Travel to Russia

Travel to Russia

Immense, gargantuan, vast – Russia’s geographic breadth parallels the monumental cultural riches on display in its venerable old cities.

You could devote a whole lifetime to Russian excursions and still only scratch the surface of this 6.6-million-square-mile republic. The huge capital of Moscow introduces you to the grandeur of Russian infrastructure and that hardy, ever-wry Russian soul. Moscow's most famous sights are clustered together in grand arrangement: the Kremlin, Red Square, and Saint Basil’s Cathedral. Saint Petersburg, meanwhile, has been called Russia’s cultural capital and dazzles with, among other landmarks, the Bronze Horseman statue of Peter the Great and the Hermitage Museum. Situated on the coast of the Kola Peninsula adjacent to Scandinavia, Murmansk is the biggest city in the Arctic and a fine jumping-off point for spotting the aurora borealis. On the edge of Siberia—the true heart of Russia—is Novosibirsk, well-known for its world-class zoo. Other attractions include the TransSiberian Railway (one of the world's greatest train journeys) as well as the natural majesties of Lake Baikal and the Kamchatka Peninsula.

It should come as little surprise, given the country’s titanic size, that it’s difficult to generalize about Russian culture. Well over 100 ethnic groups make up the country’s cultural palette, from the Tatars and Chechens to the Buryats, Aleuts, and Sami. You’ll run into dozens and dozens of native languages in Russia, but Russian itself reigns supreme. The country proudly claims an immensely rich wellspring of folklore, literature, music, and philosophy. Few cultures can claim as many literary heavyweights, for one thing: Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Pushkin, Chekhov—the list goes on and on. It’s truly incredible to wander the city avenues and birchwood lanes made famous by these enormously influential wordsmiths. Russia’s just as renowned for composers such as Tchaikovsky and both historical and modern-day masters of ballet.

A visit to Russia provides a fascinating portal into the native cuisines of Eastern Europe, given the continuing importance of rural, homegrown cookery traditions. Soups, stews, dumplings, pies—many Russian dishes come flavored with centuries of tradition. There’s no question, however, that you can savor some fantastically modern and international flavors in the restaurants of Russia’s highly skilled 21st-century chefs—many of whom celebrate the essential peasant practices of mushroom-gathering and home-garden-tending even as they explore the cutting-edge of global culinary realms. Russia’s most famous beverage is undoubtedly vodka—a grain- or potato-fermented libation steeped in history and custom—but equally popular is tea, which is enjoyed here in quantities that exceed those of nearly every other country.

The largest country in the world, Russia spans eleven time zones and two continents. Within this enormous land mass lie rivers, plains, mountains, tundras, forests and the largest freshwater lake in the world. Siberia, which stretches from the Ural Mountains to the Pacific Ocean, is a resource rich region. The country has the longest borders in the world touching upon 14 countries. Its extensive coastline also borders several bodies of water including the Pacific Ocean, the Arctic Ocean and the Black, Baltic and Caspian seas among others. Russia includes both the largest and deepest lake, Lake Baikal, as well as the longest river in Europe, the Volga. Such a diverse terrain also means that the country is host to hundreds of species of birds and mammals.

The majority of Russia's population lives in the Western part of the country. Russia is most associated with the great cities of Imperial Russia. St Petersburg is Russia's most European city, designed that way by Peter the Great to open a window onto the West. It is considered to be the cultural capital of the country and contains one of the world's foremost museums, the majestic Hermitage.

Russian history is as grand-scale as the countryside. The expansion of Slavic peoples from a source region in the vicinity of the Pripet (or Pinsk) Marshes beginning roughly between the 7th and 9th centuries ushered in Russia’s modern history. The Varangians from Scandinavia founded a powerful state based in Kiev; Vladimir the Great, in power from 980 to 1015, was its most famous ruler. Mongol invasions beginning in the 13th century helped dismantle this empire. The era of the Tsars commenced in the 1500s with the ascension of Grand Duke Ivan IV—Ivan the Terrible—who hugely expanded the size of the Russian state by claiming large tracts of Central Asia and Siberia. Peter the Great, meanwhile, established the Russian Empire in the 18th century; further massive gains in territory accompanied Catherine the Great’s rule in the late 1700s. Communist Russia came into its own via the Bolshevik Revolution. The Soviet Union allied with the West against Nazi Germany, with some of World War II’s most decisive battles—such as Stalingrad and the Siege of Leningrad—occurring on Russian soil. Decades of tension with Western Europe and especially the U.S. defined the Cold War, which ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the close of the 20th century.

Travel Deals

Moscow at Its Best
St. Petersburg at Its Best

Escorted Tour Vacations

Little Tour of Russia Escorted Tour - 2015
Best of Russia, Baltic States and Warsaw Escorted Tour
Best of Russia, Baltic States and Warsaw Escorted Tour-2016
Little Tour of Russia Escorted Tour - 2016