Spring is often the time of year when people’s thoughts turn towards vacations, and with so many potential destinations for foreign travel available, it can be tricky to settle on the best.
One travel option that is all too often overlooked also happens to be the world’s largest nation. Russia has had something of a bad press in recent years, but the links between the US and Russia, as experts such as Angela Stent will tell you, are deep and abiding, and Russia is a fascinating and enormously diverse travel destination with something to offer for every traveler.
Breathtaking religious architecture
The history of Russia was inextricably linked with the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries, and this led to the construction of dozens of cathedrals and thousands of churches, some of which are regarded as among the world’s most important examples of architecture, from the breathtaking Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg to the array of beautiful churches in the city of Suzdal, which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Center. If you are interested in history, architecture or religion, then Russia has a wealth of experiences and sights for you.
A proud literary tradition
Russia has produced some of the world’s most renowned literary figures, from Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky to Gogol and Nabokov, and any visit to Russia is not complete without a pilgrimage to the home of one of these great authors, many of which have been turned into museums, offering visitors deep insights into the life and times of Russian literature.
An artistic treasure trove
For art lovers, there are enough sights and experiences in Russia to occupy you for a lifetime! The collection of art assembled at the Saint Petersburg Hermitage Museum, for example, would take days to fully explore, and there are art galleries and museums in every major Russian city. Two of the artistic highlights of a trip to Moscow are the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, which is home to the nation’s largest collection of contemporary art, and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, where you can enjoy Russian and foreign art from every era of human history.
Rich and fascinating history
History is in the air in Russia, and everywhere you go, there is a reminder of the fascinating story of this compelling country. One of the highlights for many US visitors are the palaces at Peterhof. Built by Peter the Great in the 18th century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site includes Catherine the Great’s palace and the Summer Palace, along with spacious gardens and elaborate fountains, which are a joy to explore. You can also take a trip into Soviet history with a visit to see Lenin’s tomb or the many examples of Soviet architecture that still exist throughout the country.
Delightful food and drink
Russian food is a cuisine not to be missed! The vastness of the nation and the huge variety of cultures that form the Russian community have created a unique culinary diversity with many famous dishes to sample. You could start with the famous Borscht, a beet soup served with cream that has become a Russian specialty, and you should definitely try the Russian national dish, Pelmeni, a pastry dumpling filled with minced meat and served in a soup broth. Russia is also famous throughout the world for its vodka, while Russian beer is refreshing and available in an array of varieties.
The Moscow Metro
One of the wonders of Russia is the majestic Moscow Metro. Built in the mid-1930s, it is one of the biggest metro systems in the world, joining the center of the city with all of its suburbs and surrounding areas, and is decorated with stunning art, from Byzantine mosaics to stained glass windows and bronze statues. In fact, rail travel as a whole is excellent throughout Russia.
Unspoilt natural environment
Russia is one of the few nations on Earth where you can still experience the unspoilt natural world. From the UNESCO-protected Altai Mountains in Siberia, where you can spot the rare snow leopard and the Altai argali, the largest wild sheep in the world, to Lake Baikal, which is the deepest and most ecologically diverse freshwater lake in the planet, Russia is a nature lover’s paradise.
Whatever your favorite type of vacation, whether you are an art lover, a foodie, or a fan of the natural world, Russia’s breathtaking beauty and sheer variety will offer you experiences that you simply can’t enjoy anywhere else in the world.