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When In Russia: Beyond The World Cup, Russia Is Teeming With Heart-Stopping Attractions

World Cup fever is up again and this time Russia is the chosen center. All eyes are trained on this cold Northern country as footballers and fans alike from all across the globe gather for the games. Past the stadiums, however, are cities rife with history and a culture unique to this most Northern of countries. Should you happen to be a World Cup fan, or are attached to one, you may make the most of this trip by checking out its many spots rich in beauty, culture and history. 
 

Moscow

 

 

The grand city of Moscow is an obvious bet for places to visit in Russia. The Russian capital and seat of political power is a beautiful sprawl of red bricks and Baroque architecture. The walls of the Kremlin and the swirling minarets of St. Basil’s Cathedral speak of the cities’ rich historical heritage and importance. Pass by the GUM for the latest in high fashion before heading down Arbat Street for good food and live music. Catch a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway here. The longest railroad in the world leads from Moscow all across Siberia to the Pacific city of Vladivostok.

 

St. Petersburg

 

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Fierce history as storied as Moscow and fine, refined culture awaits you in the city of St. Petersburg, second largest in all of Russia. It’s a little bit North of Moscow, although the Trans Siberian terminates here. Now named Leningrad (although still referred to as St. Petersburg, its founding name), this metropolis is host to one of the finest and most famous art collections in the world, safely stored within the Hermitage. Catch a play or an orchestral performance at the Mariinsky Theatre and gawk at the massive golden dome that sits atop St. Isaac’s Cathedral. After that, lose yourself in the cafes and bars of Nevsky Prospekt as you make the most of your stay in St. Petersburg, Russia’s cultural capital.

 

Irkutsk

This town in the heart of Siberia is among the top tourist destinations in all of Russia. The city is both a transit hub for the Russian federal highway and the Trans-Siberian Railway, and is also the closest city to Lake Baikal, making Irkutsk almost a necessity for those trekking across the Siberian continent. Once a wooden fortress in the 18th Century, it’s a place steeped in history. Today you can still see old houses and monuments made of wood in the style of old Russia. It’s also a place of culture and intelligence, with museums and universities all throughout.

 

Kazan

As you near the Pacific seaboard you’ll come across the city of Kazan. A meeting place of the Tatar and Slavic cultures, Kazan is a beautiful blend of Asian and Western influences that holds great importance in Russian history. The ruins of an old Kremlin stands here, constructed in the 16th and 17th Century under the leadership of Ivan the Terrible. Tour the sites of old Kazan and sample delicacies of both Western and Eastern influence as you explore this Russian old world melting pot. Once you’re done in Kazan, hop back on the Trans-Siberian and make your way to Vladivostok.

 

Vladivostok

 

 

A good way to bookend your trip is to head over to Vladivostok. This coastal city straddles the Pacific Ocean and sits at the other end of the Trans-Siberian Railway. It’s often compared to San Francisco and Naples, and the view from Eagle’s Nest Hill reveals the wildest of seaside landscapes. The city itself is as much a cultural haven as the others on this list. You can catch an opera at the Russian Opera House after a hearty seafood meal at the Sportivnaya Market. Food in Vladivostok is pretty international, given its role as a port town. Vladivostok also boasts a rich military history, with whole museums dedicated to frontier troops and S-56 submarines.

With the World Cup in full stride, all the world is looking at Russia. Look past the latest football game, past the lights and the stadiums, and wonder at the storied cities of this vast country, their rich culture and history interspersed across miles upon miles of Siberian wilderness. Hop aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway and ride from Moscow to Vladivostok and see what Mother Russia has in store for you.