Long Work Week? Russia’s Top Ten Weekend Get-Aways

As everybody knows, Russia is a fascinating country with lots to see and do, but planning a trip can be overwhelming.  After all, Russia is the largest country in the world, spanning two continents.  Fortunately, many regions to the west of the Ural Mountains have cities and geographical sites rich in culture and heritage, many of which are a quick plane-ride away from each other.  Here are your top ten best bets for a totally unique vacation.

1. St. Petersburg.  Known as the Venice of Russia, St. Petersburg is situated on a network of canals and is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, summer or winter.  Don’t miss the world-famous Hermitage, the art museum in the old Winter Palace, or Petergof, the Tsars’ summer palace.


Photo by Graham Racher

2. Moscow.  A fast, loud behemoth of a city, Moscow is Russia’s cosmopolitan capital that never sleeps.  There are hundreds of churches, museums, nightclubs and much more to explore: definitely take a ride on its extravagant Metro, and then pop over to Red Square to see the mummy of V. I. Lenin (it’s free!).


Photo by Сергей Ильин-Михальский

3. Yaroslavl.  For a more idyllic experience of Russia, head to Yaroslavl, a thousand-year-old city in the Golden Ring.  Nestled along the banks of the Volga, this is a great city to visit for festivals and roller-skating in the summer.


Photo by Alexxx Malev

4. Kostroma.  Another historic city in the Golden Ring, Kostroma sits on the Volga as well and is chock-full of 17th century churches and trading markets.  Buy souvenirs here for a fraction of what they’d cost in Moscow, and then take a tour of the breathtaking Ipatiev Monastery while you’re there.


Photo by Alexxx Malev

5. Rostov Veliky.  The perfect medium between city-life and the countryside, Rostov Veliky is the ideal place to go to commune with nature.  Situated on Lake Nero, Rostov offers fishing and boating excursions with spectacular views of the city’s monasteries.


Photo by Alexxx Malev

6. Novgorod.  Set along the Volkhov river, Novgorod is a real fairy-tale city, filled with old churches and tree-lined boulevards.  Its kremlin, a brick fortress filled with ancient cathedrals, is well worth the look.


Photo by Алексей Белобородов 

7. Karelia.  Venture northwards if you are a true nature-lover.  Karelia offers pristine forest, lake, and tundra wilderness, plus midnight sun in the summertime and Northern Lights in the winter.  To get there, take the overnight train from St. Petersburg to Petrozavodsk.


Photo by Dmitry A. Mottl

8. Sochi.  This summer resort town, known as the “Pearl of the Black Sea” and the host city of the recent Olympics, is the best place in Russia to go if you’re craving white sand, warm weather, and palm trees.  Be sure to bring your bathing suit!


Photo by Ганощенко Роман

9. Pyatigorsk.  Closer to the Russian Caucasus region, Pyatigorsk in the south is often overlooked by most foreign travelers.  However, it’s an elegant spa resort town with plenty of classy bars and restaurants to explore.


Photo by Grigory Gusev

10. Krasnaya Polyana.  The proverbial “Switzerland of Russia,” here is the place to go if you love winter sports.  A small town high up in the mountains, it offers skiing, snowboarding, and heliskiing, as well as plenty of cafes and restaurants for those who want a more spring-like, perambulatory atmosphere.

800px-Krasnaya_Polyana_04 Keep in mind that English-speakers in Russia are rare. As such, be sure to have a decent grasp on the Russian language before you go.  Send us an inquiry to get started, or take our free online Russian language level test.