Friday, 14 July 2017

5 Offbeat Destinations you should definitely visit in Russia!
Beyond Moscow and St. Petersburg

When we talk about Russia, the immediate things which come into our mind our Putin, Vodka, super spies and a Russian accent. Well, moving beyond the what the films show us, we discover the beautiful cities of Moscow and St. Pete.
However, the world's biggest country has a lot more in store for us than the usual.

Mountains, Valleys, Cosmo cities and a lot of history await you at many other offbeat destinations in Russia waiting to be explored!

Stolby Nature Reserve

Located in the Sayan mountains, Stolby Nature Reserve is one of the popular ecological reserves in Russia. The giant rocks in the terrain are called ‘Stolby’ hence the park name. This place is also called the ‘Land of Fantastical Rocks’ or ‘Land of giant forests’ and is an amazing spot for adventure enthusiasts.

What to see and do -
> The main attraction is the cliffs or the rocks called Stolby - Pillars in Russia.
> The height of the rocks ranges from 55m to 600m.
> Hike across the reserve and Rock climb to smaller rocks to ignite the inner adventurer in you.
> Go for the biopark excursion exploring the variety of flora and fauna. The zoological tours are a highlight for all the visitors.

Where to stay -
> Like many outdoor wilderness experiences, stay at the wooden cabins to have a camped adventure day. The cabins are referred to as the village area there!
> There are also cottages and hostels available.

How to reach -
> By Air - Nearest Airport is Krasnoyarsk and flights are available from Moscow and St. Petersburg.
> Krasnoyarsk had Bus and Taxi services available which take around 1 hour to reach Stolby.

Stolby - Pillars are the main attraction

Stay at the beautiful wooden cabins

Velikiy Novgorod

One of the most important historic places in Russia, Velikiy Novgorod is located between Moscow and St. Petersburg. Called the ‘birthplace of Russia’, this used to be a major centre for trade, literacy and governance. Set against the backdrop of Volkhov river, this place is also a popular weekend destination.

What to see and do -
> History speaks through the city of Novgorod and hence there are many historic places to visit and enjoy.
- The Kremlin Fortress
- State United Museum
- Cathedral of St. Sophia
- Yaroslav’s court
> The open air exhibition of Russian izbas is also a must go.
> Definitely give the music festivals a trip as they are more than just a social event, there are food festivals, shopping markets set up etc.

Where to stay -
> There are many old historic Russian style hotels and homes and many post soviet style too. Dorms, exclusive rooms, studios etc are all available
> Hotel Volkhov offering a variety of rooms.
> Hostel Novgorod ‘Cruise’ offering dorm type accommodation and even private rooms.

How to reach -
> By Air - Nearest Airport is St Petersburg.
> By Rail - Take a fast Lastochka train (about 3 hours) from Moskovsky railway station.

Kremlin Fortress

St. Sophia's Cathedral

Lake Baikal

The oldest and deepest freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal is a treat to visit. Surrounded by high mountains, the beauty of this place is serene. The folklore of the Loch Ness monster echoes through here inviting the curiosity of mystery hunters, tourists alike.

What to see and do -
> Baikal is home to many species including 1200 varieties of animals, 600 types of plants and the only place for freshwater seals.
> Summer calls for a hiking and swimming experience as the winters have layers of snow laden upon the whole city.
> Visit Baikal Museum, Zabaikalsky National Park, Cape Burkhan, Sable Mountain.

Where to stay -
> There are many places available in Irkutsk or Udan - Ule and you can also camp at the beach areas of the lake.
> The ‘Red Bases’ - russian wooden countryside houses are also very popular.
> Hotels like - Lagoon Ranch Resort, Courtyard Irkutsk City Centre, Zvezda Hotel, Hotel europe etc are equipped with facilities and make up a good stay experience.

How to Reach -
> By Air - Nearest Airport is Irkutsk which has flights from Moscow available.
> By Rail - The Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Trans-Siberian Railway both reach Lake Baikal. The closest miles to Irkutsk follow serpentine pattern as the train curves around the shoreline, which is scenic and worth riding in daylight
> By Bus - Buses leave from Irkutsk station and from Ulan-Ude station throughout the day.
Riding from Irkutsk lasts about an hour and a half, with several stops along the way, and ends in the small town of Listvyanka.

Frozen Lake Baikal during winters

Lake Baikal in Summers

Fresh water seals are only found in Baikal


A dream destination for many tourists, this explores the relatively less explored eastern side of Russia. Vladivostok is beautiful to explore in summers and winters both. The city is surrounded by oak trees all around and is one often listed a destination for foodies given its close approximation to the Chinese border.

What to see and do -

> Visit the Russian Opera House, built in anticipation of the APEC summit in 2012.
> Visit Eagle's Nest - the highest point, giving you a panoramic view of the city. Eagle’s Nest is in fact an extinct volcano, being a part of the Sikhote Alin Mountain range.
> Enjoy a Banya, or a Russian sauna, one of the oldest and most famous of Russian traditions.
> Have a trip to the Zarya Art Centre, Submarine Museum, Russky Island Bridge - often compared to the iconic Golden Gate bridge.
> If you'd like to swim, the beach at Sportivnaya Harbor is the place to do it.
> Be sure to salute the half-submerged mermaid statue out in the water. Alternately, in the winter, locals aren't shy about strolling out on ice.

Where to stay -
> Vladivostok has a mix of dorms, hostels, hotels and stay homes for tourists and travellers.

> Teplo Hotel is near the railway station and offers both dorms and private rooms.
> Hotel Azimut, Yakor, Vlad Inn, Sibirskoe Podvorie are also popular choices.

How to reach -
> By Air - Nearest Airport is Vladivostok International Airport.
> By Train - The main line of the Trans-Siberian Railway runs between Moscow and Vladivostok. Tickets for the Trans-Siberian Railway sell out and it is best to buy tickets well in advance.

The view from Eagle's nest is breathtaking

Submarine Museum


Some heavy European influence in Russia is through the city of Kaliningrad. Formerly known as Königsberg, this city was annexed from Germany and those German traces can be seen in the surviving Brandenburg Gate and the Fishing Village. The flea markets here are said to be one of the best in Russia and that invites a lot of tourists from all around.

What to see and do -
> Visit the famous flea markets and try and get your hands on the relics from World War II.
> Visit the famous Amber Museum, Friedland Gates museum, World Ocean Museum.
> Other major attractions also include Kaliningradskaya Zoopark, Fishing Village, Immanuel Kant's Grave and Botanical Garden.
> Visit the Curonian spit, a unique sliver of land between the Baltic Sea and the Curonian Lagoon and home to some spectacular sand dunes and stretches of empty beach.

Where to stay -
> The city centre Utro Hostel is housed in a 19th century building, with minimalist design and big windows, and the city’s lowest prices per bunk-bed.
> An upscale vibe hotel with riverfront view, Shkiperskaya. Radisson Hotel, Berlin Hotel and Hotel Ibis are also popular options.

How to reach -

> By Air - Nearest Airport is Kaliningrad Hrabrovo Airport. Flights are available from Moscow, St. Pete and many other european cities.
> Overnight trains to Kaliningrad leave from Berlin and Warsaw.
> If you plan to travel between other parts of Russia and Kaliningrad, you will need a double-entry visa. There is also a special short-term Kaliningrad visa available on the border.

Amber Museum is a popular place to visit

Curonian Spit offers experience of a beach, lagoon and desert all at once

The majestic land of Russia offers a glimpse into its wilderness and adventure with a lot more cities than the capital.
Plan your next Russia trip and enjoy stepping into the unknown!

Created By -
Namrita Singh

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