: www.psmag.com

Ekaterinburg Arena (Central stadium), Yekaterinburg

The Ekaterinburg Arena, also called Central Stadium was built in 1957 with a 27,000 people capacity. The Stadium has hosted thousands of sports and entertainment events. However, since 2015, the stadium has been given a stunning face-lift, sporting a “bowl” shape, with some incredibly innovative architecture around the lower levels.

The stadium was completed in time for the upcoming FIFA World Cup tournament – and will boast 45,000 seats once works have been finished. The arena is a monument to Stalinist architecture and during the reconstruction the facades of the old western and eastern stands were preserved. The Ekaterinburg Arena’s past now blends in with its future, as a modern and technologically advanced stadium roof has been installed above the stands. Also added to the stadium’s features are two temporary stands that extend beyond the façade of the stadium behind each of the goals.

Yekaterinburg arena, russsia

Aeriel view of Yekaterinburg Arena. Photo Credit: www.firstpost.com

Yekaterinburg Arena. Photo Credit: www.hindustantimes.com

Yekaterinburg Arena. Photo Credit: www.hindustantimes.com

The Kremlin, Moscow

There are about 20 Kremlins in Russia but when people hear the word, they automatically think about Moscow’s seat of power. The Moscow Kremlin serves as the official residence of the President of the Russian Federation. It is also the historic heart of Moscow and one of the city’s most important and most visited sights. It is the oldest and the largest fortress in Russia, as well as one of the largest fortresses in Europe.

Visiting the Kremlin should be on every Moscow traveler’s list of things to do. There, you can explore the Kremlin’s grounds, take photos, view cathedral interiors, and be amazed by the treasures of the museums. It houses twenty towers, five palaces, and four cathedrals. The best observation points on the Kremlin are from the Big Moskvoretsky, Stone, and Patriarch Bridges, as well as Ivan the Great Bell tower, and O2 lounge bar in National hotel.

A view of the Kremlin's walls and towers, Russia

A view of the Kremlin’s walls and towers. Photo Credit: www.friendlylocalguides.com

The Kremlin at Night, Russia

The Kremlin at Night. Photo Credit: www.tripsavvy.com

The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg

The State Hermitage Museum is a museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, Russia. It is the second-largest in the world and has been open to the public since 1852. Its collections comprise over three million items including the largest collection of paintings in the world. Only a small part of the collection is on permanent display. When the museum was founded in 1764, Catherine the Great bought a collection of 255 paintings from the German city of Berlin. This original collection remains in the Hermitage.

The collections occupy a large complex of six historic buildings along Palace Embankment, including the Winter Palace, a former residence of Russian emperors. Today, tours of the Hermitage are usually longer than three hours and incredibly popular. It is said to attract around three million tourists each year. It is believed that if one spends a minute looking at each masterpiece on display, you would require eleven years to see them all.

Hermitage Museum, Petersburg, Russia

Hermitage Museum Photo Credit: www.visit-petersburg.ru

The Golden Drawing Room, Winter Palace, Hermitage Museum, Russia

The Golden Drawing Room, Winter Palace, Hermitage Museum. Photo Credit: www.rbth.com

Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow

The Saint Basil’s Cathedral is a stunning cathedral made up of nine chapels that was built between 1554 and 1561 and is situated in the heart of Moscow. Now a museum, it is among the top tourist attractions in Russia because of its distinctive architecture. It is designed to resemble the shape of a bonfire in full flame. This architecture is not only unique to the period in which it was built but to any subsequent period. There is no other structure on earth quite like St. Basil’s Cathedral.

 

Saint Basil's Cathedral, Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Photo Credit: www.tripsavvy.com

Saint Basil's Cathedral, Russia

Saint Basil’s Cathedral Photo Credit: www.tripsavvy.com

 

Currency Tip: The Russian ruble or rouble is the official currency of the Russian Federation. If you plan to buy rubles in Russia, you should take US Dollars or Euros to exchange, and only change money at banks, hotels and airport exchange bureaus. It is an offence to change money from street traders. As always, we are available for all your Foreign Currency needs.

Have you ever been to Russia? Is there any attraction you recommend? Are you visiting Russia soon? What destinations are you looking forward to?

 

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