Sites
 
8
Transport
 
6.5
Hospitality
 
1
Value
 
5
Personal
 
7
5.9
Moscow

Moscow
Moscow is the capital of Russia and the most populous city in Europe at approximately 10.4 million people.  Located on the Moskva River in the European part of Russia, Moscow is an alluring and exotic northern destination with contrasting aspects of the former Soviet Union mixing with new capitalist ideas.  Moscow is now one of the most expensive cities in the world to live and has the largest number of billionaires living within it.  Historically, Moscow has withstood sieges from Napolean and Hitler, been ruled by powerful tsars, and was the capital of the USSR.  A city that seems to be in the process of serious change, Moscow can impress any visitor simply by taking the world's busiest metro system.  This metro is famous for its art, murals, mosaics, and ornate chandeliers.  Walking the streets seeing the distinctive onion domes of Russian Orthodox churches, or the towering spires of Stalin built Soviet skyscrapers, is something a westerner could have only dreamed of 20 years ago.  Visit Moscow expecting some hassle from its current state of change.  However, standing in Red Square and picturing the rockets and tanks that used to roll through here during the height of the cold war will repay your efforts tenfold.

St Petersburg

St Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is located on the delta of the Neva River on the Baltic Sea.  Formerly known as Leningrad during Soviet times, St Petersburg is often referred to as the 'Venice of the North' due to its location on what was originally more than 100 islands created by a maze of rivers, creeks, and canals.  Today the city is adorned with beautiful imperial palaces, large parks, statues, and an impressive style of architecture which is often lacking in Russian cities.  Founded by Tsar Peter the Great in 1703, the city was the capital of the Russian Empire for more than 200 years.  The imperial past continues to enrich its 4.8 million inhabitants with the must see Hermitage museum loaded with art and treasure accumulated by past rulers.  Due to St Petersburg's location just below the Arctic Circle, the city experiences a unique phenomenon known as white nights.  This occurs in May, June, and July when the sun never really sets.  Drinking a beer or sipping some vodka on the banks of the Neva River overlooking the imperial palaces bathed in orange light as the sun tries to set is a unique experience and will create a lasting impression on any who witness it.

The Hermitage

The Hermitage
The Hermitage Museum, located in the stunning Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, is one of the largest, oldest, and most impressive art galleries and museums in the world.  No trip to Russia is complete without spending at least one full day exploring countless rooms spread over 5 giant buildings.  The museum was started by Empress Catherine the Great in 1764 as her own private art collection.  Over the centuries the collection grew as prized pieces of art were either bought, donated, or acquired by other means, until the bounty amassed over 3 million pieces.  At any one time there is no more than 5 to 10 percent of the collection on display.  The rest of it lies in giant vaults deep underground, with some of the most prized works likely never seeing the light of day.  The collection of Western art include names such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rembrandt, Poussin, Canaletto, Monet, van Gogh and Picasso just to name a few.  Don't miss this impressive collection of art culture and history.

Suzdal

Suzdal
Suzdal is one of Russia‚Äôs oldest towns, and a welcome rural retreat, situated about 200km northeast of Moscow on the Kamenka River.  The history of Suzdal dates back to at least the year 1024, and after losing the title of capital of Russia in the 1300s it became an important monastic centre.  The town boasts numerous domed churches in different states of preservation set amid rolling meadows and small streams.  Suzdal still retains the look and feel of a small village with its churches and run down Dachas (Russian country houses), and offers something completely different from the big city feel of St Petersburg and Moscow.  Spend a couple of days to see how life in rural Russia plods along.