Russia’s vast landmass encompasses icy Siberian wastelands, glacier-capped mountains, sprawling forests, deep lakes and beach resorts. The imperial splendor of its cities is only part of the urban story. Today, they are places rich with galleries, museums and nightlife.
In the west of the country sits Moscow, a prosperous modern city with breathtaking architecture. Stroll around Red Square and tour the Kremlin, a fortified complex containing churches, palaces and Russia’s parliament. Venture inside St. Basil’s Cathedral, famous for its onion-shaped multicolored domes. See the embalmed body of Vladimir Lenin, the first head of the Soviet Union, inside the Lenin Mausoleum. Book a ticket to see a ballet or opera performance at the Bolshoi Theater. Tour some of the 119 hectares (294 acres) of the centrally located Gorky Park, where you can enjoy a picnic or join in a game of volleyball in summer and hit the ice skating rink in winter.
See some of the countryside from Moscow north to St. Petersburg on a train journey; the high-speed Sapsan train covers the 435 miles (700 kilometers) in just under 4 hours. St. Petersburg is the cultural capital of the country. Appreciate hundreds of years of western art at the Hermitage, a museum that holds more than 3 million artifacts. Learn more about a surrealist master at the Salvador Dalí Museum. Go on a sightseeing tour of the city by cruising along its canals.
Many Russians take their vacations on the Black Sea Coast, home to numerous beaches and resorts. The largest resort region is Sochi, stretching for about 90 miles (144 kilometers) along the coast. Flanked by the Caucasus Mountains it is also a ski destination in the winter and hosted the 2014 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Russia’s vast wilderness and diverse landscapes offer seemingly countless outdoor activities. Hike up the volcanic peaks of the Kamchatka Peninsula in the far east. Walk along the shores of Siberia’s Lake Baikal and explore the forests and lakes of Paanajärvi National Park, a wilderness area near the border with Finland.
For a fascinating travel experience, take an epic trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway, the longest railway in the world. One of the most popular routes is from Moscow to Beijing, a week-long journey that passes through huge swathes of wilderness and by remote villages of little wooden houses.