The Kremlin, Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral tell a fascinating story of Russia’s colourful past, while the riverboat tour provides a memorable view of the city. Gorky Park is full of activities and Bunker 42 is a vast secret tunnel system built to shelter Joseph Stalin and other senior figures in case of nuclear fallout.
The city, which is considered the birthplace of Russian industry, witnessed the fall of the Russian monarchy and flourished during the early 20th century as the country’s cultural and scientific nucleus. The best way to see the city is from the 52nd-floor Vysotskiy Viewing Platform. Ekaterinburg is a superb base for a trip to the magnificent Ural Mountains.
Known as Russia’s cultural heart, St Petersburg has opulent landmarks and an elegant canal, lined with ornate plazas and palaces. The Peter & Paul Fortress on Zayachy Island is considered the birthplace of the city and the famous Hermitage Museum houses the largest collection of paintings in the world. The White Nights festival, on during the World Cup, brings classic ballet, opera and musical performances to the city.
Perched on the Baltic Sea, Kaliningrad has cobblestoned neighbourhoods and some unusual buildings of Prussian heritage. Kant Island and Riverside offer tranquil parkland, housing a variety of sculptures and the Kaliningrad Cathedral, a Unesco World Heritage Site, where you can find the tomb of famous philosopher Immanuel Kant.
Formerly known as Stalingrad, this city resonates with military history. The Mamayev Monument (The Motherland Calls) was completed in 1967 to commemorate the Battle of Stalingrad, and it dominates the skyline as the tallest statue in Europe. The Central Embankment waterfront includes The Friendship Fountain and is a vibrant summer venue with cafés, concerts and amusement parks.
An understated port city along the Volga River, Samara has a lively atmosphere. Square Aleksandra Pushkina has a memorable view to the river below and the Samara Embankment is a great place to stroll, suntan or enjoy the cafés.
Pushkin’s Park is the most popular of many green spaces in this hidden gem of a destination which has spectacular orthodox churches and several striking mosques. Intriguing statues are scattered throughout the small city which has as many as five theatres and a thriving cultural scene.
The host city of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi is a polished seaside gem on the “Russian Riviera”.
Beyond the yachts and nightlife, Sochi also has a calmer character in the many peaceful parks dotted along the coastline. The Lenin Mosaic in Riviera Park is highly Instagramable.
Islamic and Christian cultures merge in Kazan, evidenced notably by the brightly-coloured domes and striking crescents that adorn the Temple of All Religions. Situated on the River Volga, the city has many cultural landmarks and the Central Market. The interactive Chak-chak Museum provides an edible exploration of Tatar cuisine like sweet chak-chak dough balls.
Known informally as the gateway to the Caucasus, Rostov-on-Don marks the geographic border between Asia and Europe.
The city’s has many green spaces and imposing squares and is along the historic River Don. Bolshaya Sadovaya Street, one of the city’s oldest and most attractive locations, is the cultural hub.