12 places in Russia that you can’t miss
There is so much and so much to see in Russia that we would need several weeks to fully discover it, but we recommend some of its best-known attractions.
This true treasure still to be discovered by many tourists offers rich historical and cultural heritage, wild nature, mountainous steppes, and a vast territory that makes it the largest country in the world. But we show you the most visited points of its two main cities, Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as other tourist places in Russia for which a plane journey of almost nine hours is necessary.
1. Kremlin, Moscow
The ‘Russian White House’ is formed by a set of civil and religious buildings, four palaces and four cathedrals, to be exact, grouped in an enclosure that delimits with the Kremlin Wall. The first of this list of tourist places in Russia has been open to the public since 1955, and in 1990 it was included in the list of World Heritage Sites of Unesco. You can visit with two types of entrance: one for the outer territory of the Kremlin and the square of the cathedrals, and another to access the museum of the Armory. Both are worth it.
2. Red Square, Moscow
The most famous square to see in Russia occupies no less than an area of 23,100 square meters. Also on Unesco’s list, it separates the Kremlin, the place of residence of Vladimir Putin, from the Kitay-Gorod neighborhood. Its name does not come from the color of the bricks that surround it but derives from Красная (Krásnaya), which means ‘red’, but in ancient Russian, it meant ‘pretty’. Inside is the grave of Lenin, as well as the gallows or the monument to Minin and Pozharsky, two national heroes for their role in defending the country against the Polish invasion of the early seventeenth century.
3. St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow
Located in the Red Square, this orthodox temple is known for its bulb-shaped domes, which make it easily recognizable. One of the icons to visit in Russia was built in 1554 by order of Ivan the Terrible, obeying a promise he had made years before if he could conquer the Kazan Kanato. It is composed of nine independent chapels and its original name was Cathedral of the Mantle of the Virgin, as it was blessed on October 1, when that holiday is celebrated. It has survived several fires and even a demolition plan by Stalin.
4. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
Located in the middle of St. Petersburg, between the boardwalk of the Neva River and the Palace Square, it occupies five united buildings (Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage, Winter Palace, and Hermitage Theater) forming one of the most beautiful architectural ensembles What to see in Russia. Currently, it holds more than three million objects in Europe and the East from ancient times until the 21st century, is considered one of the most complete art galleries in the world, adding the route through all its rooms a distance of 24 kilometers.
5. The Church of the Savior, St. Petersburg
Also called the Church of the Resurrection of Christ, it was built in the same place where he was killed, the victim of an attack, Tsar Alexander II of Russia. As a curious anecdote, it must be told that during the Second World War a bomb fell on the highest dome of the temple, but it did not explode and remained inside for 19 years until it was found and removed by some workers. Currently, another of the tourist places in Russia is home to a state museum and its mosaics form one of the largest monumental collections in Europe.
6. Peterhof Palace, St. Petersburg
Having nothing to envy to Versailles in terms of ostentation, Peterhof Palace is 26 kilometers from St. Petersburg. 20 fountains, 2 waterfalls, about 40 statues, and more than 200 bas-reliefs give an approximate idea of the dimensions of what was the summer residence of Peter I the Great. In addition to six constructions as a palace, it houses two parks, one of them, former hunting ground. One of the ideal ways to get to this point to visit in Russia is by boat after a ride that ends at Peterhof’s own jetty.
7. Kazan Cathedral, St. Petersburg
Consecrated to the Virgin of Kazan, the most revered icon of the country, this Cathedral to visit in Russia was built between 1801 and 1811. Easily recognizable by its 96 columns, following the model of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, it keeps the walls between the image of the said virgin, the symbol of faith in the whole nation. For many Russians, this basilica is a reminder of the military victories of the army in the war against Napoleon, and inside it is buried Marshal Mikhail Kutuzov, one of the soldiers who most often faced in the battle against the French.
8. Bolshoi Theater, Moscow
Physical space, theater, dance and opera company, the Bolshoi was founded in 1776 by Prince Piotr Urussov and the English businessman Michael Maddox. One of the most touristic places in Russia can be visited in two ways: acquiring tickets to attend one of its representations or with a guided tour in English, Monday, Wednesday or Friday. There is no possibility to book these tours online, so you must queue the same day at their ticket offices. Be sure to arrive early, as they are limited to 20 people per group and there is only one daily: at 12:15.
9. GUM, Moscow
Are you addicted to shopping and wonder what to visit in Russia to meet the credit card? Built in the last of the 19th century, in the years prior to the Russian Revolution it reached 1,200 stores, later being an office building and even a mausoleum for Stalin’s wife. After dissolving the Soviet Union was privatized and today is the largest and most luxurious shopping center in the country. Although you cannot afford most of its luxury stores: Dior, Cartier, or Jimmy Choo, there is some other access to the middle pocket. And, if you do not like shopping at all, it is worth knowing even to have a coffee in this emblematic place.
Last stop of the famous Trans-Siberian railway, this port city is one of the most beautiful to see in Russia. Situated on the coasts of the Sea of Japan, more than 9,000 kilometers from Moscow, Vladivostok boasts military monuments, more than 30 museums, academies, universities, and the branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The best time to get to know it is from the beginning of August until the end of October when the weather allows you to enjoy viewpoints and promenades while savoring a battered fish sandwich, captured minutes before.
The largest resort to visit in Russia is surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains and extends over 147 kilometers along the Black Sea coast. Sochi resorts receive more than four million visitors every year in search of its mild climate, beautiful beaches, lagoons with minerals, and subtropical vegetation. But, also in winter, it is just as appealing, with ski resorts such as Krásnaya Polyana, with more than 130 kilometers of slopes, and its main resort, Rosa Khutor, with 21 kilometers of red slopes and 21 kilometers of black slopes.
12. Lake Baikal
Have so many tourist places in Russia made you want to breathe some fresh air? With almost 32,000 square kilometers of surface: 636 long, 80 wide, and a depth of 1,680 without counting the sediments (which would make it reach up to 9 km), the Baikal is a show where you look. It contains 20 percent of the planet’s freshwater, yes, you read that right, and it is the fifth-largest river in the world, after the Amazon, Nile, Yangtze, and Mississippi-Missouri. Its water has so much quality that it is considered potable, since the microorganisms that inhabit it, unintentionally, carry out an exhaustive cleaning.