From Moscow’s iconic Red Square and Arbat to St Petersburg’s museums and romantic channels, it may feel that you have already seen the best of Russia. But this country has much more to offer for true explorers, who dare to venture from the traditional tourist path and experience Russia’s breathtaking landscapes.
The biggest fresh water reservoir in the world and also the deepest one, Baikal is hidden in Siberia’s forests. Every year tourists flock here to see the lake, which locals like to call ‘the sea’. Even though many tourists are scared away in the winter by the low temperatures (-20°C or -4°F on average), it is actually the most spectacular time to visit Baikal. The water of the lake is extremely rich with oxygen, which is why the ice forms amazing patterns and turns into a truly mesmerizing view. Walking in the fresh air, skiing and ice-skating aren’t the only things to do; you can visit Olkhon island and meet real shamans or spend an afternoon relaxing in natural hot springs surrounded by snow and ice.
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Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
It is difficult to say that Siberia is just one place as it occupies almost half of the country’s territory. The best possible way to see Siberia is via the famous Trans Siberian Railway. You will start off in Moscow and travel about 9,000 km (5,592 miles) through the whole country. To make your travel more comfortable, you may want to opt for the famous ‘Golden Eagle’ train, which was designed for those who want to explore Russia with comfort. It makes stops in the most interesting places and offers excursions. The whole trip will last about 14 days, so sit back, relax and get ready to explore. Those who want to travel more like the locals do can try the faster trains, which depart from Moscow on a regular basis and move through the country in less than a week. There aren’t any included stops or excursions on these trains, so make sure to plan your route in advance!
Almost every Russian has a funny childhood story that took place on or near the Black Sea. When international travel was not as easy and affordable, the whole country spent summers on the beaches of the Black Sea, trying to forget the cold winter months. The most popular place to go was Sochi and the beaches used to be amazingly overcrowded.
Now times have changed. The tourism industry has brought in a multitude of high-end hotels and private beaches all along the Black Sea coast, but Sochi has still remained on the top of the list. Why? This is the only city where you can spend half of your day tanning on the beach, and another half skiing in the mountains. No wonder it’s popular.
Kamchatka is a surreal land. The landscape is shaped in a multitude of forms: volcanoes, mountains, green valleys, hot springs and geysers. The best way to explore this land is to travel to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy and go from there. The first thing you will see is an impressive Avachinsky volcano, visible from any viewpoint in the city.
The most famous gem of Kamchatka is the Valley of Geysers. This place is one of the biggest of its kind in the world and is hidden in the mountains, so prepare to take a helicopter excursion to reach it. Kamchatka is a volcanic land, so make sure to check out some of the acidic lakes hidden in volcano craters. One of the most beautiful acid lakes is Maly Semyachik Lake.
For those who have already experienced the therapeutic effects of mud from the Black Sea, there is another lake you’ll want to visit: Elton Lake. Elton Lake’s clean and fresh air, salty waters and nurishing mud have been known to cure people of their ailments. In the beginning of twentieth century, this place was known as the sanatorium for Russian aristocrats and royal families. There is a rumor that people who arrived at Elton with crutches, left without the need of them after several months of treatment. Nowadays, Elton Sanatorium is an attraction for anyone curious about trying out a treatment.
If you’re the type of person that enjoys adventures in the desert and in the mountains, Charsky Sands should be next of your wishlist. Unofficially named ‘the most unusual desert on the planet’, Charsky Sands is surrounded by forest, rivers and mountains. Photographs from NASA show this place as a drop of sand in the endless Siberian forests.
The desert itself is quite small actually, only around 50 sq km (19 square miles), but the dichotomous environment leaves an unforgettable impression. The best time to visit is from autumn to spring, when the rivers run under layers of ice and transportation is easier.
If you love mountains, you must visit Altai. Full stop. This huge region is a true dreamland for every explorer, with it’s diverse nature, emerald green lakes, healing herbs and clear atmosphere. The tallest and most famous Altai mountain, Belukha, is situated an equal distance from three oceans, which is why some locals consider it the axis of the world.
The Ak Ouk 7 Lakes Valley in Altai attracts tourists to seven mountain pools reflecting seven different colours, even black! The secret of these shades of colour lies in the combination of the crystal clear water and the colored rocks on the bottom of the lake. While visiting Altai, make sure to buy some of the local herbs, which are famous for their healing properties and are widely used in beauty products.
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meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.