Published on : Friday, June 13, 2014
The country spans 11 time zones and offers a broad array of travel experiences, from treks up the slopes of snow-capped mountains to strolls along the shoreline of the earth’s oldest lake.
It has it all, from historical sites to cultural activities in the country’s great cities.
Whether you’re exploring the grounds of Moscow’s Kremlin or wandering through the steppes of Mongolia, a visit to Russia is an adventure to be remembered for as long as you live.
Russian tourism has seen rapid growth since the late Soviet times, first inner tourism and then international tourism as well.
Rich cultural heritage and great natural variety place Russia among the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
The country has 23 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, while many more are on the UNESCO’s tentative lists.
Major tourist routes in Russia include a travel around the Golden Ring of ancient cities, cruises on the big rivers like Volga, and long journeys on the famous Trans-Siberian Railway.
Diverse regions and ethnic cultures of Russia offer many different food and souvenirs, and show a great variety of traditions, like Russian banya, Tatar Sabantuy, or Siberian shamanist rituals.
Unless exempt, tourists are required to purchase a visa, in addition to having a valid passport.
Visas cannot be purchased at the border, and once at the border must be presented with other relevant documents.
Most popular tourist destinations in Russia are Saint Petersburg (which appeared in the list of top visited cities of Europe in 2010) and Moscow, the current and the former capitals of the country and great cultural centers which have been recognised as World Cities.
Moscow and St Petersburg have such world-renown museums as Hermitage and Tretyakov Gallery, famous theaters like Bolshoi and Mariinsky, ornate churches like Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and Church of the Savior on Blood, impressive fortifications like Moscow Kremlin and Peter and Paul Fortress, beautiful squares like Red Square and Palace Square, and streets like Tverskaya and Nevsky Prospect.
Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, shows a unique mix of Christian Russian and Muslim Tatar cultures.
The city has registered a brand The Third Capital of Russia, though a number of other major Russian cities compete for this status, like Samara, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg and Nizhny Novgorod, all being major cultural centers with rich history and prominent architecture.
The Black Sea coast of Russia is the site for a number of popular sea resorts, like Sochi, known for its beaches and wonderful climate.
At the same time Sochi can boast a number of major ski resorts, like Krasnaya Polyana; the city was the host of 2014 Winter Olympics.
The mountains of the Northern Caucasus contain many other popular ski resorts, like Dombay in Karachay-Cherkessia.
The most famous natural tourist destination in Russia is Lake Baikal, named the Blue Eye of Siberia.
This unique lake, oldest and deepest in the world, has crystal-clean waters and is surrounded by taiga-covered mountains.
In 2012, 25.7 million international tourists visited Russia and generated US $11.2 billion in international tourism receipts.
The tourism industry directly contributed RUB860 billion to the Russian GDP and supported 966,500 jobs in the country.