This city is one of the world’s architectural gems and a leading cultural centre with scores of museums and theatres including the world famous Hermitage. Attractively set amid a network of rivers and canals the squares and parks make for a very liveable city with a unique feel to it in Russia. St Petersburg is certainly a very different place to Moscow and no trip to Russia is complete without a visit.
For those with the time a sojourn into the Golden Ring cities north east of Moscow is well rewarded. These historically rich towns showcase Russian architecture from the 12th to 18th Centuries and are considered some of the most beautiful in Russia. Not all the Golden Ring cities need be visited in one go and it is best to pick a few to see in depth rather than try and rush around them all. Our favourites are Vladimir and Suzdal.
Russia’s capital is a vast city that speaks of power with it’s larger than life architecture, new found wealth and iconic sights such as the Kremlin, Red Square and St Basil’s cathedral. Visited on almost all trips to Russia, Moscow is also the start of the Trans-Siberian lines which run East to Vladivostok and Beijing. The city has many important museums and attractive parks and plenty to visit and see if your wallet can handle the high costs.
Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan and offers the visitor a fascinating blend of Russian Orthodox and Islamic culture typified by the Kremlin which contains both a cathedral as is usual and a mosque which is less so. The city is prosperous due the the region’s oil wealth and the downtown areas and location on the banks of the Volga river make it a pleasant place to to spend a day or two as a Trans-Siberian stop between Ekaterinburg and Moscow.
Ekaterinburg is set among the rolling hills of the Urals, a region blessed with huge geological wealth and located on the border with the European and Asian continents. The city has long been important and instrumental in Russian history. It was where the last Tsar and his family were held and murdered, became an important military city and was the hometown or Boris Yeltsin. Today it is a popular Trans-Siberian stop and for many offers up superb outdoor activities in the easily accessible countryside.
Nestled deep in Siberia along the Trans-Siberian railway line Krasnoyarsk is often overlooked in favour of the more visited Ekaterinburg and Irkutsk. However, the city has a lot going for it with its attractive location on the Yenisiy river and beautiful and readily accessible countryside. It is a prosperous city by Russian standards and a stop here often makes for a pleasant surprise.
Irkutsk & Lake Baikal
Long considered one of the highlights of Russia and in particular the Trans-Siberian or Trans-Mongolian train routes, Irkutsk and Lake Baikal are located in the heart of Siberia. The city itself falls second to the attraction of Lake Baikal’s pristine waters and lakeside villages which offer up a taste of traditional Siberian lifestyle and hospitality. Within this region there are several areas to visit including Olkhon Island.
Ulan Ude is the capital of Buryatia, a province of Russia where the eastern Mongolian culture mixes harmoniously with the European Russian culture. This is a region of colourful Buddhist Monasteries, cathedrals and the Old Believers. The city is also an important junction on the Trans-Siberian railway where the line splits between the Siberian route to Vladivostok and the Trans-Mongolian route to Ulaanbaatar and ultimately Beijing.
Located just 25km away from China on the vast Amur River Khabarovsk has benefited enormously from it’s proximity to its booming neighbour and makes for a pleasant stop, if often overlooked, by those taking the train to or from relatively nearby Vladivostok. Khabarovsk is a base to make the day trips to the Sikachi Alyan Nanai village and Birobidzhan, the administrative centre of the the Jewish Autonomous Oblast.
This important port city is home to the Russian Pacific Fleet and has a stunning location in the attractive Amursky Gulf. Vladivostok is most well known to many as the start or finish of the Trans-Siberian line that runs all the way to Moscow. Consequently, for the purist a visit to Vladivostok is a must. Aside from the railway connection it is also possible to tour some of the old military forts as well as visit a Submarine.