Tourism in Russia
Tourism industry in Russia
Tourism is a growing branch of the economy in Russia. According to the World Tourism Organization, Russia occupies one of the leading places in the world in the field of international tourism. In 2014, about 28 million international tourists visited the country (the 9th place in the world).
The rich cultural heritage and natural diversity puts Russia on a prominent place in the world among countries with potential of tourism growth. There are more than two dozen UNESCO World Heritage sites in the country. Different regions and ethnic groups have a wide variety of traditions.
The main tourist routes in Russia include visits to Moscow and St. Petersburg, resort establishments in the Krasnodar and Stavropol regions, the Kaliningrad region, the ski resorts of the Caucasus and Siberia, the Golden Ring of Russia, cruises along the Volga, cruises on an icebreaker to the national park “Russian Arctic”, trips on the Trans-Siberian Railway (the Altai Mountains, Lake Baikal), traveling to the volcanoes of Kamchatka and Primorye.
Tourist attractions of Russia
Russia is the largest country in the world in terms of area. The country is located in several climatic zones, it is distinguished by a variety of relief forms. Russia has a rich history, hundreds of large and small peoples live here.
Natural attractions of Russia
In Russia there are plenty of interesting and unique objects of nature. First of all, it is Baikal – the deepest freshwater lake in the world. On the shores of Lake Baikal tourist infrastructure is relatively well developed. In particular, there is an excursion train running on the historical section of the Circum-Baikal Railway.
A significant part of the territory of Russia is occupied by mountain systems, including the northern part of the highest mountain system in Europe – the Caucasus, where you can find beautiful waterfalls, canyons, unique species of animals. In Kamchatka there are world-famous volcanoes and the famous Valley of Geysers. This region is also known as the land of bears, which are one of the symbols of Russia.
Other well-known natural attractions are the Stolby Nature Reserve near Krasnoyarsk, the Weathering Pillars of Manpupuner in Komi, the Lena Pillars, the Amur Pillars, the Kungur Cave in the Northern Urals, the Curonian Spit near Kaliningrad, the Daursky Reserve, the Putorana Plateau, the Golden Mountains of Altai, the Sikhote-Alin Reserve, and a number of others. The Amur, Lena, Yenisei, Ob, and Volga rivers are also known as Russian places of interest.
One of the characteristic features of Russia is a large number of territories in the permafrost zone. In the town of Igarka in the Krasnoyarsk region there is a museum dedicated to this natural phenomenon.
Such natural phenomenon as “White Nights”, one of the symbols of St. Petersburg, should also be mentioned. Murmansk and Arkhangelsk oblasts are known for their colorful northern lights.
Architectural sights of Russia
Man-made sights of Russia are extremely diverse. Nevertheless, a significant part of them is almost unknown to foreigners. The most popular among tourists are Moscow and St. Petersburg, the towns of the Golden Ring of Russia, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Volgograd, Veliky Novgorod, Vologda, Pskov.
Russia is known for its traditional architecture. You can find beautiful examples of Russian architecture both in cities and in the countryside, for example, the Church of the Intercession on the Nerl, the Transfiguration Church on the island of Kizhi and the entire unique wooden complex of Kizhi, the Solovetsky archipelago.
The Moscow Kremlin and the Peterhof Palace in St. Petersburg are admirable. The historical centers of St. Petersburg, the towns of the Golden Ring, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Veliky Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Tobolsk, Irkutsk are visited by a lot of tourists.
The country also has numerous old and new architectural sights of other peoples, for example, the mosque of Kul-Sharif in Kazan, Lyalya-Tulip in Ufa, the Heart of Chechnya in Grozny, the Golden Monastery of the Buddha Shakyamuni in Elista, the Ivolginsky datsan near Ulan-Ude, the Ancient Bulgar, etc.
One can especially note such unique monuments of defensive architecture as the fortresses of Derbent and Naryn-Kala in Derbent, the Novgorod Kremlin, kremlins of other cities of central Russia, Kronstadt, Vovnushki and other towers of Ingushetia, etc. Such famous work of monumental art as the monument to the Motherland on the Mamayev Hill in Volgograd is also worth mentioning.
In addition to civil and church architecture, in Russia there are a lot of interesting technical places of interest: the Ostankino TV tower, the drawbridges of St. Petersburg, the cable-stayed bridges of Vladivostok, the old mining plants of the Urals, the hydroelectric power plants (in particular, the Sayano-Shushenskaya HPP), giant quarries (for example, the diamond mine in Mirny), the world’s deepest Kola borehole and others.
As in the case of natural attractions, Russia has museums that reflect all aspects of human activity, including world-famous ones, such as the State Hermitage Museum and the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, the Pushkin Museum and the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow.
Other attractions of Russia
Cruises along such major rivers as the Volga, Lena, Yenisei are also popular among tourists. Here, especially on the Volga, connected by the channel system with Moscow and St. Petersburg, a lot of different offers are available. On smaller rivers, as well as large lakes and some sea routes, cruises are also carried out. One of the most interesting examples is a cruise on an icebreaker to the North Pole from Murmansk.
Pilgrimage tourism is gradually developing and becoming popular. The main centers of such tourism are the following well-known monasteries: Valaam, Trinity-Sergius Lavra, Nilo-Stolobenskaya Desert, Kirillo-Belozersky Monastery, Verkhoturye Nikolayevsky Monastery, Svyato-Uspensky Sarov Desert, Belogorsky Resurrection Monastery, Raifa Monastery, Sviyazhsk monasteries and others.
Hunting and fishing in Russia is very diverse. Despite the fact that Russia is considered one of the countries with the coldest climate, its territory includes regions with a moderate sea climate (the Kaliningrad region, Taman), a semi-dry Mediterranean climate (a stretch of coast from Anapa to Tuapse), a humid subtropical climate (Sochi), a moderate monsoon climate (Primorsky Krai), where summer resorts are located.
Features of traveling to Russia
Accommodation in Russia
Today, all possible accommodation offers are presented in Russia: hotels of all classes, hostels, motels along the main highways, camping sites, and apartment rentals. The largest share of the hotel market is occupied by Moscow, St. Petersburg, the resorts of the Krasnodar region (primarily post-Olympic Sochi), the towns of the Golden Ring, Kazan.
There is no single booking system in Russia. In popular Internet services there are mainly hotels located on popular tourist routes. A lot of hotels, hostels and firms offering apartments for rent have websites with their own reservation system, but hotels in small non-tourist towns are characterized by a lack of sites.
Catering in Russia
Catering in Russia is enough to meet the demands of tourists. The only problem that can be faced is that in small towns and villages on weekends all restaurants and cafes can be closed for special services (they hold private banquets and do not accept other clients).
In terms of cuisine, some variety is represented only in major cities (regional centers), and in the most popular tourist centers. Everywhere there are Russian and Ukrainian cuisines, which are known for their soups and salads.
The most famous dishes of Russian cuisine known abroad are pancakes, cabbage soup, pies, pelmeni, red and black caviar. It is impossible not to mention Russian vodka. Depending on the region, local national cuisine can also be presented.
Transport, language, money in Russia
Today, the most developed and used transport in Russia is rail transport. Traveling by car is not very convenient, given the size of the country, insufficient safety and development of the road network. The air communication between the regions is also very limited. You can fly from Moscow to a significant number of regional centers, but that’s all.
An important problem is the language barrier. The Russian language is based on Cyrillic, so reading or at least interpreting inscriptions and texts made in Russian for most tourists is an extremely difficult task. Transliteration of signs and translation of texts is not common in Russia, but the situation is gradually changing.
In addition, very few people outside of Moscow and St. Petersburg can speak English, although almost all schools in Russia teach English. In some regions of Russia, locals speak Russian badly, actively using the language of the people living in this particular place. This is especially evident in rural areas, for example, in Bashkiria, the Caucasus republics, the northern regions of Russia, Buryatia, the national republics of Central Russia.
The currency of the Russian Federation is the Russian ruble. It is almost impossible to use other currency. The exception is passenger transport, which crosses the border, and some, very few, companies providing various tourist services and products in large tourist centers.
Currency exchange in the province is somewhat more complicated than in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but almost always it is a feasible task (especially if you need to buy rubles). This service is provided in almost all banks.
Tourist targeted scams in Russia
Most visits to Russia are safe and trouble-free. That said, there are a number of things to watch out for. The first is unofficial taxis. These taxis do not have meters and you can be easily overcharged. To get around this, you can use taxi booking apps like Yandex or Gett. Other issues involve being ripped off by ballet ticket touts or fake/overpriced amber, if you have not done your research on the correct places to buy these items from.
Local residents in Russia
In general, people living in Russia are quite peaceful and friendly. In most regions of the country, a visiting person will always be helped. If there are places of interest in the area, they will try to explain how to get to them.
The situation may change in places with a large number of tourists. Also quite often locals of provincial tourist centers too clearly see the difference between their own standard of living and the level of living of visitors. This may lead to conflicts, however, these are only individual cases and not the rule.
In places where tourism is an important source of income for the local population, there are cases of imposing services, the prices for services provided to foreign tourists (excursions, tours, museums, souvenirs, food) can be several times higher than for local residents.
On the general relatively favorable background, several regions of the Russian Federation are distinguished, where the number of crimes against visitors is higher. This is primarily some of the republics of the North Caucasus and the Republic of Tuva. Finally, in any region of Russia, tourists have a risk to meet with certain categories of people who pose a danger to them.