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Russia Popular Places to Visit

Anapa

Anapa—perfectly located against the Black Sea and a very popular resort destination for decades—is well known for its sandy beaches, spas, and stunning views from the rocky promontory where Anapa's lighthouse sits. A somewhat more modest destination than Sochi, Anapa also offers plenty of other things to keep visitors entertained besides coastal attractions.

Places worth exploring include The Anapa Archaeological Museum and the single remaining gate of an Ottoman fort that once occupied this area.

Both the Sukko Valley and the Wildlife Preserve of Bolshoy Utrish are just minutes away from the city and offer plenty of options to explore nature, swim in clear waters, and take to the trails for some trekking.

Anapa, Russia

Caucasian State Nature Biosphere Reserve

The 3000-square-kilometer Caucasian State Nature Biosphere Reserve, just 50 kilometers from Sochi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to a number of unique species of flora and fauna, including the endangered Persian leopard.

Sochi, Russia

Sochi

A summer beach resort town sitting right on the Black Sea, Sochi offers long stretches of pebble and sand beaches, imposing examples of Stalinist architecture, a summer film festival known as Kinotavr, and plenty of spas and outdoor markets to please all budgets and tastes. The longest river in Russia, Mzymta, cuts through Sochi before it empties into the Black Sea, and it's a very popular destination for rafting.

The nearby Rosa Khutor ski resort is another favorite destination during winter and a world-class alpine skiing area—the 2014 Winter Olympic Games were hosted here.

Sochi, Russia

Altay

The Altay Mountains in Siberia extend from Russia into China, Kazakhstan, and Mongolia. Traditionally inhabited by different ethnic groups involved in horse husbandry and forestry, it is also a very popular tourist destination for both locals and travelers. Together with a number of natural reserves and lakes, the Altay Mountains are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

There's a lot of untouched beauty in Altay, where frozen rivers and snowcapped mountains attract cross-country skiers and other outdoor lovers in winter, as well as hikers (the area around Aktru Glacier is especially popular for trekking), kayakers, and climbers in summer. More unusual activities, including diving, cave exploring, and herb and mushroom picking, can also be pursued here.

Siberia Region, Russia

Lake Baikal

When it comes to breaking records, Lake Baikal is hard to beat. This massive high-altitude rift lake in Siberia is the oldest and deepest lake in the world—reaching a maximum depth of 1,642 meters and an estimated 25 million years of age. Baikal is also the largest freshwater lake in the world—over 20 percent of the world's fresh water is in this lake.

Although Lake Baikal is considered one of the clearest lakes in the world, this is particularly noticeable in winter, where, in some areas, it's possible to see up to 40 meters down into the water—even though much of the lake's surface freezes over for up to five months of the year.

For about a month around August, the lake's water temperature can reach around 16 degrees Celsius, making it suitable for quick dips or short swims. 

In summer, Lake Baikal is a famous destination for kayaking, boat cruises, and island hopping to discover shorelines and beaches. In winter, when the lake freezes over, visitors can cross-country ski across sections of it and visit the frozen Tazheran Steppes caves.

Siberia Region, Russia

Olkhon Island

Craggy cliffs and serene bays mark Olkhon Island’s coastline, the largest island in Lake Baikal. Tucked away in Siberia’s vast wilderness, it is an important shamanic site for the Buryat people who are indigenous to Siberia.

Siberia Region, Russia

Lake Kardyvach

Sandwiched between three mountain tops and fertile alpine meadows, Lake Kardyvach’s beauty is topped off by cascading waterfalls. It is just 44 kilometres (27 miles) 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.

Sochi, Russia

Vladimir

Vladimir  is the capital and the largest city of Vladimir Oblast. The city is one of the most visited destinations within the popular Golden Ring circuit, as it preserves several of the finest monuments of white-stone medieval architecture in Russia, along with a number of later buildings from the 16th–20th centuries.

Vladimir, Russia

Suzdal

 Suzdal is a city located 180 kilometers (120 mi) southeast of Moscow. The historic part of the city, a World Heritage Site. It is one of the Golden Ring cities, a group of historic cities northeast of Moscow that has played an important role in Russian history.

Suzdal, Russia

Kostroma

Kostroma  is a historic city and the administrative center of Kostroma Oblast, Russia. A part of the Golden Ring of Russian towns, it is located at the confluence of the Volga and Kostroma Rivers.

Kostroma, Russia