What to see in Russia

Russia Attractions

By some measure the largest country in the world, Russia holds a wealth of sightseeing opportunities across all 9 of its time zones, incorporating the largest forestland and freshwater supply in the world. It's little wonder that Russians refer to their country as the Motherland - it is, undeniably, one bountiful place. Seeing Russia in all her glory would be a mighty, and time-consuming, feat.

Most visitors will stop first at the popular cities of the north-west, Moscow and St Petersburg - notable for the roles they played in the Napoleonic Wars and World War II. Moscow was the site of the bloodiest battle Napoleon described as ever having seen while St Petersburg was witness to both the Russian Revolution of the 1700s and the Russian Civil War of the 1900s. Thus both cities boast an abundance of ornate war memorials, museums and sites dedicated to their cataclysmic history.

In St Petersburg, the State Hermitage Museum captures ancient to modern Russian history in the six buildings which make up the Winter Palace - the former residence of the tsars. The Moscow Kremlin is a citadel complex, the most popular of the Kremlin buildings; alongside it is Red Square, Moscow's broad and bustling city square adorned by the famous Basil Cathedral. The Bolshoi Ballet Theatre, in neighbouring Theatre Square, is one of the most ornate theatres in the world and is home to the world's oldest and most successful ballet company. Russian architecture is an attraction unto itself and the cathedrals of Moscow in particular, prove a popular marvel for tourists the world over.

There is, however, more to see in the west by way of both history and natural splendour. Russia is jokingly referred to as the 'lungs of Europe' due to the expansive forestland, which absorbs 15% of the world's carbon dioxide. As you progress east, the forest becomes more dense and overwhelming.

The best way to take in the Russian countryside is by train, as the trans-Siberian Railway winds south-east from Moscow on the same route that once transported prisoners of Stalin's Purges to Gulag labour camps. Travel down to Lake Baikal, the deepest and largest lake (by volume) in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where there are several beautiful resorts along the lakeside.

Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre

Moscow's oldest theatre, the Bolshoi, dates from 1824 and is Russia's most famous theatre, with its world-renowned opera…

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Borodino Panorama Museum

The battle of Borodino is regarded as the bloodiest of the Napoleonic wars, seeing over 70,000 casualties in a single…

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Cathedral of Christ the Saviour

After Napoleon retreated from Russia, Tsar Alexander I declared that a cathedral be built in remembrance to the soldiers…

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Golden Ring

Consisting of a circuit of historic cities northeast of Moscow, the Golden Ring (sometimes called the Golden Circle),…

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Moscow Metro

Moscow's Metro stations together amount to the most beautiful public transport facility in the world. Visitors to Moscow…

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Nevsky Prospekt

Almost three miles (five km) long, Nevsky Prospekt is one of the best-known streets in Russia and is the main thoroughfare…

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Poklonnaya Hill

Poklonnaya, literally meaning 'bow down', lies in the west part of Moscow and was historically a spot for Western visitors…

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Red Square

Red Square is a dramatic open cobbled space in the centre of Moscow, originally the city's market place that served as…

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St Basil's Cathedral

St Basil's Cathedral with its multicoloured domes is the most famous image of Russia, standing on the edge of Moscow's…

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St Isaac's Cathedral

The golden dome of St Isaac's Cathedral dominates the skyline of St Petersburg, the colonnade around the cupola offering…

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The Kremlin

The oldest part of Moscow dating back to the city's foundation in 1147, and situated at the very heart of the city on…

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The Winter Palace and the Hermitage Museum

The magnificent green, white and gold Winter Palace is superbly situated on the banks of the Neva River, a 656 foot-long…

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Tretyakov Gallery

The Tretyakov Gallery houses some of the great masterpieces of traditional Russian art from before the Revolution and…

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