100 most beautiful places in Russia – the ultimate list

Alexander Kislov
Here’s 100 reasons to visit the best country in the world.

1. Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood

The church looks amazing from the outside but it’s even more impressive on the inside. Its interior walls are covered with seven square km of mosaic and the church is built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was mortally wounded in 1881.

2. Kizhi, Karelia

Kizhi

Kizhi Island in Karelia, 764 km north of Moscow, is home to Russia's oldest surviving wooden churches. For example, the Church of the Resurrection of Lazarus dates back to the late 14th century.

3. Bermamyt Plateau, Karachay-Cherkessia

Bermamyt Plateau

Bemamyt Mountain is 2,592 meters above sea level. It’s the “Russian Trolltunga” and offers the best views of Elbrus.

4. Ai-Petri suspension bridges, Crimea

Ai-Petri suspension bridges

Ai-Petri is one of the best-known mountains in Crimea, while its suspension bridges, at a height of 1,234 meters, are one of the scariest and most thrilling places on the peninsula.

5. Nikola-Lenivets, Kaluga Region

Nikola-Lenivets

This village, located 218 km south of Moscow, has acquired a cult status thanks to its contemporary art consisting of several sculptures dotted around the scenic landscape, which is divided by a river you can swim in during the summer. There’s also 980 square km of fields and meadows.

6. Swallow's Nest Castle, Crimea

Swallow's Nest Castle

The Swallow's Nest, perched on a 40-meter high cliff near Yalta, looks like a medieval castle, though it was in fact built in the early 20th century thanks to a German oil industrialist called Baron von Steingel.

7. Singer House, St. Petersburg

Singer House

This iconic building was built in the early 20th century and is the main landmark on Nevsky Prospekt.

8. Stone pillars, Komi

Stone pillars

These seven gigantic stone pillars were formed by the wind over thousands of years (they are in what’s believed to be an anomalous zone).

9. Mir diamond mine, Yakutia

Mir diamond mine

This former diamond mine is so huge that helicopters avoid flying over it, otherwise they might get sucked in due to the draft. It’s the second largest man-made hole in the world at 525 meters deep and 1,200 meters in diameter.

10. Dominion Tower, Moscow

Dominion Tower

The first project of Zaha Hadid's bureau in Moscow and Russia. This snow-white futuristic business center is located in an industrial zone. Make sure to check out its interior staircases.

11. Peterhof, St. Petersburg

Peterhof

This summer residence of Russian monarchs is located 47 km from St. Petersburg: golden fountains, palaces, pavilions, and endless gardens on the banks of the Finnish Gulf, which are open to tourists all year round.

12. Chara Sands, Transbaykal Territory

Chara Sands

This is perhaps the strangest (and most beautiful) desert in the world. These Siberian sands are surrounded by rivers, lakes, and glaciers - despite being a real desert. To find out more, click here.

13. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Hermitage

This museum, which boasts the world's biggest art collection, is itself one of its main exhibits. The museum's main building – the Winter Palace – is a former residence of Russian monarchs.

14. Yew and Boxwood Grove, suburb of Sochi

Yew and Boxwood Grove

This ancient forest is located 20 km from Sochi. You’ll find trees and plants that have been there for nearly 30 million years.

15. Lena Pillars, Yakutia

Lena Pillars

These majestic rock pillars, some of them 100 meters tall, are located along the Lena River in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia). They’re also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

16. Flooded belfry in Kalyazin

Flooded belfry

"Russia’s Atlantis" on the Volga River in the Tver Region (200 km north of Moscow) used to be part of Kalyazin Monastery, which was often visited by Russian tsars. Later, the whole area was flooded to create a reservoir. The only thing that remains is the belfry that was used as a lighthouse.

17. Franz Josef Land, Arkhangelsk Region

Franz Josef Land

There are no towns or villages here and the only way to reach this remote part of Russia’s Arctic is with an organized group on a boat - be prepared to fork out several thousand dollars.

18. St. Basil's Cathedral

St. Basil's Cathedral

This is the main postcard view of the Russian capital and its best-known church. It’s actually nine churches in one, and according to a popular legend its architect was blinded on the order of Ivan the Terrible after completing the construction. You can learn more about this fascinating landmark here.

19. Ivolginsky Datsan, Ulan-Ude

Ivolginsky Datsan

This temple is situated 100 km from Lake Baikal in the Republic of Buryatia (in Siberia). This is the center of Russian Buddhism and also the resting place of the incorruptible body of a lama, who is considered to still be alive.

20. The Heart of Chechnya Mosque, Grozny

Heart of Chechnya Mosque

This mosque, dedicated to the memory of the first president of Chechnya, Akhmat Kadyrov, is one of the biggest in Europe. Its minarets are 63 meters high and it’s big enough to accommodate up to 10,000 worshippers.

21. Kaliningrad Cathedral

Kaliningrad Cathedral

This gothic cathedral was once the main church of the Prussian city of Koenigsberg (now Kaliningrad, in the west of Russia). Since the 14th century, it has been the burial place for dukes and university professors. The last person to be buried here was the philosopher Immanuel Kant.

22. Tokarevsky Lighthouse, Vladivostok

Tokarevsky Lighthouse

The spit where the lighthouse is located is considered to the symbolic starting point of the Pacific Ocean. The lighthouse is 150-years-old.

23. Altai

Altai

The mountains, lakes, and green meadows of Altai are often compared to those of the Alps. Despite its remoteness, this part of Russia gets many foreign visitors. You can find 10 travel tips for the Altai Region here.

24. Salt mines outside Yekaterinburg

Salt mines outside Yekaterinburg

Some 965 km to the east of Moscow, there are salt mines that could easily be the scene of a Van Gogh painting. These  crazy patterns are a natural phenomenon formed by vaporization 280 million years ago. More pictures of these psychedelic mines can be found here.

25. Sanduny, Moscow

Sanduny

This is perhaps the most famous Russian banya in Moscow, which looks more like a palace with its gilded marble stairways, vaulted ceilings, and statues. Pushkin, Tolstoy, and Chekhov all frequented this place.

26. Shoaninsky temple, Karachay-Cherkessia

Shoaninsky temple

This tiny (just 13 square meters) temple in the middle of a mountain gorge in the Caucasus is one of the oldest buildings in Russia dating back to the 10th century.

27. Putorana Plateau, Siberia

Putorana Plateau

This is an extinct volcano covered with forest, lakes, and waterfalls. The Putorana Plateau is the same size as the whole of the UK.

28. Veliky Novgorod Kremlin

Veliky Novgorod Kremlin

This is the legacy of medieval Rus and the oldest surviving kremlin. It was first mentioned in a chronicle in 1044 and is situated in Veliky Novgorod (Novgorod the Great) 570 km northwest of Moscow.

29. Kamchatka, Far East

Kamchatka

This is one of the most incredible tourist destinations in Russia. It boasts around 300 volcanoes in the same spot (including 29 active ones), loads of bears, a valley of geysers, and other mind-blowing things.

30. White Square, Moscow

White Square

An office complex with modern buildings made of glass and concrete is built around a white-stone Old Believer church. The juxtapositions here are amazing (here’s the proof).

31. Mamayev Kurgan, Volgograd

Mamayev Kurgan

The southern city of Volgograd was the scene of the bloodiest battle in history, in which some 1.5 million people were killed. To commemorate it, a huge monument called “The Motherland Calls” was built on the top of the hill.

32. Avtovo metro station, St. Petersburg

Avtovo metro station

Official Soviet art was obsessed with mosaics, they can be found everywhere - in lobbies, streets, factories, corridors – anywhere where there was space. For example, at Avtovo metro station (yes, that picture was really taken in a metro station).

33. Amber Room, Tsarskoye Selo

Amber Room

The legendary Amber Room was one of the Romanovs' treasures lost during WWII. Only several of its elements survived the war. The restored Amber Room is located in Catherine Palace outside St. Petersburg.

34. Dubrovitsy Estate, Moscow Region

Dubrovitsy Estate

This estate 36 km from Moscow was commissioned by Russian boyar and tutor to Peter the Great, Boris Golitsyn. Over 300-years-old, these days it’s a popular wedding venue. The register office is just a few minutes from the church.

35. Lake Elton, Volgograd Region

There are no ripples on its surface because of the huge amount of salt, which makes the lake look like a giant mirror. Lake Elton is situated close to Kazakhstan border. And another thing: tsars were very fond of it.

36. Moscow City skyscrapers

Moscow City skyscrapers

At one point, this skyscraper development in central Moscow was the city’s most ambitious project. One of the buildings previously held the record for being the tallest in Europe, while it remains among the most expensive real estate in the capital per square meter.

37. Lakhta Center, St. Petersburg

Lakhta Center

The 462-meter high skyscraper, which houses Gazprom’s headquarters, is the highest skyscraper in Europe. Its budget exceeds that of the Burj Khalifa at around $2.5 billion.

38. Gamsutl, Dagestan

Gamsutl

This is an abandoned ancient mountain village in the Republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus. Its population was decimated by a cholera outbreak in the 20th century.

39. Valley of Geysers, Kamchatka

Valley of Geysers

Kamchatka is home to 90 geysers, which spurt out boiling water among green rocks.

40. Lake Baikal, Irkutsk

This is the oldest lake on our planet. It is situated between southern Siberia and Mongolia and is 25-35 million-years-old. In winter, Baikal is covered with a meter-thick layer of clear, glass-like, ice, while huge icicles hang from the surrounding caves.

41. White Mosque in Bulgar, Tatarstan

White Mosque in Bulgar

The Tatar Taj Mahal in Bulgar, a mystic Muslim town on the banks of the Volga (83 km from Kazan), is where the world's biggest Koran is kept. It weighs 800 kg.

42. Ruskeala marble quarry, Karelia

Ruskeala marble quarry

Karelia is a unique place where you can find at least 60,000 amazing lakes.

43. Tsarskoye Selo, Pushkin

Tsarskoye Selo

The palace in Pushkino (former Tsarskoye Selo, 30 km south of St. Petersburg) is one of the most striking examples of imperial extravagance (although not the only one).

44. Moscow Metro

Moscow Metro

The capital’s underground is like a series of underground palaces. The Moscow Metro even has its own audioguide. Here’s our guide covering its most beautiful stations.

45. Vovnushki, Ingushetia

Vovnushki

These medieval defense towers built on mountain tops were once connected by suspension bridges. A magical but brutal place.

46. Karasinoye Lake in Artyom, Far East

Karasinoye Lake in Artyom

Every year, the surface of the lake is covered with pink lotus flowers, which create a particularly striking contrast with the austere industrial landscape in the background.

47. Zaryadye, Moscow

Zaryadye

This park outside the Kremlin walls has a "floating bridge," a concert hall, an ice cave, and great views of the Kremlin. In 2018, it was listed among the world's greatest places according to Time magazine.

48. Taiga, Siberia and European part of Russia

Taiga

The taiga is the second largest biome in the world after the ocean and also one of Russia's natural treasures. It’s too big and beautiful not to make it onto our list.

49. Lake Baskunchak, Astrakhan Region

Lake Baskunchak

A lunar landscape on top of a salt mountain. It is in effect a huge natural salt shaker almost 500 square km large, located on the border with Kazakhstan. The lake is just 30 cm deep.

50. Lake Maly Semyachik, Kamchatka

Lake Maly Semyachik

An acid lake in the crater of an active volcano, i.e. it’s very, very high. It can be seen only from a helicopter.

51. Whale Bone Alley, Yttygran Island

Whale Bone Alley

This alley on an island in the Bering Sea made of bones and jaws of Greenland whales is an ancient Eskimo structure. It dates back to the 14th century. But why did the Eskimos build it?

52. Sayano–Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station, Khakassia

Sayano–Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station

The dam on the River Yenisei is unique in terms of its size: it’s the biggest in Russia and the ninth biggest in the world. It towers over the forest like a giant spaceship.

53. Red October rooftop, Moscow

Red October rooftop

The calligraphic creation by street artist Pokras Lampas on the rooftop of the former confectionary factory Red October has become is world's biggest example of calligraphy, standing 22-stories tall. If you do not know who Lampas is, click here.

54. Thirteen Pillars of Serge, Irkutsk Region

This Buryat place of power in the village of Khuzhir (Olkhon Island on LakeBaikal) is the capital of shamanic power. These pillars cannot be pulled out, burnt, or moved. The only thing that can destroy them is time.

55. Orekhovsky waterfall, Sochi

Orekhovsky waterfall

The water tumbling from Zezumenka Mountain falls from a height of 27.5 meters, but it is only two meters deep in this picture. This spot is easy to reach from Sochi, like many other amazing places.

56. Lake Sasyk-Sivash, Crimea

Lake Sasyk-Sivash

There is just a handful of pink lakes in the world, and Sasyk-Sivash in Crimea is one of them. It turns pink in July and August thanks to microalgae.

57. Avacha Bay, Kamchatka

Avacha Bay

No, this is not somewhere in Greenland. This is a bay in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Kamchatka. The symbol of the place are the famous Three Brothers rocks – there is a beautiful legend about them.

58. Historical Museum, Moscow

Historical Museum

If you’re in Red Square, there’s no way you can miss this red-brick building in the neo-Russian (or pseudo-Russian) style.

59. Ratmanov Island, Chukotka

Ratmanov Island

This is one of the Diomede Islands which belongs to Russia. The distance to the other island, which belongs to the U.S., is just 3.8 km by boat but the time difference between the two places is 23 hours! This is a tranquil place, but don’t be fooled, life her can be hell.

60. Tsaritsyno Estate, Moscow

Tsaritsyno Estate

This is an estate in the south of Moscow where Catherine the Great spent time with her lovers and her secret husband. It was originally built to demonstrate the greatness of the Russian Empire.

61. Skolkovo Business School, Moscow Region

Skolkovo Business School

This technopark outside Moscow was conceived as the Russian version of Silicon Valley. When designing the campus, British architect David Adjaye was inspired by Kazimir Malevich's suprematism.

62. Sochi Arboretum

Sochi Arboretum

This arboretum on a mountain slope in subtropical Russia was founded in 1892. Many Russian celebrities of the past, like Feodor Chaliapin, Anton Chekhov, and others enjoyed visiting it.

63. Sakhalin Island, Far East

Sakhalin Island

Russia's biggest island is situated at the edge of the earth, where nature remains practically untouched. It’s home to gray whales and lakes with brilliantly turquoise water.

64. Mriya Resort, Crimea

Mriya Resort

The hotel and spa designed by British architect Norman Forster, who conjured London’s Millennium Bridge, is located 25 km from Yalta. In 2016, the hotel in the form of a lotus flower was named the best leisure resort in Europe.

65. Aniva lighthouse, Sakhalin

Aniva lighthouse

This atomic lighthouse (running on a radioisotope generator) was built by a Japanese architect, but in 1990, when economic hardship hit, Russia no longer had the money to maintain it.

66. Bolshoi Theater, Moscow

Bolshoi Theater

Russia's - and perhaps the world’s - best-known theater does not require much introduction. But if you want to find out how to enjoy a play or the ballet there without paying hundreds of dollars for a ticket click here.

67. The Great Vasyugan Mire, Siberia

The Great Vasyugan Mire

The scale is this mire in southwestern Siberia is mind-blowing. It’s the size of Switzerland and continues to expand with every passing year. Not surprisingly it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

68. Golden Bridge, Vladivostok

Golden Bridge

This 323-meter high bridge was built in 2012 and became the second tallest bridge in the world (the tallest is the Millau Viaduct in France). It links Vladivostok to Russky Island. Learn more about Vladivostok by doing our quiz.

69. Curonian Spit, Kaliningrad Region

Curonian Spit

One of the the tallest Europe's  sand dunes are located in its smallest national park, on the Curonian Spit. The Baltic Sea is on the one side, the Curonian Lagoon is on the other. The spit is divided equally between Russia and Lithuania.

70. Christ the Savior Cathedral, Moscow

Christ the Savior Cathedral

This is an exact replica of a cathedral that was blown up by the Soviet authorities in 1931. After the Great Patriotic War right up until the 1990s, its place was taken by.. an outdoor pool.

71. Moscow Kremlin

Moscow Kremlin

This is Russia's main kremlin, where President Vladimir Putin makes all the big calls. The Kremlin has lived through many ordeals: it was nearly burnt down, it was seized, and its cathedrals were turned into stables. And it wasn’t always red. There was a time when the Kremlin was white.

72. Wallagkom gorge, North Ossetia-Alania

Wallagkom gorge

The Vaza-Khokh mountain with its practically vertical slopes can be seen from any spot in the Alania national park. It’s also often compared to a tusk.

73. Samur vine forest, Dagestan

Samur vine forest

This is the northernmost subtropical vine forest in the world. The Dagestani jungle is so dense that you can move through it without touching the ground.

74. Moscow State University building, Moscow

Moscow State University building

This is one of the most famous of the seven Stalin buildings (The Seven Sisters) as it looks out over Moscow from Sparrow Hills.  

75. Mariinsky Theater, St. Petersburg

It was one of the Imperial theaters of the 18th century, which attracted the crème de la crème of the country's elite and members of the Romanov family. These days it is one of the leading opera and ballet theaters in the world.

76. Solovki, Arkhangelsk Region

Solovki

In the 15th century, this archipelago in the White Sea in Russia's northwest was the country's biggest monastery. In the first half of the 20th century it was turned into one of the first and the biggest gulag camps. These days it’s a tourist and spiritual center.

77. VDNKh, Moscow

VDNKh

Once the main exhibition to showcase the USSR’s economic achievements, this is now one of Moscow's main parks, whose restored pavilions, fountains, and alleys make it one of the world's most popular geotags on Instagram.

78. Kola Peninsula, Murmansk Region

Kola Peninsula

This peninsula beyond the Arctic Circle is where people live without sunshine for 40 days straight each year. By way of compensation, they can enjoy one of the most beautiful sights on earth, the northern lights (aurora borealis).

79. Big Bogdo Mountain, Astrakhan Region

Big Bogdo Mountain

Big Bogdo is a holy site among local Kalmyks. The mountain gets its red color from the clay, which is so crumbly that it’s impossible to walk there.

80. Elbrus, Kabardino-Balkaria

Elbrus

This is Europe's highest mountain (5,642 meters), which is in fact a composite volcano. In the foothills of Elbrus lies one of Russia's most exciting skiing resorts, Cheget.

81. Valley of Death, Kamchatka

Valley of Death

It’s name is ominous and its beauty deceptive. The strange otherworldly landscape is filled with poisonous gases that kill animals. Humans are banned from going here, as you can imagine.

82. Worker and Kolkhoz Woman, Moscow

Worker and Kolkhoz Woman

This monument, which has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the Soviet era, was originally created for the International Exhibition in Paris – but it’s associated with many troubles.

83. Kul Sharif Mosque, Kazan

Kul Sharif Mosque

Tatarstan's main mosque, which is also one of its most beautiful, is situated inside the Kazan Kremlin on a site that used to be occupied by an old mosque, which was destroyed in 1552 by Ivan the Terrible's troops when they stormed the city.

84. Naryn-Kala, Dagestan

Naryn-Kala

The most ancient fortress on the territory of modern Russia was built in Derbent in the sixth century, long before the Russians arrived there. It became Russian only in 1796, when the Persians lost it.

85. Teriberka, Murmansk Region

Teriberka

The world became aware of this village with its melancholy arctic scenery only after the international success of Andrey Zvyagintsev's film Leviathan. Now, whale bones and broken boats are part of its iconic image.

86. Krasnaya Polyana, Sochi

Krasnaya Polyana

This mountain village is packed with restaurants, hotels, and spa resorts. But the main attraction here is of course the views.

87. Chuy Steppe, Altay

Chuy Steppe

With its lunar scenery and huge expanses, southern Altay looks almost like Arizona. During the hot summer months, this empty yellow ground turns into a living and breathing Impressionist painting.

88. Metropol Hotel, Moscow

Metropol Hotel

This Moscow landmark has stunning views of the Bolshoi Theater and a long history. Its list of guests included Queen Sofia of Spain, Kim Jong-il, Sharon Stone, David Bowie, and Michael Jackson. There are tours of the hotel on Sundays.

89. Suzdal, Vladimir Region

Suzdal

This old Russian town (founded in the 11th century) embodies everything that can be expected from "an ideal of provincial Russia": centuries-old kremlin and churches, a Russian village, rivers, and meadows. It’s as if Suzdal is forever stuck in the past.

90. Kutkhiny Baty, Kamchatka

Kutkhiny Baty

Kutkhiny Baty is a weird-looking valley of pumice stone (rock glass) 4 km from Kurile Lake. These rock formations are about 110 meters high.

91. Orda Cave, Perm Territory

Orda Cave

The longest underwater cave in Russia and the whole of Eurasia, situated under the western Urals, is a popular cave diving destination. It stretches 4,600 meters underwater.

92. Glass Beach, Vladivostok

Glass Beach

There was once a landfill nearby and this stretch of the coast was not particularly popular with the locals. Years later, the tides have polished glass bottles to such a degree that they look like this.

93. Tyatya Volcano, Kuril Islands

Tyatya Volcano

This is an active "volcano inside a volcano" (it has two cones, an old and a young one) located on Kunashir Island. It last erupted in 1973. The crater sometimes emits poisonous vapors and bears can often be spotted at the foot of the volcano.  

94. City of the Dead, North Ossetia-Alania

City of the Dead

This is the oldest crypt in the North Ossetian mountains. The necropolis has approximately 10,000 remains and attracts hundreds of tourists every year.

95. Church of the Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God, Voronezh Region

Church of the Sicilian Icon of the Mother of God

It’s not known for sure whose idea it was to carve out a chapel from a chalk mountain: perhaps hermit monks or Christians who fled from persecution in the Byzantium time? Nowadays this unusual church is a protected building.

96. Zhivopisny Most, Moscow

Zhivopisny Most

This bright red bridge spanning over the Serebryany Bor forest park in northwest Moscow has a suspended capsule at the top, which has still not found a use.

97. Football pitch in Moscow Region

Football pitch in Moscow Region

This football pitch in the midst of a forest - in Meshchersky Park outside Moscow - will appeal even to those who have no intention of playing football there.

98. Aq Qaya White Rock, Crimea

Aq Qaya White Rock

This 325-meter tall cliff in the Belogorsky District is a popular filming location, which is not surprising given that this place could be somewhere in Puerto Rico.

99. Tauric Chersonese, Sevastopol

Tauric Chersonese

This ancient polis on the southwestern coast of Crimea was founded by the Greeks. Some 2,000 years on, its ruins are still a beautiful sight.

100. Trans-Siberian Railway, anywhere

Trans-Siberian Railway

Eight time zones, 87 cities, 5,700 miles across two continents – this route is often described as "the adventure of a lifetime." The price is spending a week on a train. But it appears that it’s worth it.

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