Russia is a transcontinental country in Eastern Europe and North Asia, the largest nation in the world by area. Covering more than one-eigth of the Earth's inhabited land area and the ninth most populous. It is a country of contrasts, from great subtropical beaches to bitterly cold winter regions in the north. The east may have fewer people, but its lovely cities are among the most popular places to explore in Russia and can hold their own against the west. See examples of magnificent art, not only in museums but also in its churches.
Yekaterinburg is an industrial city in the Ural Mountains, remembered as the place where Tsar Nicholas, the last tsar of Russia, and his family were executed in 1918 during the Russian Revolution. Has a vibrant cultural scene, home to many libraries, theaters and playwrights, and dance companies as well as popular Russian rock bands and the Russia’s fourth largest city.
Sochi on the Black Sea is a great winter sports destination, offers a subtropical climate and great beaches, making it a key part of the Russian Riviera. The resort city makes a great summer (and winter) getaway for Russians. Environmentally conscious travelers may want to visit the Caucasus Biosphere Reserve. Sochi also is home to the area’s northern most tea plantations.
Veliky Novgorod is one of the oldest cities in Russia’s far north. Top sights include the Saint Sophia Cathedral and Bell Tower, the oldest in Russia; the Hanseatic Fountain, said to return 1,000 rubles for every one thrown into it; and a host of museums, including ones on iron, porcelain and history.
Mountains and bays surround Vladivostok, making it a stunning beautiful city in Russia’s east. The city offers many cultural attractions from theaters to museums to concerts. Travelers may want to stroll through some of the city’s lovely parks, including Minny Gorodok, which was formerly a military base. The city’s main square is Admiralsky Skver, with a museum devoted to a submarine nearby.
6. Nizhny Novgorod
Nizhny Novgorod is a good place to immerse oneself in Russian art and architecture, with more than 600 monuments and statues, and at least 200 art museums, concert halls and the like. Russia's fifth larhest city sits at the confluence of the Volga and Oka rivers.
Irkutsk is by far the most popular stop on the Trans-Siberian Railway between Moscow and the east. The city is the best base to explore the lake’s western shoreline. Travelers who visit historic Irkutsk may be pleasantly surprised by decorated wooden houses stand beside standard Soviet block apartments, plus wide boulevards with not too much traffic for a city.
Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan is a lovely city where church tower and minarets fill the skyline. Sometimes referred to as the Istanbul of the Volga because it is a city where European and Asian cultures meet. Sights to see include the remains of the Kazan Kremlin that was destroyed by Ivan the Terrible; the Kul-Sharif Mosque. Kazan also known as the third capital of Russia residents enjoy highest standards of living in Russia.
3. Golden Ring
Picturesque countrysides filled with cherry orchards, quaint cottages, onion-shaped domes and iconic churches that contain the country’s most classical art make this region a special place to visit. One of the oldest regions in Russia, today it is very popular with Russian tourists who want to experience a bygone era.
2. Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg was once the imperial capital of Russia, the city is a popular northern cruise destination and one of the most popular places to visit in Russia. Known as the cultural capital of Russia, the city boasts one of the finest art collections in the world at the Hermitage, with churches adding to the city’s magnificent art. Nevsky Prospekt is the city’s famous shopping and dining street.
Moscow is the capital and the most important city in Russia. This city of more than 12 million is also well known for its artistic endeavors, including ballet, symphonies and art. Onion-shaped domes of historic churches fill the skyline. The stately Kremlin and impressive Red Square, one of the largest squares in the world, are sights not to be missed, as are statues of Lenin and Stalin, controversial leaders in the 20th century.