The world’s biggest country spanning across 11 time zones incites different emotions in all of us. For some it is a land of imperial splendour yet others get excited about its vodka fuelled nightlife. It can even conjure images of a fur-hat wearing Soviet era KGB spy or the icy Siberian tundra, one of the most sparsely populated regions on the planet. If artistic magnificence, historical riches, picturesque countryside and epic train rides excite you, bump up Russia to the top of your bucket list. And no, Russians are not serious and gruff, they are warm-hearted and welcoming people and this goes a long way in making the vacation more authentic and blissful.
Here are a few images and experiences that will take you to this interesting land, virtually.
Moscow’s postcard perfect Saint Basil’s Cathedral is perhaps the most popular image of this country! Originally constructed in the mid-16th century, this monument looks right out of a fairytale and has stood watch over countless historical and political events in the country.
Popularly known as the Russian Versailles, the Peterhof Palace is a grand complex of palaces and gardens along St. Petersburg’s waterfront. A quick visit here shows why it was one of the favourite residences of many Russian Czar rulers.
With more than 3 million works of art, the State Hermitage Museum of St. Petersburg is a must-visit, even if you are not an art aficionado. Collections from Italian Renaissance, Dutch Golden Age, Egyptian Era, Russian Fine Art and many more ages await you in this 18th century museum.
Among the world’s oldest geographical features, surreal Lake Baikal is an immense and breathtaking area of natural beauty! You will love watching some of its 2000 species of flora and fauna as much as you will like hiking, biking and camping here in summers.
The Kremlin is a symbol of the Russian State in the heart of Moscow, overlooking the Moskva River. Inextricably linked to the most important events in the country since the 13th century, a tour of this building complex is a must-do when visiting Russia!
Moscow metro stations are like their own mini-gallery waiting to entice more than 2.5 billion passengers who use the subway system each year. Colourful mosaics, stained-glass windows and glowing chandeliers adorn the walls and ceilings here.
Can a discussion of Russia be complete without a reference to the magnificent Trans-Siberian Railway? The train unites landscapes and experiences into the journey of a lifetime and some of its routes even travel from Moscow to Mongolia or China!
For an alternate Russian experience, the resort city of Sochi must be added to the vacation. Mountainous coastline, endless sand beaches, lively boardwalk, active sports and eco-tourism are just a few attractions that set this destination apart.
Like most countries, the culinary offerings can complete the Russian experience. Bliny – the Russian pancake, Pelmeni – the meat dumplings, Borscht – the beetroot soup and Pirog – the big stuffed pie must all be savoured. And let us not forget the Russian Vodka!