The Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Russia

The ice caves on Olkhon Island in Siberia are one of the most stunning sites on a visit to Baikal Lake
The ice caves on Olkhon Island in Siberia are one of the most stunning sites on a visit to Baikal Lake | © Pakorn Chunhaswasdikul / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Zita Whalley
26 May 2021

It’s no surprise a country as vast as Russia has a lot of top-of-the-bucket-list travel destinations. Truly, this is a country of immense natural splendour. From ancient mountain ranges to ocean-sized lakes, from remote rugged wilderness to picturesque countryside, here are some of the most beautiful spots to visit in the world’s largest nation.

Lake Kardyvach

Natural Feature
Map View
Russia. Caucasus. Mountains are reflected in the lake Kardyvach.
© ivan_abornev / Getty Images

Sandwiched between three mountain tops and fertile alpine meadows, Lake Kardyvach’s beauty is topped off by cascading waterfalls. It is just 44km (27mi) away from the popular Krasnaya Polyana in the Sochi region, and a good hiking destination for those adventurers who want to dip into Russia’s remoteness.

Ussuri Bay

Natural Feature
Map View
Popular place Steklyannaya also known as Kitovaya Bay near Vladivostok in autumn.
© Alex-VN / Alamy Stock Photo

A short drive out of Vladivostok – a city less than 500km (311mi) from the borders of both North Korea and China – Ussuri Bay is a unique anomaly of nature. Over time, thousands of discarded bottles and broken bits of glass have been smoothed over by Mother Nature, and now appear as multicoloured pebbles lining the rugged shoreline.

Sergiyev Posad

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark
Map View
Trinity monastery in Sergiyev Posad near Moscow
© Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock

Sergiyev Posad’s numerous shiny onion domes pop out over the quaint surrounding countryside. An easy day trip from Moscow, the town is one of eight that make up the Golden Ring and is home to the Unesco World Heritage-listed Troitse-Sergieva Lavra monastery, which is considered to be the spiritual centre of Russia.

Dargavs

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Dargavs, the medieval city of the dead in the mountains of the Caucasus. North Ossetia. Shot on a drone.
© Aliaksei Skreidzeleu / Alamy Stock Photo

In the Republic of North Ossetia-Alania, an ancient cemetery attached to the village of Dargavs remains, built into the dramatic, misty mountainside. Also called the City of the Dead, there are over a hundred stone tombs where villagers used to bury their dead along with their possessions and clothes.

Kizhi Island

Natural Feature
Map View
russian wooden architecture on Kizhi island. Image shot 09/2015. Exact date unknown.
© Zoonar GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Another beautiful spot in Karelia, the 18th-century wooden churches that sit on the banks of Onega Bay’s Kishi Island are Unesco World Heritage-listed. It is estimated that the structures were built in 1713 (a clock tower was added in the 19th century) and they remain quality examples of medieval northern Russian and Scandinavian architecture.

Red Square

Shop, Store
Map View
Red Square, Moscow, Russia
© Karl Kost / Alamy Stock Photo
Moscow’s immense Red Square is the heart of the nation and time hasn’t weakened its historical importance or its grandiose presence. Flanked on one side by the Kremlin’s red walls and the historic GUM department store on the other, it is home to the iconic St Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s mausoleum.

Peterhof Palace

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Grand Cascade in Peterhof, St Petersburg
© Sergey Borisov / Alamy Stock Photo

Technically located in a suburb of Russia’s second city, St Petersburg, the grounds and architecture of Peterhof Palace is a lavish display of baroque design and style. Often referred to as the Russian Versailles, the elaborate estate was built during Peter the Great’s reign.

Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood

Architectural Landmark, Historical Landmark
Map View
Interior of Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Russia, Europe
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo

Domed churches and monasteries are scattered up and down Russia, but only a few are as rich in religious iconography as St Petersburg’s Church of Our Savior on the Spilled Blood. Built in the late 19th-century, the church is covered in intricate mosaics inside and out.

Mount Belukha

Natural Feature
Map View
Mount Belukha, also spelled Belucha, Russian Gora Belukha, one of the Katun Mountains, a series of snowcapped peaks in Russia. The highest mountain in
© photograch / Alamy Stock Photo

Mount Belukha is the highest peak in the Unesco-listed Golden Mountains of Altai. While climbing the peak requires mountaineering skill and experience, there are trekking trails for beginners as well.

Dykh-Tau

Natural Feature
Map View
The view of north face of mount Dykh Tau in morning sunlight with a clear summit, in the mountains of the Russian Caucasus _
© Oleksandr Mazur / Alamy Stock Photo

Another Caucasus snow-capped peak, Dykh-Tau hulks over the Bezengi Valley, which is known as the ‘Russian Himalayas’ because it contains the highest snow tops in the region. Its altitude and remoteness means only a smattering of people live in the valley and even less attempt to climb the majestic mountain.

These recommendations were updated on May 26, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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