Winston Churchill referred to Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Anyone who’s been there probably agrees with him. There’s nothing quite like Russia; the spirit of the land and people has a long and tangled history, but no place has so much heart. The following will explore a few reasons you might want to check out Russia at least once in your life.
Russia Is HUGE And Rugged
First and foremost, Russia is the largest country in the world, spanning eight time zones, and makes up one-seventh of the world’s land. Given its mass, the range of terrain and cultures to be found in Russia is unparalleled. For nature lovers, in particular, the country contains forty UNESCO Biosphere reserves, forty national parks, the oldest mountains in the world, the Urals and the world’s deepest lake. That makes for an insane amount of trekking, hiking, wilderness wandering and mountaineering. It’s worth noting that because of Russia’s size, the weather varies drastically from one end to the other. Be sure to research all the areas you’ll be visiting so you can dress accordingly. Remember the Danish proverb: there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad outfits. If you come prepared with light layers and an awareness of the seasons, you should be able to handle the variety of weather found in the country no matter the time of year you visit.
Close to the summer solstice every year, some parts of Russia experience what’s called White Nights. Basically, these are incredibly long days with more than 18 hours of sunshine. On White Nights, the sun rises are 3:35 in the morning and sets around 10:25 in the evening. May to late July is when you can experience these long days of sunshine.
Part of Russia’s size might make it seem like getting around is tough. Of course, there are rural areas with fewer travel options, but travelling to Russia is relatively easy. The Trans-Siberian Railway is the longest train ride in the world, taking six nights from start to finish between Moscow and Vladivostok.
The Arts Galore
Some of the world’s greatest artistic venues reside in Russia. The Bolshoi Theater, Puskin Art Gallery, Mariinsky Theater, and the Hermitage are just a few examples. In St. Petersburg alone, there are 2000 libraries, 221 museums, 100 concert halls, 45 art galleries, 62 cinemas, 80 night clubs and over 100 concerts, shows and festivals each year. That’s just one city. Ballet, galleries, museums, cathedrals, gardens, theatres, circuses, mosques, palaces, Orthodox architecture, and monasteries can all be explored and enjoyed. Religious icons and frescos, the work of Andrei Rublev, a ton of classical music composers, as well as brilliant paintings and dance performances, can all be found in Russia.
If you plan on visiting any religious buildings, be sure to ask about appropriate conduct and attire. It’s always nice to be respectful of people’s faiths. If you’re unsure what is appropriate, always ask.
Speaking of artistic reasons for travel, Russia has raised some of the world’s most appreciated authors, including Tolstoy, Gogol, Turgenev, Chekhov, Nabokov, Solzhenitsyn and Dostoevsky. Book lovers will adore the literary tours available, as many famous Russian authors have their own museums.
Russia’s size and location mean it is home to a ton of cultural interactions. No other country has a foot in Asia, and a foot in Europe, with the Middle East in between. The clash of cultures, cuisines, lifestyles, religions, and ways of life has produced an incredibly unique cultural experience that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.
Despite the wonders to behold in Russia, it’s pretty inexpensive to travel there. The cost of living is reasonable, making it an excellent choice for budget-conscious travellers who still want a unique experience. Of course, you’ll need to look up the exchange rate between your own currency and the Russian rouble to confirm that this applies to you. Russia also offers experiences for a wide variety of budgets. You can expect that cities will be more expensive than less populated areas, with Moscow likely being the most expensive local in the country.
Russia has had a troubled and harsh history. It’s been involved in more than 100 wars and conflicts and has been ruled by more than 120 leaders, including monarchs, tsars, and grand princes. The weight of Russia’s history can be felt in the culture, monuments, streets, history museums and architecture. There are the Romanovs, many revolutions, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, the Kievan Rus, the Byzantine empire, Islamic pockets, the Mongols, undisturbed medieval towns along the Golden Ring, Viking slave-traders, dictators, and so much more in Russia’s past. Any history lover will be floored by the sheer mass of information and historical sites they can witness.
Obtaining visas for travel can be simple, but they can also be absurdist and headache-inducing. Many nations’ citizens are able to travel to Russia without a visa, making it an easier option than some other travel destinations. Of course, entry requirements vary, so be sure to look up the agreement between your particular country and Russia along with any current political scenarios that might result in agreements changing.
Russia is massive and so home to many towns, villages and cities. Some of the most popular to visit include Moscow, The Venice of the North: Saint Petersburg, The capital of Siberia: Novosibirsk, the lord of the east: Vladivostok, and the place where Europe and Asia meet: Yekaterinburg.
Given Russia’s harsh past and the history it has of problematic bureaucracy and inconvenience, the people have developed a strong sense of hospitality. Friendly and supportive, people are willing to go out of their way to help others, including travellers. People stick together in Russia and have for nearly a thousand years.
The above information should have given you a few reasons you might want to visit Russia. Of course, it’s always a good idea to check current events to make sure that the time of your travel is safe and advisable. Most governments will have recommendations on government websites about whether travel is recommended or not as well as a breakdown of suggested precautions to take.