Russia might not be at the top of everyone’s lists with the whole post-Soviet vibe hanging over their heads, language barrier, and just being quite far away for many travelers. Plus the visa process can be such a pain, right?!
But it’s Russia… and after my trip earlier this year, I think a trip to Russia next summer is quite worth the extra planning that may go into it. Why next summer, you ask? Simply because a trip to Russia does take some time to put together, and for most people with limited work leave, this makes the goal more realistic.
Here are my top five reasons Russia deserves a visit:
1. Beautiful cities! I was just plain shocked and amazed at the beauty that can be found in Russia. Not only are Moscow and St. Petersburg two of the grandest cities I have ever laid eyes on, but some of the small cities we stopped in carried piles of charm and artistry as well. Tomsk, for example, was a city chock full of buildings adorned with wood-lace architecture that are a sight not to be missed.
2. Warm summers! I know it’s hard to believe, but Russia does have a summer. While summer in St. Petersburg, for example, can be extremely mild (the same goes for the area around Lake Baikal), there are some places in Russia where I spent the entire time sweating. Even if you plan to visit some of the cooler areas of the country, you will at least be able to do it in the summer without getting a heat stroke in the process.
3. History! We all know how big a role Russia has played in our histories over the past hundred years or so; it’s nice to be able to get to Russia to see this history from their prospective. From questionable rulers to prison camps, there is enough in the realm of modern history that makes Russia a stand-alone. Let’s not forget about the fact that the land of Russia and its people date back thousands of years.
4. Friendly people! The cultural differences between Russia and places like North America are extreme, especially in the way people tend to act on the streets. It’s just not normal for people to greet you randomly on the streets there, and it is this cold sort of exterior that has made Russia seem like such a cold place (regardless of its actual winter temperatures). I have found, however, that once you get to know the Russians, they are super friendly people with a humorous outlook.
5. Visas are getting easier! For me, one of the biggest difficulties in making the Russian trip happen was the amount of money and planning that would have to go into getting a visa. I’m more of a laid-back traveler who prefers to keep plans open-ended, but with Russia, that’s just not the case. To get your visa, you have to have a plan in order to get a letter of invitation for that visa in the first place. Luckily, with more companies like Real Russia helping travelers out, the difficulty in planning your trip is easing. In addition, there are now certain rules in place where cruise ship visitors to St. Petersburg can enter the city visa-free for 72 hours!
Now, don’t those make you want to book a trip to Russia right away? Be sure to study up by checking out past posts on St. Basils Cathedral, Russian souvenirs, and Russian food.
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