Russia came into the limelight and became a popular destination for tourists from around the world last year, when the Eurasian country hosted the twenty first FIFA World Cup in cities across the nation. However, Russia has been a popular tourist hotspot for years before that, attracting over thirty million tourists every single year, who visit to experience the country’s rich cultural heritage, beautiful architecture and sprawling natural beauty. If you’re keen to make a trip, here is everything you need to know about Russia tourism.
One of the key draws for Russia tourism is the fact that it is the largest country in the world, covering almost seventeen million square kilometres of land – that is over one eighth of the world’s inhabited land! In addition to that, Russia is also a transcontinental country, covering Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. Moscow is the capital of Russia and is one of the largest cities in the world. Other notable cities include Saint Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg.
Most of the Russian land mass consists of sprawling plains, with grasslands in the south of the country and dense forested areas in the north of the country. Russia is also dotted with many mountain ranges – in the south, you will find the Caucasus and the Altai, and in the east, you will find the Verkhoyansk Range which is home to the highest active volcano in Eurasia; however, the most famous mountains in Russia are the Ural mountains, which are a rich source of minerals for the country and separate Europe from Asia. When it comes to Russian tourism, no place gives you a better glimpse into the nation’s stunning natural beauty than the Ural Mountains.
Russian weather is best characterised by extremes; however, given the size of the country, it is difficult to generalise, as temperatures and climates can very vastly, depending on which part of the country you are in.
Generally speaking, the summers (running from June to August) are warm and dry, while the winters (running from November to March) are extreme, with temperatures known to touch negative thirty, heavy snowfall and strong winds during the season. The north and central European parts of the country have the most extreme weather, while areas along the Baltic coast are less extreme.
The culture of Russia has been heavily influenced by the nation’s historical past and has gone on to influence cultures all around the world. Literature, performing arts, architecture, fine arts, cinema, philosophy and politics form a critical part of the country’s culture, and Russia has many notable achievements and personalities in these fields.
Russia cuisine is a critical part of Russian tourism, and makes wide use of fish, meats, mushrooms, berries and honey, amongst other ingredients. The country’s fields of crops like rye, wheat, barley and millet have contributed to the range of breads, cakes and cereals that are a common part of Russian cuisine, as well as drinks like vodka, beer and kvass. You will notice that stews are a very popular dish in Russia, especially amongst the locals, and we highly recommend sampling one of the many popular soups that the country has to offer on your trip. You can venture into a local restaurant in whichever city you’re in or opt for one of the many Russia tours that are focussed on food and often hosted by a local.
Given the country’s popularity amongst tourists, Russia is well set up to allow visitors to travel across the country with ease. There are plenty of flights available from around the world to get into any one of the three major airports. Once you’re in, you can opt to take the iconic Trans-Siberian train route, which is touted as one of the most scenic train routes in the entire world. If you’re travelling with a mid-sized group, you may even choose to rent a car and turn your holiday into a road trip to remember.
If you’re going to be in one of the big cities for a while, make sure to explore the city by taking the metro. Not only is it one of the cheapest and most convenient ways to get around; Russian stations are stunning architectural marvels in their own right, and the St. Petersburg system is one of the deepest metro systems in the entire world. Just make sure that you have a printed map in English or adequate mobile data to use your phone, as you may not be able to find a map in English at the station itself.
At SOTC, we offer a wide range of Russia tours to suit every type of traveller. If you’re short on time and want to see the best of the country, you can opt for our Summer Value Tour – Best of Russia, which covers Moscow and Saint Petersburg over six days. If you have more time on your hands, you can club Russia with Scandinavia, with our Summer Premium All of Scandinavia with Russia tour, or our Summer Premium Tour All of Scandinavia with Russia and East Europe – a Russia tour that allows you to see the magnificent Eurasian country as well as some iconic destinations in Europe.
If you’d like to know more about the Russia tours, we offer at SOTC or simply learn more about the country and holidaying in it, visit us at your local SOTC branch.