Everyone’s eyes is on Russia now, thanks to the World Cup of course. And with that, everyone is looking to travel here. However, as beautiful as Moscow and St Petersburg may be, there is no denying that these cities are rather common. We here at 123RF, are all about the adventure.
Having paid a tribute to Anthony Bourdain, it is now our duty to take a step into the unknown. Therefore, you should ‘Absolut-ly’ give it a shot too! So, down a couple of vodka shots and play Russian roulette with your travel plans. Next, embark on these 10 Russian escapades alternatives!
Connecting Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, these ‘golden mountains’ are now booming with ecotourism. Catering to new demands, hotels are popping up, many whom offer guided tours to explore this vast land. If you decide to stay with this, then immerse yourself in local legends while you kayak, hike and fish in the area with your guides. Alternatively, if you are up for the challenge, why not rent a Jeep? An epic road trip adventure with your mates awaits!
Traces of German heritage can be seen in the town formerly known as Königsberg. The surviving Brandenburg Gate, Kaliningrad Cathedral and the medieval styled buildings of the Fishing Village are examples of the influence. For history buffs, the Amber Museum is another destination worth considering. As for something a little more laid back, drop by the flea markets to get your hands on some prized antiques.
The city of Kazan is perfectly balanced between the Russian Orthodox and Muslims. Stunning churches, cathedrals and mosques all coexist harmoniously. The diversified culture is also seen in the city’s electric food scene. Both Russian and Tartar flavors seamlessly combine to tantalize one’s taste buds. Therefore, the traditional tea with chuk-chuk, a sweet pastry dish, is a must. If you are into local legends, then visit the Söyembikä Tower in the Kremlin fortress. Named after the city’s last queen, she demanded a tower to be built by the city’s conqueror, Ivan the Terrible, only to then jump to her death from the peak. Ouch.
Formed over 25 – 30 million years ago, this iconic lake is the deepest in the world. Containing nearly one-fifth of the planet’s unfrozen fresh water, this lake is ready to be exploited by travelers. In the summer, you can enjoy unparalleled views across waters of the deepest blue to soaring mountain ranges on the opposite shore. Meanwhile, when temperatures drop, opt to cycle or dog sled over it, while taking in majestic views. Whatever the choice, one thing is certain, Siberia does not get any better than this.
Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky lies on the Kamchatka peninsula in Russia’s far east. Furthermore, the city is one of the most eastern towns in the northern hemisphere. Surrounded by a long line of snow capped mountains, Petropavlovsk makes up for what it lacks in urbanization with majestic landscapes of rugged beauty. Locals spend their time with various activities, including volcano hikes, sailing, fishing, hunting trips. Above all, feasting on succulent Kamchatka (Alaskan King) crabs is an experience to be cherished.
Situated in Karelia, the north-western part of Russia, Ruskeala is known as one of the country’s most beautiful places. The nature here is breathtaking, with lakes, waterfalls and trees growing in abundance. The main attraction here must be the Ruskeala Mountain Park. The stunning marble canyon has now transformed into a crystal clear lake. Imagine yourself standing in front of the Norwegian Fjords, drinking water from Icelandic waterfall and enjoying the views of Scottish Lochs. To make the most of your visit, get your gear, go for a hike. Finally, end your day by camping out under the glittering night sky.
Stolby Nature Reserve
Located just across the river from Krasnoyarsk’s city center, this reserve is no stranger to nature lovers. The main highlights here are the pillars of volcanic rock called ‘stolby’. These rocks can be seen poking above gently sloping wooded mountains. The smallest cliffs are 55 meters high, while the highest go up to 600 meters. Unsurprisingly, hiking and rock climbing are ever popular over here, along with guided tours of the Siberian fir taiga.
Situated in the far east, this is one of Russia’s most likable cites. Surprisingly, Ulan Ude is filled with Asian features, as Buddhist and Tibetan temples are dotted along the city. The Rinpoche Bagsha Datsan is known for its 6 meter high Buddha statue. However, that is second best in comparison to the panoramic views from the hilltop temple. Meanwhile, the Ivolginsky Datsan will immediately transport you to the depths of China. Just remember to give yourselves a pinch before you the leave temple grounds. You do not want to be speaking Mandarin while sipping on herbal tea instead of vodka!
This city is the unofficial capital of the Russian Far East and one of Russia’s most important commercial ports and naval bases. Vladivostok’s proximity to China also enables visitors to sample authentic Chinese food. This National Geographic approved 10 most beautiful oceanfront cities in the world is also home to the majestic Golden Horn Bay. The picturesque ocean views are certainly worth the travel. For those looking to get some tan on, dive deeper into the Russky Island and lay on one of its stunning beaches.
Commonly referred to as Novgorod, the city is also considered the birthplace of Russia. Must visits here include the traditional wooden architecture museum of Vitoslavlitsy. In addition, the historic Cathedral of St Sophia, which is the oldest church in Russia, demands attention. Meanwhile, the mammoth fortified Kremlin complex offers you the chance to dive deep into the nation’s proud history as it is one of the oldest of its kind.
So there you have it, 10 alternative Russian destinations to add into your travel bucket list. If you are looking for creative inspiration for your travel photography, then check out Dudarev Mikhail’s collection. And since we are on the topic of exploring the unknown and taking the road less traveled, why not find out more on the intriguing works of Erika Sanada’s fairly odd animals. Finally, if you are in search of a one stop design solution to all your creative needs, check out our #designyourstory campaign on instagram!