Russia, the world’s largest nation, is jam-packed with history, culture and epic train rides.
These are the top 5 things you must see if you’re planning a trip to Russia
Red Square and St Basil’s Cathedral
Nothing says Russia more than Red Square and the onion domes of St Basil’s Cathedral.
Red Square separates the Kremlin and the former royal citadel, now home to the President of Russia, from the historic merchant quarter Kitai-gorod. In the centre of the square, you’ll find Lenin’s Mausoleum – where you can see the embalmed body of the former Russian communist leader.
While you’re in Moscow make sure you book tickets to the Bolshoi Ballet.
Founded in 1776, the Bolshoi is recognised as one of the greatest ballet companies in the world
The Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian, from Moscow to Vladivostok is one of the most incredible railway journeys in the world.
At 9,289 kilometres, it is the longest railway in the world. Connecting branches also run into Mongolia, China and North Korea. It spans eight times zones and will take eight days to complete – without stops.
Lake Baikal is the deepest and oldest lake on Earth. This one lake contains about 22 per cent of the world’s fresh water.
The lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 and contains thousands of species of plants and animals, some not seen anywhere else in the world. The eastern side of Lake Baikal is home to the Buryat tribes who raise goats, camels, cattle, sheep, and horses on the fertile planes.
In winter, you can ice-skate and walk on the ice.
In summer, you can swim in the lake. But be warned – summer temperatures in this part of Russia rarely get higher than 14C.
The former imperial residence sits on a plateau overlooking the town of Tsarskoye Selo, 50km south of St Petersburg. It’s a must-see for anyone who has any interest in modern Russian history.
Alexander Palace was the favourite home of the last Russian Emperor Tsar Nicolas II. But after the February Revolution, it became his family’s prison.
Tsar Nicholas II, his wife Tsarina Alexandra and their five children Olga, Tatiana, Maria, Anastasia, and Alexei were held captive here.
The Romanovs were confined to a few rooms of the palace until August 1917, when they were transferred to Tobolsk, allegedly to protect them from the rising tide of revolution. Less than a year later, the entire family were shot and bayoneted to death.
In World Word II Alexander Palace was used as headquarters for the German military command. The ground in front of the palace was used as a cemetery for SS soldiers. It was one of the few Russian Palaces spared from destruction as the German forces retreated.
St Petersburg is Russia’s cultural heart.
It was founded by Tsar Peter I (Peter the Great) as Russia’s “window on Europe” and contains a glorious mix of Russian and European architecture.
Make sure you see Catherine the Great’s impressive collection of paintings at the State Hermitage Museum – the second largest art museum in the world.
The Winter Palace was the historical retreat of the Russian Tsars and a focal point of the February and October Russian Revolutions.
At Yusupov Palace, you will find the spot where the nearly un-killable Rasputin was murdered.