Top activities to do in Russia

Welcome to the magnificent expanse of Russia, a country that stretches across eleven time zones, displaying an extraordinary palette of cultures, landscapes, and history. As the largest nation on Earth, Russia has something for every traveler. From glittering imperial cities and quaint historic towns to awe-inspiring wilderness and adventurous pursuits, the country’s vastness and diversity can be overwhelming. 

This guide to the top activities to do in Russia will help you navigate through the land of the tsars, the Siberian taiga, the meandering Volga, and the bustling urban marvels. Whether you're a history buff, an outdoor adventurer, a culture vulture, or a culinary explorer, this list will ensure that you capture the soul of Russia in every possible way. So let's delve in and uncover the magic and mystery of this captivating country.

Moscow:

Moscow

Moscow, the capital city of Russia, offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors to enjoy. Here are some top activities to do in Moscow:

  • Visit Red Square: Explore the iconic Red Square, which is home to several important landmarks such as St. Basil's Cathedral, the Kremlin, and Lenin's Mausoleum. Admire the stunning architecture and immerse yourself in the history of the city.
  • Explore the Kremlin: Take a tour of the Kremlin, a historic fortress and the political heart of Russia. Visit the cathedrals, the Armory Chamber, and the Diamond Fund to see precious artefacts and learn about the country's rich heritage.
  • Wander through the Bolshoi Theatre: Experience the grandeur of the Bolshoi Theatre, one of the world's most renowned opera and ballet venues. Catch a performance or take a guided tour to appreciate its stunning architecture and artistic heritage.
  • Discover the Tretyakov Gallery: Explore the Tretyakov Gallery, one of Russia's most significant art museums. Marvel at its extensive collection of Russian art, including iconic works by famous artists like Repin, Shishkin, and Kandinsky.
  • Visit the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour: Admire the majestic Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, one of Moscow's most prominent religious landmarks. Explore its interior, climb the observation deck for panoramic views of the city, or attend a choral concert.
  • Take a stroll in Gorky Park: Enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride in Gorky Park, a sprawling green space along the Moscow River. Rent a boat, visit the Central Park of Culture and Leisure, or relax in one of the park's cafes.
  • Shop at the GUM Department Store: Indulge in some retail therapy at the GUM Department Store, located next to Red Square. Browse through its high-end boutiques, luxury brands, and specialty stores, and sample some local delicacies.
  • Visit the Moscow Metro: Take a ride on the Moscow Metro, known for its stunning architecture and intricate subway stations. Admire the ornate decorations, marble interiors, and Soviet-era artwork as you travel through the city.
  • Enjoy the nightlife in Moscow: Experience the vibrant nightlife of Moscow by visiting trendy bars, clubs, and live music venues. Dance the night away, enjoy live performances, or simply relax and socialise with locals and fellow travellers.
  • Take a river cruise: Explore Moscow from a different perspective by taking a river cruise along the Moscow River. Enjoy picturesque views of the city's skyline, pass under beautiful bridges, and learn about Moscow's history and landmarks.
  • These are just a few of the many activities you can enjoy in Moscow. The city is rich in history, culture, and entertainment, offering something for every visitor to enjoy.

St. Petersburg

st Petersburg

St. Petersburg, often referred to as the cultural capital of Russia, offers a wealth of attractions and activities for visitors. Here are some top activities to do in St. Petersburg:

  • Visit the Hermitage Museum: Explore the world-renowned Hermitage Museum, one of the largest and most impressive art museums in the world. Admire its vast collection of art and historical artefacts, including works by masters like da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Picasso.
  • Discover the Peter and Paul Fortress: Explore the Peter and Paul Fortress, the birthplace of the city and a symbol of St. Petersburg. Visit the Peter and Paul Cathedral, which houses the tombs of Russian tsars, and enjoy panoramic views from the fortress walls.
  • Marvel at the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood: Admire the stunning architecture of the Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, a colourful and ornate Russian Orthodox church. Step inside to see its intricate mosaics and learn about its historical significance.
  • Explore the State Russian Museum: Immerse yourself in Russian art at the State Russian Museum, home to an extensive collection of Russian works spanning from ancient icons to contemporary art.
  • Take a boat tour on the canals: Experience the beauty of St. Petersburg's canals and rivers by taking a boat tour. Enjoy picturesque views of the city's stunning architecture and landmarks from the water.
  • Visit the Peterhof Palace: Explore the Peterhof Palace, also known as the "Russian Versailles." Wander through its beautiful gardens, fountains, and grand interiors, experiencing the opulence of the Russian tsars.
  • Attend a ballet or opera performance: St. Petersburg is renowned for its ballet and opera companies. Catch a performance at the Mariinsky Theatre or other prominent venues to witness world-class productions.
  • Wander along Nevsky Prospekt: Take a stroll along Nevsky Prospekt, the main avenue of St. Petersburg. Enjoy its vibrant atmosphere, shop in boutiques and department stores, and visit historic landmarks such as the Kazan Cathedral and the Church of Our Savior on Nevsky.
  • Visit the Fabergé Museum: Marvel at the exquisite works of art at the Fabergé Museum, which houses a collection of intricate Fabergé eggs and other masterpieces created by the famous Russian jeweller.
  • Explore the Catherine Palace and Gardens: Venture to the outskirts of St. Petersburg to visit the Catherine Palace in Pushkin. Admire the stunning Baroque architecture, walk through the landscaped gardens, and marvel at the opulent Amber Room.
  • These activities offer just a glimpse of the many wonderful experiences you can have in St. Petersburg. The city's rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant cultural scene make it a captivating destination for travellers.

Kazan

Kazan

Kazan is a vibrant and historic city located in the Republic of Tatarstan, Russia. It is known for its rich cultural heritage, unique architecture, and diverse population. Here are some top activities to do in Kazan:

  • Visit the Kazan Kremlin: Explore the Kazan Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the heart of the city. Marvel at the stunning Kul Sharif Mosque and the Annunciation Cathedral, which showcase a blend of Islamic and Orthodox Christian architectural styles.
  • Discover the Qolşärif Mosque: Step inside the Qolşärif Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Russia. Admire its beautiful interiors and learn about the history and significance of Islam in the region.
  • Explore the Bauman Street: Take a stroll along Bauman Street, the main pedestrian street in Kazan. Enjoy the lively atmosphere, browse through shops, dine in local cafes, and experience the city's vibrant street life.
  • Visit the Kazan Federal University: Explore the historic campus of Kazan Federal University, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Russia. Admire its beautiful buildings, including the main building with its iconic black and white facade.
  • Explore the Temple of All Religions: Visit the unique Temple of All Religions, a complex that combines elements of different religious traditions. Explore its colorful and eclectic architecture, which represents various faiths.
  • Experience the Kazan Family Center: Visit the Kazan Family Center, a modern architectural landmark that offers panoramic views of the city. Take a ride on the Ferris wheel or enjoy the interactive exhibits and entertainment options for the whole family.
  • Learn at the National Museum of the Republic of Tatarstan: Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Tatarstan at the National Museum. Discover archaeological artefacts, traditional crafts, and exhibits on the region's heritage.
  • Enjoy a boat ride on the Kazanka River: Take a boat ride on the Kazanka River to enjoy scenic views of Kazan and its surroundings. Relax, unwind, and appreciate the beauty of the city from a different perspective.
  • Attend a performance at the Tatar State Academic Theater: Experience the rich performing arts scene of Kazan by attending a ballet, opera, or theatre performance at the Tatar State Academic Theater.
  • Taste Tatar Cuisine: Sample the delicious Tatar cuisine, which combines flavours from Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Try traditional dishes like chak-chak (sweet pastry), echpochmak (meat-filled pastry), and belyash (fried dough with meat filling).
  • These activities provide a glimpse into the cultural and historical richness of Kazan. Whether you're interested in architecture, history, or culinary experiences, Kazan offers a unique blend of traditions and attractions that make it a captivating destination to explore.

Sochi

Sochi

Sochi is a popular resort city located on the Black Sea coast of Russia. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, mild climate, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Here are some top activities to do in Sochi:

  • Explore the Sochi Olympic Park: Visit the Sochi Olympic Park, which hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics. Explore the Olympic venues, including the Fisht Olympic Stadium and the Bolshoy Ice Dome, and learn about the history of the games.
  • Relax on the Beaches: Sochi is famous for its beautiful beaches along the Black Sea coast. Enjoy sunbathing, swimming in the sea, and engaging in water sports activities such as jet skiing and parasailing.
  • Visit the Sochi Arboretum: Explore the Sochi Arboretum, a vast botanical garden showcasing a diverse collection of plants from different climatic zones. Enjoy a leisurely walk among the lush greenery, colourful flowers, and exotic trees.
  • Take a Cable Car Ride to Rosa Khutor: Ride the cable car to Rosa Khutor, a popular ski resort located in the Caucasus Mountains near Sochi. Enjoy panoramic views of the mountains, go hiking, or indulge in winter sports during the ski season.
  • Explore the Sochi National Park: Discover the natural wonders of the Sochi National Park, which encompasses diverse ecosystems, including forests, mountains, and waterfalls. Go hiking, birdwatching, or simply enjoy the tranquillity of nature.
  • Visit the Sochi Discovery World Aquarium: Immerse yourself in the underwater world at the Sochi Discovery World Aquarium. See a wide variety of marine life, including sharks, dolphins, and colourful tropical fish.
  • Take a stroll along the Sochi Promenade: Walk along the Sochi Promenade, known as the "Riviera of the Caucasus." Enjoy the beautiful seaside views, explore shops, cafes, and restaurants, and soak up the lively atmosphere.
  • Experience the Sochi Park: Visit the Sochi Park, an amusement park themed around Russian fairy tales and folklore. Enjoy thrilling rides, live performances, and interactive exhibits that showcase the country's culture and history.
  • Explore the Akhun Mountain: Hike up Akhun Mountain, the highest peak near Sochi, and enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Black Sea. Visit the Akhun Tower, an observation tower built in the 1930s, which offers breathtaking vistas.
  • Taste the Local Cuisine: Sample the diverse flavours of the local cuisine in Sochi. Try traditional dishes such as shashlik (grilled meat skewers), khachapuri (cheese-filled bread), and borscht (beet soup).
  • These activities showcase the diverse range of attractions and experiences available in Sochi. Whether you're interested in outdoor adventures, cultural exploration, or simply relaxing on the beach, Sochi has something for everyone to enjoy.

Golden Ring

Golden Ring

The Golden Ring is a popular tourist route in Russia that includes several historic cities and towns northeast of Moscow. It is known for its picturesque landscapes, rich history, and well-preserved architecture. Here are some top attractions and activities to do along the Golden Ring:

  • Suzdal: Visit the Suzdal Kremlin, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and explore its beautiful churches, including the iconic Suzdal Cathedral. Wander through the streets of Suzdal and admire its traditional wooden houses and charming atmosphere.
  • Vladimir: Explore the UNESCO-listed Assumption Cathedral, known for its stunning golden domes and beautiful frescoes. Visit the Golden Gate, the only surviving gate of the ancient city walls, and the Cathedral of Saint Demetrius, a fine example of mediaeval Russian architecture.
  • Sergiev Posad: Discover the Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius, one of the most important monasteries in Russia. Admire its golden-domed Trinity Cathedral, visit the Museum of Toys, and learn about the life and legacy of St. Sergius of Radonezh.
  • Yaroslavl: Stroll along the banks of the Volga River and explore the UNESCO-listed historic centre of Yaroslavl. Visit the magnificent Spassky Monastery, admire the Church of Elijah the Prophet, and explore the Yaroslavl Art Museum.
  • Rostov Veliky: Explore the Rostov Kremlin, a fortress that houses several churches and museums. Visit the Dormition Cathedral, known for its beautiful frescoes, and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the Kremlin walls.
  • Pereslavl-Zalessky: Visit the Peter the Great's Boat Museum, which showcases a replica of the first Russian Navy ship built by Peter the Great. Explore the Red Square of Pereslavl-Zalessky and the Monastery of St. Nicholas.
  • Kostroma: Visit the Ipatiev Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and see the beautiful frescoes inside the Trinity Cathedral. Explore the Kostroma Historical, Architectural, and Art Museum-Reserve, which features traditional wooden architecture.
  • Plyos: Enjoy the scenic beauty of Plyos, a picturesque town located on the banks of the Volga River. Walk along the embankment, visit the House-Museum of Isaac Levitan (a famous Russian landscape painter), and admire the panoramic views from the Church of the Assumption.
  • Uglich: Discover the historical and architectural complex of the Uglich Kremlin, including the Church of Dmitry on the Blood, which commemorates the tragic death of Dmitry Ivanovich, the youngest son of Ivan the Terrible. Visit the Uglich History and Art Museum.
  • Palekh: Explore the village of Palekh, famous for its lacquer miniature art. Visit the Palekh Art Museum to learn about this traditional craft and see exquisite lacquer boxes and paintings.
  • These are just a few highlights of the Golden Ring, and each city along the route has its own unique charm and attractions. Whether you're interested in history, architecture, or cultural experiences, the Golden Ring offers a fascinating journey into Russia's past and a chance to explore its cultural heritage.

Lake Baikal

Lake Baikal Russia

Lake Baikal is a stunning natural wonder located in Siberia, Russia. It is the deepest and oldest freshwater lake in the world, known for its crystal-clear waters, unique ecosystem, and breathtaking landscapes. Here are some top activities and attractions to experience at Lake Baikal:

  • Explore Olkhon Island: Take a trip to Olkhon Island, the largest island on Lake Baikal. Enjoy scenic hikes, visit the famous Shaman Rock, and immerse yourself in the traditional Buryat culture of the island's local communities.
  • Visit Listvyanka: Explore the village of Listvyanka, located on the shores of Lake Baikal. Visit the Baikal Museum to learn about the lake's ecosystem and biodiversity. Take a boat tour to see the stunning views of the lake and visit the St. Nicholas Church with its panoramic observation deck.
  • Walk on the Great Baikal Trail: Embark on a trek along the Great Baikal Trail, a scenic route that stretches along the shoreline of Lake Baikal. Enjoy the pristine nature, encounter diverse flora and fauna, and experience the tranquillity of the surroundings.
  • Go Ice Fishing: During winter, Lake Baikal freezes over, providing a unique opportunity for ice fishing. Join a guided tour and try your hand at catching fish through a hole in the ice. It's a popular activity for locals and visitors alike.
  • Take a Lake Baikal Circum-Baikal Railway Trip: Experience a scenic train journey along the Circum-Baikal Railway, a historic railway line that runs along the southern shore of Lake Baikal. Enjoy stunning views of the lake, bridges, tunnels, and surrounding landscapes.
  • Visit the Baikal Limnological Museum: Learn about the scientific research conducted on Lake Baikal at the Baikal Limnological Museum. Explore interactive exhibits, see the diverse species of flora and fauna, and gain insights into the ecological importance of the lake.
  • Take a Lake Baikal Cruise: Enjoy a leisurely cruise on Lake Baikal, taking in the breathtaking scenery and exploring various parts of the lake. Cruises range from short excursions to multi-day adventures, allowing you to appreciate the vastness and beauty of the lake.
  • Hike along the Baikal Nature Trail: Lace up your hiking boots and venture along the Baikal Nature Trail, a hiking route that offers stunning views of Lake Baikal and its surroundings. Experience the raw beauty of the landscape and enjoy the peacefulness of the trail.
  • Relax on the Beaches: Lake Baikal has several sandy beaches along its shores where you can relax, sunbathe, and swim during the summer months. The clear and cool waters of the lake provide a refreshing swimming experience.
  • Marvel at the Ice Grottos: During winter, Lake Baikal forms fascinating ice formations and grottos. Take a guided tour to explore these ice caves, admire their intricate shapes and colours, and capture stunning photographs.
  • Lake Baikal offers a unique and unforgettable experience for nature lovers and adventure seekers. Whether you're exploring the surrounding villages, trekking along the shoreline, or immersing yourself in the local culture, Lake Baikal is sure to leave you with lasting memories.

Kamchatka Peninsula

Kamchatka Peninsula

The Kamchatka Peninsula is a remote and breathtaking region located in the far east of Russia. Known for its stunning landscapes, active volcanoes, hot springs, and diverse wildlife, Kamchatka offers a range of unique activities and experiences. Here are some top things to do on the Kamchatka Peninsula:

  • Explore the Valley of Geysers: Visit the Valley of Geysers, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the largest geyser fields in the world. Witness the powerful eruptions of hot water and steam, marvel at the vibrant colours, and take in the otherworldly atmosphere.
  • Hike volcanoes: Kamchatka is home to numerous volcanoes, including the famous Klyuchevskaya Sopka, the highest active volcano in Eurasia. Embark on a challenging hike to the summit of a volcano and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.
  • Relax in hot springs: Experience the natural hot springs of Kamchatka, known for their therapeutic properties. Soak in the warm mineral-rich waters amidst stunning natural surroundings, providing a soothing and rejuvenating experience.
  • Take a helicopter tour: Explore the remote and inaccessible parts of Kamchatka by taking a helicopter tour. Fly over vast volcanic landscapes, witness steaming fumaroles, and catch a glimpse of the diverse wildlife, including bears and reindeer.
  • Go fishing: Kamchatka is renowned for its world-class fishing opportunities. The peninsula is home to abundant salmon populations, making it a popular destination for fly fishing enthusiasts. Cast your line in pristine rivers and streams and try your luck at catching Pacific salmon.
  • Wildlife watching: Kamchatka boasts an impressive array of wildlife, including brown bears, foxes, reindeer, and numerous bird species. Take a wildlife-watching tour and spot these incredible creatures in their natural habitats.
  • Rafting and kayaking: Enjoy thrilling adventures on the Kamchatka Peninsula's pristine rivers. Embark on a white-water rafting or kayaking expedition and navigate through rapids while surrounded by stunning landscapes.
  • Visit Kuril Lake: Head to Kuril Lake, a sanctuary for brown bears. Witness the incredible sight of bears catching salmon during the summer months and observe their behaviour from a safe viewing platform.
  • Discover Kamchatka's indigenous cultures: Learn about the indigenous cultures of Kamchatka, including the Koryak, Itelmen, and Even peoples. Visit local communities, witness traditional rituals and performances, and gain insights into their way of life.
  • Trekking and camping: Kamchatka offers fantastic opportunities for trekking and camping. Explore remote trails, traverse scenic valleys, and set up camp in breathtaking locations for a truly immersive outdoor experience.
  • These activities allow you to immerse yourself in the wild beauty of the Kamchatka Peninsula and appreciate its unique natural and cultural heritage. From volcanic landscapes to wildlife encounters, Kamchatka offers an unforgettable adventure for nature enthusiasts and intrepid travellers.

Trans-Siberian Railway

Trans Siberian Railway

The Trans-Siberian Railway is one of the most famous railway journeys in the world, spanning across Russia from Moscow in the west to Vladivostok in the east. It is a fascinating and iconic travel experience, offering the opportunity to traverse the vast and diverse landscapes of Russia. Here are some key points and attractions along the Trans-Siberian Railway route:

  • Moscow: Begin your journey in the bustling capital city of Russia. Explore iconic landmarks such as the Red Square, Kremlin, St. Basil's Cathedral, and the Bolshoi Theatre. Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Moscow before embarking on the railway adventure.
  • Kazan: Stop in the city of Kazan, known for its vibrant mix of Tatar and Russian cultures. Visit the UNESCO-listed Kazan Kremlin, the Qol Sharif Mosque, and the beautiful Kazan Cathedral.
  • Yekaterinburg: Discover the historical significance of Yekaterinburg, the place where the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were executed. Visit the Church on Blood, built on the site of their execution, and explore the city's museums and architectural landmarks.
  • Irkutsk: This city serves as the gateway to Lake Baikal, the deepest lake in the world. Explore the historic centre of Irkutsk with its wooden architecture, visit the Decembrist Museum, and enjoy the local Siberian cuisine.
  • Lake Baikal: Take a detour from the main railway line to visit the stunning Lake Baikal, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Experience the pristine beauty of the lake, go hiking, take a boat tour, or visit one of the charming lakeside villages.
  • Ulan-Ude: Stop in Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Buryat Republic. Explore the city's unique blend of Russian, Mongolian, and Buryat cultures, visit the Ivolginsky Datsan (Buddhist monastery), and admire the world's largest Lenin head statue.
  • Ulan Bator (Mongolia): For those interested in extending their journey, it is possible to continue from Ulan-Ude to Ulan Bator, the capital of Mongolia. Explore the nomadic culture, visit the Gandan Monastery, and experience the vastness of the Mongolian steppe.
  • Vladivostok: The final destination of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Vladivostok is a vibrant city located on the Pacific Ocean. Explore its lively waterfront, visit the Vladivostok Fortress, and enjoy panoramic views from the Eagle's Nest observation platform.
  • Throughout the journey, you'll have the opportunity to meet fellow travellers from around the world, experience the changing landscapes of Russia, and get a glimpse into the lives of the people who call this vast country home. The Trans-Siberian Railway is a truly remarkable adventure that offers a unique perspective on the diversity and beauty of Russia.

Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg

Yekaterinburg is a vibrant city located in the Ural Mountains region of Russia. It is the fourth-largest city in the country and holds great historical significance. Here is some information about Yekaterinburg:

  • Historical Significance: Yekaterinburg is best known as the place where the last Russian tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were executed in 1918 during the Russian Revolution. The Church on Blood in Honor of All Saints Resplendent in the Russian Land stands on the site of their execution and serves as a memorial and museum.
  • Yekaterinburg City Center: The city centre of Yekaterinburg offers a mix of architectural styles, including historic buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, as well as modern skyscrapers. The main square, called the 1905 Square, is a popular gathering place and hosts various events throughout the year.
  • Iset River and City Parks: The Iset River flows through the city, providing a picturesque setting for leisurely walks and outdoor activities. The city also has several parks, including Mayakovsky Central Park and Yekaterinburg Arboretum, where visitors can relax, enjoy nature, and engage in recreational activities.
  • Museums and Cultural Institutions: Yekaterinburg is home to several museums that showcase its rich history and culture. The Yekaterinburg History Museum presents exhibits on the city's past, while the Ural Mineralogy Museum displays a vast collection of minerals. The Museum of Fine Arts features Russian and European art, and the Yeltsin Center is dedicated to the history of modern Russia.
  •  Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre: The city is known for its vibrant arts scene, and the Yekaterinburg Opera and Ballet Theatre is a prominent cultural institution. It hosts performances of opera, ballet, and classical music, showcasing both local talent and international artists.
  • Ganina Yama Monastery: Located on the outskirts of Yekaterinburg, the Ganina Yama Monastery is a spiritual complex that commemorates the Romanov family's tragic fate. It consists of seven wooden chapels, each dedicated to a member of the imperial family, and serves as a pilgrimage site.
  • Dining and Shopping: Yekaterinburg offers a range of dining options, from traditional Russian cuisine to international flavours. The city is also known for its vibrant nightlife and has numerous bars and clubs. For shopping enthusiasts, there are modern shopping malls, boutiques, and markets where you can find a variety of goods.

Yekaterinburg blends its rich history with modern urban development, offering visitors a fascinating mix of cultural, historical, and natural attractions. Whether you're exploring its historical landmarks, enjoying its cultural offerings, or simply immersing yourself in its vibrant atmosphere, Yekaterinburg has much to offer for a memorable visit.