5. Transsiberian train & Lake Baikal.
The ultimate dream for backpackers, flash packers and all types of adventure seekers, Transsiberian train bears the romantic flair of old-school railway journeys across the flat surface of Russian plains, over the Ural mountains, and further into the depths of Asia. Listening to the rhythmical melody of train wheels, drinking tea from a glass wrapped in a soviet metal glass holder, attempting to communicate with local villagers at every station, where old ladies sell fruits and vegetables from their gardens – you can spend anything from a couple of days to a couple of weeks on Transsiberian train. Lake Baikal is one of travelers’ favorite destinations on this route. In the summer, you are free to travel around its islands and try to catch on camera the elusive endemic species of birds and mammals. In winter, the entire lake turns into a perfectly transparent ice palace where even the time itself freezes until the spring thawing season.
4. Solovetsky Monastery.
In the north of Russia, in the middle of the White sea, lies the Solovetsky archipelago, and upon those islands in the 15th century two monks founded a secluded cloister, where anyone searching for peace and serenity of nature could find their last resort. Peace and quiet of this remote northern monastery served many purposes throughout its history: most notably, for about 3 centuries Solovki had been used as a prison, and in Soviet times one of the first forced-labor camps was started here, after the Bolshevik authorities put and end to monastic life on the island. Nowadays, Solovki is worth visiting for its breathtaking nature, traditional wooden architecture and fascinating library of old manuscripts and books.
3. The Golden Ring.
The Golden Ring is a common name for several culture-and-history routes around the European part of Russia. All the cities and towns included in the Golden Ring are famous for their remarkable architecture and cultural heritage: the golden ‘onion’ domes of Russian Orthodox churches is what dominates the cityscape of Vladimir, Suzdal, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, and other towns, and tall bell towers of their monasteries fill the air with the clear ringing melodies during church festivities and holidays. Despite the communism’s efforts to put an end to religious chapter of Russian history, here it is very much alive, and all around the Golden Ring curious travelers can find the wonders of traditional craftsmanship.
2. Saint Petersburg.
Peter I The Great’s favorite playground and the capital of the Russian Empire for two centuries, Saint Petersburg in Russian culture and literature is frequently associated with the dark side of Russian soul, the northern cold and drizzle, the transformed and deformed time and space. Here, lovers of Russian literature will find what they seek in the streets and courtyards that inspired Dostoevskiy, Gogol, Tolstoy, and art and history enthusiasts will appreciate the fascinating collections of The State Hermitage Museum.
Moscow has seen fire and ice, revolutions and historical plot twists: founded in the 12th century, it served as a capital of medieval Russia, then lost its status for about 2 centuries to Saint Petersburg, and regained the title in the Soviet era. Now it is a modern and bustling capital filled with skyscrapers, crazy traffic, international restaurants, hip cafés and smart masses. Some say that the glass and metal of modern architecture do not suit her: and Moscow is always a She in the eyes of its citizens. Some say it is beautiful how layers of history stay preserved among Moscow’s old medieval structures, colorful cathedrals, grey ‘match-box’ apartment blocks and massive bridges of Soviet era, and tall skyscrapers reflecting the evening sun.