In sheer size, Russia is a beast. From the freezing tundra of Siberia to the fairy-tale domes of Moscow and endless farmland of the Steppes, the country is a treasure trove of history and culture for visitors to explore.
With easyJet flights now heading to Russia, you can embrace all the adventure and diversity that a country spanning nine time-zones offers. If you’re looking for a hedonistic weekend with friends, a thrilling trip across country or a fascinating cultural break, Russia will satisfy.
Russia remains the largest country in the world after emerging from the former Soviet Union, which it dominated for more than 70 years. Sharing its borders with a number of other countries, ‘the sleeping bear’ , as it has been nicknamed, continues to be a major political animal on the world stage. But, aside from its reputation many people know very little about the real Russia.
So, where do you begin to explore a country so huge? Focus on its capital city of Moscow and you’ll find majestic cathedrals, grand palaces and big wallets. Culture vultures should head to St Petersburg, where you’ll find pretty canals, and tons of museums and theatres to pop into. You can look for pockets of rebellion in its underground art and music scenes. You might even end up drinking vodka with the surly faces you passed earlier on the street.
Why not step back in time and head to the Golden Ring cities? Take the short drive or train ride northeast of Moscow around this collection of cities and you’ll spot the famous onion-domes of Russian Orthodox Churches. A must-see stop on your trail is the town of Suzdal, an open-air museum and a remnant of rustic old Russia. Free from Western influences, you’ll wander past historic churches and quaint wooden houses. Or, for a different view you can cruise the waterways between Moscow and St Petersburg and jump onto dry land into timeless towns and villages like Uglich and Mandrogui.
If you have more time and an adventurous spirit, venture out of the cities and you’ll find emerald green forests, giant lakes, the towering Ural Mountains and even some top-notch beaches. Russia’s Black Sea coast is dotted with several resort towns, including Sochi, and with a warmer climate than Siberia it makes the perfect spot for a relaxing beach holiday. Or, you can hop on the Trans-Siberian Railway for an unforgettable ride across the belly of Russia. Heading out to the vast land of Siberia you’ll reach Lake Baikal, which, just to prove that everything in Russia is big, is the oldest and deepest lake in the world.
As a general rule summers in Russia are warm and dry and winters are very cold (in some areas sometimes as low as -30C). Siberia sees extremes in both of these. If you wrap up warm the snowy winter weather offers a picturesque view of Russia while the autumn colours and warmer temperatures make both September and October good times to visit. July and August are the warmest and dampest months so bring a brolly and plan ahead during this busy holiday season. And, to see Russia’s countryside and forests burst into life then head here during the brighter days of spring.