For a country that encompasses an area of over 10.5 million square
miles, it is no coincidence most people know very little about Russia, aside, of course,
from textbook blurbs of Tsarist rule, Mongolian raids, bloody revolutions and snowy,
The mere expanse of the Russian border makes the country a more
versatile destination than any other place in the world.
Visit the arctic zone and navigate through sub-tropical regions
without ever leaving the country!
A closer look and a few tips can subdue your fear and pique your
interest to travel to Russia.
Western Russia includes Moscow, St. Petersburg, Volgograd (formerly
Stalingrad) and the Black and Caspian Seas; making this region the commercial and
political core of the nation.
Initially the capital of Russia, St. Petersburg was built by Peter the
Great and is filled with both haunting and enchanting remnants of a time past.
St. Petersburg is certainly the most European and best preserved city,
adorned with stately architecture and regal cathedrals that echo of a romantic and
In the early 20th century, the capital moved away from the European
border to Moscow where the Kremlin, Red Square and Lenin's Mausoleum (where you can view
his embalmed body!) stand as testaments to Russia's rocky history. In the Southwest,
Volgograd is traditionally accepted as the origin of the Russian
Empire and was fortified in the 1500s to protect Tsarist Russia's southern border from
Cossack and Viking pillages.
With these bases covered, leave the crowds behind and head east into a
land with a history all its own.
There is nothing quite like seeing six thousand miles of land in a
The epic journey aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway is for those who
consider the journey to be just as magical as the destination.
The longest continuous rail line on the planet takes you from
metropolitan Moscow through vast steppes and the Siberian taiga, the largest remaining
forest in the world, to finally arrive in the commercial bustle of Russia's main Pacific
port city, Vladivostok.
Three alternate routes and several extensions into European and Asian
nations have also been constructed and provide more options to travel Russia's breadth.
Many travel restrictions have been lifted since the 1990s and it is
now possible to arrange overnight stays in many of the fascinating towns and breathtaking
landscapes along the way.
Make sure to spend a moment in the Siberian town of Ulan Ude, Russia's
main Buddhist centre, and visit the Tibetan Buddhist monastery that has been restored
since the oppressive rule of Stalin.
The Baikal Lake region is also a very popular stop and a perfect place
to be immersed in the natural beauty of Russia's heartland. Baikal Lake is the oldest in
the world, estimated at 25-30 million years old. The lake region is home to over 2,500
animal species including a unique Siberian species of freshwater seal and thousands of
Accessibility is the new attitude toward foreign tourism in Russia. A
society that has long been closed-off, particularly to westerners, is now ready to embrace
curious visitors with open arms.
There has never been a better time to travel Russia!
By Frank Johnson.
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