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