Russia is a vast country spreading across the continents of Europe and Asia. This huge country is diverse ethnically, culturally and geographically and yet offers a mix of history, culture, heritage, folklores and offbeat travel experience. Travelling from one end of Russia to the other end involves crossing eight different time zones and some of the last preserved wilderness of the planet, including Siberia, Altai Mountains, Kamchatka, Lake Baikal, etc. Trans Siberia Railway is one of the longest train routes in the world and connects the mainstream cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg to the far eastern city of Vladivostok, a journey that takes around 6 days to complete.
However, if long distance travel is not your cup of thing then don’t worry. Russia has plenty to offer to first time visitors and seasoned travellers. Moscow, the Russian capital is renowned in the world for being a major power centre of the earth and has amazing museums of imperial era, Soviet era and the modern Russia era. It has wonderful architecture, operas, ballet, cultural centres, literary clubs, art galleries and an exciting nightlife fuelled by vodka. Then there is Saint Petersburg, another beautiful city blessed with typical baroque architecture and some of the best museums in the world. It has a more European feel than Moscow and is a direct rival to the Russian capital. Apart from these two mainstream cities, Russia has several regional cities with delightful highlights.
Russia’s capital Moscow is a delightful European city with rich heritages comprising of Kremlin, colossal architectural complex, Saint Basil’s Cathedral, renowned for its colourful onion shaped domes, Red Square, Bolshoi Theatre, etc. Saint Petersburg is a delightful city with a more European look and feel. Don’t forget to check out the world-famous Hermitage Museum, renowned for its vast collection of artworks, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, Church of the Savior on Blood, Winter Palace, Russian Museum, etc. Lake Baikal is an ancient lake located in the mountainous region of Siberia and is filled with wonderful nature hiking trails. Sochi is the famous Black Sea beach resort and a popular winter sports destination. There are plenty of cities and towns to see like Vladivostok, Irkutsk, Volgograd, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Samara, Rostov-on-Don. These cities are currently undergoing massive gentrification projects because of 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Russia, being a traditional partner of India, has good flight connectivity. Aeroflot is the official Russian airline and has direct and one-stop flights between Moscow and Indian cities of Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Air India also connects Russian cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg with regular scheduled flights. Several European airlines also offer multi-stop flights to Moscow and Saint Petersburg from Indian Cities as well from their main hubs.
Russia visa is mandatory for all the foreign nationals entering the country. Submit the duly signed and filled form to the nearest Russian embassy or consulate along with original passport with at least two black pages and a validity of six months. Two copies of Russian visa application form, two recent passport size photographs, copy of travel itinerary, hotel reservations and return tickets must be submitted along with the application.
Russia is a vast country and checking out its cities and attractions is not possible at one single time. It depends on how you are planning to see and experience the country. If you want to see the wilderness and raw spirit of Russia, then take a tour with the Trans Siberia express or else, cover the region of Moscow and Saint Petersburg. You can also take tours of lake Baikal, Siberia, Kamchatka or the Black Sea coast resort cities. However, give yourself 6-7 days to get a proper look and feel of Russia.
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