Russia is a huge place; it possesses a different quality than any other locale in the world, and it is this unique quality that makes it a wonderful tourist destination or a bad choice depending on what individuals want in a vacation. Russia has always been on the cusp between Europe and Asia, culturally and architecturally speaking . . . the famous onion dome churches in Russia sport a distinctly Middle Eastern or Asian look, while the culture, language, and dress is predominantly European.
1. Russia has some of the most beautiful architecture in the world. One example is St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, a glorious mishmash of onion domes painted with bright, vibrant colors. Make sure to find out which places have the highest concentration of such amazing architectural achievements.
2. There are some simply amazing cities like St. Petersburg and Moscow that would take weeks to explore thoroughly. These are wonderful destinations for Europe-trekkers, but there are other places, stunningly beautiful churches, convents, etc., that are great for anyone who loves history, culture, or religion.
3. Everything isn’t tourist-oriented and tacky like some destinations you’ll find. Russia is a country rich with real, historical attractions; art, culture, and beauty abound, and every last street corner isn’t covered with brightly-painted shops boasting fantastic, cheap souvenirs.
1. Russians don’t just wear those thick wool coats and huge fur hats for nothing; it’s COLD! This is not a warm Caribbean paradise where shorts and t-shirts are welcome; visitors to Russia will need sweaters, coats, and whatever they can think of to keep warm.
2. Culture shock. This can be a good or a bad thing depending on how adventurous you are. In certain parts of Russia, very few people will speak English. Some may speak it very well, and some may have only rudimentary knowledge. Fashions and current fads may seem a little overwhelming for people who are used to American culture.
3.Like in America, big cities can be overwhelming. If you’re going to Russia with the idea that you’ll see mostly tiny villages and hamlets, you’re in for a big shock. Places like Moscow are *not* tiny and probably not any less hectic than the majority of American cities. Most tour companies will take you to the main cities, but it takes time and effort to find the small, out-of-the-way places.
People who have decided to give Russia a try will be happy to know that there is more to see and do than the big metropolitan cities. The most beautiful little-known attraction that Russia explorers will be happy to discover is Lake Baikal. Actually located in that frozen Russian wilderness known as Siberia, Lake Baikal is an amazing place for nature-lovers (make sure to bundle up!) The lake is millions of years old and is a wonderful habitat mostly untouched by human hands despite recent building activities. Train enthusiasts *should not* miss the Trans-Siberian Express, which offers not only a view of Lake Baikal but many other places as well.
The two cities that come to mind the most when people think of Russia are St. Petersburg and Moscow. A quick run-down of some beautiful buildings in St. Petersburg: (1) The Winter Palace is a stunning baroque construction that makes common, everyday homes seem downright tiny; (2) St. Isaac’s Cathedral is in some ways a vivid throwback from ancient Rome; and (3) The Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood should prove fascinating for people of any faith because of its sordid history and wondrous colorful exterior.
Moscow has many things to offer: (1) Novodevichy Convent , built in the 1500s, is like something out of a fairy tale; (2) RedSquare boasts the fabulous St. Basil’s Cathedral and many famous structures that are the heart and soul of Russia; (3) The State Historical Museum is a great trip for those who want to learn more before exploring the city; (4) Lenin’s Mausoleum should satisfy the history buff; and (5) various other churches and religious places of interest make the trip enjoyable for all parties involved.
Of course, this is only a small list of the many places Russia is famous for. Try various web sites and make a thorough itinerary to decide if any of these sights are right for you and your travel companions.