Russia is the best holiday destination in the world. Here’s why
Yes, the title of this blog is indeed a bold statement.
But before you start mentally listing your all-time favourite vacation spots, give us a chance.
We can back it up!
For instance, Russia is absolutely ginormous.
So big in fact, that it is nearly the size of the (former) planet Pluto.
This means that when you book a holiday to Russia you will literally have an entire world of wonder to explore.
Relaxing on pristine beaches, exploring ancient history or wandering around modern bustling cities, whatever you’re looking for in a holiday, you will find it here. In this blog we’re going to take a look at some of the best things to see and do in Russia.
Of course, in order to visit Russia for a holiday you will first need to secure a tourist visa. But don’t let that put you off. If you apply for your visa with Visa First you will find that getting your documents is actually much easier than you think!
You’ll enjoy a stress-free service as our team guide you through the entire application process and provide end-to-end support.
Further detail on how to apply for your visa can be found below.
But for now, here are five reasons why you should make Russia your next holiday destination!
1) Moscow is Marvellous
You know, Moscow might just surprise you.
Even upon hearing the word ‘Moscow’, many people are bored stiff by visions of bureaucracy and politics.
Not many tourists fully appreciate what a modern, chic city Moscow is until they come here.
In fact, did you know that Moscow is home to more billionaires (73) than almost any other city (only New York (82) and Hong Kong (75) have more)?
And it’s really easy to see why. There is an endless list of things to do here and so much history to explore.
The city itself is enormous – about twice the size of New York and London. The fastest way to get around is to use the world-class metro system. But the best way to get around is by foot! That way you can get a real sense of what this amazing city has to offer.
The first place you should walk to is Red Square.
The square is the perfect microcosm of Moscow, with so much history to uncover here.
Once a market square where traders flogged their goods, this iconic cobblestoned square is visited by an estimated 20 million tourists each year. It’s surrounded by stunning architecture and you will definitely put your camera to work here.
To the south-west of Red Square is where you will find the Kremlin – the president’s official residence and office. Built as a fortress in the twelfth-century, the Kremlin is Moscow’s crowning glory and spiritual centre.
A short distance away is the wonderfully unique St Basil’s Cathedral.
Created in the 1560s, this multi-coloured, multi-patterned masterpiece is the ultimate symbol of Russia. As you line up your selfie in front of the Cathedral you’ll no doubt be intrigued by its unusual shapes and colours. There is a total of 13 chapels within the Cathedral. Each chapel represents a different battle from Ivan the Terrible’s capture of Kazan in 1552.
2) Salivate in Saint Petersburg!
Saint Petersburg is arguably Russia’s most ‘European’ city.
In fact, as you potter around, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in Venice!
More than 340 bridges cross the many canals that flow through the city. And the Italian comparisons don’t end there. Note the many striking plazas dotted throughout the city and the pristine beaches fringing the Gulf of Finland, north of the city.
Taking a stroll down Nevsky Prospekt is a must for any visit for Saint Petersburg.
Amongst the main sights you will stumble upon on this stunning 2.5 mile avenue are the Gostiny Dvor the giant shopping mall, the National Russian Library and Kazan Cathedral.
You’ll also find the Winter Palace on Nevsky Prospekt. And the former home to the Tsars is definitely worth visiting. It’s now a museum that displays art and exhibits from around the world.
As you make your way down Nevsky Prospekt you should do so with a pyshka in your hand!
Closely resembling donuts, these sugary snacks are very popular with the locals and definitely worth trying when you’re in town.
3) Feel alive in the City of the Dead
Fancy getting off the beaten track?
If you visit the southern village of Dargavs you will really be in the heart of Russia.
But be warned, the main attraction here is not for the faint hearted!
Located in the middle of a mountain valley and overlooking the Fiagdon River, on the face of it Dargavs seems like a perfectly pleasant place.
But in reality ‘village’ is a pretty generous word to use for Dargavs. When you arrive you will discover what at first appear to be a range of little white houses. But what you’re really stumbling into is an ancient cemetery full of tombs and crypts.
Nicknamed the ‘City of the Dead’, the people who lived here, buried their loved ones in this site for reasons that have been lost in the passage of time.
In the past, locals tried to avoid going to the city of the dead as it was believed that anyone who dared to walk in would never walk out alive! But Dargavs attracts tourists from all over the world not only due to its mysterious nature, but also because of the stunning scenery in the area.
How these people died is a question that remains unanswered. One common theory is that the crypts were made due to a plague that swept through the area in the 16th Century, decimating the population.
Whatever happened here, the real question is; are you brave enough to visit Dargavs?
4) Explore an island museum!
Lake Onega is the second largest lake in Europe. In fact, the lake is home to over 1,650 islands and one in particular is really special.
Kizhi Island is a UNESCO’s World Heritage site and definitely worth visiting if you find yourself in northern Russia.
Kizhi is one of the largest outdoor museums in Russia and focusses on peasant life and customs in the north Russia.
Not only will you find 89 monuments of wooden architecture, old chapels and houses, windmills and granaries, threshing barns and racks for drying crops, you’ll also get a real sense of 18th and 19th century life in northern Russia.
Kizhi Pogost is arguably the main attraction on the island. And it’s here that you will find the 22-dome, 120 feet tall Church of the Transfiguration, the Church of the Intercession of Holy Mary and the Bell-Tower.
A local legend says that Kizhi’s main builder only used a single axe while constructing the buildings on the island.
That may seem difficult to believe.
Then again, so does the sheer beauty of this island until you see it for yourself!
5) Relax in style
Rosa Khutor is a year-round alpine resort located in a beautiful and secluded part of Russia, tucked away in the south west of the country, on the coast of the Black Sea.
The resort is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Russia and most famous for hosting the alpine skiing events for the 2014 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Nearby Sochi was the main host city of that year’s Olympics. And flying into Sochi is probably your best bet if you’re looking to get to Rosa Khutor.
If you like skiing you will be in heaven here.
Rosa Khutor boasts a wide variety of terrain and 102 kilometres of slopes for skiing, snowboarding and a range of outdoor sports – regardless of the time of year. And if you’d rather go ‘off-piste’ you’ll find countless routes for backcountry skiing.
There’s loads to do away from the slopes too! There are tons of shops and restaurants in the village and you can really soak up the resort’s lively atmosphere down at the pier. But if you really want to unwind, try spending a day in one of the many local spas!
See we told you Russia was the best holiday destination! Now all you need to do is secure your visa. Thankfully we have a solution for that too!
How to get your Russian tourist visa
In order to travel to Russia for a holiday you will first need to get a tourist invitation letter and a tourist visa.
You can secure both with Visa First.
What you’ll need to apply for a Russian tourist visa?
With a tourist visa you can holiday in Russia for up to 30 days.
In order to apply for one you will need:
- a passport which is valid for at least six months after your departure from Russia and has at least two blank pages.
- confirmation of your hotel arrangements from a Russian travel company or from the hotel itself
- travelling as part of a group? You’ll need a letter confirming your itinerary from the company organizing the tour
- travel insurance that will cover your trip to Russia
How long does it take to get a Russian Tourist Visa?
At Visa First we advise against booking your flights until your visa is granted.
The standard embassy processing time is seven working days for applications in Ireland and 10 working days for applications in the UK.
The express processing time is five working days in the UK and three in Ireland.
Note: you should allow two additional days for postage
What is an invitation letter?
A standard Russian tourist acceptance confirmation or tourist voucher is issued by a licensed Russian travel agency or hotel registered with the Russian Ministry of Tourism.
The voucher must contain:
- your name
- passport number
- travel dates
- cities to be visited
- licensed travel agency’s reference number
How can I get my documents?
You can secure every document you need to visit Russia with Visa First.
Our expert team provide end-to-end support for your Russian visa and invitation letter and Russian insurance applications. Working closely with the Russian authorities, we will boost your clients’ chances of a successful visa application.